Introduction and Overview
The self comprises infinitely more than the mere ego, as symbols have shown since time immemorial. It is just as much another or others as it is the ego. Individuation does not exclude the world but includes it.
Jung, “Der Geist der Psychologie,” Eranos Jahrbuch, 1946, p. 477
Introduction to Depth Psychological Community/Ecological Fieldwork & Research
The M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program is committed to a holistic understanding of psychological well-being, seeing individual, familial, community, environmental, and cultural suffering and well-being as interlinked. This interdependent understanding has a root in the early chapters of depth psychology that were forged in the larger context of the economic and social devastation of World War I, the rise of facism, and the expansion of colonialism. Psychoanalytic depth psychology was conceived in an atmosphere of acute consciousness of the impact of social inequalities, antisemitism, and bourgeois conventionality on psychic health.
In addition to their analytic practice, many psychoanalysts in Vienna and Berlin were deeply involved in initiatives for free clinics for psychoanalytic treatment, free clinics for reproductive health care and education for women, initiatives to help women struggle against various forms of domination and control, experimental schools for inner-city children, school-based treatment centers for children traumatized by war and poverty, settlement house psychology classes for workers, the first child guidance clinics, suicide prevention centers, attention to building conditions for peace and stability in Austria and Europe, innovative political initiatives, support of the kindergarten movement, and architectural initiatives for public housing that would help build urban families’ sense of community, a sense understood to undergird psychological health. Their advocacy for children issued from the great needs of children after World War I, psychoanalytic developmental insight into the importance of early childhood for later psychological health, and awareness of the traumatizing effects of poverty and violence on child development.
Following symptom closely, listening for its communication of meanings, led the attention of the early founders of European depth psychology to the family, the community, and to Western culture itself. Side-by-side with studies of individual cases and their psychodynamics, we find depth psychologists struggling to understand the psychological dynamics and/or consequences of cultural issues. Many have been led beyond the consulting room to the community to study and address cultural and environmental issues that they have come to understand impact psychological well-being.
Some, such as Jung, became involved in cross-cultural studies in order to see more clearly into the particular configuration of psyche in their own culture, as well as into the collective dimensions of psyche. Alongside attention to cultural pathology and its psychic residue, Jung and other depth psychologists have studied and drawn inspiration from different cultures' spiritual and mythological traditions, and their artistic and imaginative practices.
To hold in mind the intricate workings of psyche in the context of the complex dynamics of culture and history is a difficult undertaking. Within the history of depth psychology there is much work that has retreated from this bold challenge, narrowing its focus to a relatively contextless individual and neglecting an examination of its own cultural bias and shadow.
In the fieldwork portion of the Depth Psychology Program we continue the exploration of the usefulness of depth psychological theories and practices to a wide variety of contexts beyond the consulting room. We also appreciate how initiatives to promote social justice, peace and reconciliation, appreciation of diverse experience, and ecological sustainability build the foundations of psychological and community health. We hope our participation in these contexts will make contributions to individual, community, and cultural restoration, and that they will help us revise and refine our theory and practice of depth psychology. We situate such exploration as dialogical collaboration between the depth psychologically minded student and those in the fieldwork context one is invited to join, not as an “application of depth psychology” from “outside” or “above.”
The depth psychological community and ecological fieldwork and research portion of your Pacifica experience is designed to help foster your capacity to understand psyche, culture and nature in dynamic relation to each other, and to develop your theoretical and practical skills in working with cultural, community, and ecological issues that affect psychological well-being. We hope the fieldwork experience will contribute to your education and practice in depth psychologically oriented cultural and environmental work, where one’s theoretical grasp attempts to include intrapsychic, imaginal, mythological, socio-cultural, and spiritual dimensions and where modes of practice extend from individual to small and large group settings.
In each of the first two years of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Program, students are asked to work with the insights and methods of depth psychology in a community setting. This setting will provide a window through which one can study the interdependent relation between psyche, culture, and environment. Students actively attend to the kinds of cultural or ecological issues that have and do call them--through news, images, active imagination and dreams, their own experiences, wounds, and symptoms of self and world. Through this attention and individual and small group meetings with their fieldwork advisor, students are helped to discern their area of interest, locate a relevant fieldwork site, and to create a proposal for the work to unfold there. The first year, typically the summer, students are involved at a community fieldwork site, spending additional time in reading, research, imaginal work, personal and scholarly reflection, and writing that supports their participation and understanding.
