Dwelling and hospitality: a phenomenological inquiry into therapeutic community

Cooper, Robin Anthony (1985). Dwelling and hospitality: a phenomenological inquiry into therapeutic community. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000de1d


This phenomenological study firstly examines the concept of the 'therapeutic community' as it appears within contemporary British psychiatry. It argues that certain confusions and contradictions which are exhibited within this area of practice arise as an inevitable consequence of the medicalistic and psychologistic epistemologies upon which these communities are predicated.

Secondly, it proposes a number of informing sources whereby the practices of a therapeutic community might be more soundly guided. Amongst these are the ethical writings of Aristotle, and the discussions of 'dwelling' which are to be found within recent European philosophical writings. In particular, certain writings of Heidegger, Levinas and Bachelard are seen to be important. Informed by these sources, it is argued, we may find ourselves in a position to embody theorizing in a manner which more befits the subject matter of the therapeutic community.

In the third part, an illustration is offered, of one therapeutic community household within which these questions of 'dwelling' were raised, and whose therapeutic gesture was understood in terms of the hospitality of dwelling, rather than the application of psychological method. Discussion is devoted to the founding of this household, the embeddedness of its conversations within the fabric of the ordinary, and the issues which were raised in the course of its finding its own way. In the final chapter of this thesis, attention is paid to the matter of the evaluation of such therapeutic households, and to their relevance to the current social policy of psychiatric 'care in the community'.

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