Of Ruth Cohn

Here is a sample of various texts by Ruth Cohn, translated from German into English. With this sample we hope to awaken your interest in her work.

1. The intention of TCI

"TCI represents an approach that makes the impersonal world of mass education and mass communication personal. Its intent is to assist the individual in unfolding sensatory awareness, emotions and thoughts and also in avoiding reifying work relationships. In addition, people should not have to experience what they do as being pointless." (Anteilnehmen p. 20)

"I would like to encourage people, who do not care for all this suffering, not to resign or feel hopeless, but to use their imagination and ability to work actively in solidarity, as long as we are able to feel our own autonomy. - This is what I really want to do with TCI." (Farau/Cohn, p. 375)

2. Value system

"The question of values and goals must always precede the question of method. The question of efficiency can only be answered, when I am clear about why I want to be efficient. That 'gas chambers' are efficient goes without saying. I consider the question of efficient profit making only meaningful, when we are clear about the values we associate with profit." (Anteilnehmen p. 119)

"It is a clear case of realigning values. If my highest priority is to have my organization make the greatest possible profit, then all the talk about human values is just a lot of humanity blather." (Es geht ums Anteilnehmen, p. 119)

Humanism is: "knowing that I count, knowing that you count. It is a matter of knowing that every human being counts, whether he is black, white, red, yellow or brown. The earth is what counts. The universe counts. My suffering counts. Your suffering counts." (Von der PsA zur TZI p. 109)

"I take care of my own business; I am I. You take care of yours; you are you. The world is our business; it does not live up to our expectations. Yet, if we take care of the world, it will be wonderful; if not, it will cease to be." (Von der PsA zur TZI, footnote p. 101)

"Laws that violate justice must be broken." (Farau/ Cohn, p. 465)

3. TCI in education

"Theme-centered interaction groups for teachers - teach a way of instructing that makes one able to view children as complete individuals, not merely as grade producers. And (then) the teachers can still feel like human beings that spend time with many children, who want more than merely learning some subject or another."  (Anteilnehmen p. 72)

"You cannot instruct even one class without impinging upon the institution in some way." (oral quote)

4. Miscellaneous

"A group does not become stronger, when people forfeit their individuality. It gets stronger, when they actualize themselves in their community. Everyone realizes himself in relation to others and in dedication to the task at hand." (Farau/Cohn, p. 465)

"I believe that it is impossible to convince another person. One can only keep expressing his own opinion, create situations in which this opinion will be heard, and live authentically according to his own value system. I cannot influence what another person does with this opinion. It has been my experience that, whenever I speak to the so-called exploiters, they have the same concerns as everyone else. I often think..., if only they knew how to overcome their fear, they would do so immediately...." (Es geht ums Anteilnehmen, p. 120)

"Giving to little is theft; giving too much is murder!" (Es geht ums Anteilnehmen, p. 142)

"I believe that self-assessment, self-esteem, having a sense of oneself and others must be learned the same as any other profession." (Es geht ums Anteilnehmen, 151)

"In order to realize myself, I need to be in relationship to others." (Es geht ums Anteilnehmen, p.122)

"My favorite theme is: "What do I do with someone, who is not the way I want him to be?" (Anteilnehmen p.106)

"I believe that both children and adults want to accomplish something. I think that the term ' pressure to perform' arose not merely because achievement itself is hated so much; it applies to achievement based upon external demands." (Anteilnehmen, p. 156)

"I believe that the disease of static, overweight Egoism develops, when existential fear takes over and becomes unbearable so that interest in knowing the world gets stuck on the inside of one's own body (....)" (Anteilnehmen, p. 160)

" 'I want to', is the conscious, integrated answer to 'I would like to, I must, I should or ought to'." (Cohn/Farau, p. 345)

"A conscience that is not holistically supported is not sustainable. Sensuousness and sense are not only words that are related; the experiences of both are also related. They are rooted in the body and are also more than that.... In my opinion our ethical sense is organismically rooted in the same way." (Farau/ Cohn, p. 470)

"Reality is authority. Disregarding this and regarding people methodically as ' objects' to be treated has an unrealistic, thus pathogenic, quality." (Farau/Cohn, p. 536)

"Whatever is said should be authentic, yet not everything that is authentic should be said." (Farau/Cohn, p. 280)

"What I want to say is that inside and outside join in the form of autonomy and interdependence. It is my experience that I become more autonomous the more I am aware of our interdependence and also more social the more I live my personal originality (Farau/Cohn, p. 375)

"I am neither all-powerful nor powerless. I am partially powerful." (Farau/Cohn, p. 379)


Literature sources:

Cohn, Ruth C.: Es geht ums Anteilnehmen, Freiburg 1993.

Cohn, Ruth C.: Von der Psychoanalyse zur Themenzentrierten Interaktion, Stuttgart 1975.

Cohn, Ruth C.; Farau, Alfred: Gelebte Geschichte der Psychotherapie, Stuttgart 1984.

Cohn, Ruth C.; Matzdorf, Paul: Das Konzept der Themenzentrierten Interaktion, in: Löhmer, Cornelia; Standhardt, Rüdiger (eds.): TZI – pädagogisch-therapeutische Gruppenarbeit nach Ruth C. Cohn, Stuttgart 1993, p. 39ff.