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.