|PSYCHO-SOCIOLOGY: AN OVERVIEW
There are three major principles which it is suggested
define the area of psycho-sociology.
First, reality is, with
the exception of the products of nature, the collective
manifestation of the psychodynamic processes of individuals.
Second, if the psychodynamic processes of individuals are
that which create reality, then those processes in individuals who
are in a positions of power with respect to the society in which
they live, are also the processes which are in a position to
contribute to the reality of a society in which those persons who
lack that power also live.
Third, if the psychodynamic
processes of those in positions of power in a society are
contributing to the nature of the society in which they live, it
should be possible to attempt to negate psychological influences
emanating from those in positions of power which are debilitating to
the humanistic nature of society and which, because of their
experiential nature, are outside the scope of the recipient's
ability to translate into their own terms of reference.
regard to principle one above, there are two secondary principles
which fall within this concept. There are so far determined only two
categories of constituents to the makeup of reality.
that which is defined by nature and second, that which is defined by
the unconscious processes.
There are many things in the
world around us that we see, yet do not see. Why is it that modern
cars all tend to look the same? Why does that house look the way it
does, or why it is painted the colour it is?
example deals with objects that are defined by the forces of nature.
Modern cars look the way they do because the rising cost of fuel
dictated that fuel efficiency was more important in selling cars
than looks. Therefore the majority of cars are now placed in wind
tunnels to define the shape that offers the least resistance to air.
Because the shape that offers the least resistance to air is a
function of the laws of nature, the shape of a vehicle from one
manufacturers wind tunnel is very much like that of the shape from
another manufacturers wind tunnel.
In the second example the
house is only required by the laws of nature to protect its
inhabitants from the forces of nature. Once it has accomplished this
primary function it can then be any shape or colour those whom it is
These secondary characteristics of the
house are the products of personal likes and dislikes and are
therefore the products of the unconscious.
With regard to
the second principle the Centre is interested in exploring methods
of objectively and remotely determining the emotional makeup of
those in positions of power.
In this area a trained observer
can detect what appears to be a consciously adopted personality - as
opposed to an individual who's psychological development has led to
a mature extant identity - but replicable scientific systems for
measuring such characteristics appear to be limited.
third principle deals with the practical application of depth
psychology to the forces which are acting to influence the nature of
The most obvious example here is the media. If
those in positions of power in the media lack the education or the
intellectual ability to understand the nature of the world in which
they live, or have subservient, amoral or corrupt personalities,
then the media can play a decisive part in altering the nature of a
society which may not be in the best interests of the people of that
If distortions of a societal nature do in fact
escape the best efforts of journalists, the Centre can attempt to
intervene, and using the channels of redress available in a
democracy, attempt to shed more light on such occurrences.
Founded in April 1995, the Centre is a non-political
organisation which exists to contribute to the development of New
Zealand society by the application of depth psychology to the means
by which New Zealanders come to see themselves and their world.
Depth psychology is of course that branch of the field that
deals with unconscious processes and as such the Centre deals with
both the world view of the powerful as the product of their
unconscious processes and the effect of the transmission of such
views on the citizens of a given society.
psychology can be difficult to understand, an example of the
principles involved may be of assistance.
fifteen year old girl was receiving treatment from a psychotherapist
and during the course of the treatment the girl complained that her
father always laughed at her. The therapist arranged for the father
to be available for a future session, and during that session the
father was brought into the room and the girls complaint put to him.
The father's reaction was to burst out laughing and say;
"What? me laugh at her?"
The point here is that there are
two systems of transmission of information being utilised, the
cognitive and the experiential.
The cognitive or conscious
system of transmission of information, is the one which most people
take for granted, and in its simplest form consists of learning that
one and one make two.
The experiential or unconscious system
of transmission of information, is the system which bypasses the
conscious mind and produces in the recipient an emotion or sensation
- an experience. Examples of this are feelings of lack of self
esteem when constantly denigrated, and the British concept of
feeling "gutted". In the "gutted" example, treatment by other
persons which has no recognition of the recipient as being human,
produces a physical sensation of hollowness in the lower abdomen -
hence the name "gutted" - as it feels as though the entrails are
In some cases however, the physical sensation may
be missing and the recipient may simply have an incorrect view of
himself or the world in which he lives.
It should be noted
that because the cognitive processes have been bypassed, neither the
feeling of lack of self esteem or the feeling of being "gutted" has
been tested for its truth. Therefore a person or persons may hold
opinions of themselves or their world, based on their emotional
state, which are simply untrue. This is one possible definition of a
Returning now to the case of the girl
and her father it can be seen that the girl has feelings of lack of
worth because of the constant laughter to which she is subjected,
yet cognitively she has conscious information that her father does
not laugh at her: this is because he says so.
information is therefore in conflict with the experiential
information thus causing difficulties with the girl's personality.
It needs to be understood that the girl would not have this insight
into herself, nor could she be cured by explaining it to her at the
conscious level. She would need to undergo psychotherapy to resolve
The concepts of cognitive and experiential
information lie at the heart of the work of the Centre, although it
does not limit itself purely to psychological phenomena. The Centre,
instead of applying the concepts of cognitive and experiential
information to the emotional health of the individual, applies them
instead to the nature of New Zealand society.
the work of the Centre are welcome.