© 2010

The Talking Cure

Wittgenstein’s Therapeutic Method for Psychotherapy

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. John M. Heaton
    Pages 1-14
  3. John M. Heaton
    Pages 15-32
  4. John M. Heaton
    Pages 33-50
  5. John M. Heaton
    Pages 51-63
  6. John M. Heaton
    Pages 64-94
  7. John M. Heaton
    Pages 95-134
  8. John M. Heaton
    Pages 135-177
  9. John M. Heaton
    Pages 178-199
  10. John M. Heaton
    Pages 200-214
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 215-227

About this book


In the last 15 years there has been a change in direction in our understanding of Wittgenstein; the 'resolute' reading of him places great emphasis on his therapeutic intent and argues that the aim of Wittgenstein's thought is to show how language functions. This book argues that this is highly relevant to understanding psychotherapy.


Psychotheraphy Wittgenstein talking cure language speech Ludwig Wittgenstein psychotherapy Therapeut therapy thought

About the authors

JOHN M. HEATON is in private practice in London, UK as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. He is a regular lecturer at Regent's College, London on the Advanced Diploma in Existential Psychotherapy programme, and also teaches regularly at Roehampton University, UK. He is a founder member of the Guild of Psychotherapists and was Director of Training in the Philadelphia Association, USA for many years. He was editor of Journal for Existential Analysis for seven years and his publications include: The Eye: Phenomenology and Psychology of Function and Disorder;  Wittgenstein for Beginners; Introducing Wittgenstein and Wittgenstein and Psychoanalysis.

Bibliographic information


'In this superb book John Heaton presents and defends a post Freudian 'talking cure' approach to psychotherapy. What gives the book a special weight is its reliance on the work of Wittgenstein. Scarcely a page goes by without a quotation from and insightful remarks on his writing. This appeal to Wittgenstein is remarkable in its depth of understanding and in the range of texts cited. The ideas thus culled are artfully employed in laying out the details of the theory-free take on therapy that constitutes John Heaton's talking cure. They are also most tellingly used in an ongoing attack on what are seen as the similar theory laden approaches found in the work of Freud and the cognitive therapists [...] Altogether a delightful and important book.'

- Professor J. Canfield, University of Toronto, Canada, USA

'This book shows how Wittgenstein's therapeutic method can be applied to psychotherapy. An original endeavour which may well break new ground [...] a work that psychologists, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts will want to read.'

- Dr Daniele Moyal-Sharrock, University of Hertfordshire, UK

'[...] Heaton's revolutionary book requires, needs, and deserves to be read not only by psychotherapists and psychiatrists but by every mental health professional.'

- British Journal of Psychiatry

'...a devilishly complex and sophisticated book...' - The Philadelphia Association

'...the empiricist mythologies of the talking cure, that confuse process with entity, reify distress in some thing in the client. The grip of reification is the very difficulty from which the client seeks relief. The Talking Cure elucidates this strange irony of the profession that all therapists ought to be aware of. We should be grateful to Heaton for drawing our attention to it.' - History and Philosophy of Psychology

'Though aimed at the psychotherapist - for whom it should be an essential text - this work holds profound insights for those of any discipline concerned with how we try to make sense of ourselves and our world.'

- Existential Analysis, Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis