Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The father of all: Friction, splitting, and the philosophical assumptions of depth psychology
by Ryan, Richard F., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2008, 248; 3666848
Abstract (Summary)

The central topic of this research is an examination of the philosophical assumptions of depth psychology as they relate to splitting in depth psychology. The intention of the researcher was to examine this topic from multiple perspectives. The researcher utilized a qualitative methodology, dialogical hermeneutics, to compare the influences and assumptions of the differing schools of depth psychology.

Depth psychology is the study of mental functioning that includes and values unconscious mental processes. Over the past 100 years, numerous splits, dissensions, and modifications have occurred. Splits have occurred between individuals and between factions within institutes, resulting in an ever-increasing plurality of depth psychological training schools. Such infighting has resulted in an erosion of prestige, which has left the discipline in danger of dissolution.

The primary questions of this research were these: What are the fundamental philosophical assumptions underlying depth psychology in general and do these philosophical assumptions contribute to splitting within the field of depth psychology?

One of the most basic assumptions of depth psychology held that nature is dualistic and that human beings are divided within and amongst themselves, which led to a belief in the reality of opposites, an ever-present ontological struggle between polar forces. This assumption was consistently maintained in Jung's psychological system and present but inconsistently held by Freud. Jung believed that there was a fundamental unity in nature that was divided. Freud did not. Jung believed that the problem of the opposites could be transcended, leading to a higher level of integration and assimilation. Freud did not. Freud's influences flowed from objective, deterministic, and rational, materialistic assumptions, whereas Jung's epistemology was more influenced by the idealistic and romantic traditions, which emphasized a subjective, irrational, and teleological approach to knowledge. Freud understood splitting as simply conflictual, whereas Jung saw splitting as conflictual but also purposive, leading towards wholeness. Their positions reflected a philosophical split in the culture that has persisted since classical times, between objective and subjective approaches to understanding reality. Their respective personalities pulled them toward opposing sides of this classic ontological divide.

The researcher concluded that knowledge inevitably and necessarily develops through conflict, best approached with awareness and tempered with tolerance.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zweig, Connie
Commitee: Cowan, Lyn, Koehn, Allen
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology, Experimental psychology, Personality psychology, Quantitative psychology
Keywords: Depth psychology, Freud, Jung, Philosophical assumptions, Splitting
Publication Number: 3666848
ISBN: 9781321401561
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