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?”
Those who want to attend this year’s annual conference of the Existential Humanistic Institute, which Saybrook is co-sponsoring, have a perfect opportunity to help out and be helped in turn.
The organizers of the conference, which will be held November 19-21st at the First Universalist Unitarian Church and Center in San Francisco, are looking for volunteers to help the event run smoothly.
The theme of the 2009 EHI conference is “From Crisis to Creativity: Necessary Losses, Unexpected Gains.” The keynote speaker will BE Dr. Robert Stolorow, a world renowned intersubjective
psychoanalyst, and author/coauthor of numerous books including "Working Intersubjectively," "Contexts of Being," "Faces in a Cloud," and his most recent "Trauma and Existence.”
According to organizer Mary Madrigal, a Saybrook psychology alumna, volunteers will be assigned to specific workshops and rooms, and will be seated at the door with a small table. The volunteers will have to monitor attendance, and will assist the workshop instructor with any needs they have, like switching the lights, moving desks, and so on.
Other than that, volunteers are free to listen in and participate in the workshops – and their tickets to the event will be complimentary, in thanks for their service.
“The EHI Conference is shaping up to be an exciting, fun, and educational event that is bringing humanistic existentialists together to examine the dance between loss and gain, between the comfort of the old and the anxiety of the new,” Madrigal said. “This conference will attempt to further our understanding of this dance and the richness and diversity of its movements.”
For more information, or to volunteer, email Mary Madrigal at email@example.com.
The new Saybrook University will hold its first open house this Thursday, Oct. 1, from 5:30 – 8 p.m. in San Francisco.
It will be held at Saybrook’s San Francisco offices, at 747 Front Street, but anyone can join through a webcast. Intended primarily for prospective students, the event will provide information about all three Saybrook colleges, Saybrook’s many programs, and the humanistic approach to scholarship.
For more information, or to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415 – 403 – 1206.
Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, which already possesses three distinct stand-alone “colleges,” is poised to become Saybrook University by the end of this month.
What’s in a name change? Shakespeare reminds us that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but in this case the upcoming change in signature, stationary, and design reflects a host of other, more substantive, changes, that have already been happening “on the ground.”
• Saybrook now has three distinct colleges: the Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies, housing its traditional “legacy” programs in Psychology, Human Science, and Organizational Systems; its just established Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, and LIOS Graduate College, a 40-year old leading institution of experiential-based graduate learning and leadership training, based in Seattle which affiliated with Saybrook early this year. Though united as one institution, each of these three colleges will have their own distinct learning models.
• With new colleges and new degree programs, Saybrook has seen a substantial increase in enrollment over 2008, anticipated to be more than 50%.
• Saybrook has revitalized its learning technology, creating a whole new cyber-environment (“My Learning”) for instructing courses, offering course materials, and helping students and faculty create an academic community that spans the world.
• An entirely new website, focused on the activities of the Saybrook community “in the world” is expected to launch in late September. New technology will make it easy to student, faculty, and alumni to compare notes, share information, and create an “academic commons” that combines scholarship with real-world applications.
For all these changes, however, one thing isn’t changing: the soul of the school. Saybrook University will remain the global home of humanistic thought, in all its manifestations, inspired by the work of luminaries such as Rollo May, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, James Bugental, Virginia Satir, and many others. Their work will be carried into new fields, and new forms of human endeavor, for the 21st century, through Saybrook University.
There are a lot of things Alison Shapiro never thought she’d be, starting with “stroke survivor.”
But after she had two strokes in 24 hours, she found she had the tools to recover fully – and that changed her life. Since then she’s become many other things she’d never expected: an author, a leader in the movement to help others understand their own power to heal, and now a blogger for Psychology Today.
The name of her blog, “Healing into Possibility” is also the name of her book, and Alison – who is the chair of Saybrook’s Board of Trustees – was offered the blog after a Psychology Today editor received a copy of the work. It chronicles the lessons Alison learned about the power of intention to transform a life in crisis.
By being present, by focusing on the current moment, by being engaged in your struggles rather than going on auto-pilot, we are capable of tremendous acts of healing and recovery. Her book covers just how the process can work – and her blog will expand that idea in new ways.
The newly combined Saybrook University welcomes its first incoming class this fall, 2009, and a robust new student enrollment of between 170 - 175 is anticipated. This total - the combined total fall '09 enrollment for all colleges - represents significant growth over enrollment for fall 2008.
The exact total has yet to be determined, since several new students were in the process of making final enrollment decisions as of the time the figures were developed, and won’t officially be counted until they have completed the process. Final enrollment figures for LIOS Graduate College, whose programs start at the end of September, are also still being tabulated.
“Ultimately, Saybrook’s new enrollment goals were realized by offering diverse, multi-disciplinary programs, building upon our existing programs that provide both personal and career opportunities, and promoting new programs that complement our humanistic missions and core values," said Annie McGeady, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Admissions. "Our faculty members have been central in this development, and we’re realizing that positive impact”.
It’s official: On August 5, 2009, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the federally recognized accrediting association for public and private schools and colleges California, officially approved Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program, allowing it to offer MS and PhD degrees that will be recognized anywhere in the U.S., and likely the world.
With this approval, Saybrook is making a substantial contribution to the training of healthcare professionals in what James Gordon, MD, the College’s Dean, calls the “new medicine,” that recognizes the role of mind and body in healing.
The program will be headed by Dr. Gordon, a Harvard educated psychiatrist and a world renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma. He is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and recently served as Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. He also served as the first Chair of the Program Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine and is a former member of the Cancer Advisory Panel on Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health.
For more information, visit the Saybrook homepage for Mind-Body Medicine.
In a major move away from paper and towards instant access to information, Saybrook has released its fall 2009 university catalog this month – online.
Only new students will receive a print copy of the catalog: returning students can peruse the new content in its digital, searchable, form on the Saybrook website. Additionally, by making the digital catalog the “primary” catalog, new policies and procedures can be updated in real time.
Whatever form they prefer, however, students should familiarize themselves with the catalog – as the rules and policies it outlines serve as a kind of contract between the university and its students.
To see the new catalog, click here.
Don Moss, Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program director, has been elected President of Division 30 of the American Psychological Association for the term of 2010 – 2011.
Division 30 is the Society of Psychological Hypnosis.
The election is one more example of Saybrook’s long leadership in the American Psychological Association’s divisions as well as in the field of mind-body medicine and hypnosis.
The current President of Division 30 is Saybrook faculty member Eric Willmarth, whose term expires in 2010. Willmarth also received the American Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis’ Presidential Recognition Award this year.
From spiritual questions to daunting medical challenges: alumni scholarship support student research07/28/2009
Saybrook PhD student Erica Hamilton wants to create a multi-dimensional model for addressing a painful women’s medical condition. PhD student Les Ernst wants to interview spiritual directors across the U.S. to study how they teach people to discern an authentic spiritual experience.
Both of them will be able to complete these ambitious dissertations, thanks to support from the Saybrook Alumni Association.
This month the Alumni Association named Ernst and Hamilton its 2009 scholarship winners.
The $8,000 scholarships, begun last year, are awarded annually to two PhD students, in any Saybrook program, who have completed their coursework and are looking for funding to help complete their dissertation.
Saybrook Alumni Director George Aiken says there were nearly 20 essay and candidacy level doctoral students who applied, and that all of them were highly qualified.