After 120+ years of analytic experience, models of the psyche have proliferated in conjunction with developments with various other disciplines. As the nature of knowledge itself is being reconsidered in the 21st century, there is movement towards a new synthesis incorporating many levels of information and experience, in which the porosity of subjective and objective states transcends traditional binary views. As this opens into discoveries of non-local, distributed aspects of mind and psyche, exciting new therapeutic challenges and possibilities emerge.
In this three-part seminar, we will together explore the origins and evolution of the concept of the field, starting with 19th century discoveries in physics. Examination of the ongoing adaptation and transformation of field theories in the work of depth psychologists throughout the past century offers an array of tools to detect subtler manifestations of unconscious processes that permeate not only clinical work but also our engagement with nature. Concepts such as transference, countertransference, projective identification and so forth can be transformatively envisioned as field phenomena. The addition of Jung’s concept of synchronicity can further add to our perceptions and explorations of these fields. Reciprocally we can revision synchronicity itself in terms of networks and fields associated with complex systems. Following from this we have the opportunity to reconsider various knowledge systems for insights they may offer into contemporary model of the mind, with significant consequences for clinical, cultural, and environmental practices when integrated into our worldviews.
Origins of the field concept in depth psychology: from interactive dynamics to synchronicity
In this session we will begin with a historical overview of the concept of the field as it developed first in the physical sciences throughout the 19th century. The importation of the field concept into psychology was initiated by William James at the dawn of the 20th century and quickly picked up by a number of scholars and researchers. Depth psychologists in particular were impacted by these views. We will look at some of Freud’s uses of this to discuss communications via the unconscious. Following this, we will look at some innovations of C. G. Jung, an early pioneer of the application of field theory, to models of the psyche and the interaction between clinician and client. Jung’s vision of the interactive field included unconscious as well as conscious elements. Based on his views of the nature of the unconscious Jung saw the field as having distributed, non-local aspects that often presented in symbolic form. In conjunction with his emerging concept of synchronicity, which we will explore, a broader, more ecologically oriented approach to encounters with one another and the world. This will including some clinical examples from various sources.
Contemporary field theory and a new cosmology
Having examined the origins and early development of the interactive field with associated synchronistic phenomena, we will in this session, turn towards contemporary understandings of these ideas from a depth psychological perspective. An opportunity to experience this through an imaginal exercise of wonder will open this session. Contemporary psychoanalytic views of reverie reflected in Thomas Ogden’s writings, along with the work on fields by Antonino Ferro and colleagues will provide one strand. From here we will proceed to post-Jungian views on fields, these will be shown to be based in a new, holistic cosmology linked to complexity theory. Examples from multiple disciplines, from the physical sciences to the humanities will help participants appreciate the broad applicability of the new model, even to the point of considering a paradigm shift in epistemology this is currently creating, with a move towards a transdisciplinary approach. Expansion of the Boston Process of Change Study Group’s model of psychological development through moments of meeting, employing the post-Jungian vision of synchronicity leads to a “moments of complexity” approach to psychological transformation. Examples from the presenter’s practice will be used to assist in explicating the model.
Towards a 21st century view of unconscious process: a new valuation.
Re-visioning the notion of the unconscious, moving to a process oriented approach coupled with the study of non-ordinary states of consciousness will be the focus of the third session. The noetic capacities of certain altered states have been of interest to depth psychologists since the start of the discipline. Now there are new findings on the role of oracles in the ancient world that articulate these capacities and offer new avenues for clinical examination and use of such states in therapeutic processes. Appreciating the value of synchronistic phenomena along with the noetic aspects of dreams, allows us to more fully support the individuation processes for ourselves and those with whom we are in close contact. Examples from the presenter’s experience will be offered, but it is hoped that attendees may themselves bring forward relevant examples for discussion.
Joe Cambray, PhD, is President-CEO of Pacifica Graduate Institute; he is Past-President of the International Association for Analytical Psychology; has served as the U.S. Editor for The Journal of Analytical Psychology and is on various editorial boards. He was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Center for Psychoanalytic Studies; and former President of the C. G. Jung Institute of Boston. Dr. Cambray is also a Jungian analyst now living in the Santa Barbara area of California. His numerous publications include the book based on his Fay Lectures: Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe, a recently edited volume, with Leslie Sawin, Research in Analytical Psychology: Applications from Scientific, Historical, and (Cross)-Cultural Research and an earlier volume edited with Linda Carter, Analytical Psychology: Contemporary Perspectives in Jungian Psychology. He has published numerous papers in a range of journals and regularly lectures internationally.
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