What is Depth Psychology?—Can and Should it Be Defined?—and Why?

Perhaps you've seen or participated in the online panel discussion hosted by the Alliance Admin Board on the topic. We feel there is so much to gain by inquiring into this very broad--and perhaps daunting—topic. 

Our objective is NOT actually to define it so much, but rather to inquire into its role in both society and the life of the individual, and to assess whether it is evolving (or needs to evolve). Is there a benefit, for example for making it more accessible to the general public? How might that be done, and what kind of vehicle, program, or container might be needed for such an undertaking?

How can depth psychology engage all of us to do the personal work of soul required for the individuation process, and how do we maintain (or create) a balance between that work and the culture we live in?

Is depth psychology actually different for therapists and clinicians who use it with clients (patients) versus those who are writing, teaching or conducting programs and events in the field, and should it evolve differently? 

Does depth psychology have, as board member Brent Potter put it, it's own "second half of life" when the focus shifts in a similar way Jung suggested it does for humans?

We want to talk about these topics and more! Please join the conversation by replying here with questions, comments, and ideas.....

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June 20, 2015 – Re: My Needs/Use of DPA + Feedback for inquiry About Future Formation

                           Stones [solid ground] for Today’s DPA Panel Discussion:

True to form for me, it is not until a particular piece of work is done that I have, even a glimpse of truth that lies behind the darkness to even find the words to explain why I am doing what I am doing.  The life/death trajectory material my 50 year service career has offered to me to witness and observe has been absolutely breath-taking me away, many times, to more that any mind could conceive or imagine.

Jung offered “active imagination,” a privilege process rising out of medicine, academia and aristocracy of his times.  I was raised in poverty, dropped out of high school to work, earn funds to launch myself into college and practical nursing – front-line, bedside care.  I was both naïve and innocent regarding the depth of human suffering in the human conditions I was about to be exposed to through my work, some stories are still too horrible to speak. 

I have prayed my whole life to find a space, a place where it is safe and affordable to be able to connect with other human beings who still care enough to STAND and just say NO to abuse.  The foundation stones of violence are SILENCE, DECEPTION + AN ABNORMAL POWER DYNAMIC.

In my work/service, those I met are simply trying to break through the binds of silence.  After all, who wants to listen to “disgusting, horrid” experiences?  And if you find someone who can see and listen – what can be done that will be helpful?

That’s been my path – helping people narrate trauma-related lifetime scripts, finding by feeling a reconnection to humanity and the deep abiding love that resides in the core + heart, to free themselves from the snares, pain and suffering - always moving towards healing of their sense of core being.  The blessings scattered across my lifespan is so richly textured – all of it still overwhelm me.

And then, I wanted to know, stated searching for a way to go inside myself, my own life experiences wanting to understand two things – what was this odd, solid sense of “naïve innocence” residing at my core - a suspended state, so real, so true, so deep within me.  I also needed to find out why I kept returning into NDE’s and I definitely wanted to find help to release my trauma-related wounds/containers, find a space, a place with a few new friends...with a view where we could converse deeply regarding what really matters in life  – the heart of the matter.

So, Dear Kind + Brave Bonnie, DPA Board of Directors and community members participating in this panel discussion.  Margaret Bentley’s Story so compelled me, I just had to advocate in some small way and so, I launched a Blog and Bonnie you know the rest of this story.

It's all so surreal – it is truth.  I will continue to expose, lead with myself and significant other's stories to bring them forth... out of the darkness and wilderness experiences into the sunshine, fertile soil, milk and honey.  I commit the remaining of my days to serve, always towards leaving a few things in better shape than when I came and with the pure intent of sharing all the lovingkindness I still have left in breathe to live in the here and now.

I feel so strongly about the "alignments" that are lining up…the synchronicity…the synergism…the majority of my tribe - elders, brothers and sisters, my close friend – my anchors, root system souls have left planet earth.  DPA is now my new found virtual system, global space where my newly formed, non-locality, at-a-distance, earthly human connections is good enough for me for I have learned in attachment, love + belonging that blood is not thicker than water and the mist is the best.

Bonnie, I have had the privilege of privately speaking with you, we have joined and found a way, together to go on this great ride…I am so humbled, so grateful for all you have done and continue to do.  Love your virtual hive container and I can still work/serve with your guidance, help, lovingkindness and respect.

My way was “rude awakenings.  It is one thing to ‘imagine’ surreal phenomena and another to survive reality full of it – that depth of existential angst and live to tell the tale.  I came to DPA searching for community – a place where I can be present and share in the depths – my struggles with bringing shadow life experiences out into a space, place where some light, hope can be found. 

Ponyrider is a lot happier these days, the Shetland pony has gone out to pasture and I found a new, wild horse to ride.

I will call in but be silent and listen.  I will only speak when asked by name…for I have exposed and revealed enough this past 21/2 years…"way out there personally" in our community…Bonnie you have my consent to use mine or Margaret’s stories as living examples of why we all need to open up more to possibilities…this is another sojourn and time will tell… then, we will see how receptive, how much fruit - you, the Board and DPA community members can entertain, muster up towards change + growth…who knows maybe the Board, community wants to keep the status quo right now…

In closing, I recall the movie “Field of Dreams” – if you build it - they will come.  Same @ Stonehenge - ancient paths, rituals – rights of passage – and the people do come.  They even had to make fences along the path to protect the sacred stones, places of ceremony, communing with the divine mysteries, and we all know the flip side...only too well – the darkness, the shadow, degradation, abuse, destruction + killing continues to manifest and kill innocence/beauty on many levels but awe - the resilience and testimony of the human spirit....  

Wishing you the best this afternoon.  Peace + Love Linda

Amazing conversation about the role of depth psychology in the world today in the live Panel Discussion, "What is Depth Psychology--Now and in the Future?" with members and board members of Depth Psychology Alliance. I feel grateful to be part of this work and to be surrounded with likeminded others who are dedicated to this inquiry.

I truly believe something is coalescing and changing on our planet: I like to think it's a growing collective consciousness that is being spurred by so many individuals who are doing their own work on behalf of the planet and all its inhabitants....

We'll be posting a recording of the 90-minute conversation here on Depth Psychology Alliance as soon as it's ready so you can catch up if you missed it. We'll also be adding a "Group" —What is Depth Psychology?" so we can continue the conversation in written form until the next live event....

I think we need to fight the perception that "the personal work of the soul required for the individuation process" is an odd indulgence that only rich beautiful, people like Gwynneth Paltrow can afford to do. People associate things like dream work and meditation with expensive workshops and retreats, Right now we're transforming our universities from centers of enlightenment, dialog, and truth to trade schools that "serve the state's workforce needs" (as the governor of Wisconsin wants to do) because no one wants to take on the indentured servitude of student loan debt without a possible financial return on the investment. Advocating for something people wrongly associate with overpriced yoga pants is a tough sell.
By the way, which one of you on the call this afternoon was the Republican/Libertarian at Pacifica? Maybe I've missed your posts but if you haven't been writing about your experiences there, please do. You mentioned that you felt you were in the minority. If that's true, we need to hear from you.

Today we talked about depth psychology as story telling, soul biography as Hillman calls it. There was an article in the New York (May 2015 issues) titled: Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade? It's about an experiment being done in a fairly left leaning grade school, Fieldston Lower School in New York. The school prides itself on being "integrated," but the experiment is asking 3rd graders to gather by racial classifications to talk with "their own kind" about race, and then to gather with other races and talk about what they learned in their honest conversations. The parents were equally split in their reactions--some thinking it a great idea and others seeing it as revisiting segregation. The outcome was fascinating and revolutionary.

I think "depth psychology" might learn something from this. It seems to me that DP is less about (yet still requires) theorizing and more about imaginative ways of doing it--as they did in Fieldston. What if conservatives and liberals did this? Why if the FOX and MSNBC viewers, who basically despise and see each other as fascist propagandists, did this? What if atheists and theists did this, or those for gay marriage and those opposed?

As I see it, depth psych. "social activism" (an archetypal perspective) is not about forcing a moralizing view on others, but about going deep with "the other". I would love to see the two prominent apocalyptic sides do this--those who are waiting for Jesus to return and destroy the earth and those waiting for Global Warming to destroy the earth and a messiah to save us through legislation. Clearly both groups are equally passionate, convinced and evangelistic in their stances. Imagine each gathering in their sectarian support groups, clarifying their experiences, and then coming together to listen to and talk with the "others". 

