Gannavlakte 28th March 2018
Windpump repair. Amidst the huge silence of the vlaktes, and the simplicity of meeting basic needs for water, and warmth, and keeping food cool, I walked around my internal landscape unfettered. There are some dark shadows and unopened doors. One specific door that needs to open. My mind still cannot enter that room, although my body has not escaped it.
Sunset at Gannavlakte – 28th March 2018. Recovered a critical shard of memory of the events of the 31st August 1971.
Every now and then someone passes a nugget on to me that supports the theories that I have spent my whole life working on. Recently, a friend suggested that I would like this TED talk. It talks about something which intuitively makes sense, but which I have not scientifically studied myself. It talk about how adverse childhood experiences (abbreviated to the word ACE) affect our health in the long term.
In this great TED talk, Guy Winch discusses why emotional hygiene (care) is as important as brushing our teeth.
Guy Winch – Why we all need to practice emotional first aid
For those of you with slow internet – here is the transcript of the talk.
I certainly don’t understand the science behind all of this, but I like the implication that epigenetics may explain how the psychodynamics are carried through the generations.
I have not blogged for a year – for technical, emotional and practical reasons. New technological help has kick started my writing urge again. As I begin this new year – my fiftieth year of life – and I am moved by personal and world events, I find myself musing about the following:
The whole scale of human joy and suffering, and how we move along it in slow increments in some cases, or leaps and bounds in others. And how we keep looking for a grand plan, or at least some order, in that emerging dance…
How firmly we defend against evidence that sometimes it is all terribly random, and therefore, apparently unjust…
How hard we work to find justice and meaning in the experiences that we encounter in ourselves and others, and how we elevate our explanations to the status of sacred rules and injunctions….
How outraged we are when those injunctions fail, or are dismissed or challenged or even ridiculed by others….
And notwithstanding my belief that things like good boundaries, resilience, self awareness and conflict resolution skills matter a great deal in managing the vicissitudes of life, how I, increasingly, return to the one idea that, in the final analysis, only the giving and receiving of love (or compassion, if you prefer) makes it all bearable.
2014. That date is a detail from the science fiction stories of my childhood. And here it is, and here I am at the age of 48. I have spent most of my life working with the idea of how we as humans can nurture each other, and help each other become more able to both give and receive nurturing. These days that extends to wondering how we can achieve more nurturing for all the other living things on the planet. This photo was a surprise – I took it in a hurry (as wild vervet monkeys are quick and difficult to photograph) and was not really able to see what I was taking a picture of, other than an adult monkey. It was only when I downloaded the picture onto a large screen that I saw the suckling big-eyed baby. May 2014 be full of such surprises.
I am delighted to announce the establishment of The Depth Leadership Trust. The Trust will operate with Prince Albert as its base. The overall objective of the Depth Leadership Trust is to increase the national awareness, knowledge and application of Depth Psychology principles.
The following two quotes summarise why depth psychology is important:
“The world today hangs by a thin thread, and that thread is the psyche of man.” CG Jung
“Whether a culture’s ‘folk psychology’, as it is called, incorporates an image of the unconscious, and what kind of image it is, makes a real difference to how life is lived.” Guy Claxton, The Wayward Mind
The detailed objectives of the Depth Leadership Trust are as follows:
- To develop awareness and understanding amongst the general population of the ideas behind depth psychology and how these ideas can be helpful in everyday living
- To conduct research into the discipline of depth psychology and its application to ordinary living, leadership and citizenship
- To develop and execute initiatives that aim to ensure the application of depth psychology in ordinary living, leadership and citizenship. In other words: to design and offer projects, interventions and activities that facilitate and enhance the integration of both the individual and collective human psyche (particularly through the expression of the unconscious mind)
- To specifically develop the knowledge and practice of depth leadership (leadership which incorporates the general principles of depth psychology) in organisations and communities
- To develop the awareness and understanding amongst the general public of the interconnectedness of all life forms, and our human role in healthy ecosystems and to support initiatives, interventions and projects that build healthy, integrated ecosystems
- To support individuals, groups, projects, and organisations that work to further any of the above objectives
Amongst others, the Trust will engage in the following main activities in order to achieve the above objectives:
- Intellectual and practical support for initiatives aligned with the Trust’s objectives
- The establishment of a physical centre in Prince Albert which has an extensive library, a meeting / class room, a reading room, and a reflection room with a sandtray and a variety of art and musical resources.
