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Robert Romanyshyn

Educator, Author and Psychotherapist 

Soul on Edge

September 6, 2016

In the Places of Thinking and Writing, Conversations in the Gap between Mind and Soul, Eavesdropping on the Edge, Writing in the Margins, Lingering at the Lip of the Abyss, all possible titles-containers for experiments in writing down the language of soul, experiments in the gap between psychology as a natural science and a distinct and specialized profession, and psychology as a vocation and an art and a practice that colors and shades and qualifies all of our actions.

To be a psychologist is not like being an economist or a physicist. Being either an economist or a physicist is what one does; being a psychologist is who one is even when one is doing economics or physics. Psychology as an art and a practice is not even a distinct profession, nor should it be. As a distinct discipline psychology might very well be dangerous to the vitality of psychological life.

Let’s get rid of the noun psychology for the sake of the adjective psychological?

Recently this danger became national news as the APA was discovered to sanction torture. That should not surprise us. One of the key themes of phenomenology is the chiasm between perception and language in which the gestural body is the hinge where perception and word pivot round each other. Sanctioning torture is made possible in psychology’s image of the human being described in terms of its addiction to its language of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. That is ok and it fits if we are robots stuffed with bits of data.

Might poets be closer to the logos of soul?

Might it be better to be a failed poet than a successful psychologist?

Too much of a dichotomy in that statement! Too much either/or thinking that turns too quickly into an ideology!

Perhaps the locus of a psychological science is the threshold between thinking and dreaming, the permeable boundary between a daylight mind and a night time soul, a cyclical movement between the natural rhythms of sun light and moon light, a science practiced in twilight and dawn, transitional moments between waking and sleeping, a seasonal psychology practiced in the fall and spring times between the full light of summer, the season most favorable perhaps to the clear and distinct ideas of the reasonable mind of a STEM Psychology, and the dark nights of winter, the season most favored by the dreams of depth psychology.

But on the threshold we still have to let go of noun conscious, of the dream, to embrace dreaming, if we are to avoid making STEM psychology or Depth psychology into monumental sciences. Speaking of Orpheus, the eponymous poet, Rilke, the modern incarnation of Orpheus, warns us not to erect any stones to Orpheus, but to let it be the rose whose presence is enough even as it might overstay its blooming for a moment.

From dreams to dreaming! From identifying with a psychology made in sunlight or moonlight, a psychological way of knowing and being made in the passage way between waking and sleeping! A psychological science that bridges the two moments, a bridge psychology whose languaging of the epiphanies of psychological life alludes to what shows itself as elusive, a way of playing in these half moments of reverie, of making meaning that does not fix meaning but holds onto it by letting go of it, an e-ducation, of being drawn, into psychological life by way of seduction.

For forty years or more this issue of the logos of soul has been a vocation. It has called me into becoming a psychologist and un-becoming one, into an ambivalent love affair with the discipline, seduced at times by the philosopher at one end of the bridge and then by the poet at the other end, so that this work is and has been always beginning, a work that in one moment has shaped my thoughts and ideas and at the next moment has undone all that with dreams.

One is helped in this work by having good companions like Jung, Hillman and other depth psychologists, and phenomenologists like Merleau-Ponty, Bachelard, van den Berg to name but a few

And, one has to be in the mood for this kind of work, but that is for another blog post

For some of the experiments conducted along the way check the PDF articles on my website (RobertRomanyshyn.com):

On Becoming and Un-Becoming a Psychologist

Anyway, Why Did it Have to be the Death of the Poet?: The Orphic Roots of Jungian Psychology

Conversations in the Gap Between Mind and Soul

Phenomenology as a Poetic Realism

Sitting on a Bench with James Hillman: Conversations with the Dead

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