Ole Jacob Madsen: Philosophical Counseling – a Paradox Contribution to «The Therapeutic Culture»?

Philosophical counselling originated in Germany in the early 1980s and is now available in most Western countries as a commercial service to ‘guests’ seeking a deeper insight on personal or world matters. The philosophical counselling movement distances itself from established health professions like psychotherapy or psychiatry and often directs criticism against them for reducing existential and moral questions to a matter of health and sickness. However, by relating philosophical counselling to the present «therapeutic culture» I argue that the movement share many traits with more overt forms of therapy. Despite that philosophical counsellors do not prescribe antidepressants or set psychiatric diagnosis, they are still therapeutic agents in a self-absorbed «makeover culture» and might also become an inadvertent remedy for its enhancement and reinforcement. Philosophical counselling is currently a peripheral institution with limited influence upon society, but is in need of a socio-historic revision of its current status as much as the health professions it sets out to criticise.

Keywords: Philosophical counselling, philosophy and psychology, the therapeutic culture, philosophy in society, makeover culture, paradoxical interventions