Depth psychology and New Zealand society
Centre for Psycho-sociological Development
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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.

With 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.

First, 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?

The first 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 protecting desire.

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.

The third principle deals with the practical application of depth psychology to the forces which are acting to influence the nature of a society.

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 society.

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.

Because depth psychology can be difficult to understand, an example of the principles involved may be of assistance.

A disturbed 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 missing.

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 neurotic personality.

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.

The cognitive 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 conflict.

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.

Critiques of the work of the Centre are welcome.


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