Psychology as a Vocation
There is a thin place where dream and event meet, a pivotal place where, as the poet John Keats once noted, the world is the vale of soul making. My life in psychology has been a journey in the world in search of those threshold places and their momentary epiphanies. Along the way I have come to realize that psychology has been more than a profession I chose. It has been a vocation that chose me.
Indeed, in becoming a psychologist I sense at times that I have been following a path coded in my name, Romanyshyn, which means ‘son of a gypsy.’ I have been a wanderer drawn to those fringe areas where psychology spills into philosophy and poetry, where history and literature percolate with the shared collective dreams of the soul, and where the splendor of the world’s simple displays can awaken a forgotten, lost and elemental sense of home.
Robert D. Romanyshyn is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. The author of seven books, he has published poems in several on line poetry sites and in print journals, including most recently, ‘In Memoriam: 1914-2014’ in The Humanistic Psychologist. A contributor to numerous edited volumes, he has published more than forty articles in psychology, philosophy, and education journals, written book reviews, has done radio, television and on line interviews, and has presented lectures and workshops at universities and professional societies in the U.S., Europe, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand.
A Fellow at The Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture since 1989, he was invited in 1993 to become the first person to hold The Amy Freeman Lee Chair in Humanities and Fine Arts at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas. For his many publications in defense of the necessity of the humanities in psychology, he was the first person elected as an Affiliate Member of The Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. In 2009 he was invited to become a Patron of Open Sesame Institute, a movement therapy center that emphasizes dramatic enactment of psychological themes.
During the last decade, he has turned to poetry, drama, and photography to develop a poetic sensibility as an alternative to the reductive empiricism not only in contemporary psychology, but also as it pervades many areas of our public discourse. In 2014 his book, Leaning Toward the Poet: Eavesdropping on the Poetry of Everyday Life was published, and in 2015 he worked with a theater company in Los Angeles to adapt his unfinished manuscript, The Frankenstein Prophecies, into a play. In 2010 he created a DVD of his trip in 2009 to the Antarctic. Using 86 of his photos from that trip and accompanied by a voice over that he wrote and music composed by a collaborator on the project, Antarctica: Inner Journeys in the Outer World is an experiment about the healing power of the word wedded to music and image as a response to the ecological crises of our time. This work, which he has shown in many venues in the U.S., Canada, and England, has been described as “a visual tone poem that invites one into a landscape of stillness and silence, solitude and serenity, restores the broken aesthetic connection between human beings and the natural world and is the first step in a journey out of our exile from nature toward homecoming.”
He is currently working on The Frankenstein Prophecies: The Untold Tale in Mary Shelley’s Story, which tells her story form the point of view of the ‘Monster.’ He is also at work on a book ‘On Becoming and Un-Becoming a Psychologist: A Memoir of an Ambivalent Love Affair.’