Pacifica’s Vision: Psyche in the 21st Century

Pacifica’s Vision: Psyche in the 21st Century

“Pacifica is re-imagining itself based on values of integration and inclusion that are woven throughout our various programs.”

The margins of consciousness have shifted. The original conception of “the unconscious” as a meaningful and influential force needs reformulation. Ideas associated with depth psychology have been increasingly adopted into the mainstream of modern culture, such as the ubiquitous influence of unconscious processes on behavior or archetypal elements operating in society. But if depth psychology is to retain relevancy, it needs to be contemporized and revitalized—What might that mean? And how might we go about it?

To meet psyche at the margins, we must examine the issues that are being ignored. Topics and ideas we are reluctant to pursue need to be our starting places. Margins, whether of human making or of the natural world, fluctuate and become more fluid during times of crisis. Powerful, fast-moving world events outstrip our reflective capacities and highlight what needs examination. Fear and anxiety are amplified when they impact us collectively, leading to archetypal moments such as the current pandemic. When creatively seized, such moments can herald sweeping transformations. In academia, this can manifest as a new way of perceiving ourselves and our world.

Our world and our psyches are more complex and interconnected than previously conceived. We are now learning about the limitations of the human genome and the unanticipated importance of epigenetics. Layered upon the biological understanding are fields like mythology and the humanities contributing to a wider appreciation of the influence of ancestors. Similarly, neuroscience has revealed the essential role of emotions in the construction of thought. Ecological studies reveal the profoundly interconnected web of organisms and environments. Arts-based research shows us how to explore experience and expand knowledge that opens new kinds of awareness. All of these elements contribute to an evolution of what we mean by a “depth approach” to life and to higher education.

We need to reincorporate non-dualistic considerations into our cosmologies in a move toward holistic models. Humanity is only one element in the planetary ecosystem, but one that may endanger the whole due to ongoing lack of true stewardship and an anthropocentric worldview. New awareness of social and environmental justice concerns emerge as we revision our profound interconnectedness. The uniqueness of each individual becomes more precious when understood as part of the greater whole. The unconscious takes on a rhizomatic aspect once connectedness is acknowledged, analogous to root systems that propagate, protect, and perpetuate “the hidden life of trees.” In part, this approach also harkens back to the knowledge and wisdom of many indigenous traditions—recovering them may well be essential to our continued survival on the planet.

Pacifica is re-imagining itself based on values of integration and inclusion that are woven throughout our various programs. As our transdisciplinary vision of the psyche develops and evolves, we turn to evidence-based understandings of the complexity of our world and gather them together as the vibrant foundation of all classroom experiences. This process is very much alive and in development. Join us in the adventure of remaking psyche-centered education as the road to the future.

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