Pacifica Graduate Institute
  • Carpinteria, United States
Recent publications
A student’s memories of Dr. Thomas Greening, a giant in a nascent field of Existential Humanistic Psychology; lessons learned through leadership and demonstrated through example.
The hippocampus and entorhinal cortex are deeply involved in learning and memory. However, little is known how ongoing events are processed in the hippocampal-entorhinal circuit. By recording from head-fixed rats during action-reward learning, here we show that the action and reward events are represented differently in the hippocampal CA1 region and lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC). Although diverse task-related activities developed after learning in both CA1 and LEC, phasic activities related to action and reward events differed in the timing of behavioral event representation. CA1 represented action and reward events almost instantaneously, whereas the superficial and deep layers of the LEC showed a delayed representation of the same events. Interestingly, we also found that ramping activity towards spontaneous action was correlated with waiting time in both regions and exceeded that in the motor cortex. Such functional activities observed in the entorhinal-hippocampal circuits may play a crucial role for animals in utilizing ongoing information to dynamically optimize their behaviors.
Liberation psychology prioritizes the needs and experiences of those who suffer oppression and have been locked out of the commons. Upstream in the United States, those with stolen and excess wealth, land, and resources remain within “gated” communities, protected by ideologies, false narratives, laws, and policing practices. Without leaving a roadmap, liberation psychologist Martín-Baró urged psychologists to reorient their work with the economically privileged to include disrupting compulsive consumption. Excess wealth is largely accumulated through histories of stolen land, extraction of resources, abuse of labor, hoarding, and intergenerational inheritance. This accumulation has benefited White people at the expense of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals and communities. The tasks of conscientization, de-ideologization, and prophetic imagination that liberation psychology engages with those suffering oppression need also to be deployed with willing elites to assist in returning assets, land, and power to the commons. This article addresses the psychosocial tasks that are part of this return of excess and stolen wealth and privilege, a return that opens possibilities for mutual accompaniment and solidarity for the sake of justice and peace. This work seeks to contribute to the pedagogy of the nonpoor and the potential role of the helping professions in this pedagogy.
Comic book authors and illustrators frequently incorporate mythical – and mystical – elements into their narratives and onto their pages, redefining the boundaries of what a comic book might convey and enhancing the medium’s potential for transmitting certain revelatory or “gnostic” truths. The inclusion of such material recrafts the comic book as a gateway for readers’ own possible “non-ordinary” mythical encounters. This introductory essay frames the volume as a whole from within mythological and depth psychological traditions and traces the origins and intersections of these rich comparative fields, including their potential for mining “hidden knowledge” (gnosis) in the graphic medium of comic books.
Objectives This study explores the openness of transgender and gender diverse youth and young adults (TGDY) to mindfulness meditation programs in order to create culturally informed interventions to benefit this population.Method Two focus groups were conducted with a total of ten TGDY ages 14–24 years old at a transgender youth health center in a large metropolitan city in the USA. A 10-min guided mindfulness meditation was included for participants to experience and voice reactions to. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was utilized to measure the quantitative impact of the meditation on participants’ anxiety and thematic analysis for the qualitative data.ResultsReflexive Thematic Analysis on qualitative focus group data revealed the following four themes: Active in Self-care, Silent Meditation Is “Not for Me,” Guided Mindfulness Calms and Connects, and Program Ideas for Future. STAI results indicated a statistically significant reduction in anxiety following participation in the group meditation.Conclusions Participants were open to mindfulness as an additional method of self-care, and they emphasized future programs should include sensory stimulation, a pressure-free environment accepting of active minds and bodies, and a transgender instructor if possible. Meditation and mindfulness have the potential to be a very powerful healing modality for TGDY in clinical and therapeutic care.PreregistrationThis study is not preregistered.
Contemplative science has made great strides in the empirical investigation of meditation practices, such as how mindfulness, compassion, and mantra practices impact health and well-being. However, meditation practices from the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition that use mental imagery to transform distressing beliefs and emotions have been little explored. We examined the “Feeding Your Demons” meditation, a secular adaptation of the traditional Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist meditation practice of Chöd (“Severance”) in a pilot, randomized controlled trial in which 61 community adults from the U.S. with prior meditation experience and moderate levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms (70% female)were randomly assigned to one month (15 meditation sessions) of “Feeding Your Demons” practice or a waitlist control group. Written diary entries were collected immediately after each meditation session. We used an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis approach to examine qualitative responses to two questions which probed (1) how participants made meaning of each meditation session and (2) how they thought it may impact their future thoughts and intentions for action. Five major themes were identified based on 20 codes developed through an inductive review of written responses across all participants. The themes included an enhanced sense of self-worth and confidence, empathy for the “demon” or rejected parts of oneself, increased self-awareness, an active-oriented “fierce” self-compassion, and an acceptance form of self-compassion. Overall, participants expressed an ability to reframe, or transform, their relationship to distressing thoughts, emotions, and experiences as they gained personal insights, self-compassion, and acceptance through the meditation process which in turn shaped their future intentions for action in the world. This research suggests that a secular form of a Vajrayana Buddhist practice may be beneficial for Western meditation practitioners with no prior training in Vajrayana Buddhism. Future research is warranted to understand its longer-term impacts on health and well-being.
