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For the past forty years I have been a psychiatrist in private practice in Lexington, Massachusetts. During this time, I taught and supervised at the Department of Psychiatry at The Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School. There, I pioneered Community psychiatry, where I developed the North Cambridge Psychiatric Team in a housing project, which became the model for the rest of the department. In addition, I was deeply involved in the treatment of the schizophrenias and deinstitutionalization. While continuing to teach and supervise, I decided to leave academic psychiatry to devote myself to my work with patients, where I developed and practiced the Psychotherapy of Character. This was balanced with the living of a life—as a husband and father, with an active participation in the arts, and a love and curiosity about nature and life.
Now that my children are grown, I have turned my focus outwards again. For many years I have been troubled by the rapid and tragic degeneration of my field. Contemporary psychiatry has fallen under the sway of biological psychiatry, where patients no longer receive proper care. Today’s commonly held and misguided belief is that human suffering is a brain problem. And the cure for human pain has been reduced to a pill, as if pharmaceuticals address the agency of human suffering. Human struggle is not now, nor ever has been a brain problem. It is a human problem, pure and simple. Psychotherapy has become a lost practice.
Recently, there has been a growing number of critiques about pharmaceutical psychiatry’s corrupt and destructive practices. I address these issues with a constructive presentation of an alternative understanding and practice, which I put into book form, The Psychotherapy of Character, The Play of Consciousness in the Theater of the Brain, written as a narrative. It tells the story of my patient Eddie from his conception through his adulthood culminating with the story of his psychotherapy. It presents a new paradigm, a unified field theory of human consciousness, that encompasses psychiatry, neuroscience, dreams, myths, religion, and art, all elements of the same thing. The central paradigm is that consciousness is organized as a living drama in the theater of the brain. The ‘play’ is an entire representational world which consists of a cast of characters, who relate together by feeling, as well as plots, set designs, and landscape. Eddie’s unique play is shown to be written by his brain, as his ‘nurture’—responsiveness, deprivation, and abuse—was digested by his ‘nature’—his genetic temperament. This paradigm is as relevant to the neuroscience and biology of consciousness and the brain as it is to my own field. It orients neuroscience understanding to its proper place, as the creator of the play in the service of our biological thriving, surviving, and propagation.
The ‘play’, in consciousness, encompasses the ineffable human mysteries—birth, death, and the disparity between our ordinary sense of self and our intimation of a deeper authenticity. It includes, as well, the dark side of our nature. It derives from and is consonant with our child rearing and culture. And finally, it holds the key to the nature of ‘beliefs’ in general. Human consciousness and human nature are one and the same. The psychotherapy of character is shown to be at one with the play of consciousness, and is the real avenue to deal with human suffering.
This website is dedicated to the exploration of these urgent, timely, and timeless issues.