Guild for Psychological Studies


For over fifty years, the Guild for Psychological Studies has conducted seminars that bring together the depth psychology of Carl Jung, the Records of the Life of Jesus (Synoptic Gospels), the Hebrew Scriptures, and material drawn from myth, poetry, world religions, and the evolving images of modern culture and science. Using a process based on Socratic inquiry and dialog, seminar participants carefully attend to images and feelings, discover connections between the personal and collective psyche, and often find a new commitment to the deep and unfolding truth that has been called the Self or Soul.

You are invited to use the menus on the left to explore the seminars we offer, read about upcoming events, learn more about the people of the Guild, view a growing collection of resources, and find out how you can participate in or contribute to the Guild's work. You can use the Guild Information and Contacts link or links throughout many other pages to ask questions about the Guild in general or any particular seminar. Don't forget to browse the boxes on the right side of the home page to see the latest forum and blog posts as well as recent Guild news.

In the September 2014 Threshing Floor

 The main feature this month is an essay by Harry Henderson reflecting on the historical context of depth psychology, the ongoing shift in consciousness, and a way in which "human qualities" may continue to be relevant. Responses are welcome!

An Invitation to Soul's Discourse

How might soul be speaking about itself in the phenomena of our world today? How can psychology become adequate to the challenge of a rapidly changing world? What does this mean for us as human beings? What is happening to the very idea of the "human being"?

Some of us in the Guild have been gripped by the soul's discourse, and the urgent need for reflection. We are seeking to organize a series of discussions / workshops in San Francisco or the East Bay. We need to know whether readers of The Threshing Floor are interested in participating in such events. In particular, we would like to know:

What topics most grip you?
How often should we meet? Monthly? Twice a month? Weekly? Weekday evening or a weekend day?
Should we begin in the Fall (around October?) or Winter (January?) Are there times you would not be able to come?
What sort of format should we adopt? Presentations followed by discussion? Open-ended discussion on a chosen topic? Or a more seminar-style format with leaders bringing questions to explore through discussion, art, body movement? Perhaps a mixture of formats—an initial presentation / discussion at the first meeting, then a meeting with some experiential work, then some open discussion?
Based on your feedback and our further thinking, we will propose and design the program. Stay tuned for news … Please send your feedback to me at or phone (510) 234-8244. Thank you for your interest!
Harry Henderson



"The Psychological Difference": Berlin 2014 and Beyond

This July, Hal Childs, Faith Mason, and I returned to Berlin for the second international conference of the International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority (ISPDI). The theme this year was "the psychological difference." While this term may be unfamiliar to many readers, everyone who has participated in a Guild seminar--or indeed, undergone analysis--has encountered its reality. We have encountered an Other, something that does not belong to our ego. Something that challenges our assumptions about who we are as a person, and even our role as human beings in a vast and indifferent universe. This difference between our awareness as ego and the reality as which we live demands reflection. In his paper "Am I the Psychological Difference?: An Inquiry," Hal Childs explored how we as individuals live out the psychological difference.

In this process of reflection we allow what first appears as an Other to our ego to assume its full subjectivity. Each phenomenon of soul, whether dream, myth, or a historical phenomenon such as the industrial or the information age, has everything it needs within itself, an infinite interiority that we can experience as a series of unfolding "moments" captured in word, image, or event.

In three days of presentations we explored a variety of ways to interpret and work with "soul phenomena." For me, one of the most interesting involves "speculative sentences." In such a sentence, the predicate doesn't merely describe or elaborate on the subject. Rather than being a fixed entity, the subject undergoes a shift and changes as it works out its self-understanding. This causes the subject to appear a second time—reflected, refined, more complex. For example, the "I" (subject) that begins by saying "I am wounded" can, after working on itself, become the "I" (subjectivity) of wound-healing.

We came to the conference with an idea—that the regional meeting next year could be in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the Guild assisting in hosting it. Additionally, we would present a workshop introducing our method of working with material, as well as some individual papers. We would also organize a full Guild seminar (possibly at Four Springs) that would allow interested participants to experience the "discipline of interiority" through questions, art and movement, and individual work. This offers the possibility of taking the next step from academic reflection about psychology to practicing it in community and as individuals.
While many details would need to be worked out, our proposal was met with considerable enthusiasm by the ISPDI Executive committee and others. We will of course keep everyone posted through The Threshing Floor and the Guild website. This project will take considerable effort, but I believe it can offer great benefits both for the Guild and for the psychological community at large.
                                                  Harry Henderson

The Uroboric Wound

The ancient symbol of the serpent eating its own tail captures the paradox of wounding-healing as a never-ending circular and self-reflecting process. In this sense, the wound has to devour itself with love and consciousness, and thus come to know itself as it is. We learn, through seminars like "Wound and Healing, Consciousness and Love," that the wounding-healing process is set in motion by life itself at the moment of birth. Without the "trauma" of imperfect life, consciousness could not come into being, soul could not work on itself and make itself real.

We are wounded by life, and if, through love, we are given the gift of working at our wounds, a process of self-reflection begins and deepens. We never solve our wounds, but we can establish a floor under them and live from their truth. In a sense, the wound is not meant
to be "healed," but to be known, yet in the knowing is the "healing." When we practice bringing love to the wound, the wound will release its own love to us, and we learn that at a deeper level the wound does love us, as the wound is the germ of the soul’s own making of itself.
Our wound has its own voice, its own song, its own dance, its own images and words. In letting it speak for itself, we must move into the background, give up our judgments and fears, and listen to the voice of the wound just as it is, now. Every time we listen, its voice will change, deepen, becoming conscious in some new and enlightening way. At this summer’s seminar at Four Springs in June, we practiced listening to soul’s wound-story, listening to what it has to tell us in its own ongoing and developing patterns.

Our group of thirteen at this past June’s seminar, "Wound and Healing, Consciousness and Love," inaugurated the new lodge, barely completed in time for our seminar. We had plenty of work to do to help Four Springs prepare the lodge and the grounds for this first long seminar since the 2011 fire that destroyed the old lodge. The "Lodge" itself has gone through a kind of uroboric process, devouring itself in the fire and then giving birth to itself in the new form of lodge that has emerged. We felt our seminar, exploring soul’s process of wounding-healing, belonged right here and now at Four Springs. We celebrated the wound’s self-reflecting and self-creating new meaning at the heart of our being. We joined with soul in creating life and allowed soul to work on us. We are the richer for it.
Hal Childs

Four Springs, Berlin, and Beyond: In the August 2014 Threshing Floor

 The August issue includes reflections by Hal Childs and Harry Henderson on the recent "Wound and Healing, Consciousness and Love" seminar at Four Springs, as well as reports on our participation (together with Faith Mason) in the second international conference of the ISPDI (International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority) in Berlin. Plus: some exciting possibilities for next summer, and an invitation to a new discussion group in the Bay Area this Fall or Winter!


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