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Hastings Center Report, January-February 1996

Psychotherapy and the Ethics of Attention


by Michael Lipson and Abigail Lipson

Copyright by The Hastings Center. Digital access is provided by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, in cooperation with the Hastings Center, for personal research use only. Any other use requires written permission of The Hastings Center.

Medical ethics tends to focus on the content of patients beliefs rather than concern itself with patients ethical development. An ethics of attention investigates the psychological processes that are the prerequisite to moral action.

any psychological difficulties for which patients seek psychotherapy can be seen as requiring some kind of development in the ethical life of the patient. Existing forms of therapy, whether implicitly or explicitly, provide contexts for such development. The aspect we intend to explore is the special role of attentional dynamics: how our capacity to attend underlies our ethical abilities. By investigating attentional dynamics, we do not seek to advocate a particular set of values or a particular brand of moral practice (for example, consequentialist, deontological, virtue-based). Instead, the capacity to attend can be exercised in the service of all the major theories of ethics as they currently exist. Our concern is the psychotherapy of ethics, rather than the ethics of psychotherapy, which represents something of a departure from the norm. To date, discussions of ethics and psychotherapy have shared with other medical ethical inquiry a nearly exclusive focus on ethical constraints on the practitioner, with far less emphasis on ethical processes within the patient To some degree, this situation derives from the history of normative

Michael Lipson and Abigail Lipson, Psychotherapy and the Ethics of Attention, Hastings Center Report 26, no. 1 (1996): 17-22.

ethics in philosophy, which has tended to announce a principle or discuss a practice but not to investigate the intrapsychic and interpersonal conditions under which persons affect one anothers moral develop ment for the good. When medical ethics today concerns itselfwith the meeting point between health care provider decisions and patients moral sensitivities, it tends to focus on questions regarding choice of treatment as mediated by patients beliefs taken as fact, rather than on how techniques of treatment interact with patients ethical development. The perceived authenticity of a Jehovahs Witnesss beliefs, for example, may affect the decision to honor or to supervene the patients refusal of blood transfusions. Yet it will not, at least officially, affect the technical details of how blood is transfused, how other treatments are applied, or how patient and physician might converse and modify their views. Nor does the evolution of patient beliefs or the phenomenology of moral decisionmaking on the part of the patient form a subject in standard bioethical theory. In psychotherapy, however, which concerns itself with the patient as a self-aware and changing psyche, considerations of the patients ethical stances and their development might be expected often to assume a central

role and significantly to affect the details of the course of psychotherapy. This is all the more to be expected when we consider that certain recognized standards of mental health are prima facie ethical in nature. Thus, when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV defines Antisocial Personality Disorder, it includes not only lying, stealing, and cruelty among the diagnostic criteria, but also lack of remorse.1 Similarly, the exclusive focus on ones own body, self, and selfstates reflected in the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorderand the inclusion of lacks empathy among the diagnostic criteriaimplies that the corresponding healthy adaptation involves responsive relatedness to other human beings (p. 661). Even the DSM IV, then, seems at times to invoke, as one criterion of health or pathology, the behavioral and experiential correlatives to commonsense and philosophical conceptions of ethics. If mental health practitioners advocate high ethical standards for themselves, and if diagnostic categories are founded in part on a moral dimension to psychological health, then it seems appropriate for psychotherapists explicitly to engage ethical issues in the lives of those they treat. Indeed, one of the American Psycho logical Associations remedies for ethical lapses in psychologists practice is to mandate psychotherapy for the offender, demonstrating that ethical development can be fostered by psychotherapy. There is no reason for this morally regenerative capacity of psychotherapy to operate exclusively for patients who happen also to be psychotherapists. Yet in the literature of psychotherapy and ethics, despite claims (at least since the 1970s2) that every interaction and every intervention is valueladen, very little is written about the details of ethical development in the patient. Many theorists have announced overarching goals of treatment in quasi-moral terms: as selfactualization (Rogers and Maslow), loving creativity (Fromm-Reichmann and Fromm), purpose (Frankl), love and work (Freud), or social relatedness (Winnicott, Mitchell and Greenberg), and even intimacy (Ehrenberg). Still, the articulated details of

