A Contemplative Pause-Button
Few trends today concern me more than the fragmentation of American society (and Americans) alongside the deterioration and faltering business models of professional journalism, the conflation of journalism with “media,” and the trivializing impacts of the Twitterverse and the 24-hour news cycle. These cultural fault-lines have deepened to fissures with the painfully corrosive 2016 election, its aftermath, and the chaotic first year of an unprecedented kind of U.S. presidency.
As both psychologist and journalist I believe our participatory democracy regularly (desperately?) needs to apply a pause-button: To slow down reactivity, quiet shouting voices, calm both individual and collective nervous system. That needed pause can be found via depth psychology’s characteristic contemplative discipline, reflective-observing stance, and many of its core concepts – such as shadow, blind spots, projection, archetypes, individuation, and all that we know about the human body-mind from neuroscience, to name a few.
Surviving the Alt-Fact Age
The original meaning of “to have a vocation” is “to be addressed by a voice.”
C. G. Jung (1954/1977 p. 176)
Inspired by Jungian Edward Edinger’s 1997 essay on the archetypal roots of depth psychology as a vocation, the newShrink© responds to a new call to draw sense, meaning, and conscious action from what journalist-scholar Jack Lule (2001) of Lehigh University has termed the “daily news, eternal stories” of contemporary American life.
Whether we are clinicians or patients, scholars or students, authors or readers, voting citizens or simply concerned humans, we grapple daily with the polarized politics, 24-7 punditry, and reactive cacophony of social-media trolls that dominate popular culture. Two decades have passed since Edinger celebrated depth psychology as “arising out of the modern discovery of the reality of the psyche” (1997, p. 8). Yet attending to the unconscious today is largely absent, lacking even a common language or norms, in discourse regarding contemporary affairs – and arguably at an historical moment when most needed.
One-dimensional debates about real-versus-fake factoids abound, where thorough journalism and the transcendent, broadening lens and context of strong scholarship are needed. Psychiatric jargon and ego-soothing attempts to “diagnose” public figures from afar are, at best, irrelevant distractions from the deep wisdom and insight these human mirrors for our projections can offer about our collective unconscious (Jung, 1951/1969) and the cultural complex (Singer, 2004).
This blog aims to find, develop, and share a system – a survivor’s guide of sorts – for coping with this often crazy-making culture.
As Hillman (1975) and others have observed, it is often in the gaps or margins of our focus that new archetypal patterns and vocational voices emerge. Across such a gap the newShrink© of the title arises out of the author’s dream imagery and long, dual devotion to both professional journalism and depth psychology.
The Journalist, The Scholar, The Depth Psychologist
In the newShrink© process we practice engaging the archetypal Journalist, the Scholar, and the Depth Psychologist in response to any issue, news event, or public figure. First, as Journalist we ask, what are the “official” (persona- and ego-level) facts, the answers to journalism’s classical “Who, What, When, Where, How, How Much?” questions. The Scholar then widens the lens, asking what other fields of study – for example, neuroscience, medicine, history, sociology, religion – belong at the table, in the conversation, to offer essential breadth and context? And then the Depth Psychologist honors the reality of the unconscious to apply its wisdom for the many otherwise inexplicable dimensions to the story, examining such elements as shadow, blind spots, projection, affect, individuation, typology, transference, and archetypes.
As the newShrink© blog evolves, these elements of the process are systematically applied as a deep, broad, and psychological analysis of articles related to such pivotal news issues as the #metoo and #timesup movements regarding sexual harassment, assault, and abuse.
What You’ll Find Here
In simplest terms each newShrink.net blog post will be re-reading and re-imagining news stories, issues-of-the-day, and the work and activity of public figures through the lenses of both scholarly inquiry and depth psychology. This is to be a living, evolving process that becomes more defined as it unfolds. But here are a few things you can expect to see:
- A few, fully cited direct quotes that capture the gist of the story or analysis piece. In depth psychological terms this corresponds to the “persona,” the intentional publicly presented “official version”.
- Full citations (APA style) of directly quoted material and attribution of paraphrased ideas.
- Direct link(s) to journalistic article(s), broadcast(s), and other materials where relevant and useful.
- Material quoting unnamed sources to be cited only from news and publishing organizations that define and adhere to specific standards regarding when, why, and how anonymous sources are needed and used.
- Tips for navigating, distinguishing among, and making best use of today’s chaotic array of journalistic, media-punditry, social media, blogosphere, and even “fake news” marketplace.
- Facts and a solid factual basis for ideas being argued or discussed.
- Application of relevant depth psychology concepts such as the Reality of the Unconscious Psyche, Shadow, Persona, Projection, Affect, Holding the Tension of the Opposites/Transcendent Function, Projective Identification, Archetypal Patterns, the Collective Unconscious, the Cultural Complex, Individuation.
- Some learn-more links to references and additional resources.
- Access to the newShrink© Facebook page, where relevant, respectful comments and reactions are welcome – and readers are encouraged to engage with one another in discussion if desired.
What You Won’t Find Here
- Because newShrink© is primarily a research-and-development tool for the author’s ongoing scholarly research and writing, there is limited time and opportunity for my also using the site conversationally, for chat and debate in this venue. This means author responses and replies are necessarily limited in number and for streamlining are directed solely through the Facebook page.
- The newShrink© focus is on how the news, events, and public figures of our culture directly express and reflect upon who we are as individuals and collectively based on what we know from depth psychology and other fields of study. This is not a site for medical or psychiatric diagnoses, prognoses, or prescriptions.
Edinger, E. (1997). The vocation of depth psychotherapy. Psychological perspectives, A semiannual journal of Jungian thought, 35, 8-22. Los Angeles, CA: C. G. Jung Institute.
Hillman, J. (1975). Revisioning psychology. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
Jung, C. G. (1951/1969). The concept of the collective unconscious. The archetypes and the collective unconscious. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, and W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.) (2nd ed.,Vol. 9i, pp. 42-53, Para. 87-110). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1951)
Jung, C. G. (1977). The development of personality. In H. Read, M. Fordham, Adler, and W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung. (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.) (2nd ed., Vol. 17, pp. 167-186). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1954)
Lule, J. (2001). Daily news, eternal stories: The mythological role of journalism. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Singer, T. (2004). The cultural complex: Contemporary Jungian perspectives on psyche and society. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.