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?”
There’s a game we’ve all played: if you could have dinner with any historical figure, living or dead, who would it be?
What if you could peek into their minds? What if you could stare at their self-awareness, and experience their unconscious the way they did?
We will soon have that glimpse into the mind of one of the great explorers of the psyche: Carl Jung, whose personal diary of his struggle with the unconscious, his “Red Book,” will be published next month by the Philemon Foundation, a non-profit group of scholars and analysts dedicated to making available some 50 volumes of Jung’s unpublished works.
Of all of them, the Red Book is deemed the most important.
“Jung was one of the great spiritual and psychological pilgrims of our time, and his ultimate project, at which he felt a failure, was to convince people of the reality of the psyche, and the reality of a spiritual energy which moves through all of us,” says James Hollis, who heads Saybrook’s Jungian Studies program and is the Vice-President of the Philemon Foundation. “Essentially, The Red Book is Jung's personal journal and voyage of discovery during a turbulent mid-life passage. He was overrun with psychic material, even while maintaining familial and professional life. He chose to engage that material, rather than repress it, or succumb to it, and thereby developed the practice of "active imagination," intra-psychic dialogue, and a deepened engagement with the archetypal field of human experience.”
Saybrook psychology faculty member Eugene Taylor, who is also on the board of the Philemon Foundation, says that the Red Book “is not merely a book about Jung’s thoughts, but the very blueprint for all his thinking and the foundation of his psychology over the lifetime that ensued. It is bound to change Jungian scholarship in profound ways for all time.”
What will we see when we look over the efforts of Carl Jung to understand his own mind? So far all that’s been released to the public are photos of some of the gorgeous otherworldly illustrations Jung included on many pages. The only man who knows the text is the Philemon Foundation’s general editor Sonu Shamdasani, a Distinguished Consulting Faculty Member at Saybrook University and the man who’s translating the Red Book into English, along with providing over 1,000 footnotes.
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.
Marie DiCowden describes her days right now as “crazy.”
A faculty member in Saybrook’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, DiCowden also serves as Vice-President for Public Policy of the National Academies of Practice, a national coalition of medical practitioners interested in improving the healthcare system. She’s also the Executive Director of the Biscayne Institutes of Health and Living, a community-based healthcare center in Florida.
That expertise puts her on the forefront of the fight to reform America’s healthcare system … and she says it’s difficult.
“I am back and forth between Florida and D.C. right now,” she says. “I just got home yesterday and I’m leaving again. We will get reform … but honestly it is anybody's guess what will happen to keep insurance companies accountable. Quite possibly nothing, unless we hold the senators and congresspeople accountable.”
DiCowden isn’t the only one who thinks that the lobbying power of the insurance industry is keeping reform away from health care.
Craig Holman is the Legislative Representative for Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization in Washington D.C., and a leading expert on government ethics. He helps run an internship program for Saybrook students to work with his organization. He says that insurance industry lobbying has been a “critical factor” in hobbling the healthcare reform Americans voted for in November.
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.
Alumna Heather Dermyer, PhD ’09, Mind-Body Trainer for Athletes Who Competed in US Olympic Trials in Michigan09/28/2009
Saybrook Alumna, Heather Dermyer, Ph.D., Mind-Body Performance Trainer at the United States Olympic Education Center (USOEC) in Marquette, MI. Recently, the USOEC hosted the 2009 Olympic Trials for Short Track Speed Skating. Five grueling days of cut-throat competition determined which athletes will represent the United States in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada...
The Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship in Lesbian and Gay Studies: This fellowship supports research by a junior scholar (graduate student, untenured university professor or independent researcher) and a senior scholar (tenured university professor or advanced independent scholar) into the impact of lesbians and/or gay men on U.S. society and culture. Scholars conducting research on lesbians...
Click here to see a pdf Flier announcing the Grand Rounds
Dear Saybrook Alumni, This past June, I promised to periodically update you on progress we are making at Saybrook. I am very pleased to say that I have some wonderful news regarding developments at Saybrook to share with you. First, we are now Saybrook University with three distinct colleges: the Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies, housing our traditional legacy programs in...