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treatment, the moment-to-moment phenomenology of the patients ethical experience or of the psychotherapeutic session as a context for ethical development, are often passed over cursorily almost shamefacedly.3 The Ethics of Attention The place to work validly in the area of psychotherapy patients ethical development is rarely in terms of specific values and beliefs, rarely in terms of behavioral outcomes, but often in terms of the psychological processes of attention. How the patient attends, rather than what the patient intends, becomes a key focus of psychotherapeutic intervention. While a description of the technical aspects of this field is not possible in so brief a format, we hope to point out some of its primary conceptual features. It is not the individual techniques, which will vary with the practitioners style,- school, and skill, but rather their aim that interests us here. Some ethical theorists, Iris Murdoch and Simone Weil in particular, have already given special weight to the psychological category of attention as a foundation for ethical conduct. Their works provide a starting point for psychotherapys potential to address attentional style as an aspect of adult ethical development. That is, rather than focus on the content of moral beliefs, on this or that sub stance of moral reasoning, they consider the neglected area of the moment-to-moment placement of a persons attention. Attention here has no technical definition distinct from familiar usage: it refers to directing ones awareness to specific objects. We must emphasize at the start that the kind of development to which Weil and Murdoch (and we) refer is explicitly normative, not descriptive. It is not developmental, then, in the sense in which this term is currently used in psychology. Rather, it recognizes the possibility, for patients who desire to exercise it, of increasing the frequency and changing the tone of certain kinds of psychological acts of attention. Along with Weil and Murdoch, we understand this kind of transformation of attentional capacity to be a development in ethical life.

Weil and Murdoch argue for an inner ideal of goodness. In contrast to a behaviorist ethics in the positivist tradition, Murdoch has appealed to common sense conceptions of mental acts.4 Among these is the view that attention immersed in its object carries a higher moral value than attention directed toward the subject. For Murdoch, the attention given to the Russian language when studying it, for example, represents a moral act It is not the content of the attentional focus (Russian) but only the act of attending that is morally effective. As Murdoch writes, Moral change comes from an attention to the world whose natural result is a decrease in egoism through an increased sense of the reality of, primarily of course other people, but also other things.5 Murdochs argument is that goodness inheres not in works but in faith, not in faith but in purpose, not in purpose but in mental devotedness to something other than the self. This devotedness is what she means by attention. As a standard of morality, it tends to make all ethics situational, in the sense that good acts are the outcome of a willed mental responsiveness, neither applications of universal rules nor inner promptings of the solitary reasoner. It also tends to make ethics a matter of consciousness first and behavior second. She emphasizes this aspect of moral reasoning, and champions its advocates (Weil, Rainer Maria Rilke). We may reasonably doubt that the mere other-directedness of attention is sufficient to qualify it as ethical. No doubt it is good for us in the sense of mental exercise and cultural enrichment to learn a difficult foreign language. But is it really good in an ethical sense? Can we not arrange the details of a deception, even of a murder, with terrific attentional focus? Murdoch never engages these questions in detail, but elements of her implicit argument will emerge in what follows. The bridge between attention and morality can most easily be seen by reflecting on selfishness as an attentional style. In acts of self-interest, attention tends to revert from the object to the subject Consider this example: I am learning an irregular verb, then I think how well I am do

ing, then I continue and note a particular use of the verb. It is the middle term here, the rebound from absorbed study to self-concern, that represents an attentional and, in Murdochs view, a moral lapse. Ralph Waldo Emerson worked the same theme: I have done well, I see that I have done well, and lo, it is the beginning of ill. (It is of course irrelevant whether ones attention to the task recoils to a self-orientation of positive or negative valuation: I have done well and I have done badly are ethically equivalent in this sense.) The rebound to ones own self, the recoil of attention from object to subject, is not a matter only of where attention is directed. It coincides with the sense that the object of attention is known in a finalizing sensethat is, fixed or finished. In contrast, the ethically devoted attention is not bent on the sameness of its object from moment to moment. Here we have a partial answer to the apparent problem of the attentive criminal. The murderer, though terribly intent on his object (the planned murder), is failing to manifest a moral attentiveness precisely because the object cannot be freshly understood. Murderers must have murder take place (that is, in their moments of doubt they are not quite murderers). Moral agents, as they ascend to the Good, maintain a progressively looser grip on the protean object of their regard The suppleness of object-oriented attention allows the object itself the freedom to change, while also reducing the frequency of attentional recoil to the attending subject. Martha Nussbaum, in her discussion of Henry Jamess novels, describes this tendency of moral attention to present us with what is new to us, variously referring to it as perception and imagination. One sees, and the moral landscape is only well-seen when, like a well-seen physical landscape, it is full of surprises. Nussbaums view of attention, along with the other terms she uses for it, belong to her general project of balancing duty, rules, and universals with sensitivity to the unique facts of a given case. Her discussions of James aim in part at showing the need to grasp particular details and imagine

Copyright by The Hastings Center. Digital access is provided by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, in cooperation with the Hastings Center, for personal research use only. Any other use requires written permission of The Hastings Center.

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other peoples minds in their specific peculiarities: Moral knowledge, James suggests, is not simply intellectual grasp of propositions; it is not even simply intellectual grasp of particular facts; it is perception. It is seeing a complex, concrete reality in a highly lucid and richly responsive way; it is taking in what is there, with imagination and feeling. To know Maggie is to see and feel her separateness, her felicity; to recognize this is to miss least of all. If he had grasped the same general facts without these responses and these images, in all their specificity, he would not really have known her.6 Of course, lapses of attention are unavoidable. Moreover, they are unmeasurable, even at times unobservable, both for the person experiencing them and all the more so for any one else. Indeed, the status of our attention is often ambiguous; attentional patterns tend to be heterogenously composed of many changing constituents. Where we place our awareness, and how it recoils to ourselves, will both vary moment to moment and interact with every area of the psyche: with habits of thought and feeling, momentary new intuitions, susceptibility to the influence of diverse environments, and other factors too numerous to mention. Above all, we want to note the variety of such elements from one moment to the next; observable actions are only the macro aspect, the summed outcome, of many impulses, decisions, regrets, alertnesses, and somnambulisms. Yet despite the apparent incommensurability of these states and qualities of consciousness, they can all nevertheless be seen as ranged along a continuum, from more to less attentionally immersed. In the ability to move along this continuum lies the potential for a psychotherapy that would promote optimal development of the capacity to attend. Attentional process remains analogous across a wide range of contexts and content, from trivial to grave, and attentional exercise is the common currency of human activities in their ethically in-

structive dimension, whether playing a musical instrument, representing a client at bar, or helping a fallen pedestrian. Thus, do I play the instrument, sum up the case to the jury, or lift the fallen pedestrian, with an eye toward my own glory (lo, it is the beginning of ill) or with an eye toward the activity itself? Let us assume it is both at once: self-regard and other-regard. The question then becomes one that, like so many questions in ethics, is quantitative yet unquantifiable: How much do I focus on my fortune, image, future, appearanceand how much on the activity at hand? For it has long been clear to artists, and to some moral thinkers, that the extent of my self-focus harms my performance. In her essay On the Right Use of School Studies with a View toward the Love of God, Weil makes of attentional focus the whole of morality and almost the whole of human life.7 She maintains that school studies (note the parallel to Murdochs Russian) are valuable precisely because of their exercise of the capacity to attend and not because of their content. She goes so far as to say that subjects to which one is not naturally drawn are (almost) superior. To attend to what does not interest us is to exercise a particularly self-less mental skill: we have little gain, in this sense, from indulging our interests. School studies should be understood as important precisely for this reason: not to learn substantive content, but to learn how to attend. Weils insistence on the develop ment of attention tends, ultimately, toward prayer: the direction of attention toward the divine. But she reserves a special place for the interhuman uses of this capacity, which, like all its uses, are based on self-emptying, that is, the paradoxical (because intentional) abandonment of ones own intentionality with a view toward what is other: Attention consists in suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty and ready to be penetrated by the object (p. 49). In her essays closing reference to the legend of the Grail, Weil makes it clear that we can best know and help our neighbors when we approach them from a foundation of attentional expertise:

In the first legend of the Grail, it is said that the Grail belongs to the first comer who asks the guardian of the vessel, a king three-quarters paralyzed by the most painful wound, W h a t a r e y o u g o i n g through? . . . This way of looking [at another person] is first of all attentive. The soul empties itself of all its own contents in order to receive into itself the being it is looking at, just as he is, in all his truth. Only he who is capable of attention can do this. (p. 51) We could also reach still further back than the Grail legends and consider the role of Aristotles epistemikon, the organelle within the psyche that can perceive Forms, and as to which Aristotle says that it is itself formless.8 That is, we require a form-free cognitive capacity to be capable of knowing new forms. This can be seen to apply to forms of human, natural, or other objects.9 For moral action to take place, Weil makes clear, attention is the prerequisite, rather than any other quality: Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. The capacity to give ones attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have this capacity do not possess it. Warmth of heart, impulsiveness, pity are not enough. 10 The psychotherapy of attention considers the range of adaptive and maladaptive, painful and pleasurable uses of our attentional styles. In doing so, it addresses the moral life of the human being in its intimate, phenomenological roots. Rather than assume that positions or beliefs are the fundamental elements of a patients moral life, it calls them all into question indirectly, by working in the field of attentional capacity. As attention redirects itself, strengthens and deep ens, the patients ethical life changes, confirming or supervening previous conceptions of the Good. Yet we do not propose a specific kind of attention as the endpoint in

Copyright by The Hastings Center. Digital access is provided by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, in cooperation with the Hastings Center, for personal research use only. Any other use requires written permission of The Hastings Center.

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a schema of development. It is perhaps most helpful to think of three forms (not stages) of attentional life, all of which are adaptive throughout life for different purposes. In one, there is no conscious attention: we do what we do automatically and without awareness. This

In a third form, a kind of secondary (purposive) selflessness, we intentionally set intentionality aside and immerse ourselves in the object of our attention, relatively free of our separatist self-interest This form of attention can supervene established codes of conduct because it inhabits the

As attention redirects itself, strengthens and deepens, the patients ethical life changes, confirming or supervening previous conceptions of the Good.
Copyright by The Hastings Center. Digital access is provided by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, in cooperation with the Hastings Center, for personal research use only. Any other use requires written permission of The Hastings Center.

state, familiar from infant studies, 11 but not unique to juvenile psychology, could be called (pace Freud) primary selflessness. When the infant reaches for a bright object, it does not seem that the choice to do so is conscious or intentional in any normal adult sense: it proceeds from no self-aware self, it has no self-regarding intent. Many researchers in childhood psychology doubt that infants differentiate themselves as stable entities separate and distinct from what adults consider their environment. This is a selflessness without ethical merit, yet it is selflessness nonetheless. In a second form of attentional activity, we perform actions and evaluate events by the light of our desires and our reasoning. This presupposes the long, complex development of a self capable of having personal desires and reasonings, and a psychosocial context in which to assess them. It involves the capacity to distinguish between self and other, to have stable concepts of these categories, and to learn social rules. It is both an achieve ment and an ethical problem. From the standpoint of another vocabulary it is the Fallboth necessary and regrettable. This form of attention would include all rule-bound morality and moral conflicts. For these must all be learned and applied by a self, in a social world, and chosen with a far greater degree of self-awareness, of self-insistence, than the infant can muster.

standpoint from which they were themselves created. For this is the form of attention necessary for any new intuitions to come about, even if we touch upon ideational selflessness only momentarily. It requires a moments departure from the circle of established thoughts, interests, habits of mind, to admit a new (to me) idea of any kind, and so too with the intuitions that are moral ideas. Although the third form is clearly the privileged one from among these three, we emphasize that all three are adaptive throughout life at different moments. What we, along with Weil and Murdoch, understand by the exercise of attention is the development of a capacity for intentional immersion in the object being encountered. The Case of Performance Anxiety In our clinical work we frequently encounter people who suffer acute anxiety when they engage, or are about to engage, in some kind of performancewhether in professional, interpersonal, artistic, sexual, or athletic pursuits. We propose that performance anxiety is, at times, a manifestation of an intimate ethical problem at the level of moment-to moment psychological responsiveness to which we have referred above. It is a question of attention. Performance anxiety, more easily than other psychiatric disorders, can be understood as an ethical problem

precisely because it is an attentional problem of the kind diagnosed by Weil, Murdoch, and Nussbaum. The capacity to devote attention (relatively self-less-ly) is the essence of ethical life and the base of truly ethical actions. In performance anxiety, though there may be no apparent injury done to another, there is therefore a moral dimension. The primary symptoms of performance anxiety in many cases can be understood as the felt frustration of the patients efforts to devote his or her attention to the object/task, with an involuntary recoiling of attention to the self-interest of the subject We choose this particular example of attentional ethics because it is singularly clear to patients themselves, and gives us a chance to see the ethical issues in a starkly simple form. Patients often identify the source of their anxiety in the dynamics of attentional recoil. Most importantly, performance anxiety offers a clear example of the link between two mean ings of good the aesthetic and the ethicalthat can fruitfully extend our concept of the pervasiveness of ethics in moment-to-moment psychological functioning. Yet performance anxiety is not always an attentional problem, and need not be treated as such. For example, anxiety preceding performance can sometimes be reframed so that it is perceived by the patient not as a problem but as a healthy part of the event: musicians who interpret their sweaty palms as anticipatory excitement perform better than those who diagnose their condition as stagefright Such reframing can be the basis of an effective psychotherapeutic intervention, provided that the performance anxiety isnt motivated by secondary gains. When performance anxiety is a motivated condition, the debilitation it produces is itself a desired goal. For example, a performance anxious child might be motivated not to perform or to perform badly as a form of protest against a parents intrusive and overcontrolling ambitions. Anxiety in these instances is a sign that the professed goal (that is, a good performance) needs to be reexamined, because the problem inheres in the goal itself or in ones relationship

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to it, and not in the anxiety. The cure for the performance anxious child might be to treat the family. Similarly, the cure for a performance anxious novelist might be to become a surgeon, while the treatment for a performance anxious surgeon might be to become a novelist In all such cases, then, the fundamental problem is not located on any axis of attentional style. Still, not all patients can, or should, simply reframe their anxiety or reexamine their motivations. A variety of methods has already been developed to treat the condition of performance anxiety as a condition. One of these is modeling and rehearsal: the patient observes a (brave) performer and learns to behave similarly by force of example. Another is desensitization: the patient pairs mental images or real stimuli from the feared situation with controlled bodily relaxation (on the behavioristic theory that the anxiety of flight-or-fight arousal is incompatable with the relaxation response). Another is medication: beta-blockers, for example, have been shown to reduce the physical concommitants of fear (fast pulse, sweaty palms, flushing) and allow relatively unhampered performance. Another is dynamic psychotherapy: the history, reasons for, and meanings of the anxiety are explored and worked through. These methods have varying success rates. None of them, however, specifically addresses the phenomenology of the experience in a manner which recognizes its moral dimension. It is our thesis that treatment highlighting the attentional states involved in performance anxiety is at the same time an exploration of the patients ethical life. Such treatment looks at performance with phenomenological intimacy, beginning with the observation that much performance anxiety is an anxiety about ones own self and success. The anxious performer is not involved in the performance (doing) but rather is thinking about the performance (how well am I doing?). The orientation has slipped inadvertently from the object back to the subject. (We cannot enter into the whole natural history of such oscillations here, but only sketch them.) When I am afraid about how I will do, I am afraid about how I will do,

although this concern can take many forms. All such performance anxiety involves the performer in intensified vigilance with regard to the performers own status or fortunes. In this, the mental content of the anxiety always moves toward the subject and away from the matter at handaway from the lover, the presentation, the music, which is superceded by a flurry of self-concern. Thus performance anxiety participates in the structure of narcissism or selfishness as understood in commonsense morality. But it does so not at the level of overt or interpersonal acts, but at the level of activities of awareness. Every devoted act, by contrast, involves a certain abnegation of the self, and an investment in the momentto-moment goal of the activity in all its mutability. The quality of the attention is not a blank self-denial, but it does allow itself to be shaped by that to which the performer attends (the music, for instance). If this abnegation is absent, and the acting self becomes self-conscious, then the quality (in both senses) of the performance immediately suffers proportionately. Making an analogous point, Weil notes that all errors (she mentions geometry but includes all fields) are due to the fact that thought has seized upon some idea too hastily, and being thus prematurely blocked, is not open to the truth.12 Even when the distraction is not to the performers self in any obvious sense, the withdrawal of attention from the content of performance is itself problematic. The question for an ethics of attention and for a psychotherapy based on it must be: How does the individual proceed from the self-conscious fear of performance to regain, or initially create, an immersed involvement in the activity? How does one attain, at the moment of an important competition or under the curious, even critical, gaze of others, a relatively rapt involvement in the activity itself? Only by acknowledging performance anxiety as an entrapment of attention in concerns of self. worth and identity, and in this sense recognizing its ethical dimension, will we do justice to the severity and meaning of this condition and be

likely to find the routeparticular to each patienttoward aesthetic sensitivity and comfort in performance. Redirecting Ethical Life In his essay On the Marionette Theater, Heinrich von Kleist tells the story of a graceful athlete whose first glimpse of himself in the mirror for purposes of self-evaluation forever destroys his ease of movement, leaving him awkward and confused.13 Musing on the solution to this fallen state, Kleist advises that we have to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge a second time to cure ourselves of such a condition. As Kleist suggests, and as we have found both in cases of performance anxiety and other mental health problems, how we hamper ourselves through a faulty kind of self-knowledge (dense with selfconsciousness) must itself be known in all its phenomenological course. Our deficiencies in attentional capacity lead to a host of ailments. When we see how this works in a given case we can help the patient to build the capacity to turn from self to object, first in insignificant and then in progressively more challenging areas (and develop a different sense of self in the process). It is only that very paradoxical capacity, a willed abandonment of self-interest, that can replace the original joyous abandon ruined by self-consciousness. Note that this does not involve taking on a belief in the value of altruism, but rather exercising other-ish-ness in ones cognitive style, and in this sense selflessness. To see many mental health problems (we have developed only the case of performance anxiety) as ethical issuesat times, and in the restricted sense of ethical that refers to the process, rather than the content, of cognitiondoes not make psychotherapeutic interventions based on such a view coercive or moralistic. On the contrary, an interest in attentional style may be held in common by adherents of otherwise divergent systems (consequentialist or deontological, cognitivist or psychodynamic). Nor need we label the issue as ethical when discussing it with patients: discourse regarding the experience of attentional style and focus is suffi-

Copyright by The Hastings Center. Digital access is provided by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, in cooperation with the Hastings Center, for personal research use only. Any other use requires written permission of The Hastings Center.

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Copyright by The Hastings Center. Digital access is provided by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, in cooperation with the Hastings Center, for personal research use only. Any other use requires written permission of The Hastings Center.

cient Those who choose to treat their phobias, performance anxieties, depressions, and other conditions in different ways (for example, chemically) sidestep this arenanot necessarily through any ethical lapse. As we have suggested, whether a patient is best served by focus on attentional style is a matter for inquiry and diagnosis in each case. In many cases, however, we suggest that by exploring the terrain of attentional style psychotherapy can offer patients new ways to direct their own ethical life at the most intimate level. It can become an aid in the patients liberation from the constraints of a too narrow attention to selfa liberation toward increasing alertness to the people and meanings of the world. References
1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (Washington D.C.:

American Psychiatric Association, 1994), p. 650. 2. Ruth Macklin, Values in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy: A Survey and Analysis, American Journal of Psychoanalysis 33, no. 2 (1973): 133-50. 3. There is brilliant but covert work on morals in the literature of psychodynamic psychotherapy. For example, Irving H. Paul, Letters to Simon (Madison, Conn.: International Universities Press, 1973), which includes an ethical phenomenol-ogy of the psychotherapy session under the guise of a manual of technique. 4. Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of God (London: Routledge [Ark], 1989); Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (London: Penguin, 1993). 5. Murdoch, Metaphysics p. 52. 6. Martha Nussbaum, Loves Knowledge (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 152. 7. George Panichas, ed., The Simone Weil Reader (New York: David McKay, 1977), pp. 44-52. 8. Aristotle, De Anima. In The Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: Random House, 1941), pp. 535-603.

9. We could also point to relatively contemporary studies in the psychology of attention. Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi has looked at the psychology of immersion (absorption) in terms of peak performance, creativity, and satisfaction. A fascinating personal account of absorption and its effects, including possible excesses of absorption, can be gleaned from Evelyn Fox Keller, A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1983), especially pp. 36-37. 10. Panichas, The Simone Weil Reader, p. 51, original emphasis. 11. See, for example, Margaret Mahler, Fred Pine, and Annie Bergman, The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant (New York: Basic Rooks, 1975). 12. Panichas, The Simone Weil Reader p. 49. 13. Heinrich von Kleist, Complete Works and Letters (in German), vol. 3 (Munich: Deutschet-Taschenbuch Verlag, 1987), pp. 555-63.

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