Among others, but mainly:
Expressionist artist of the Weimar era, Beckman’s disturbing and dynamic images take on the character of dreams, filled with archetypes and symbols. His paintings are visualization of psychic turmoil, but inherent in them is the transference experience deep, personal meaning that great art can convey to an individual.
Life is suffering, but in acceptance and knowledge of suffering is the way to psychic freedom. To conquer the heat, go to the bottom of the furnace – learn to tolerate what you fear; what gives you discomfort through mindful awareness of what actually IS. Meditation cultivates the immediate engagement and presence in the state in which we are timeless and can achieve a relationship with being that is authentic and pure in that the categories of man fall away.
There is a great Wisdom in the early teachings of first Christians, and a “knowing” of God that we have lost. Bourgeault attempts to reintroduce this dynamic to our modern understanding of God. There is a “Third Way”, in which the marriage of two elements creates a third, greater element. This is seen in many manifestations – and in the therapeutic relationship
The Sermon on the Mount is the way to be in the world. Present now, and fully knowing oneself. The turning point of human consciousness and our notion of equality happened in when Christ sat down with the beggars, lepers and prostitutes. We are all the manifestation of God in the world, as imperfect as we are. We look to Christ as to what is heroic within us, and what we are ultimately capable of achieving by being oriented towards the highest good.
Carl Gustav Jung
There has been no psychologist who has been able to conceptualize the totality of human consciousness more completely than Jung. One of the unparallelled geniuses of the history of thought, the complexity of his framework has yet to be fully understood and, but will become more so. Jung reminds us that we are evolved beings and that only by connecting to the truth of that evolutionary origin that we all have shared over the millennia, can we see a coherent picture of our psyche. In terms of therapeutic utility on a basic level, the notion of exploring the totality of the psyche – even making peace with the hidden and disavowed parts – is the road to actualizing the real self and wholeness.
Fairbairn created a visceral model of how early relationship trauma forces us to isolate our aspects/parts of our being in the service of maintaining attachment relationships at all cost. By doing so, we cut off the potential of these elements of ourselves. It is only through deep work that we can free these elements of ourselves to function in the way that they were meant to be able. The “parts of self” is so elegantly conveyed in his work.
Even in times of the greatest, most degrading, most tragic suffering we have a choice to take an attitude to engage the best parts of ourself despite absolutely no guarantee of the future. We have the absolute freedom to find meaning in any circumstance – and sometimes this is the only freedom we have. Four years in the concentration camps convinced Frankl of this, as he observed and experienced that transcendence of hell on earth was possible, when one felt they had a higher purpose.
A simple purveyor of inexpensive “bidi” Indian cigarettes, his systematic adherence to the mantra “I am that”, allowed him to enter the present as a permanent resident and become one of the 20th century great gurus of Advaita Vedanta. In his Bombay flat, he elaborated to many followers from many nations over many years on the experience of non-duality, unity with the eternal One, and the acceptance of pure consciousness as a way of being in the world.
Jordan B. Peterson
Peterson has uploaded several years of his UofT lectures on both transformative personality psychology, and a series based on the theory of his book, “Maps of Meaning”. The latter theory, among other things, was meant to address the Nietzsche’s question of how to act in the face of the “death of God” and identified the irreducible “constituent elements of experience” that parallel Jung’s (who is one of his main influences) archetypal theories. Peterson is also a clinical psychologist who has extensive training and a deep appreciation of psychoanalytic methods, but also has a pragmatic approach to therapy that addresses and attempts to remedy real life deficits first. Peterson asserts that one can find transcendent meaning in life through the acceptance of individual responsibility and the practice of truthful speech.
Recently deceased, Panksepp wrote a groundbreaking book in 1998, Affective Neuroscience, which ushered in, along with other works by colleagues such as Damasio and LeDoux, the modern era of neuroscience in which investigations of the inner workings of the brain are elaborating, and in many ways replacing traditional psychology. Panksepp’s work with animals proved that we share the same emotional wiring as our furry brethren (we are all brothers under the skin, he said), and that we need to approach our basic emotional systems with the respect that discovery implies. Panksepp identified seven basic emotional systems, but is known as the “Rat Tickler”, for experiments in which he discovered that rats actually laugh when tickled, and that the PLAY system and a capacity for joy is wired into our brains.
