Medicine and Dasein-therapy: Medard Boss and the Beginnings of a Human Therapeutics


  • Miles Groth



dasein-therapy, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, daseinsanalysis, medical model, existence, clinical psychology, Medard Boss, Martin Heidegger


Medard Boss (1903-1990), a Swiss psychiatrist influenced by the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), embodied what led to the current crisis of psychotherapy as a practice. Pharmacotherapy has become the treatment of choice for psychological disorders, but clinicians and the media still encourage people to also seek out psychotherapy. At the same time, discouraging reports on the lack of success of psychotherapy (defined as “getting well and staying well”) have confirmed the general public’s increasing suspicion about it lack of efficacy, ranging from psychodynamic to cognitive-behavioral modalities. After the inception of psychotherapy as psychoanalysis at the turn of the 20th century, in the late 1930s an approach based on psychoanalysis known as daseinsanalysis originated with Ludwig Binswanger. Very soon thereafter, a second and very different version, developed by the author in personal collaboration with Heidegger, was presented by Boss. While both iterations have remained very much on the margins of discussions of psychological treatment, at this time daseinsanalysis (or dasein-therapy) is a promising approach to psychological treatment for a number of reasons. Above all, it offers the prospect of a complete abandonment of the medical model, with which it has always been on good terms. Boss, whose background and ideas are explored, did not break with the medical model, but his vision of the therapeut and therapy focused on the existence of the other provides a foundation for a genuinely human form psychological treatment as we enter the era “after psychotherapy.”




How to Cite

Groth, M. (2019). Medicine and Dasein-therapy: Medard Boss and the Beginnings of a Human Therapeutics. Free Associations, (76), 60–88.