Glossary

Many of these terms simply don’t lend themselves to short, yet concise definitions, so they’re being offered up on a conditional basis. Also, some of the terms that pertain most directly to ISTDP have been used by Dr. Davanloo in highly specific ways, and we’ve done our best to define them according to this usage. We would certainly consider additional suggestions, clarifications or refinements.
 
And as an added note, Nat Kuhn MD has written a book called Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: A Reference. As the review says, “This comprehensive reference to Dr. Habib Davanloo's Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) defines all of the important terms in ISTDP, providing an in-depth discussion of almost every aspect of the therapy, including clinical examples.”
 
Channels of Anxiety
Unconscious anxiety can be channeled in a number of different ways: through smooth muscle, striated muscle, and cognitive disruption; or it may undergo what has been referred to as “instantaneous repression of affect,” where it becomes channeled directly into depressive states.
 
Defenses
Defense mechanisms work to lower anxiety, helping us to avoid deeper, more difficult levels of experience. They may function superficially, or may be more deeply rooted and woven into one’s character.  Feelings themselves can also function as defenses.  In one case, for example, we might get angry as a way to avoid feeling sadness, while in another we might use sadness to defend against experiencing our anger.
 
Ego-dystonic
This term refers to processes we are aware of; for example, we may know that we’re tapping our foot because we’re nervous.
 
Ego-syntonic
This refers to processes outside of our experience; for example, we may feel nervous and be unaware that we are tapping our foot.
 
Intrapsychic Focus
This term means paying attention to how we are experiencing our thoughts, feelings, impulses, and bodily sensations; with particular emphasis on getting to the conscious and unconscious dynamics that contribute to this internal experience.
 
ISTDP
Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) is a form of psychotherapy developed by Habib Davanloo, MD.  This method is designed to give us direct access to the unconscious, which means allowing us to experience a wide range of interconnected feelings, and in doing so, freeing us from the crippling forces of repression.
 
Kensho
Kensho refers to the direct realization of one's originally pure nature.  There are many degrees of awakening and kensho generally refers to an initial experience, one that must be deepened and refined through continued practice so that it can become integrated and fully functional in one’s life. 
 
Mobilization of the Unconscious
This is the process by which a person’s unconscious becomes more fluid, more activated -- something which can occur for many reasons, including therapeutic interventions and intensive forms of meditation practice.  As repressed material moves closer to the surface it becomes more accessible to the conscious mind, and at the same time stirs up anxiety.  This mobilization creates a tension between the part of the mind that wants the material to be known, and another part that works to keep it repressed.
 
Neurobiological Pathways
This refers to the neurological channels by which feelings move through the body. A full-bodied emotional experience includes both visceral and cognitive elements; it is clear and connected, and if intense enough, includes an impulse to act as well. 
 
Psychodynamic
This term refers to the interplay between the conscious and unconscious forces of the mind. Psychodynamic theory holds that much of our mental activity occurs outside of conscious awareness, leaving us in the dark about many of the forces that govern our emotions and behavior.   For this reason, seemingly similar actions may have very different causes, and similar motives can lead to very different behaviors.
 
Psychodynamic Zen
We are using the term Psychodynamic Zen to refer to a certain understanding of Zen, and a style of Dharma practice, that recognizes and works in direct ways with the unique conscious and unconscious psychological features that may arise out of Zen practice in the West.
 
Resistance
Those forces that work against allowing the unconscious to become conscious. 
 
Self-Afflictive
We use this term to describe a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and mindstates that manifest themselves in self-critical and self-crippling ways. Self-afflictive dynamics are driven by the repressive forces of the unconscious, and can function in ways that create pain, obstruct intimacy, and undermine deeper forms of meditation.
Transference
This refers to feelings that a student or client has towards the teacher or therapist (or anyone else with whom one has a significant relationship in the present).  We can distinguish between feelings in the transferencethose feelings based on the actual relationship, versus transference feelingsfeelings that arise out of past relationships, that are then projected onto the teacher or therapist.
Transference issues grow out of unresolved issues from a person’s past, in relation to a single important figure in one’s life, or an amalgam of such relationships.  When this dynamic becomes entrenched over time, it often manifests itself as the powerful, unconscious attempt to recreate a previous relationship, or aspects of that relationship, with another person in the present.  This is referred to as transference neurosis.
Counter-transference refers to the same dynamic, but in reverse:  it applies to those unconscious feelings and expectations projected onto the client or student by the therapist or teacher.
 
Unconscious
Actually, there is no such “thing” as the unconscious, but when that term is used it refers conveniently to the full range of thoughts, feelings, experiences, and so forth, that remain outside of awareness. It includes the hidden or ‘forgotten’ creative and compassionate forces, as well as the punitive dynamics that have been buried because that are too threatening or unacceptable.