Review of: Writing and the Body in Motion: Awakening Voice through Somatic Practice , Cheryl Pallant (2018) Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, Inc., 180 pp., ISBN 978-1-47666-824-6, p/bk, $33 ISBN 978-1-47663-171-4, e-book, $17.99
In this study, we describe the development and initial validation of two psychometric scales for measuring psychedelic integration. Psychedelic integration refers to the post-acute period of time following psychedelic drug administration. We created the Integration Engagement Scale (IES) to capture positive behavioral engagement with integration and the Experienced Integration Scale (EIS) to capture internal aspects of feeling integrated. These scales were developed to measure post-acute psychedelic administration dynamics in order to inform the creation of enhanced integration support and to help refine a general conceptual understanding of the construct of psychedelic integration. The scales are brief and face valid instruments designed for practical use in applied and research settings. Scale items were generated and refined using the Iterative Process Model of scale development, with input from psychedelics experts and clinicians. Content validity, internal structure, and reliability were assessed via expert surveys, content validity analysis, cognitive interviewing, convergent validity analysis, exploratory factor analysis, and confirmatory factor analysis. The data indicates the scales are valid and reliable measurements of the behavioral and experiential forms of Psychedelic Integration.
This article explores the phenomenological experience of organisational loss among several members from a Protestant liturgical church in the North American West, which extended over a period of ten years following the closure of their congregation. A semi-structured longitudinal interview process was utilised, while applying a descriptive phenomenological analysis of members’ experiences. Considerations of psychodynamic theory were applied to provide a more in-depth contextual understanding of the members’ experiences of organisational loss and adaptive grief. A qualitative review of the data revealed the critical function of shared mourning to support adaptive grief recovery, as well as the importance of a spiritually oriented narrative to assist with reconstructing a sense of meaning. This paper reveals relevant insight into the individual and collective experiences of grief over a period of several years, which are associated with the phenomenon of organisational loss in the context of a religious congregational closure. Psychodynamic functions of identification and idealisation regarding members’ relationships with the organisation are explored within the context of collective grief, in addition to the use of adaptive narration throughout the process of reconstructing meaning. Further considerations of applying a systems psychodynamics approach within situations involving organisational loss are also discussed.
As the American Psychological Association Taskforce on Indigenous Psychology acknowledges, fidelity to the inalienable right to self-determination is the ethical foundation of Indigenous psychology. The task of decolonizing psychology is not only about divesting from Eurocentric paradigms that have controlled and limited Indigenous wellbeing, but producing new paradigms founded on indigenous knowledges. The indigenous paradigm of social and emotional wellbeing is both a new therapeutic practice and theory of wellbeing. As the exploration of the domains of SEWB has shown, findings from the National Empowerment Project indicate that strengthening a connection to culture is identified as of highest importance to the flourishing of indigenous individuals, families, and communities. Wellbeing in Abya Yala (the Americas) is conceived as Sumak Kawsay or Buen Vivir and Māori constructs of wellbeing as Hauora. These transnational wellbeing conceptualizations can be situated within a larger global health movement, which is centered on strengthening indigenous cultures of wellbeing, and sustainable planet-people relationships. Indigenous community psychologies are not anthropocentric and are centered on the sacredness of nature, the cultivation of spirituality, and accountability to maintain harmonious ecosystem relationships. Indigenous community psychologies from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Mexico are brought in plurilogue envisioning international solidarity networks that engage communities, activists, and committed student generations.
This chapter considers fan studies in a mythological studies context and examines how green studies might use a similar approach to tap into the cultural and mythic power of modern fandoms. The first part defines the components of myth, considers existing fandom studies theories related to those components, and discusses on how fandom studies could impact the larger mythological studies debate. The second part describes the mythological roots of today's environmental crises and discusses the influence of specific fandoms on environmental activism. The chapter closes with some thoughts on how a mythological and green approach to fandom could provide further cultural impetus to positive environmental values much as feminist, ethnic, and queer perspectives on fandom have highlighted and supported a value shift in society as a whole.
Braiding our words, “dissi-dance,” and desires, this article engages how various social actors, and communities—which we are a part of and belong to—challenge structural violence, oppression, inequity, and social, racial, and epistemic injustice. We thread these reflections through our written words, in subversive letters which we offer in the form of a written relational conversation among us: a plurilogue that emerges in response to our specific locations, commitments, and refusals, as well as dissents. Our stories and process of dissent within the various locations, relationships, and contexts that we occupy served as the yarn and needle to thread our stories, posed questions and reflections. Braiding, threading and weaving together, we animate deep decolonial inquiries within ourselves, and our different cultural contexts and countries. Refusing individualism—the illusions of objectivity as distance, the academic as expert, and the exile of affect and emotion on academic pages—we choose to occupy academic writing and ask: What if academic writing were stitched with blood and laughter, relationships and insights, rage and incites? What if, at the nexus of critical psychology and decolonizing feminism, we grew an “embodied praxis?” Unlike academic writing, traditionally designed to camouflage affect, connection, relationality and subjectivity, these letters are unapologetically saturated in care and wisdom toward a narrative-based embodied practice: decolonial plurilogues of relational solidarities for epistemic justice. Our plurilogue of dissent offers a view to advance community research and action with goals of liberation, decoloniality, and community wellness. Highlights • Article engages how various communities challenge structural violence, and epistemic injustice. • A plurilogue of dissent offers a view to advance community research and action. • Letter writing as decolonial inquiry, a narrative-based embodied practice of solidarity for justice.
