Hi everyone,


I'm at work on an anthology with the working title Writings in Deep Psychology, and I thought I'd post a brief piece of it having to do with what constitutes "depth psychology." My anthology will include work from a number of pioneers, including Wundt (yes, Wundt: he did something for depth but most textbooks ignore it), Fechner (a tremendous nature mystic), William James, Pierre Janet, Freud and the Freudians, Jung and the Jungians, and work from Psychosynthesis, Humanistic-Existential Psych, and Transpersonal Psych. Cheers--


In 1910, psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler coined the term “deep psychology” (tiefenpsychologie) to designate the psychoanalytic focus on the relations between conscious and unconscious. Freud, Janet, James, and other pioneers had uncovered vital psychological connections between symptom and symbol, repressor and repressed, conflict and wound, and dream and emotionality. In each case what showed on the surface presented upon closer investigation a ripple or two of deeper currents in the psyche.
    As psychoanalysis splintered and spread into multiple schools and perspectives, Bleuler’s term, now translated into English as “depth psychology” rather than “deep psychology,” narrowed as though by overcompensation to refer to approaches stemming from the work of Freud and Jung. Even now, graduate programs in depth psychology valorize Freud without referring to his intellectual debt to Janet and praise Jung while forgetting that an entire chapter written for but absent from Memories, Dreams, Reflections bore the title “William James.” Alfred Adler is lucky to get a mention by anyone but James Hillman.
    Furthermore, depth psychologists have overlooked, downplayed, or ignored deep research and practice in humanistic, existential, and transpersonal psychology as well as in psychosynthesis, whose founder, Roberto Assagioli, rightly complained about the need for a “height psychology” to supplement the ongoing “depth” emphasis on lower, darker, the early, and the archaic.
    “Depth psychology” remains a useful description of a specific stream of psychoanalytic descents, but restoring Bleuler’s “deep psychology” could foster cross-tradition consciousness of past and present explorations of the deepest ranges of human experience: “deep” not only as down or under, but “deep” as behind and within, as through deep walls or alight in a deep sky. 

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Comment by Julie Ann Perkins on February 28, 2011 at 11:16am

Craig - What a courageous and ambitious effort to weave a more complete Tiefenspsychologie for today!

Your book sounds fascinating. I did not know that MDR is missing a chapter about the American Godfather of psychology, William James.

Also, I wonder about Goethe?  Do you know where this quote from Goethe, and possibly a precursor to Jung's formulation of the Transcendent Function, may be found? 

Whatever appears in the world must divide if it is to appear at all. What has divided seeks itself again, can return to itself and reunite…in the reunion of the intensified halves it will produce a third thing, something new, higher, unexpected.

Also it seems that a in more complete psychology, it is imperative to include, as you say, the explorations of what is behind, and within, as well as below and above, and in what I might call the proprioceptive sense that you point to of experiencing something alight a deep sky.  For me, this is a foundational piece of my own thesis, to explore the felt sense of the mystery behind me.  Embedded in the whole fabric of life on earth,

does Deep Psychology capture this essence?

Comment by Jeffrey Kiehl on February 19, 2011 at 3:47pm
Just a comment on the translation of Tiefen... The adjective tief is translated as "deep," but the feminine noun Tiefe is translated as "depth." For example, the noun Tiefenanzeiger is translated as "depth gauge." So, I don't see the need to use the term "Deep Psychology" for what Bleuler was describing.
Comment by Bonnie Bright on February 15, 2011 at 7:53pm

Craig, thanks for posting this fascinating history. Though I've heard it before, it's always like a cleansing bath to renew my relationship with the lineage and tradition which placed us all here in this place at this time and the recent conversations in the Forum on "Why Jung?" and "Why Giegerich?" generated a lot of heated discussion on the importance of certain key figures in our history.

I agree with both of you that its probably a moot point to rename Depth Psychology now--though it would be a lot easier to explain "deep" psychology to those who are not familiar with it. I know many people I mention "depth" psychology to typically think I'm saying "death" psychology---and others in our field have confirmed that same issue. I guess it just adds another layer of, well...depth...

Comment by Craig Chalquist, PhD on February 15, 2011 at 3:17pm

I wouldn't be in favor of renaming it. It describes the traditions that come out of Janet, James, Freud, Jung, etc. concisely. In my anthology I plan to put depth writings together with the traditions they go with but normally ignore.


ps Wilber borrowed "integral" from Gebser and from Sri Aurobindo.

Comment by Thom F. Cavalli, Ph.D. on February 13, 2011 at 12:53pm
Should this website be renamed, Deep Psychology Alliance? With all due respect and agreement for the historical points you make, Depth Psychology has some name recognition. (Actually, Jung might have preferred his original Complex Psychology.) Given the tremendous emphasis put on the treatment of behavior, mostly by cognitive therapy and pharmacological treatment, I think it best to stand by the term "Depth" which has less scary associations and raises less resistance. Or, perhaps we should follow the model set by Ken Wilbur and invent terms like Integral or one more fitting, Individuation Psychology.

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