In psychoanalysis and other forms of depth psychology, the psyche (pronounced /ˈsaɪkiː/; etymology: Greek ψυχή psykhe “soul, mind, breath, life”) refers to the forces in an individual that influence thought, behavior and personality. The word is borrowed from ancient Greek animating principle, and here refers to the modern ideas of soul, self, and mind. The Greeks believed that the soul or “psyche” was responsible for behaviour.
We have lost the essence of psychoanalytic theory. In our zeal to move the body of knowledge to being acknowledged as a science, we have removed the mysterious and the unknown. In fact the very word “PSYCE ology” is the study of the soul. But in the last one hundred years we have progressively lost touch with the concept of soul and have moves our concentration toward the egoic thought making aspect of the brain.
In the definition above psyche or soul is meant to be seen as “the force” behind our behaviors. Psychology and in particular behavioral health management has removed the force from study and has spent its research concentration on cognitive behavior rather that the study of the force that moves behavior.
Behavior is visible, the force behind behavior is a mysterious concept that cuts across all of sentient life on the planet. The mysterious force is the drive force and its essence can only be studied by looking at the implications of the force rather than at the force itself. Much like we understand gravity or the magnetic field, we can only study the drive by watching the induced implication.
As psychoanalysis was essentially highjacked by the American Medical Profession of the 1930’s and 40’s, the American model of capitalism parading as democracy , became the method of research. I mean that all behavior is reduced to the amount of capital that it can raise. Our education system, our transportation system, our churches and our hospitals need to make money for the stock holders. Psychoanalysis, of course, all to readily joined the parade. At one to two hundred dollars an hour for four to five hours a week, only the fifth avenue rich were able to take advantage of its perks.
As the social work movement joined the parade they became the nurses of psychoanalytic practitioners. Many psychiatrists employed two, three, or ten social workers and they did the clinical work while the medical professional collected the bulk of the dollars. That very practice caused the profession to be owned and made available only to the quite rich.
In the Ivory Towers we had a different conflict emerging. Academic Psychology became interested in the science of this practice. As a result only those aspects of the clinical service that could be measured were kept as central to the theory. If it could not be measured in a Newtonian Physics kind of research method the technique was abandoned.
Well for me, that amounts to clipping the wings of a bird to make it more efficient. It is very much like what is happening in the rest of our economy. The soul of our values, the psyche of our American ethics has shifted from promoting the liberty of all to promoting the advantage to stock holders. The recent statements made by the chairman of the Federal Reserve speaks to our conflict. The economy will recover, but the unemployment rate will remain close to where it is currently hovering. We have permanently increased the number of people who will remain outside of the perks of the economy. How like Egypt, how like Libya, how like small dictators through out South America. We are moving our nation to look like the economy of Brazil.
We are not allowing ourselves to know that the days of the Great American Empire are over. We are in a state of denial about where and how we are moving away from democracy and toward a form of plutocracy where the very wealthy elite not only run the country, but are able to gobble up all of the resources and garner the bulk of the capital.
You may wonder where I am going with this information. I am concerned that most of psychology has become irrelevant. The manner in which the information of the profession is delivered is inefficient. Essentiality who we are and what we can accomplish is already built in to who we are and where we are in the evolution of the human condition. I think that Psychoanalysis is developing a mandate to become more political than it has been in the past one hundred years. The story of analysis is the story not only of the individual psyche but of the soul of our very social foundations of our societies.
Psychoanalysis has discovered truths and conditions about the human situation that can help reduce human suffering. Psychoanalysis can and ought to become a voice for the disenfranchised. It is no wonder that schools of social work divide out into two distinct bodies of thought. A social work education can provide direction to community organizers in the same way that it can provide information for how to work with the defenses of an individual psyche. As we see the politics of nations move ever and ever closer to the concentration of power, we have a social mandate to attempt to educate the population that the conservative agenda as it is currently being presented is skewed far to the right of what is needed to take care of the population at large. As we move toward global economics and the eventual President of the World, the masses will be left behind as if they were herds of wildebeest or buffalos.
The planet can not sustain the population growth and still have a capacity in resources to remain vital. The earth, the world as we know it, is moving towards a condition that can not sustain itself. We are growing in an infinite manner and grabbing from a finite resource. For many years i have sat on a concern that felt nearly anti-american to consider. But consider this. If we think that the oil wars are a tragedy, and they are; the water wars will devastate the planet, pinning even the most spiritual against encroaching power grabs. We will fight machines like in the movie Avatar while guarding our most precious resource, the human soul.
Psychoanalysis has a mandate to become political. We have been influenced by a body of knowledge next to none in relation to who we are and how we can survive as individuals, and in the macro sense, as a specie. I want to close with a quote from a James Hillman interview. “I think we’re miserable partly because we have only one god, and that’s economics. Economics is a slave-driver. No one has free time; no one has any leisure. The whole culture is under terrible pressure and fraught with worry. It’s hard to get out of that box. That’s the dominant situation all over the world.”
My sense is that this is where current psychoanalysis ought to begin. As practitioners of this fading art and science we would do well to teach its precepts in what ever manner we can. The politics of psychoanalysis as the politics of Zen Buddhism cover the deep seeded roots of humanity as a specie. Everything that we can be and everything that we are and are becoming is first begun in the stored consciousness. The common sense of living in a sustainable manner, in a more efficient manner is the very knowledge that society as a whole needs to get it house in order. We are up against a tremendous force of greed, but with the power of our persistence we can and, indeed, must move toward a more favorable distribution of wealth and resources.
It is the blatant irrelevance of psychology that is worrying me the most about my profession. The need for the mysterious to be analyzed is as powerful in our selves and in our civilization as is the facts that we currently analyze. Am I being of any help to anyone is a question that comes up for me with greater frequency. When I come up against this question, I am not calling into question my usefulness, or the general usefulness of the theories behind our psychologies, I am calling into question weather we might determine a greater efficiency by being more political that we have been up to now.
The splintering of our world into a world of have and have-nots is perhaps the greatest condition on earth that faces man at the dawn of this millennium. I want to see practitioners of psychoanalysis and analytic psychologies begin to bring their theories out side the consulting rooms and into the city planning offices and into the street of Cairo and Madison. We are ministers as well as practitioners and social justice is a cause of dysfunction in man that can be addressed not only as a neurosis, but as a social ill.
*…the phrase, “psychology has no soul,” was coined by Professor James Hillman, a student of Jungian psychoanalysis and an eminent writer on the topic of social justice and analytic psychology.