It’s a time of transition and expansion at Saybrook University, and the Saybrook University Forum is no exception: by this time next month, we’ll have undertaken a redesign including a new look and new sections.
That’s only the beginning: we intend to just keep getting better. Long term, expect new ways of organizing content, more frequent articles, and in-depth looks at subjects that members of the Saybrook community are passionate about.
But before we start, we’d like to get your input: What kind of content would you like to see represented here? What subjects would you like us to cover? Are there any new features you’d like to see?
How can we make the Forum better for you?
Let us know by emailing Forum@saybrook.edu.
How do we live fulfilling lives? What is most important for spiritual, mental, and physical well being?
Begin the new year with perspectives on these vital and intriguing questions with: James Hollis, PhD, noted Jungian analyst and author, and Donald Moss, PhD, existential health psychologist and Mind-Body Medicine scholar.
Jim Hollis, Director of Saybrook University’s Jungian Studies program, will speak on themes from his latest book, What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life. Its premise: “We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add to our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being.”
Don Moss, Chair of Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program and editor of Handbook of Mind Body Medicine for Primary Care, will reflect upon what matters most with the perspective of his work in psychology and integrative health. His current book in process, Pathways to Illness, Pathways to Health, explores the relationship between losing one’s path in life and the development of illness.
Join us after the presentation and learn about our graduate programs in Jungian Studies (with residential options in San Francisco and Houston) and Mind-Body Medicine.
Nutrition is an often overlooked component of mind-body medicine – it doesn’t have the glitz of hypnosis or the hipness of biofeedback. But it’s basic: what you decide to put in your body today has a major impact on your health tomorrow.
Just ask Beverly Rubik. A faculty member of Saybrook’s College of Mind-Body Medicine and the Director of the Institute for Frontier Science, Rubik is frequently called upon to perform evaluations of health products or regimens, and has recently completed a study on the impact of processed foods on health.
Two words: not good.
In a recent study of the impact of processed foods, Rubik compared fresh blood samples (taken under optimal fasting conditions) of subjects who eat processed foods (including organic) with subjects who do not (in this case, followers of the Weston A. Price diet) for at least two years. The subjects were all healthy adults from 25 to 81 years old, matched for age.
Using a microscopic technique known as dark-field live blood analysis, she observed that the blood cells of those on the Weston A Price diet aggregated and clotted much less than the blood cells of those on conventional modern diets, even hours after the blood samples were drawn.
The Existential Humanistic Institute will hold its third annual conference this month, Nov. 19 – 21, in San Francisco.
Co-sponsored by Saybrook, the conference will have the theme of “From Crisis to Creativity Necessary Losses, Unexpected Gains,” and will examine the paradoxical nature of life and our times.
Many significant thinkers in the existential-humanistic tradition will be participating. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Robert Stolorow, a world renowned intersubjective psychoanalyst, and author/co-author of numerous books including Working Intersubjectively, Contexts of Being, Faces in a Cloud, and his most recent Trauma and Existence.
Dr. Stolorow’s keynote will be followed by a panel discussion between himself and EHI board members about the similarities and differences between intersubjective psychoanalysis and existential-humanistic therapy.
Also notable will be a presentation on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. by California State Assembly Majority Whip Fiona Ma, who will present a trailblazing talk on humanizing governance through improving communications skills among legislators. This will be part of a larger discussion of what EHI vice-president and Saybrook psychology faculty member Kirk Schneider calls “experiential democracy” – an attempt to supplement the standard legislative procedure by helping legislators to personally and experientially encounter issues of moral importance.
Gail Ervin, an environmental planner and mediator studying in Saybrook’s Human Science PhD program with a concentration in Social Transformation has been awarded a prestigious Rotary World Peace Fellowship – one of only two people from the United States to receive the honor this year.
There are 24 fellows in all.
The fellowship involves an 11-week intensive conflict resolution certificate program, with field work in Nepal and along the border of Cambodia, which is fully funded by Rotary Foundation.
At Saybrook, Gail is studying how the global community of conflict resolution practitioners can use networks to fundamentally alter community discourses towards a culture of conflict resolution.
Joel Federman, who directs Saybrook’s Social Transformation concentration, served as one of Gail’s references for the award.
"Gail is a natural innovator and leader, who has extraordinary academic aptitude, commitment to service, initiative, and grace," Federman said. "We're thrilled that she has received this prestigious fellowship, and proud that she will be representing Saybrook among the community of international peace scholars and practitioners participating in the Rotary program.”
Throughout his long career – as a private practitioner working with Jim Bugental; as the editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology; as a faculty member at Saybrook, and at UCLA – Tom Greening has striven to live up to the charge of humanistic psychology: to enhance people’s ability to experience freedom and meaning in their lives.
That’s a mission he’s even applied to the “mentally ill” – a term he has come to distrust as both a bad metaphor and as a means of tuning out the idea that we should even be concerned about the need mental patients have to experience freedom and meaning.
This month that work was recognized as Tom Greening was chosen to receive the 2009 Thomas Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties – an award named after the pioneering author (and Rollo May Award winner) who championed the idea that “mental illness” is a contradiction in terms.
