In this preamble, I, Ruth Cohn, remind the Foundation of my fundamental convictions in the hope that they will guide its work:
What do I wish to achieve with TCI? I would like each and every human being to learn to say “I” wholeheartedly, since it is only then that they will be able to find fulfillment; besides, every “I” already contains You and We and the World. When I to go deep enough into myself, and trust my eyes and my other senses, I see the world outside as well – those close to me, my wife, husband, children, friends, people on the street, on screens, trees, animals, houses, mountains, the sea and the sky -
When I abandon myself to myself and my eyes, I see the world, and when I give my undivided attention to the world, I find myself [...].
What I am trying to say is that inside and outside – self-realization and world realization – come together in me in autonomy and interdependence. I realize that I am more autonomous the more I become aware of our interdependence, and more sociable the more I cultivate my idiosyncrasy [...].
I wish I had ears to hear the cries of those who are sinking, the cries of men in torture chambers [...] and the cries of the children and parents who are obliged to witness the torment of their loved ones.
I would like to encourage those who do not wish all of this pain to continue not to resign themselves and feel helpless, but rather to use the power of their imagination and their ability to act in order to declare and practice solidarity for as long as we still feel autonomous strength in ourselves.
This is what I would essentially like to achieve with TCI.
TCI was born from the conviction, that a value-oriented humanity can be realized in personal and societal life as an answer to the human and political tragedies of the 20th century. My hope for human alternatives in life and education following the disaster of National Socialism was the driving force for my intellectual and practical commitment. But the psychoanalyst’s couch was too restricted a space. I wanted to develop a concept which would allow for the incorporation of educational and therapeutic elements into the work of large, non-therapeutic groups.
Thanks to the inspiring, open atmosphere we met with in the workshops and professional conferences organized by contemporary therapists in the US, I ultimately developed Theme-Centered Interaction together with my colleagues and companions and founded the Workshop Institute for Living-Learning (WILL) in New York in 1966, the Institute for TCI training, research and practice (TCI: Theme-Centered Interaction).
In 1968, I travelled back to Europe for the first time since the war, at the invitation of German colleagues. The reaction of my audiences encouraged me a great deal with respect to my vision that TCI can indeed trigger a political and therapeutic effect in people, i.e. that persons can be strengthened in their personality by this method to the extent that they can become immune to mass hysteria and manipulation. I feel genuinely obliged to do this work, since I have been fortunate in my life, despite having been persecuted and forced to emigrate.
It is the task and goal of the Foundation to convey this value-based state of mind and the corresponding TCI methods as tools to be used by young adults. May this Foundation always possess the means to communicate the concept of TCI and its future developments to many young persons.
Düsseldorf, December 20th, 2008
Ruth C. Cohn