April 13, 1881
February 5, 1966 (84 years old)
Laurence A. Rickels
Ludwig Binswanger (April 13, 1881 – February 5, 1966) was a Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer in the field of existential psychology. His grandfather (also named Ludwig Binswanger) was founder of the "Bellevue Sanatorium" in Kreuzlingen, and his uncle Otto Binswanger was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Jena.
Life and career
In 1907 Binswanger received his medical degree from the University of Zurich. As a young man he worked and studied with some of the greatest psychiatrists of the era, such as Carl Jung, Eugen Bleuler and Sigmund Freud. He visited Freud (who had cited his uncle Otto's work on Neurasthenia) in 1907 alongside Jung, approvingly noting his host's "distaste for all formality and etiquette, his personal charm, his simplicity, casual openness and goodness". The two men became lifelong friends, Freud finding Binswanger's 1912 illness "particularly painful", and Binswanger offering Freud a refuge in Switzerland in 1938.
Binswanger became a member of the early 'Freud Group' Jung led in Switzerland; but nevertheless wrestled throughout his life over the place of psychoanalysis in his thinking - his 1921 article on 'Psychoanalysis and clinical Psychiatry' being only one landmark of that lifelong struggle.
Binswanger was further influenced by existential philosophy, particularly after WWI, through the works of Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Buber, eventually evolving his own distinctive brand of existential-phenomenological psychology.
From 1911 to 1956, Binswanger was medical director of the sanatorium in Kreuzlingen.
Thinking and influence
Binswanger is considered the first physician to combine psychotherapy with existential and phenomenological ideas, a concept he expounds in his 1942 book; Grundformen und Erkenntnis menschlichen Daseins (Basic Forms and the Realization of Human "Being-in-the-World"). In this work he explains existential analysis as an empirical science that involves an anthropological approach to the individual essential character of being human.
Binswanger saw Husserl's concept of lifeworld as a key to understanding the subjective experiences of his patients, considering that "in the mental diseases we face modifications of the fundamental structure and of the structural links of being-in-the-world". For Binswanger, mental illness involved the remaking of a world - including alterations in the lived experience of time, space, body sense and social relationships. Where for example the psychoanalyst might only see "an overly strong 'pre-oedipal' tie to the mother", Binswanger would point out that "such overly strong filial tie is only possible on the premise of a world-design exclusively based on connectedness, cohesiveness, continuity".
Binswanger's Dream and Existence — which was translated from German into French by Michel Foucault who added a substantial essay-introduction — highlighted in similar fashion the necessity of "steeping oneself in the manifest content of the dream - which, since Freud's epoch-making postulate concerning the reconstruction of latent thoughts, has in modern times receded all to[o] far into the background". Eugène Minkowski had earlier introduced Binswanger's ideas into France, influencing thereby among others the early work of Jacques Lacan.
In his study of existentialism, his most famous subject was Ellen West, a deeply troubled patient whose case-study was translated into English for the 1958 volume Existence. Binswanger ascribed "schizophrenia" to her, and her case is included in his book "Schizophrenie". But few contemporary psychiatrists would accept this diagnosis. "Anorexia nervosa" is also misplaced. She felt an extreme urge for weight loss.
Through his adoption from Buber of the importance of the concept of dialogue, Binswanger can also be seen as an ancestor to intersubjective approaches to therapy. Binswanger emphasised the importance of mutual recognition, as opposed to the counterdependency of destructive narcissism, as described by Herbert Rosenfeld for example.
Binswanger on existence
Ludwig Binswanger contributed much to the idea of existence in the school of existential psychology. He believed that human existence was complex in that one has control over how one exists. As he described, humans have the choice of existing as,"being a hunter, of being romantic, of being in business, and thus (we are) free to design (ourselves) toward the most different potentialities of being." He therefore believed that such an existence "transcends the being," making the being accessible to itself in numerous different outcomes in life based on the existential path one chooses. In addition to this belief, Binswanger also thought that you can only observe one's existence and/or unique personality by looking at it holistically, emphasized in this quote from Binswanger:
"It is a question of attempting to understand and to explain the human being in the totality of his/her existence. But that is possible only from the perspective of our total existence: in other words, only when we reflect on and articulate our total existence, the "essense" and "form" of being human.".
