Discussion Evening

10 November 2016

Can Heidegger’s writings help the practice of existential psychotherapists despite his being a Nazi?


Studying Heidegger has been central to the training of existential psychotherapists here at Regent’s University London and in the discipline’s discourse generally.  Is it right to continue with this tradition, particularly in light of the revelations in Heidegger’s recently published Black Notebooks?


Our speaker for the evening will be Anthony Stadlen who will give an introductory talk to be followed by a discussion.


Anthony Stadlen is a Daseinsanalyst (the Independent Effective Member for UK of the International Federation of Daseinsanalysis), an existential and psychoanalytic therapist, a family analyst (trained by Aaron Esterson), supervisor, teacher and historical researcher on classic case studies.  Anthony is also founder (1996) of Inner Circle Seminars and Honorary Visiting Fellow at School of Psychotherapy and Psychology at Regent’s University London. He is Former Research Fellow at Freud Museum, London and recipient of Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to Civil Liberties.


Anthony Stadlen writes:


Heidegger states in one of his Black Notebooks that his discussion of the role of ‘Weltjudentum’ (‘World Jewry’) is not to do with ‘race’. His is ‘a metaphysical questioning of the kind of humanity that can with downright abandon undertake the uprooting of all beings from Being’. He attacks Nazi ‘racial’ doctrine as itself part of the same destructive ‘calculative’ ‘machination’ and ‘uprooting’ of which he accuses not only ‘World Jewry’ but also the Bolsheviks, the Americans, the English. He sees his teacher Husserl, a convert to Christianity, as ultimately precluded from true insight by the inescapable fact that he is, still, a Jew. Is Heidegger, then, an ‘antisemite’? If so, in what sense? What is this all about?

It is important to get beyond simplistic categories. How does Heidegger’s critique of ‘World Jewry’ differ from T. S. Eliot’s religious anti-Judaism or Nazi ‘racial’ ‘antisemitism’? What is the reality of Christian and post-Christian anti-Judaism? How did it prepare the ground for Nazi ‘racism’ and for Heidegger’s opposition to both Nazi ‘racism’ and ‘World Jewry’?

And what, if any, are the implications of all this for the everyday practice of psychotherapy? Can Heidegger’s thinking help us improve our practice, as he certainly hoped. If so, how? But if, as Gion Condrau has said, Heidegger’s Nazism, which he saw as an expression of his philosophy, was a ‘political error’, how can we be sure that existential or daseinsanalytic therapy, also purportedly based on his philosophy, is not a ‘therapeutic error’?


The discussion evening will be introductory. An all-day Inner Circle Seminar on Sunday 11 December will explore the question in more depth and detail, but will still be only a preliminary investigation of this complex question. For further information on seminars, please visit


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