The concept of reality-testing in Freudian psychology is a comparatively mono-logical one in which the patient is either reality-bound or subject to distortion.This means, as Ronald Laing has pointed out, that the psychiatrist determines what is “normal” and invalidates the experience of the patient. Buber’s and Nagy’s concept of the “just order of the human world,” in contrast, is a dialogical one. However pathological it may be, the unique experience of each of the persons in the family is itself of value: it enters into the balance of merit and into that dialogical reality-testing that I call the “dialogue of touchstones.” The scapegoater in the family can be looked upon as needing help and the scapegoat as a potential helper; for the former is taking an ever-heavier load of guilt on himself and the latter is accumulating merit through being loaded on by others.
Leslie H. Farber has made an important application of Dialogue Psychotherapy to the psychopathology of the will.Farber sees the origin of willfulness as the desperate need for wholeness. When dialogue, which is the proper setting for wholeness, eludes us, “we turn wildly to will,ready to grasp at any illusion of wholeness the will conjures up for our reassurance.” The more dependent a person becomes on the illusion of wholeness, the less he is able to experience true wholeness in dialogue.Willfulness is that addiction to will in which the person attempts to make up for the absence of dialogue by handling both sides of the no longer mutual situation.
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