There were two reasons for psychology faculty member Benina Gould to attend the Dalai Lama’s Mind-Life Conference early this month. The personal reason is that she’s a practicing Buddhist.
The professional reason was that the conference’s theme, “Emerging World Citizens,” dovetails almost perfectly with Gould’s own research on how to educate people to become global citizens.
Gould is one of the few researchers examining how Muslim youth perceive their own choices, and has recently conducted surveys of the internet use of Muslim youth, and how it impacts their attitudes and perceptions, in Indonesia, Pakistan, and the United States.
Too often, Gould says, we try to shape children to the outcomes we want (whether “ a successful career” or “not to support terrorists”) without consulting them as part of the process – so she says she was thrilled to find a strong community consensus at the Mind-Life Conference to do just that.
“There’s a feeling, even in America, that young people really have not done well with all the competition and the testing, that suicide rates have gone up, that there’s all kinds of problems with prescription drugs and that alcoholism has increased dramatically,” Gould says. “So I was very pleased to see contemplative education being looked to as an alternative, training teachers about doing mind-body work with young people, and taking a much more holistic approach.”
Those hoping to improve outcomes for kids have their work cut out for them, though, as two themes at the conference made clear.
This month Don Moss, Chair of Saybrook University’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA).
The editor of Biofeedback Magazine and a globally recognized expert in mind-body techniques, Moss operates two Michigan-based clinics providing psychological services and mind-body therapies, and lectures and trains on mind-body healing around the world. He now joins an elite group of healthcare professionals who are charged to maintain and uphold the standards and values of the oldest and most renowned certifying body for the clinical practice of biofeedback – and the only biofeedback institute recognized worldwide.
“One of the major challenges for integrative health is that consumers face very uneven quality in the alternative therapies available in their communities,” Moss said. “Biofeedback is no exception. Many individuals give up on seeking help for their headache, anxiety or other problem, because a professional has provided ineffective biofeedback services, sometimes just a relaxation tape and an opportunity to use a biofeedback instrument without any therapeutic education and guidance. BCIA certification provides a gold standard for consumers, assuring them that their biofeedback therapist has a core of knowledge and skills sufficient for quality care.”
Most of us have had an experience so surprising, so moving, so profound, that it changed our lives in an instant.
Perhaps falling in love for the first time, or seeing a child born, or looking up at the night sky and really understanding how immense it all is. This feeling, we’ve told ourselves, is the real essence of life.
Then we’ve gotten on with our lives, and all but forgotten about it.
How is this possible? How is it that we let these moments go so easily, instead of putting them at the center of our lives?
“That’s the $64 million question,” says Saybrook psychology faculty member Kirk Schneider. Memory is always fleeting, the present is always distracting, but he thinks there are other factors at work. “Our society, industrialization in general, puts a premium on control, efficiency, and expedience, and these are helpful in meeting people’s needs. But at the extreme … and I think we’ve moved into the extreme… it becomes debilitating to a fuller experience of life. I think our quick fix model of living has alienated us from awe, even made us fearful of it.”
That becomes “a vicious cycle,” he says. “Experiencing awe requires profound reflection, pausing, searching, and sensing, all the things we’re not given time to do, which means that even when we experience awe, it’s harder to stay with.”
Schneider’s recent book, Awakening to Awe: Personal Stories of Profound Transformation, is a guide to help recapture the ability to experience, and stay with, awe.
Eugene Taylor doesn’t hesitate to be provocative. “(T)hree of the most dreaded plagues in the history of scientific psychology,” he writes in the very first sentence of his new book, “have been conceptions of personality, models of the unconscious, and systems of psychotherapy.”
Throughout psychology’s history, Taylor’s new volume reminds us, there has been a movement to classify psychology as a natural science, and this movement has insisted that psychology is no more and no less than what can be “verified” in the experimental laboratory.
As a result, this movement has tried to replace “personality,” which can’t be experimentally proven, with measurable “attributes”; it’s tried to replace the unconscious, which is stubbornly unsystematizable, with conditioning; and it’s tried to replace psychotherapy, which happens with individual people in unrepeatable conditions, with drugs. The result is not “psychology” as most people think of it, but it’s the “official” psychology of the history books.
“Since psychology wants to pretend that it’s a science, the history of psychology has turned into the history of experimental psychology,” Taylor says. “The proponents of experimental psychology were comparing themselves to Newtonian physics in the 19th century. They’ve stayed with that epistemology through this day, which is why I say the experimentalists have kept us in diapers.”
However, “What was not examined by the experimentalists is often more interesting than what is.” Taylor has published in his new book to set the record straight.
The Mystery of Personality: A History of Psychodynamic Theories, shows that there are, in fact, three “histories of psychology”: the history of the experimental “scientific” psychology, (which has tried to crowd out the others); the history of psychology as therapy – “applied” psychology, in which therapists advanced the understanding of how to help patients; and the history of psychodynamic theory: the history of questions like “what is a person?” “What is the personality?” “What does it mean to be psychologically healthy?”