Phenomenal event with another on the way January 17-18, 2014!

We had a wonderful event last weekend which featured Connie Romero, a Jungian analyst from New Orleans, LA. Connie has a special interest in theater and our creativity was sparked as we explored how drama, from ancient Greece to our modern culture, serves as a connection to the deep, resonating layers of archetypal human emotion and experience. Wonderful! We had over 40 attendees for the Friday lecture, and the workshop on Saturday allowed all of us to connect to these archetypal energies through the arts.

Save the date for our next event, January 17-18, 2014 with Paul Kugler, a Jungian analyst from Buffalo, NY. More details to come!

Fiction Break

Such interesting reflections on the nature of connection have surfaced during this interim away. For those of who do not know, I have been wearing two hats over the past several years, as both professional and student, working toward my doctorate in clinical psychology, and I can honestly say that I have not read "for pleasure" in years. But this summer vacation period has been different. Instead of cramming for exams, or worrying about dissertation research, or any other type of heady exploration, I read poorly-written detective novels watched every single Harry Potter movie for the first time. A pile of academic journals and cerebral Jungian "stuff" sat on the nightstand, looking appealing, but never winning. You know what? I loved it.

But I am left with wondering, how do the two worlds coexist? Or can they? Can a person be committed to connection between ego and Self, both professionally and personally, and also be committed to mass market novels and popular culture? Is that an interruption of individuation or a part of it? I don't have an answer, so I thought, what do all of you think?

Since this blog  is meant to be an interactive, supportive community that helps incorporate psyche into our everyday lives,  who better to ask, right? Hope to hear from you. Feel free to post here on this site, or like us on Facebook and join in the conversation there...

Hope you all are enjoying these summer months,

Hallie

A second look at the term Psychology

I am sure each of us has our own loose definition of psychology.  Its vestiges exist everywhere – the self-help section of the bookstore, reality shows, talk shows…Many of us have been involved with psychology because we have sought help in the therapy room, or from our primary care physicians in the form of a prescription, to relieve symptoms of “anxiety” or “depression.”  If we seek out therapy, we may have received different messages from different professionals – different solutions to the symptoms we feel:  Take this pill and come back in 4-6 weeks.  Or, Make a list of goals and complete them (as if we wouldn’t have already done that if we could have done that).  Or, Tell me about your childhood…Which brings us to all of the different “schools” of psychology.  So not only do we have a loose definition of psychology floating somewhere in our minds, but now we have to make sense of all of these different messages and approaches which have fancy titles – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Psychoanalysis, Jungian Psychology…What is all of this?  What is psychology?!

The Latin roots of the word come from psyche and logos.  Previous blogs have explored psyche in greater detail, but in simplest form, from its Latin roots, psyche refers to breath, spirit, or soul.  The second root word, logos, refers to the theory of, or the study of.  Therefore, psychology defined in its truest sense, is the study of soul.

In contrast, the most powerful governing branch of American psychology (American Psychological Association, or APA), wants psychology to be defined as a STEM science – meaning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  Here, everything must be measurable and observable.  This is not a place where soul can thrive, if even survive.

But if we remain true to psychology as the study of psyche as we’ve discussed previously, then we have entered the realm of depth psychology.  Next week we’ll explore that term, depth psychology, in greater detail, and place the work of Carl Jung within that framework.

In the meantime, remember, we are more than a sum of measurable functions.  We are complex and wonderful human beings…

Hallie Durchslag, LISW

Ushering in Spring

Spring officially began on March 20th.  Unfortunately, as the snow on the ground shows us, the weather and the spring solstice sometimes have little to do with one another.  We curse Cleveland weather and its propensity to keep us frustrated and stuck in the cold.  We can only anticipate warm weather to come through the markers of daylight savings time, growing light in the evenings, Easter, Passover.  And yet somehow, somewhere in the midst of anticipation and disappointment, we blink and realize that the crocuses have popped, the buds have appeared, and the snow plows have gone into hibernation.  The shift of season has occurred.  This seems hauntingly psychological.  And since the past several blogs have focused on our relationship to nature and psyche as a means of understanding ourselves in connection to the larger anima mundi, how might we conceptualize the coming of spring from a Jungian perspective? 

