What is Depth Psychology? (dr. bona)

Ex-priest and Professor David Bona asked: what is depth? what is our attitude towards depth psychology? how do we imagine depth psychology? what is truth? Dr. Bona went on to say that myth is a way of getting to truth. The big question is centered around what is the myth that people are living, rather than asking what problems they have. The soulstance is that the gods are hiding in our myth and will  evocatively calling up memories and feelings to imaginatively elicit a vivid impression of reality. “God’s don’t speak, they intimate.”

Dr. Bona said that “because the Ancients lived with Psyche all along, they had no need to be objective about it”.  And he reminded us Neitsche once said that the depth is on the surface – all you have to do is notice it.  Freud and Jung merely opened Psyche up to empirical study and, as such, depth psychology is a science. The dimension of science enters because we are researchers of the soul. Freud discovered a way into the unconscious first by hypnosis and then through dreaming.  We, as observers, study paradox, ambiguity, confusion, darkness. At Pacifica the soul is fed through silence, through images, “by letting things come to us” and welcoming the hidden or mysterious into our lives. The words we write or say are psychic organisms with an image at the center! Let the image speak. Do not demand to know something. Be sensuous, i.e., feel words and images, smell words and images, and ask ‘what are you saying to me’ in a way that allows the image to engage with you.

Soul. Academics do not usually use the word. Soul is not viewed soul through religion and theology, and yet Dr. Bona will speak often of religare. A paradox? a contradiction? The Ancients knew that calamities would happen and that religare (latin for “to reconnect, to bind together”) was about the return to source and the binding back to one’s self or essential nature. Apparently, the study of soul is both religare and method … whereas mainstream psychology discovers generalizations and makes a diagnosis, provides a prescription or treatment plan to make people live out the diagnosis (this type of research bears no fruit at Pacifica), depth psychology goes into the private details of an individual’s life as a new thing, for example, Jung made believe he had never seen a patient before on subsequent visits. Everyday is a new day.

In the old days, doctors looked to physical causes of psychical difficulties. Freud changed all of that, as we see in the DSM (IV-TR). The DSM defines personality disorders as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment. The ten currently recognized disorders are grouped into three clusters based on “descriptive similarities” (see http://www1.appstate.edu/`hillrw/dependpd/whatpd.html.)

More and more we accept that painful memories are those emotional charges driven into the body which lead to physical symptoms as defenses to ward off terrible feelings that cannot be consciously recognized.  Terms to explore are 1) suppression, 2) repression, 3) assimilation, and 4) sublimation. This will be covered in another course, but for now suppression means consciously pushing things down whereas repression is when you cannot assimilate things and deny that they even exist (as in unconscious dismissal from the mind). Sublimation is when things are directed to something else consciously such as art, psychosis, or alcoholism. It does not go away and lectures on morality won’t help.

Jung came along and said that we need to make the Shadow conscious! The dragons in our lives are really just princes or princesses that really want us to be brave.

To finish this intro, lets just say that if you could define it, soul would be the things you fantasize about, what you dream about all during the day, and what you feel in your solar plexus. The unconscious is bigger than anything that we can imagine … like space. We are only scratching the surface, like space explorers. That means that there is a future in it and work to do. “We will never be able to catch Psyche and measure her in truly scientific terms,” said Dr. Bona.

The Center is nowhere. The Circumference is everywhere.

If you can get into Tao, the world around you will be right.

St. Francis knew that everything has Soul, which is not to say he was into pantheism, i.e., God is the rock.  Nor was he into dominion, which is the excuse that nature is here for us to rule over. St. Francis was into the unity of relationships – plant, animal, human and the earth and cosmos. And this is what Pacifica is trying to teach in one way or another.

Therapy, when the soul roams like a butterfly through myth, image, dreams, and fantasies, is the Logos (or language) of soul. We explore soul in all of these places. Therapia means medical attendant, that is, attending to the healing of someone else. To do therapy is therapuo 1) to care for the soul, 2) to honor gods/goddesses, and 3) cultivate the world. Dr. Bona said to read again and again what the gods/goddesses are saying to us.

The rose adorns herself only to adorn the garden.

Pacifica is “Caring for the Soul of the World”

The core myth of Westerners is one of alienation. Our roots are in the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, which is our existential predicament. It grounds us in Western culture to believe that we are all in exile and that no one is in the Garden of Eden anymore. From the Christian perspective (Dr. Bona is an ex-Catholic priest), depth psychology begins with our exile from the Garden and the care of the exiled soul.