C. G. Jung, and those who followed in his footsteps to shape Depth Psychology, gave us the words to understand the complexes that develop after someone has experienced trauma. In particular when a woman experiences birth trauma, she can become gripped by the victim complex, feeling trapped by the feeling-toned archetypal core that affects how she interacts with the world. But what is the remedy to heal this? In the mire of my own turmoil, after the terrifying medicalized birth of my son, a chance encounter with a spiritual dance practice on the cliffs of the California coast was the only thing that helped. Curious to determine what was happening within me, I discovered that the ancient practice of dance actually engages the Transcendent Function. Miller (The transcendent function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2004) offers a beautiful description of this Jungian concept, “The transcendent function is the tissue between consciousness and the unconscious; it is the expression of the space or field that mediates between the two” (p. 126). This connective tissue had been broken during my traumatic experience and it was only when my consciousness could once again successfully communicate with my unconscious that I began to become restored. Thus, my research examines how a complex can develop as a result of trauma, the way in which dance activates the transcendent function, and how these two things worked together to help me align with the complex to work towards individuation after tribulations.
Current discussion on coloniality dismantles structures embedded in neoliberal capitalism that maintain and perpetuate social pathologies. Theories and praxes emerging from Abya Yala (North, Central, and South America) provide academic and nonacademic contributions to co-construct community psychologies de otra manera (otherwise). These accountable ways of knowing and acting in cultural context and local place, become ways of making counterculture to inform decolonial community psychologies. The epistemologies of the Global South have produced invaluable teachings for transformative revisions of community psychology within frameworks that go beyond liberation and toward decoloniality. Activist women and decolonial feminists from the Global South, contest patriarchal rationality and universalism and co-construct new ways of being, thinking-feeling, sentipensar, and acting. Decolonial paradigms weave networks of solidarity with communities in their struggles to sustain Indigenous cosmovisions, delinking from western-centric ideologies that are not anthropocentric and promote sustainability, epistemic and ecological justice, and Sumak Kawsay/Buen Vivir (wellbeing) that includes the rights of the Earth. This paper deepens into decolonial community psychologies from Abya Yala that are making the road caminando (walking) de otra manera by applying methodologies of affective conviviality with communities, sentipensando, and co-authoring collective stories that weave pluriversal solidary networks within ecologies of praxes into colorful tapestries of liberation. These are the proposed coordinates to sketch pathways toward decoloniality.
This article shares choices made as part of an introductory decoloniality curriculum in a non-clinical community psychology M.A./PhD program where the authors are faculty members. We focus on the basics of decoloniality and decolonial pedagogies in two first-year foundational psychology courses: one course on implications of decoloniality for studying differing psychological paradigms, ontologies, and epistemologies, particularly relational ontologies that might reframe community environments, and another course on implications of decoloniality for post-humanist and indigenous qualitative research methodologies. We present currently emerging forms of theory, content, pedagogy, dialogue, artivism, and methodology in process in our work, as well as responses from students and our own reflections.
Ecopsychosocial accompaniment can occur between members of a shared community or between member(s) of two or more different communities. When accompanists come from “outside,” there is danger of acting out colonial patterns of “helping” that culturally invade, depower, and disrespect those “inside.” A decolonial approach to accompaniment from the “outside” requires a fundamental re-orientation for those who have been born into and/or educated into white, economic, and/or social privilege. An ethical approach to mutual accompaniment requires critical reflection on one’s own positionality and its effects. It may require depowering and deprivileging oneself as much as possible in order to support the leadership and voices of those from within a community. This reorientation enables accompaniment to potentially become a mutual process of co-liberation that can over time transform into committed solidarity for more just relations.
This chapter introduces the teachings of theoretical Sufism vis-à-vis Jungian psychology. Many religious scholars versed in Islamic psychology believe that Sufism differs from the major branches of the Islamic faith, such as jurisprudence or philosophy, because it stresses on ma’rifa—a direct mode of knowing the world, the human soul, and God. Similarly, Jungian psychology, which places great emphasis on knowing the personal shadow to the archetypal or transpersonal aspect of the psyche, has been dismissed by the scientific community and traditionalists. This chapter illustrates the Sufi path to spirituality using a Jungian approach. Identifying parallels and outlining the soul’s journey, the discussion draws similitudes from the inverse relationship of the Sufi notion of the soul’s descent (tanzih) and ascent (tashbih) to Jung’s model of the individuation process. This interdisciplinary framework is not only significant to the contemporary understanding of Sufism, the esoteric dimension of Islam, but also contributes to the expansion of Jungian psychology.
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720 members
Robert D. Romanyshyn
  • Clinical Psychology Program
Fanny Brewster
  • