Philosophical Investigations

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Volume 37 Issue 2 (April 2014), Pages 105-183

Wittgenstein and the Expression of Feelings in Psychotherapy (pages 152-166)


Effective psychotherapy is often held to involve the expression of feelings. Within the person‐centred approach, this view has been especially emphasised by Carl Rogers and Eugene Gendlin. I am concerned with the question of why the expression of feelings can be therapeutically effective. Many psychotherapists picture feelings as “inner experiences” for which the client tries to find appropriate words, but the difficulties with this picture, which were highlighted by Wittgenstein, seem to call for a very different approach. Here, I develop a Wittgensteinian account of the expression of feelings that avoids the difficulties to which Wittgenstein draws attention.

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