In his great philosophical work, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig’s dual hero seeks elusive Quality. Quality, like the Tao is framed in terms of the good that you recognize intuitively, but may take time to see. It is what is recognized as what you are seeking and what is worth pursuing. Quality is the “psychic gasoline” that makes pursuit worthwhile and life worth living. It is not any one thing, but is in the eye of the beholder, but not. It can be also manifest objectively.
The originator of “person-centered psychology”, Rogers allowed his patients to direct their own healing through authentic communication with the therapist, who serves to mirror and articulate their assessments. Thus, in the alliance of “unconditional positive regard”, they develop a congruence between what they say and who they really are. Rogers believed that if a person can achieve an embodied feeling of authentic expression of their innermost self through truthful communication, they can heal and become who they are meant to be.
A Franciscan monk whose numerous influences include Meister Eckhardt, Carl Jung, Alcoholics Anonymous, Spiral Dynamics and Buddha, Rohr is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in the Southwest, which offers programs to revivify faith in the Christian doctrine without the specter of a judgmental and punishing God. Instead, he advocates a relationship with God that is dynamic and complete. Rohr, as do many of the people listed on this page, believes in unifying parts of self into a wholeness that addresses and accepts the totality, and by doing so, according to Rohr, one achieves a full relationship with the divine. To accept paradox is a key element of spiritual freedom.
The Tao de Ching is an illustration of the experience of the pattern of being. It is a substrate philosophy, one of the few, that gets to the ground of being. The Tao is unnamable, and Laz Tzu’s 3000 year old work attempt to point at this pattern in a short, but deeply profound text that can be read in 3 hours, but whose implications are infinite. In the “center” of everything is the Tao. A person can fight it, or ride with it. To do so requires a shift in consciousness and an openness to detecting it – often at the glorious sacrifice of the ego.
Bessel Van der Kolk
Van der Kolk went back 100 years ago to the work of Pierre Janet and literature concerning the original PTSD, “shell shock”, to begin to understand severe trauma and formulate a paradigm for trauma treatment. By reinstating the importance of neuroscience and the physiological effect of trauma on the brain, and de-emphasizing CBT as the principle treatment, Van der Kolk’s groundbreaking “The Body Keeps the Score” revolutionized the treatment of trauma. His “New Paradigm” incorporates the latest neuroscience (with a strong emphasis on attachment), body-based therapies, and the notion (as expressed by others on this page) that our psyche consists of “parts” that can be cultivated or demolished by our experiences.
Integral Theory is a way of determining the multiple levels of experience within the context of the evolution of human consciousness. The theory finds a pattern of engagement that rises in completeness, horizontally as it also expands in a linear fashion across time. Spiritual and Psychological growth occurs in a spiral, meaning as we progress, we must also go back slightly and then forward as we integrate, not isolate, what came before. By understanding integral theory, we can understand evolution of human culture as well as each other.
D. W. Winnicott
A child is born with a capacity to attach and to love. It expresses itself authentically, as it cannot to otherwise. The reaction of parents to this expression determines to what extent that authentic (true) self is accepted or rejected. Rejection cultivates false parts of self that must be constructed in order to survive. Winnicott emphasised above all secure attachment, or good enough mothering, and furthered the work of John Bowlby in that, in the therapeutic relationship, a patient could earn secure attachment, even in adulthood.
Ushered in the interest in Eastern Philosophy in the 60’s with a series of televised lectures on KQED in 1959-60 that explained simply and through brilliant examples expressing the elements of Mahayana Buddhism, Advaita and Tao. Charming, funny and erudite, the former Zen master and Episcopal minister published over 25 books on how to connect to modern Western life through an Eastern sensibility, and thus be more “free” psychologically and live simply and fully.
The originator of Existential psychotherapy, Yalom uses the limitations and potential of our existence – Death, Meaninglessness, Isolation, and uses these limitations to promote a joyous and meaningful engagement in life. Yalom’s method of psychotherapy engages in philosophical reflection of one’s experience as well as a full acceptance of that experience and an invitation of explore it deeply.