Modes of existence
Binswanger argued that there are certain modes of existence. These modes of existence, he believed, allowed humans and non-human animals to be separated based on this concept. These modes include:
- the Umwelt(the "around world")
- the Mitwelt (the "with world")
- the Eigenwelt (the "own world")
The Umwelt can apply to both non-human animals and humans. It is the relationship between the organism and its environment. However, according to Binswanger, non-human animal cannot possess the world as humans do. Non-human animals, "can neither design world nor open up world nor decide independently in and for a situation. As for humans, they do possess the world in the way that they can transcend their being above the level of non-human animals by, "climbing above it (the world) in care and of swinging beyond it in love."
The Mitwelt refers to the mode of existence involved in inter-species relations. Specifically, this mode applies mainly to humans in the sense of human interaction. It also refers to the "shared world" that we have with other people,i.e., viewing our lives according to our relationships with other humans.
The Eigenwelt refers to a person's own subjective experience, or the "self world." In other words, the Eigenwelt is the relationship that one has with themselves. This mode of existence is the most difficult to grasp because of its' vague definition.
Binswanger believed that to fully understand a person, you must take into account the specificities of all three modes of existence.
Weltanschauung (world-design) also applies to one's existence. An individual experiences the world through their own Weltanschauung, or world-design. A person's world-design is essentially how they view and open up to the world around them. This concept also is related to the modes of existence, as Binswanger points out:
"The world-design"..."is by no means confined to the environment to the world of things, or to the universe in general, but refers equally to the world of one's fellow men (Mitwelt) and to the self world (Eigenwelt)"
Being-in-the world vs. being-beyond-the-world
Two other concepts relate to Binswanger's view on existence, relating to the relationship between humans and the world or objects around them. Being-in-the-world is, "the normal and lawful interaction with the real-world environment that is considered primary to our way of existing in the world". It explains how we interact with our environment and the impact of that relationship. When "being-in-the-world," there are 3 general steps of assessment:
- Identify the situation in reference to known objects and their properties
- Assign general rules to that situation according to those objects and properties
- Use logical rules in the situation and draw conclusions as to what must be done
Being-beyond-the-world is the second of these concepts. This idea refers to how people can change their circumstances in the world by using free will. Similar to the concept of being-in-the-world, a person is transcended and is able to transform their world following their own motivations. Binswanger relates this idea to love, believing that, "it (love) takes us beyond the world of one's own self to the world of we-hood".
- 1907: Über das Verhalten des psychogalvanischen Phänomens beim Assoziationsexperiment. Diagnostische Assoziationsstudien. (On the behavior of the psycho-galvanic phenomenon in association experiments. Diagnostic association studies).
- 1910: Über Entstehung und Verhütung geistiger Störungen. (Origin and prevention of mental disorders).
- 1922: Einführung in die Probleme der allgemeinen Psychologie (Introduction to the problems of general psychology), Berlin.
- 1928: Wandlungen in der Auffassung und Deutung des Traumes (Transformations in the view and interpretation of the dream), Berlin.
- 1930: Traum und Existenz (Dream and existence).
- 1932: Zur Geschichte der Heilanstalt Bellevue. Kreuzlingen 1857–1932 (The history of the Bellevue sanatorium. Kreuzlingen, from 1857 to 1932.
- 1933: Über Ideenflucht (On "idea escape"), Zurich.
- 1936: Freuds Auffassung des Menschen im Lichte der Anthropologie. Erweiterter Festvortrag gehalten zur Feier des 80. Geburtstags von Sigmund Freud im Akad. Verein für medizin. Psychologie. (Freud's conception of man in the light of anthropology. Extended lecture held to celebrate the 80th Birthday of Sigmund Freud in the Academic Association for Medicine).
- 1942: Grundformen und Erkenntnis menschlichen Daseins (Basic forms and realization of human existence), Zurich (3rd édition, Munich/Basle, 1962).
- 1946: Über Sprache und Denken (On language and thinking), Basle.
- 1947: Ausgewählte Aufsätze und Vorträge, Bd. 1: Zur phänomenologischen Anthropologie (Selected essays and lectures, Volume 1: To phenomenological anthropology), Bern.
- 1949: Henrik Ibsen und das Problem der Selbstrealisation in der Kunst (Henrik Ibsen and the problem of self-realization in art), Heidelberg.
- 1949: Die Bedeutung der Daseinsanalytik Martin Heideggers für das Selbstverständnis der Psychiatrie (The importance of Martin Heidegger's analysis of Dasein for the self-understanding of psychiatry).