Craig Chalquist kindly passed along a relevant essay by David Miller ("Mything the Study of Myth") that addresses one of the potential problems of Depth Psych., namely the co-opting and universalizing of provincial myths in support of one's particular ideology--especially troublesome when done unconsciously. Here are a few pertinent (co-opted) lines:

"We may need a study of the study of myth to go alongside the study of myth... Campbell knew that the study of myth is always already limited by unconscious perspectival bias, even and especially when claiming archetypal universality.. The provincialism may be unconsciously political or unconsciously theological. And it typically undergirds the political status quo ante, either conservative or liberal... sometimes the provincialism betrays an unconscious spirituality or spiritualism that is a watered-down version of one-sided soteriological and heterodox Christianism, wanting to save the soul or the soul of the world. There may be also unconscious gender perspectives, not only masculine sexism and homophobia, but also often, ideological second-wave feminism. Like our hacked computers, we have programs running in the background of our work."      ~ David Miller


Speaking of "hacked computers": Miguel Serrano, an "Esoteric Hitlerist" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Serrano) was a friend of Jung and Hesse (there is a book written by Serrano about their friendship) and many other people (Dalai Lama). Add to that his very successful diplomatic career and his extremely theatrical lifestyle (I don't have to explain what his book "Adolf Hitler: The Ultimate Avatar" is about) and an outcome is a life story that isn't supposed to exist, but it somehow exists.

I find that to this day after so many years of counseling and teaching that I am still trying to get people to get the basic idea that there is an unconscious side to humans. This in itself is the first step that I find in working with clients.

Depth psychology needs to express this in a very magnified way.

This should be an area alone for the public to be able to see that the professionals in the field clearly do understand that there is a very specific work that is required in addressing the unconscious. This is not an easy task.

I am willing to assist in being part of the community in getting this out.

"a magnified way" - When I was offered to try marijuana, I was told how great and interesting it is. There is an inherent opinion among people that altered states of consciousness (unfortunately, some people use war and murder in order to magnify the experience) are interesting and sometimes useful. Many people have even left their lives on the altar of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll (or whatever they listen). And alcohol. And that altered experience and different perspective was accessible in a natural way, just around the corner.

Whatever we do and think, it's a product of my psyche. It should be obvious, but it isn't. People should on a daily basis (just like washing hands before a meal - bathrooms are products of collective human psyche) ask themselves "what my (our, their) psyche is doing" instead of what "I (we, they) am doing". A fist fight between politicians (or just sitting in the same room until they set an agreement) is more humane than war and millions of dead and traumatized people and it's outrageous (compared to war) only in our minds.

Carl Jung has tried with a (very accurate) system of concepts to magnify the experience. James Hillman has tried with wild and uncontrolled imagination, so that other realm would break its way into our (as in we humans) stiff perception and explode into our faces. Jung should have had at least two brothers in order to properly deliver the message: Carl for people who work on themselves, Gustav for mystics and other weirdos, and Jung for people who participate within society.

As I'm not allowed to call on the topic on utopia NATO a fascist organization, I'll post these lyrics here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/muse/aftermath.html - Muse, Aftermath, the album Drones

You're welcome.

I do believe from experience that there is definitely a distinct difference in the way different area of psychology is practiced.

Depth Psychology should express a clarity of what is the approach to the way the professional could utilize the work in their practice of helping others vs. the individual trying to teach themselves without any professional help as to how to work with their own psyche.

The luminous the light the higher consciousness that we strive for in psychology needs to be available to professionals to see other approaches from each other vs. the individual who is striving to teach themselves the concepts and where do they begin to learn about the psyche and the depth that is involved in working with the psyche on a daily basis.

 Then the individual being able to have an ability to have personal analysis of their own psyche to see even if they need to approach professional help or be able to gain insight into what is going on with themselves & gain the tools necessary to work with their own psyche.


Awoke in the early hours this morning to find member, Lera Welch’s delivery; welcomed and long awaited, strong voice adding to our beginning places “for depth psychology to express clear approaches utilized in the work and practice of helping others…to learn about the psyche and depth that is involved in working with the psyche on a daily basis.” Bravo!

And she brilliantly adds, “Striving for the luminous, the light, the higher consciousness” by “seeing other approaches and making them available… to learn from each other…Individuals with ability for personal analysis” to be able to gauge “the need for professional help…gain enough insight about the “what going on in the psyche…with “tools” to work with the contents in phenomena.

In 2000, I purchased an amazing text “Varieties of Anomalous experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence” by E. Cardena, S.J. Lynn, & S. Krippner, and in 2012 found Bonnie’s DPA Community, and now, together with the board, we are getting it together.  I am so excited!

I would like to add the above text to the mix and have waited a long time to find a group willing to engage in dialogue and a book study, “on areas and experiences of hallucinations, lucid dreams, alien abductions, mysticism, anomalous healings, near-death, synaesthesia’s, psi events and past lives. For researchers, theoreticians, depth psychologists and non-psychologists interested in the study of these phenomena, and to log empirically grounded surveys of these phenomena finding approaches, ways and/or tools in an effort to explain more on the totality of human experience.”

Peace + Love Linda


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