City Research Online

Inauthenticity and self-deception in Heidegger's Being and Time in relation to psychotherapy

Van Deurzen, E. (2003). Inauthenticity and self-deception in Heidegger's Being and Time in relation to psychotherapy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This dissertation examines and clarifies Heidegger's contribution to our understanding of the important issues of self-deception and inauthenticity in psychotherapy. After some preliminary remarks on the concepts of inauthenticity and self-deception the first part of the dissertation explores Heidegger's fundamental ontology as detailed in Being and rime. basein's temporal nature and its relationship to death are considered in the context of the central concept of Care (Sorge) and its basic structures of thrownness (Geworfenheit), falling (verfallen) and existence (Existenz). This leads to a discussion of the existentials of disposition (Befindlichkeit), anxiety (Angst), understanding (verstehen)and discourse (Rede). After this preliminary exposition Heidegger's views on inauthenticity (Uneigentlichkeit) and authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) are explored, with a central focus on fallenness (verfallen) and its manifestations of idle talk (Gerede), curiosity (Neugier), ambiguity (Zweideutigkeit) and self-forgetting (selbstvergessen). Now the scene is set for an investigation of Heidegger's views on how inauthenticity is overcome and the notion of truth (Wahrheit), anxiety (Angst), call of conscience (6ewissenruf) and resoluteness (Entschluss) are studied in some detail. This leads to a description of authentic ways of being in a situation (Situation), being-towards-death (Sein zum Tode), the moment of vision (Augenblick) and repetition (Wiederholung). A full summary of Heidegger's ideas is given before a critique is formulated in light of Sartre's views, Fingarettes contribution and Heidegger's later work. It emerges that there is no place for a theory of self-deception in Heidegger. His descriptions of inauthenticity and forgetting show untruth to be a matter of alienation (Entfremdung) and closing off (verschliessen) rather than a matter of deceit. The thesis shows the significance of this alternative point of view. It is argued that Heidegger's objective for Dasein is to have vision, which means to be capable of both authentic, owned and engaged ways of existing as well as inauthentic, disowned and disengaged ways of existing. In final analysis the challenge of human existence for Heidegger is about being true to life rather than being true to self. Being true to life is inevitably about the equiprimordiality and equality of both inauthentic and authentic ways of being. To be loyal to existence therefore involves increasing transparency and openness to different modes of being. The thesis' orginal contribution is to show that this is a sound and new objective for existential psychotherapy. At the same time Sartres and Fingarette s perspectives on self-deception highlight Heidegger's failure to address the issue of self-deception directly. This is shown to be due mostly to Heidegger's lack of focus on ontic issues, his refusal to consider a moral and ethical dimension to his work and his replacement of a theory of self with a description of Daseins world relations. While this is in some ways a strength and an original position that allows us to view human existence from a new perspective, it leaves doubt about what Heidegger could have made of the ontic issues raised by applying his ideas in counselling and psychotherapy. The thesis takes Heidegger's ontological theory to a new, ontic dimension and a practical and concrete application. Heidegger himself suggested in the Zollikon seminars that his thought should be so applied and the final part of the thesis is constituted by my published work, which has been dedicated to this project. The three books in which this application is described are enclosed together with the philosophical part of the dissertation and they are each briefly discussed in light of the argument about inauthenticity and self-deception. It is shown how the ontic realities of psychotherapy place new demands on Heidegger's thinking whilst Heidegger's thinking at the same time provides a challenging basis for therapeutic clarity about human existence.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Inauthenticity_and_self-deception_in_Heidegger's_Being_and_Time_in_relation_to_psychotherapy.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Version
Download (14MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login