I love this topic so much I could write a book on it. In fact, I have, to be called Myths Among Us: When Timeless Tales Return to Life (World Soul Books, 2017). The book spends 658 pages on the question of what good is mythology, with real-life applications and many stories.
Here I’ll offer some brief examples taken from the life arenas of self-knowledge, work, finance, diversity, and persuasion.
An Interview with MFT Consortium Stipend Recipient, Naris Kesheshe A Guest Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.
When she was 13 years old, Naris Kesheshe—who recently finished her third year in the Counseling Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute—was dramatically uprooted from her native culture in Iran and forced to start anew as an immigrant to the United States.
The culture shock she experienced from moving from an all-girls school in her native country to a school in the U.S. where both genders were integrated was just one of several catalysts for her, and the ultimately, the trauma of her entire experience eventually led her to study whole group dynamics, sociology, and the psychology of the person and the whole psyche.
Resistance and Radical Edges Conference, June 2017 Introduction to Dr. Donald Kalsched and clinical depth psychology by the Chair of the Clinical Psychology Department, Dr. Oksana Yakushko
On the weekend of June 16-18 of 2017 The Retreat at Pacifica Graduate Institute hosted over one-hundred guests at the landmark conference Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century. Chair of Pacifica's Clinical Psychology Program, Dr. Oksana Yakushko, welcomed guests on the morning of June 17th and gave some opening remarks. We hope you enjoy the replay of the live presentation. If you would prefer, Dr. Yakushko has kindly offered her written speech which you can access below the video.
A warm morning greeting to all of you. I hope you have enjoyed yesterday’s offerings, opening plenaries, and connections.
I am Dr. Oksana Yakushko, the chair of the Clinical Psychology department which includes both the Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs here at Pacifica. I have the privilege of giving the opening remarks on this day and an introduction to our next distinguished speaker, Dr. Donald Kalshed, one of the top scholars on depth psychological perspectives on trauma.
My introductory comments will focus on offering a frame, a different container and symbol for the practice of psychology today.
The Art of Transformation: Images, Dreams, and Alchemy—An Interview with Jungian Analyst, Stanton Marlan A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.
For Stanton Marlan, a Jungian analyst and author of the iconic tome, The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness, his interest in alchemy may be traced in some part to his childhood stone collection. As a child, Marlan used to use his stones to “write” in wonderful colors, and delighted in the way each had a certain capacity to express themselves in a unique way without crumbling in the process.
The stones, which he kept in front of his grandmother’s house where he lived, became a very early “image” for Marlan, carrying a great deal of meaning. When his grandmother determined the stones were cluttering the front yard and threw them away, it resulted in a sense of profound loss for the boy whose colorful stones were so rich and valuable to him. In some deep way, Marlan reflects, the search for the philosopher’s stone, or the search for meaning in stones, was an early imprint on his mind as a young child.
Counseling and Community Mental Health: A Soul-Based Calling An Interview with MFT Consortium Stipend Recipient, Minh Tran A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.
In his senior year of college, Minh Tran, a “first and a half” generation Vietnamese immigrant who moved to the U.S. as a child, started volunteering community organizations doing lay counseling work, including HIV testing, harm reduction and substance abuse counseling, and outreach. Tran spent much of his time focusing on harm reduction, a specific approach to counseling which tends to bring the unconscious to the fore by restoring choice or changing thoughts and behavior. Harm reduction attempts to reduce harm by any means, especially by addressing an individual’s strengths, Minh states. Whatever one is already doing in their life that's working—such as exercising, for example—can be engaged.
Peace Corps Meets Pacifica: Cultivating, Counseling, and Stories from Cameroon An Interview with Paul D. Coverdell Fellow and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Courtney McCubbin A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.
Nothing can substitute for experience as a way of knowing. It serves as a powerful initiation process that begins the moment you put your foot on a particular path. This appears to be the case for Courtney McCubbin, who served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon in Africa from 2001 to 2005. While McCubbin struggled mightily to learn French in order to communicate with the people there, a task that frequently brought her to tears, she took comfort her deep desire to help people, and threw herself into projects in reforestation, agroforestry, and agronomy, which contributed to the healing of the forests and the farmers there who needed help.
One of the benefits of depth psychological traditions is that they can be applied to understanding what it means to be a self or soul in this world, and to think about others who have led the way. “We stand on the shoulders of so many giants,” insists William James Jones, who completed his dissertation research on the process of self-actualization to receive his Ph.D. in the Clinical Psychology program at Pacifica last year.
In the process, Jones realized he was interested in self-actualization long before he knew the term for it. As a young boy from the streets of Chicago who didn’t really have his father growing up, he looked up to some of the strong figures in his community—including his mother, teachers, coaches, pastors, and priests—for inspiration. He was keenly interested in what it means to be a man with excellence—to really lead the life he is capable of, he realized. That desire sparked his curiosity about who exhibits the kind of traits he aspired to, prompting him to ask, “Who am I at the deepest levels, and what's my purpose in life? What's the meaning of all this?”
Lisa Pounders has always had an interest in art and poetry, and has long been inspired by the work of Joseph Campbell—even painting his directive, “Follow your own bliss” above a window in her art studio years ago. Her story is not unlike that of others who have attended Pacifica Graduate Institute: when she enrolled in the Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life program, she felt she was responding to a “mysterious sense of calling” that many other students and alumni have also reported. Her own sense of summons had to do with the sense that creativity and what she initially learned about C. G. Jung’s ideas about the unconscious were intrinsically linked. Making the connection explicit (especially through a Master’s degree in Creativity) seemed a powerful way to move her own life forward.
Although Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke box-office records for commercial success, we might lament the filmmakers’ missed opportunity to deliver a narrative of enduring mythic significance and philosophical profundity to its expectant global audience. Had this opportunity been taken, how—in an alternate galaxy far, far away—might the storyline have begun and been developed?
Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875, died in 1961, and lived in Switzerland all his life, although he traveled now and then. He was a psychiatrist, seeing patients and pioneering various techniques in experimental research before focusing on psychoanalysis and then on evolving his own kind of depth psychology. He created innovative methods for working with symptoms, dreams, fantasies, visions, and even works of art on the level of psychological symbolism.
A remarkable thing about Jung’s work is that so little of it is out of date.