In fact, spring is the spoils of the hard-earned work of autumn and winter.  Buds and new growth are only possible because of the decay of the autumn and the dormancy of winter.  The buds, the flowers, the greenery, come from things laid bare and stark.  This death and re-birth cycle is a core piece of personal growth, as well.  Mostly, though, and unjustly, we tend to value spring, the spoils of personal growth, without recognizing that emptiness and confusion, our personal winters, are its precursor.  Perhaps an appropriate psychological lens to the coming of spring might be less a sense of a “thank goodness horrid winter and cold are leaving,” sentiment, and more a quiet celebration of the wisdom of nature that knows the process it needs to grow and flourish again.  This wisdom guides our own psyche, and is at the root of the individuation process.  Individuation is cyclical, not linear, just like the seasons.  So ushering in this season, perhaps we can reflect on how indebted we are to the work of winter in bringing us the flowering or spring of new psychic energy. And now it is our responsibility to tend to the soil that has been prepared for us.  Happy gardening!!

Connection to the Environment

I think it’s fitting that we’ve been talking about our connection with nature because, scanning a couple of Jungian journals, I found that both Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture and Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche have both chosen to center their Winter editions on our relationship to the environment and how it influences psyche.  Much of the discussion relates to, without necessarily naming it, Jung’s later conceptualization of the Psychoid, which expanded his definition of the collective unconscious to include all of the natural world.  Hillman, too, focused much of his attention to the living natural world and our responsibility to attend to it as much as, or more than, we attend to our own egos and internal lives.  Called different things by different people, it seems many are coming to the same point – that we are intrinsically a part of our environment, and abusing it has dire consequences for our own well-being – our personal and collective psyche, and the anima mundi, or “soul of the world.”

An article in Jung Journal (2012) focuses on the thought of anthropologist, deep ecologist, and professor, David Abram.  His language, an ecological language, captures the essence of what is variously called Psychoid, or unus mundus, or anima mundi beautifully when he writes:

“…we and other animals don’t really live on the Earth.  After all, this invisible air we’re continually imbibing – this unseen atmosphere that we exchange among ourselves here in this room but also with the herbs and trees outside the building – this gusting medium of air is entirely a part of the Earth.  The space between us is not a void; it’s not an empty space continuous with the space between the planets.  Rather the air is a thick, meaning-filled plenum – rich with whiffs and pheromones and unseen clouds of pollen drifting this way and that, thick with messages moving between the bees and the blossoms.  That is, although the medium around us cannot normally be seen, it is nonetheless palpable, tangible, and filled with consequential happenings.  The unseen air has its flavor and its ever-shifting smells, its turbulence and its calms.  The atmosphere is a planetary membrane that extends right up to the clouds and beyond, an invisible layer of Earth.

Hence we don’t really live on the Earth; we live in the Earth.” (volume 7(1), pp. 109-110)

What this means for us from an action standpoint can seem overwhelming.  Albrecht (2012) has called this “eco-paralysis,” which “occurs when there is an overload of negative ecological information against which persons can do nothing sufficiently positive” (Spring, 88, p.14).  I, personally, feel I fall into this category.  However, if I continue to do what I can in my small universe, and support others who are brave enough to advocate at national and international levels, I can revel in what is still right with our environment.  And I believe there is plenty that is still “right” with our environment in Northeast Ohio.  Plenty to do, but also plenty of pleroma in which to find our sustenance to move forward.  With hope,

 Hallie Durchslag, LISW

 If you would like to find out more about David Abram, he provides a website for his work, www.wildethics.org. I have not explored it, myself, but perhaps others will share their thoughts in the blog.  A note about the RSS feeds: they have been difficult for me to figure out, myself. I will share simple “how-tos” once I have found them…

Alignment with Psyche in our everyday lives

I had some more thoughts regarding psyche sparked by a beautiful photograph Rev. Daniel Budd sent.  (As many of you know, Rev. Budd is reverend at the Unitarian Universalist Church where we hold many of our programs.  He is also the President of the Jung Cleveland Board.)  I’ve attached it to this blog entry.  I find it a phenomenal expression of the power of nature to embody the larger numinosity of the psyche.  The picture below is of the Madison river in Yellowstone National Park.  When I saw its glow, I immediately thought of the numinous energy right here on earth – in our environments and in our lives.

 I find it a phenomenal example  of nature's  power to embody the larger numinosity of the psyche. The numinous is the glimmer of magic when the psyche breaks through into the mundane activities of our lives, into our connection with nature, and through the miracle of synchronicity.  Many of you may have had the opportunity to attend the recent lecture and workshop with Lionel Corbett.  In his book, Psyche and the sacred: Spirituality beyond religion (2007), Dr. Corbett regards the numinous as a connection that offers a “profound sense of union or oneness with the world and with other people” (p.2).  

 The numinous can touch us in even the most mundane activities.  Allison Moreno, a Jungian analyst and poet, captures this beautifully in an article she wrote for the Jungian journal, Psychological Perspectives (2010).  She writes:

I see my world as being interconnected, each element as related as those around it as the tectonic plates which make up the earth’s surface, whole continents slipping easily over the sphere’s body, yet joining, part of one globe...My writing, my reading, my relationship, my running, my garden, the house that I live in, my job at the bookstore, and my breathing, as all being part of the same thing.  My critic, when manifesting in his negative aspect, does not understand this.  Cannot see that the chard I am washing for my dinner (even the dirt which falls from the chard as I turn the sturdy leaves under the water) bears an intimate relation to the next poem I may write.  The chard may not be in the poem, but it will inform it.  This is crucial, this simple dailyness, a praxis. (p. 56)

 So psyche is not only the stuff of dreams and our unconscious.  It is the living, breathing expression of those magical intrusions of meaning and beauty.  My hope is that all of us can connect with such transcendent beauty in the coming week.  With best wishes…

Hallie Durchslag, LISW

The Living Psyche

Hi community –

 Still trying to get a regular schedule in place for posting the weekly blog.  I am thinking Friday afternoons, but that may shift as it becomes a bigger part of my routine.  So please bear with me, and know it is our intention to keep this blog fresh and consistent.  I encourage all of you to explore the RSS Feed tabs if you are interested in being notified of posts and comments through your email inbox.  Enough logistics.  Let’s shift to the great inspirer (and also disappointer), Psyche.

 Coppin and Nelson (2005) summarize psyche as “the great repository of ideas, images, emotions, urges, and desires that appear in the world, whether its source is personal or collective, conscious or unconscious” (p. 5).  Psyche includes the archetypes, and their expression through symbol and myth, that exist within the collective unconscious.  It is the “capital S” knowing Self of our unconscious that seeks to guide our “lower case” ego selves in our process of individuation.  Dreams are the stuff of psyche reaching out to us.  One of its most amazing qualities is that psyche is not bound by the time-space continuum that we, as humans, must serve.  Instead, it has the uncanny and precocious ability to pre-date us, exist without us, and, at the same time, be co-constructed in partnership with us.  Synchronicity is the expression of this impossible simultaneity. 

 We often forget that psyche is not only meant to help us in our personal, ego-oriented individuation.  Instead, psyche exists as a potentially healing, guiding force for the collective.  Therefore, we must also be in service to psyche.  If we nurture psyche, it may not only help us along through our personal relationship of self to Self, but also help the collective energy of our community.  It is a true partnership and relationship.  The more open we become, the more open it becomes.

 Relationship to psyche is at the root of our psychological work from a Jungian perspective.  I particularly love a description of this relationship provided by Coppin and Nelson (2005).   They write:

Psychological life is what Socrates called piety and what we have described as reverence toward all living things, including the living psyche in its many forms.  Psychological life is devoted to continual inquiry, relishing the pursuit of wisdom more than the possession of it.  It is the willingness to learn from everyone and everything by reflecting on others’ ideas without defensiveness.  It is the ability to be deeply moved by what one sees, hears, and feels, accepting the full impact of living in complex emotional bodies.  It is tolerating periods of personal doubt and confusion created by meaningful engagement with other perspectives.  It is looking past the surface of things to their interior depths and their transcendent source.  Finally, it is holding ideas, images, and beliefs lightly so that one can witness and learn from their inherent playfulness.  In other words, once one declares that psyche is real, one grows increasingly aware of the actual complexity and fluidity of lived experience. (p. 148)

 Let’s not forget the playfulness over the coming week.  Relationship is not just hard work.  It should also be fun, playful, and full of joy. 

Hallie Durchslag, LISW

 

Citations

Coppin, J., Nelson, E. (2005). The art of inquiry: A depth psychological perspective. Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, Inc.