|When applying for a university psychology position in 2002, I had to describe a vision for psychology which I’m including here.
A Vision for
Dennis L. Merritt, Ph.D.
Psychology is positioned to usher in a holistic approach to the study of the human psyche, our relationship to the environment, and a truly interdisciplinary educational system. As Jung pointed out, all we know and experience comes out of the psyche and all our systems, including science, have an archetypal base. I am interested in making a Jungian contribution to the development of paradigms that can be appreciated and utilized within the academic community, paradigms that offer several perspectives on the mind/body connection, humans and nature, science and the arts. In the famous 1957 BBC interview, Jung proclaimed, “We need more psychology, the human psyche must be studied! Humans are the source of all coming evil.”
Jung, the first psychiatrist to speak of biophilia, believed that a person not connected to the land was neurotic. Carl Sagan and other prominent scientists united with church leaders to proclaim that unless we develop a sense of the sacred in the land, all will be lost. James Hillman in his books The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World and We’ve had 100 Years of Psychotherapy and The World is Getting Worse challenges psychologists to ask themselves if they are part of the problem or part of the solution vis-à-vis our relationship with the environment. Does our philosophical base and our psychological theories and practices encompass a regard for the most basic reality--the accelerating rate of destruction of the very fabric of life’s existence? The main issues I address in my teaching and writing are how Jungian theory and practice can provide a 21st century model for understanding the human psyche in relation to nature and how it can help establish a truly interdisciplinary educational system that cultivates and develops our connection to the land and creates a sustainable lifestyle.
Developments in science and the psychological and psychoanalytic communities over the past two decades allow us to envision a new synthesis, a new world view, to replace what was ruptured when alchemy split into science versus religion in the 17th century. We are on the threshold of this new synthesis aided by such developments as psychoneuroimmunology, brain studies, object relations and attachment theory in psychoanalytic practice, body therapies, meditative techniques in the health sciences, Hillmanian emphasis on the image (related to deconstructionism and phenomenology), and the developing field of ecopsychology. Environmentalism, Native American spirituality, feminism, the men’s movement, body/mind connections, holistic health practices--all are related from an archetypal perspective.
Jung’s theory of psychological “structures” and processes was heavily influenced by his studies of comparative mythology and religion and a psycho-spiritual understanding of alchemy. Concepts such as the shadow, the soul archetype (anima and animus) and the Self offer a framework from which to examine human nature, as well as the arts and religion. A Jungian construct of what Klein and Winnicott called the "depressive stage" in infant development relates archetypal theory and Greek mythology to psychoanalytic object relations theory. Application of dynamic systems theory to some of Jung’s central concepts reveals a basic connection with the organic and inorganic world while his concept of synchronicity offers a deep sense of relationship to the environment analogous to an indigenous worldview. Through my work I hope to clarify these concepts and make a Jungian contribution to evolving paradigms being explored by the new as well as by the traditional areas of psychology.
Telephone: Madison: (608)
255-9330 ext. 5