Eric Evans

Registered Psychotherapist

Toronto Psychotherapist working with depression, anxiety, serious illness, creativity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer issues.

Levinas and Psychotherapy

I just read a paper by Emmanuel Levinas called "Dying For..." from his book Entre Nous. Levinas is new to me, but I'm starting to think he shouldn't be. 

Levinas was a student of Martin Heidegger and struggled, as we all have, with the fact of Heidegger's involvement with National Socialism. This struggle we all must wrestle with who have read Heidegger and found meaning there. 

Levinas starts from Heidegger's conception of being-in-the-world, -with-others, -towrad-death as definitive of us and extends this to a seemingly radical notion that we are being-for-others, culminating in death: perhaps the most radical of withs. One way I can look at this is to say that through our being-toward-death we are that much more -toward-others. We are always already connected to one another, inherently relating. 

As a psychotherapist, this feels right: it is the reason i do this work. We are born already in relationship, understand ourselves in relationship, and, as Levinas reminds us, die in relationship. He even suggests we are most in relationship at the end, perhaps even after. As D.W.Winnicott said: there is no such thing  as a baby, and I guess at the other end of things, there is no such thing as dying alone.