Where is the Garden? Since Heraclitus, the father of depth psychology, believed that nature likes to hide we may ask, where is nature hiding? Freud and Jung believed that suffering brings ‘things’ [read nature] into existence and, as such, all things emerge through strife. Jung said that psychoneurosis is the suffering of a soul that has lost its meaning. Perhaps Nature is hiding inside the suffering of our souls.

Disease makes health pleasant. Weariness makes rest pleasant. And if we run far enough in one direction, life swings back like a pendulum and things turn into their opposite,. This is called enantiodromia. The path up and the path down is one and the same. Dr. Bona asked us to find a way to separate ourselves from the unconscious in order to overcome enantiodromia, instead of following the entire path of the myth we are living. In other words, become conscious of what is unconscious, and then eliminate what is no longer serving you. As we become increasingly conscious, the myth we are living might dissolve.

I had a dream I was telling someone how problematic landlords can be. The place was looking uncared for. I noticed there were lavender flowers growing on branches without leaves, purple flowered vines over dormant bushes. Within the dream I began to witness the image and saw that the landscape had nothing to do with landlords. It was just winter. At the same moment, I realized my friend and lover was gone. Unbeknownst to me, he had been gone for awhile. I searched towards the back of the house and he was not there, although there was a bunch of lavender flowers on the porch.  I felt myself calling his name three times from a deep place in my heart. Upon awakening I held the dream carefully instead of moving into analysis. Following Dr. Bona’s wise advice from class, I allowed my emotion to separate from the image as I held the image consciously. An idea crystallized which seemed to reflect a myth that I had been living a very long time, which I call “doing it alone” or “going it alone” which I thought was heroic.  I have been doing ‘independence”  in the same way my father did, likewise my brothers, somewhat stoically.

It is an illusion to think you are making decisions for the benefit of others and yet not include them. It has the feeling of abandonment. That is the feeling I left with my friend when I moved to Los Angeles in order to work and save money. I told myself I was doing it for us, yet I did not share my deeper thoughts. I did not think he would believe me. He is married to someone else now. I still have the beautiful purple flowers growing in my soul, and they are a place of joy in my heart, but I am also aware that his care mattered to me. I recall a performance review around that time where my boss said I did the right things on principle and was successful for the company yet I lacked the team spirit. Oops.

Dr. Bona said “awareness is the key – to experience life as it comes”. Experience what is going on now…and now…and now. Awareness is about methods of questioning that we learn from studying Socrates. Socrates could reason pre-existing knowledge out of human beings from the innate unconscious. Look at it this way: inside of you is a hundred or million year old wise woman or man who knows what you need. Just as in therapy where you simply help a client to know what they already know, we are to listen for the intimations of the unconscious and express them.

Another description of depth psychology is the studied use of words to guide one towards the goal of perfecting the soul. The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh or inner breath. Soul is the seat of appetites (hunger, thirst, greed, sexuality, power) and the seat of emotions. Soul desires, rejoices, can be refreshed, the soul weeps, complains, and passionately desires God according to scriptures. The scriptures also say that God has a soul. Soul is the total essence of a person or personality. For Dr. Bona, the psyche is the object of pastoral care in the same way that Freud said it…that is, psychoanalysis is pastoral work. I prefer the word “shamanic” to describe psychoanalysis.

Freud would say that the soul is the most valuable thing in a person while they are alive. It is the fragile and insubstantial essence of oneself that needs to be approached gently and with love. Jung differed in that he believed the soul contained the image of god (similar to the cloud of unknowing) (he was not referring to belief or dogma). The soul is seen as the reconciler or unifying principle. Soul moves between the conscious and the unconscious. Hillman has a different perspective on soul although he is in the tradition of Heraclitus. To him, soul is a viewpoint not an ontological being, it is a perspective that has functions which make meaning possible, turning events into experiences. Ultimately, Freud was gripped by sexuality…and Jung was gripped by soul. Neitsche, who identified with the unconscious, was gripped by Zarathustra and allegedly went insane. For this reason it is very important to dis-identify with unconscious material. Jung had a methodology (as evidenced in the Red Book) and this is how he worked with unconscious material…