Depth Psychology Principles
Depth psychology is an evolving field which has as much disagreement within its ranks as it has agreement about general principles. The following principles are, broadly speaking, held to be true by most theorists in the field:
- Human beings have a “psyche” which carries the whole of mental life. It is the faculty for thought, feeling, memory, and imagination. The psyche is not just a combination of the body and the spirit, it has a life and language of its own.
- In addition to carrying all of our human potential, the psyche processes, records and stores all of our life experience. Using our earlier experiences, the psyche develops a subjective logical framework for perceiving and further processing ongoing experience.
- The psyche divides itself into a conscious and an unconscious part in order to manage internal conflict. Life experiences often expose us to ambivalence and irreconcilable conflicts that our psyches have to manage somehow. In order to do this, simply speaking, our psyche keeps one part (or parts) of complex experience in the conscious mind and buries the other, more “dangerous” part (or parts) in the unconscious mind.
- The unconscious mind is multi-layered in itself. Closer to the surface one will find individual personal experience and potential that for a range of reasons cannot be brought into consciousness, and the deeper bedrock of the unconscious mind contains shared collective archetypal forces that affect all human beings.
- The contents of the unconscious mind continue to influence behaviour, even though such contents are buried away from conscious control.
- Both the divisions in the psyche (caused by internal conflicts) and the deep archetypal drivers contribute to continual dynamic processes in the psyche. These alternate between developmental, integrative processes and defensive processes. Some theorists argue that the psyche is continually striving for greater integration.
- The psyche uses the language of imagery and symbolism to express itself. This language allows the simultaneous communication of multiple layers of meaning.
- Human experience becomes more meaningful when the psyche’s personal aspect encounters the deeper, archetypal or “transpersonal” aspect. A depth approach tries to make the connection between the different levels.
- Symptoms are messages from the psyche. Personal problems, blockages and symptoms, as well as interpersonal problems and conflicts can be viewed as a form of communication from the psyche about its developmental process. These can be resolved by interpreting the symbolism inherent in the difficulty and thereby finding the deeper archetypal meaning that is being communicated. Simply “silencing” the symptoms will mean that the inherent problem is not resolved and will almost certainly manifest in a different way.
- We are not separate from the people around us, our psyches are inextricably linked to one another. At the simplest level, when two people come together, they form a third “psyche” between them which has a life of its own. This applies to all interactions with others – there is always the creation of a collective psyche which is more than the sum of the individual psyches. The collective psyche will express itself in terms of psychodynamic patterns. In order to change the systems around us, we need to understand the psychodynamics of those systems and always work towards systemic psychic health.
- As a result of the psychic interactions between us, there is no such thing as purely objective research or action when it comes to the psyche. We have to take into account the influence of our unconscious minds on our conscious observations and thoughts. Any past experience that in any way resonates with current experiences will influence the way we perceive the current experience.
- Our psyches are inextricably linked to all the life forms around us. Our inner landscape will to some extent be a reflection of our outer landscape, so we are only really as well as our environment is. This implies that there is a human imperative to live responsibly on the planet and to care for our ecosystems.
- Like all disciplines, the original thinkers in the discipline of depth psychology operated and were to some extent limited by the culture from which they came. As such, some of the original theories were founded on biases and stereotypes that are no longer appropriate. Modern day depth psychology challenges stereotypes that lead to discrimination on demographic bases, and helps us to always consider the psyche in its entire context.
- In order to move to greater system’s health, whether it be the individual, the group or the ecosystem, a depth approach suggests that the voices, opinions, and experiences that are repressed, marginalised, silenced or simply ignored, are attended to and considered in the system decision-making processes.