Remembering the Role of the Body in Culture, Trauma, and Everyday Dynamics: An Interview with Dr. Rae Johnson

Posted by Erik Davis on Aug 1, 2016 11:30:20 AM

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, The Power of Myth

If you’ve ever had the experience of being fully in your body, you can likely relate exactly to what Campbell meant when he referred to the “rapture” of being alive. I remember hiking through a rain forest in Belize a few years ago in a mighty tropical rainstorm, boots sliding on slick, wet, red clay earth as I grasped at vines to pull myself up embankments. My leg muscles felt infinitely powerful as they worked in perfect harmony with deep rhythmic breaths that seemed to form in perfect accord with the sound of the rain beating giant fronds all around me. I felt lithe, powerful, sleek—almost panther-like—I remember thinking at the time. And, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. I was truly fully embodied in the midst of one of the most powerful places in nature that I have ever been, and I have never felt so euphoric, nor so alive.

This powerful image of my felt experience while in the jungle re-appeared instantaneously for me when Dr. Rae Johnson reminded me of this powerful quote by Joseph Campbell when we recently sat down for a conversation together. Rae is a somatic movement therapist, educator, and researcher, and also the Chair of the Somatic Studies Specialization of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, and she offered some captivating examples of just how transformational embodied awareness can be—especially if it’s grounded in a depth psychological context.

Click here to Listen to the full interview with Rae Johnson (Approx. 37 mins) 

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Posted in: Trauma, Social Justice, somatic bodywork

Confronting Signs of a Society in Decline

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Mar 7, 2016 3:29:15 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

When I met Chris Hedges online for our recent interview together, I could see why Pacifica Graduate Institute invited him to speak at their milestone 40th anniversary celebration conference, Climates of Change and the Therapy of Ideas, which takes place April 21-24, 2016, in Santa Barbara, CA.

As a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Hedges carries with him nearly two decades of experience reporting from war-torn countries like Yugoslavia, El Salvador, and also Gaza and South Sudan. In this capacity, he has witnessed the decline and disintegration of multiple societies, a perspective which has surely influenced his capacity regard the decline and potential destruction of our own modern culture that seems severely out of order.

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Trauma

Depth Psychological Approaches to Suffering

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jan 27, 2016 9:31:49 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ― Kahlil Gibran

We are all intimately familiar with suffering. And, while we might wish it away when it is painfully present, it is a normal part of human life, Dr. Lionel Corbett, M.D., Jungian analyst and professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute reminded me when I recently sat down for a depth discussion with him on the topic.

Etymologically, the word “suffering” comes from two Latin roots: sub—meaning “under”—and ferre, meaning “to carry or bear,” as in “to bear a burden.” But suffering is not necessarily pathological, Lionel insists. The root of the word “suffer” is also the root of the English word “fertile,” so it is also related to the idea of bearing fruit. Psychologically, then, suffering can produce something; it’s not random or meaningless, nor merely something to get rid of. In reality, it can act as either a fertilizer or a poison. It can be harmful or it can be helpful, but we need a framework by which we can understand it.

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Posted in: The Psyche, Trauma, Pacifica Events, Psychology

Storytelling, Myth, Dreamtending and Narrative

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Dec 16, 2015 2:49:39 PM

On Monday, December 14, 2015 the The Narrative Project hosted a thoughtprovoking
and impromptu salon at the intersection of Storytelling, Myth, Dream Tending & Narrative. Ann Badillo of The Narrative Project hosted the evening with Ed Santana, Ph.D., Pacifica's Interim Director of Institutional Learning and Strategy and Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., Chancellor and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Trauma, Pacifica News

We Are All Parisian

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 25, 2015 3:09:22 PM

A guest post by Dr. Susan Rowland, Chair of Pacifica's M.A. Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life Program.

Dear Everyone,
Ten years ago when Al Quaeda bombed London, the Mayor of Paris said: “today we are all Londoners.” The following day, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said “We are all Londoners” in Trafalgar Square packed with all of London’s multicultural communities. As a Londoner, then a resident, always by birth, no one speech or event did more to lessen the sense of trauma I felt.

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Trauma, Mythology

Fighting Violence with Violence: An Emotional Response to Terrorist Attacks?

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 24, 2015 3:51:42 PM

How do we make decisions regarding the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, Somalia, and last April's incident at Kenya's Garissa University College? On NPR a few days ago, news commentator Robert Siegel talked about how calm United States President Barack Obama was being because the president did not want to make decisions based on emotional responses.

Some groups are calling for more bombings targeted at these individuals behind the recent terrorists attacks, but should our response to violence be more violence? I emailed Mary Watkins, a professor of depth psychology here at Pacifica to get her thoughts. She responded with this: 

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Trauma

Community Reparations for Victims of Jon Burge's Torture Techniques

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jun 10, 2015 1:47:00 PM

Community Reparations

A guest post by Liz Diligio, a 2nd year student in the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology Specialization of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program (C.L.E. program)

In May of 1972 Jon Burge, a Vietnam veteran, was promoted to police detective on Chicago’s south side. For the next twenty years Burge and other officers used torture techniques Burge learned in Vietnam to force confessions from men arrested in the neighborhood. Jon Burge eventually sent over 200 hundred men to prison based on confessions obtained through torture. The practice finally came to light during proceedings before the Police Board in 1992, when City lawyers admitted that the evidence of Area 2 (Burge’s district) use of torture established "an astounding pattern or plan… to torture certain suspects… into confessing to crimes.”

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Trauma, Connecting Cultures, Social Justice

Heartbreak: Recovering from lost love and mourning, Part I

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 10, 2014 7:30:00 AM

A guest post by Ginette Paris. The following is excerpted from her acclaimed book Heartbreak: New Approaches to Healing - Recovering from lost love and mourning.

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Posted in: The Psyche, Trauma