Catharsis in Human Development

J. Heron, Catharsis in Human Development. Guildford: Human Potential Research Project, University of Surrey, 1977.

In the 1977 Foreword I wrote:

"This handbook offers a comprehensive theory of human catharsis. Its general purpose is to provide a rationale for the aware use of cathartic interventions in education for personal development in interpersonal skills training. Its more specific purpose is to provide a theoretical complement to my practical manual on co-counselling techniques. The ideas presented here do not, of course, constitute the theory of the human condition that underlies co-counselling, but simply a theory. In principle it is open to revision as a function of applying it in co-counselling experience and practice, or in any comparable situation that allows an experiential research paradigm to be applied. The Contents provide a convenient conceptual map for getting an overview of the theoretical structure and for picking out items for ready reference."

The manual referred to here is Co-Counselling Manual. John Heron, 3rd revised edition 1998

In this 1998 revision, I have made some textual changes, and I have rearranged the sequence of chapters, putting the first four chapters of the first edition at the end of this second edition, in order to make the whole thing more immediately accessible. These four chapters, Chapters 4 to 7 below, present a theory of human nature and the human condition which underpins the discussion of issues in the first three chapters.

The 1977 first edition already pointed beyond itself in the following brief statement: "The fact that the intrinsic stresses of the human condition are such that human behaviour can break down into distorted and perverted forms is itself a kind of meta-challenge - to transpersonal development, in my view. The first order challenge of the stresses is to personal and interpersonal development, but the continued vulnerability of this achievement is a second order challenge to cultivate the wider reaches of human awareness." The transpersonal, or spiritual, dimension of human experience is included in a variety of developmental settings in the following seven publications. The chapter on co-creating, in the sixth of these, most precisely articulates a theory of the transpersonal context of the human condition, to which Catharsis in Human Development points, and by which it is expanded.

I am grateful to those with whom I have worked in basic co-counselling training workshops, advanced co-counselling workshops, co-counselling teacher training workshops, in co-counselling co-operative inquiries and in international workshops - in Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and the USA - for providing the crucible of systematically shared experience within which the ideas presented in this paper - and their expansion in subsequent publications - have been developed.


See also my:


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