Students join in the work of an ongoing community group (i.e., schools, urban planning and environmental groups, spiritual communities, corporate workplaces, etc.). See pp. 5-9 for the wide range of fieldwork sites that have unfolded in the first decade of this program. Experience is gained in listening into such community work with a depth psychologically oriented ear, as well as participating in practices of participatory dialogue. Students attempt to discern the imagination of the work being done, listening for the images and metaphors that organize the group's field of action and desired transformations. Attention is given to the historical and cultural contexts of the issues and the group one is working with and how these affect the members psychologically, and contribute to the group’s work within the larger culture. Students learn to witness and to work the transferential aspects of their relationship to the fieldwork they are doing; to observe and reflect on the images, defenses, and borders that are stirred up through their community work in its social, historical, and ecological context.
During the second year, again typically in the summer, students return to their fieldwork site or chose a new one. This time students are encouraged to engage in a piece of research, often of a participatory nature, contributing to addressing an issue or concern which the community and they think is important to study. This work enables students to begin to hone research skills that will assist them in the work of their dissertation. If a student has the appropriate skills, he/she may convene a group of participants around an area of mutual interest.
In most of your assignments at Pacifica, you are asked to work theoretically with concepts from depth psychology and/or to do your own introspective and creative/imaginative work. In your community/ecological fieldwork and research, these ways of knowing are also critically important. However, fieldwork also asks you to reach out to situate yourself in the community, and to engage with other human beings through participation and dialogue around a shared concern. Just as in intrapsychic work, where the goal of experience such as active imagination is to encounter an Other, to learn about different perspectives than the ones you have identified with, and to bear the dissonance of having your ideas challenged and reshaped in conversation, so too in fieldwork do we attempt to chose a setting where this dilation of the self is possible.
It is our hope that what will shine through the experience and reporting of fieldwork is encounter with the unknown. Often students discover obstacles in their path when people or events don't behave as they expected. This is the learning. Finding, revealing, and bearing unexpected opinions, reactions, and outcomes in oneself and others is the grace of the work. Learning to interpret them critically through depth psychology is the craft. At its very best, fieldwork can lead us to the mysteries of shared and resonant knowing about our fateful connectedness with others in the world.
A dreaming woman, Community School, Caracol en la Resistencia y Rebeldía por la Humanidad, Oventik, Chiapas, Mexico
…individuation is not an egocentric affair but demands and even rigorously necessitates human relatedness. One might describe this as the social function of the self. In this world created by the Self we meet all those many to whom we belong, whose hearts we touch; here ‘there is no distance but immediate presence.’ There exists no individuation process in any one individual that does not at the same time produce this relatedness to one’s fellow men.
Marie-Louise von Franz, Reflections of the soul: Projection and recollection in Jungian psychology, 1980, p. 177
E. Danto, Freud’s free clinics: Psychoanalysis and social justice, 1918-1938 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). M. Watkins, “Sketches for the Recovery of ‘Night Vision’: Re-Orienting Depth Psychology to Engage the Inconvenient Truths of the 21st Century,” in R. Romanyshyn (ed.), The International Journal of Jungian Studies, tbp2008.
A few examples of this are as follows: Freud’s reflection on war in the light of instinct theory; Wilhelm Reich’s involvement in community birth control education, and the study of the effects of culture on the body; Harry Stack Sullivan’s work on peace issues and on civil rights in the American South; Karen Horney’s education of the general public regarding the psychological toll of sexism; Robert Jay Lifton’s study of genocide in the wake the Holocaust; archetypal psychologist James Hillman’s critique of American culture -- its naiveté, hubris, manic speed, and violence, as well as his studies of transportation, kinds of power, white supremacy, imperial wars, the design of cities, the claiming of citizenship, the politics of beauty, and responsive environmentalism; Louise Madhi’s interviews with youth regarding their experience of the threat of nuclear apocalypse while also working to engage teens in initiation experiences so lacking in American culture; Marion Woodman’s research on anorexia and cultural attitudes toward obesity and femininity, and her creation of restorative contexts for psyche/soma integration; Michael Perlman’s exploration of our relations with the trees around us in the face of widespread ecological destruction; Andrew Samuel’s psychology of politics and the hidden politics of the psyche.
Students are expected to spend approximately 70 hours at their fieldwork site, and 140 hours in related reading, research, imaginal work, personal and scholarly reflection, and writing.