- 1954: Über Martin Heidegger und die Psychiatrie. Festschrift zur Feier des 350jährigen Bestehens des Heinrich-Suso-Gymnasium zu Konstanz (Martin Heidegger and psychiatry. Festschrift to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Heinrich Suso-Gymnasium in Konstanz).
- 1955: Ausgewählte Vorträge und Aufsätze, Bd. II: Zur Problematik der psychiatrischen Forschung und zum Problem der Psychiatrie (Selected lectures and essays, Volume II: On the problem of psychiatric research and the problem of psychiatry) Bern.
- 1956: Erinnerungen an Sigmund Freud (Memories of Sigmund Freud), Berne.
- 1956: Drei Formen missglückten Daseins: Verstiegenheit, Verschrobenheit, Manieriertheit (Three forms of failed existence), Tübingen.
- 1957: Schizophrenie (Schizophrenia), Pfullingen.
- 1957: Der Mensch in der Psychiatrie (Man in psychiatry), Pfullingen.
- 1960: Melancholie und Manie: Phänomenologische Studien (Melancholy and mania: Phenomenological studies), Pfullingen.
- 1961: Geleitwort zu Hans Häfners "Psychopathien". Monographien aus dem Gesamtgebiet der Neurologie und Psychiatrie. (Foreword to Hans Häfner's "Psychopathic". Monographs from the entire field of neurology and psychiatry), Berlin.
- 1962: Der Musische Mensch. Vorwort zu "Musische Erziehung" (Man in arts. Preface to "Education in arts"), Amriswil.
- 1965: Wahn. Beiträge zu seiner phänomenologischen und daseinsanalytischen Erforschung (Delusion. Contributions to phenomenological and analytical investigations), Pfullingen.
- 1992: Traum und Existenz (Dream and existence), Einleitung von Michel Foucault. Verlag Gachnang & Springer, Bern / Berlin. ISBN 978-3-906127-31-6
- 2007: Aby Warburg: La guarigione infinita. Storia clinica di Aby Warburg. A cura di Davide Stimilli. Vicenza 2005 (auf Deutsch: Die unendliche Heilung. Aby Warburgs Krankengeschichte, diaphanes, Zürich/Berlin).
German edition of selected works
Ausgewählte Werke in 4 Bänden. Roland Asanger, Heidelberg 1992–1994
- Band 1: Formen missglückten Daseins, hrsg. v. Max Herzog, 1992, ISBN 3-89334-206-0
- Band 2: Grundformen und Erkenntnis menschlichen Daseins, hrsg. v. Max Herzog und Hans-Jürg Braun, 1993, ISBN 3-89334-203-6 bzw. ISBN 3-89334-207-9
- Band 3: Vorträge und Aufsätze, hrsg. v. Max Herzog, 1994, ISBN 3-89334-204-4 bzw. ISBN 3-89334-208-7
- Band 4: Der Mensch in der Psychiatrie, hrsg. v. Alixe Holzhey-Kunz, 1994, ISBN 3-89334-205-2 bzw. ISBN 3-89334-209-5
- Todd May, 'Foucault's Relation to Phenomenology', in Gary Gutting ed., The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (2007) p. 287
- Sigmund Freud, Civilization, Society and Religion (PFL 12) p. 36
- Quoted in Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time (1988) p. 203
- Gay, p. 229 and p. 789
- Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1961) p. 331
- Gay, p. 242-3
- Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neorosis (London 1946) p. 416 and p. 598
- Herbert Spiegelberg, Phenomenology in Psychology and Psychiatry (1972) p. 197
- Spiegelberg, p. 198-202
- Answers.com Ludwig Binswanger
- Quoted by May, p. 288
- May, p. 295
- Quoted by May, p. 289
- Quoted in May, p. 289
- Elisabeth Roudinesco, Jacques Lacan (2005) p. 45
- Eugene Taylor, The Mysteries of Personality (2009) p. 81
- Donna M. Orange, Thinking for Clinicians (nd) p. 3
- Brian Koehler, 'Ludwig Binswanger: Contributions to an Intersubjective Approach to Psychosis'
- May, Rollo (1958). Existence. Oxford: The Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. pp. 191–213.
- Frie, Roger (1997). Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity in Modern Philosophy and Psychoanalysis. Lanhman, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. pp. 22–23.
- Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009). An Introduction to the History of Psychology. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning. pp. 575–576.
- Lindemann, Gesa; Millay Hyatt (2010). "The Lived Human Body from the Perspective of the Shared World (Mitwelt)". The Journal of Speculative Psychology 24 (3): 275–291.
- de Avila, Diana Teresa. "Existential Psychology, Logotherapy & the Will to Meaning". Retrieved 12/01/2013.
- Zahorik, Pavel; Rick L. Jenison (1998). "Presence as Being-in-the-World". Presence 7 (1): 78–89.
- Popovic, Nash (Autumn 2002). "Existential Anxiety and Existential Joy". Practical Philosophy: 36.
- R. D. Laing, Self and Others(1969) p. 135
- Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim (1972) p. 16-17
- Bühler, Karl-Ernst (2004), "Existential analysis and psychoanalysis: specific differences and personal relationship between Ludwig Binswanger and Sigmund Freud.", American journal of psychotherapy 58 (1): 34–50,
- Reppen, Joseph (2003), "Ludwig Binswanger and Sigmund Freud: portrait of a friendship.", Psychoanalytic review (Jun 2003) 90 (3): 281–91,
- Wittern, Ursula; Hirschmüller, Albrecht (2002), "[Drug therapy of psychiatric patients in the middle of the 19th century: the drug armamentarium of Ludwig Binswanger sen. in his "Asyl Bellevue"]", Gesnerus 59 (3–4): 198–223,
- Hoffman, Klaus (2002), "[Historical essays on Ludwig Binswanger and psychoanalysis]", Luzifer-Amor : Zeitschrift zur Geschichte der Psychoanalyse 15 (29): 1–189,
- Ghaemi, S N (2001), "Rediscovering existential psychotherapy: the contribution of Ludwig Binswanger", American journal of psychotherapy 55 (1): 51–64,
- "[Sigmund Freud / Ludwig Binswanger. Correspondence]", Psyche (Mar 1992) 46 (3), 1992: 221–44,
- Pivnicki, D (1979), "Paradoxes of psychotherapy. In honor and memory of Ludwig Binswanger", Confinia psychiatrica. Borderland of psychiatry. Grenzgebiete der Psychiatrie. Les Confins de la psychiatrie 22 (4): 197–203,
- Kuhn, R (1972), "[Current importance of the work of Ludwig Binswanger]", Zeitschrift für klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie 20 (4): 311–21,
- Kuhn, R (1968), "[Ludwig Binswanger, April 13, 1881 - February 5, 1966]", Bulletin der Schweizerischen Akademie der Medizinischen Wissenschaften (Nov 1968): Suppl 24:99+,
- Vanderpool, J P (1968), "The existential approach to psychiatry (Ludwig Binswanger), (Victor Frankl)", Tex. Rep. Biol. Med. 26 (2): 163–71,
- Delgado, H (1967), "[Necrology. Ludwig Binswanger]", Revista de neuro-psiquiatría (Jun 1967) 30 (2): 216–7,
- Colpe, C (1967), "[A physician in a dialogue. Reminiscences of Ludwig Binswanger, died on 5 February 1966]", Der Landarzt (Feb 28, 1967) 43 (6): 277–83,
- Kuhn, R (1967), "[Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966)]", Schweizer Archiv für Neurologie, Neurochirurgie und Psychiatrie = Archives suisses de neurologie, neurochirurgie et de psychiatrie 99 (1): 113–7,
- Straus, E (1966), "[To the memory of Ludwig Binswanger 1881-1966]", Der Nervenarzt (Dec 1966) 37 (12): 529–31,
- Cargnello, D, "[Ludwig Binswanger) 1881-1966)]", Archivio di psicologia, neurologia e psichiatria 27 (2): 106–10,
- Holt, H (1966), "Ludwig binswanger (1881-1966): a tribute", Journal of existentialism 6 (25): 93–6,
- WYRSCH, J (1961), "[To Ludwig BINSWANGER on his 80th birthday.]", Psychiatria et neurologia (Apr 1961) 141: 229–33,
- STRAUS, E W (1951), "[On the 70th birthday of Ludwig Binswanger.]", Der Nervenarzt (Jul 20, 1951) 22 (7): 269–70,
- "[To Ludwig Binswanger on his 70th birthday.]", Schweizer Archiv für Neurologie und Psychiatrie. Archives suisses de neurologie et de psychiatrie. Archivio svizzero di neurologia e psichiatria 67 (1), 1951: 1–4,
Library resources about
- Binswanger/Freud Correspondence
- Existential Psychology by Dr. C. George Boeree
- Ellen West