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Today is 9/11

09/11/2014
Today is 9/11
Today is 9/11. Thirteen years ago today, the world changed. Terror, trauma, and PTSD became household words. The world became divided between enemies and heroes, us versus them, good guys versus bad guys. Never before in our history had life been so black and white. At least not since the Cold War ended (us versus the evil Communism)… or since World War Two (us versus the evil Nazis and Fascists)… or World War One…(the war to end all war)… or cowboys and Indians, or Americans and Mexicans, or the British and American colonists or any other war going back into the...

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New Existentialists

Moving Forward by Returning to the Origin (Part Two of a Four-Part Series)

09/10/2014
Moving Forward by Returning to the Origin (Part Two of a Four-Part Series)
After learning about Ving’s decision, my friend Evone pointed out to me the beautiful paradox in Ving’s decision to “move forward by returning to the past/origin.” Exactly right, I thought to myself! This immediately reminded me of the vital importance of the basics and fundamentals when it comes to the practice of psychotherapy. In teaching how to conduct therapy informed by the humanistic-existential approach, I’m often faced with the question of what do I teach and demonstrate to students? When pondering this, I think back to a few things that my ballroom...

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New Existentialists

Returning Dignity to Politics

09/09/2014
Returning Dignity to Politics
25 years ago, the forces of historical determinism made a bold prediction: history had ended. Liberal Capitalism, according to Francis Fukuyama and his allies, was the only model of governance that made sense and served humankind’s self-interest—and therefore the only organizing principle of society that would remain in just a few years. This was a terrible prediction, but a useful experiment: the trouble with historical determinism up until this point was that it always demonstrated its inevitability after-the-fact. Hegel didn’t predict that Christianity was the epitome of...

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New Existentialists

Martyrs and Parasites: Walking the Line between Excessive and Insufficient Responsibility

09/08/2014
Martyrs and Parasites: Walking the Line between Excessive and Insufficient Responsibility
There are ultimately two kinds of people in the world: Those who care about others, and those who care only about themselves. This is, of course, an absurdly oversimplified categorization of human beings, and as a rule I generally oppose such absolute classifications. The actual reality, regardless of appearance, is that there are in fact no people who always care for others and never for themselves and vice versa; the most “selfless” among us likely prioritize themselves over others at times, and the most “selfish” among us have likely at some point acted in the best...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

09/05/2014
Existential Roundup
Welcome to the Existential Roundup, where we bring you links to some articles currently trending that may be of interest to those in the existential-humanistic psychology community. Last week, we celebrated the back-to-school season with some recent articles and research on children and education. This week, we will look at another side of the equation—the parents. D. W. Winnicott famously taught us the concept of the “good-enough” parent. But these days, “good enough” is never enough. Psychology Today reports that parenting in the 21st century is now a...

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New Existentialists

The Case Against Client-Therapist Cultural Matching

09/04/2014
The Case Against Client-Therapist Cultural Matching
The human solidarity that I envisage is not a global uniformity but unity in diversity. We must learn to appreciate and tolerate pluralities, multiplicities, cultural differences. (Gadamer in Pantham, 1992, p. 132) The realities of globalization and multicultural omnipresence initiated a socio-economic and political demand for the inclusion of the cultural other across all professional practices, including mental health. The American psychiatric and psychological paradigm was myopically focused on white, middle-class, male values, which required change through challenging the “racist,...

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New Existentialists

Transience, Impermanence, and Letting Go (Part One of a Four-Part Series)

09/03/2014
Transience, Impermanence, and Letting Go (Part One of a Four-Part Series)
Time flies, which is another way of expressing the existential givens of transience and impermanence, the basic tenets of Buddhism. I mouth this to myself whenever I encounter the changes that are ubiquitous and unavoidable in China and parts of Southeast Asia. Many of the coastal big cities in China are founded on the backs of migrant workers. And migration equals transition. Living here in China, I have come to expect this migratory change. During this past trip to Shenzhen, the large Chinese city bordering Hong Kong, I went expecting my usual haircut followed by lunch at my familiar noodle...

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New Existentialists

Leaning Into Grief

09/02/2014
Leaning Into Grief
I get attached easily: to places, people, and animals. When I feel a connection, I work hard at maintaining it and I hold on tight to what feels precious to me. That’s not to say that I’m not able to adapt to new situations—just that it takes me a little while to accept and grieve what I have lost. These past 18 months have been difficult while I’ve been adjusting to yet another new place of abode. After a wonderful two years in Northern Virginia where I was able to create my dream job for myself of working as an equine assisted therapist specializing in eating...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

08/29/2014
Existential Roundup
Welcome to the Existential Roundup, where we bring you links to some articles currently trending that may be of interest to those in the existential-humanistic psychology community. The end of the summer is almost upon us and that back-to-school feeling is in the air, much to the chagrin of students (and teachers?) everywhere. Thus, in honor of heading back to school, this week’s roundup gathers together some of the recent studies on children and education. Starting from the top down, Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences has done a study, which...

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New Existentialists

Holding Fire With Parchment: Personal Power and Greatness Through Soul Loss

08/28/2014
Holding Fire With Parchment: Personal Power and Greatness Through Soul Loss
Very recently, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, poet and Jungian psychoanalyst, said of the late Robin Williams, “He learned for 63 years of his life how to be ‘the fire handler.’ That is where I would praise him, for what he has managed to do for six+ decades; handle fire, while being made of parchment" (Estés, 2014). I gasped after reading her words, letting them kindle again for a moment the brittle parchment of my own soul, which has itself apparently survived many conflagrations ignited by failures, losses, and challenges—as well as many other unexpected...

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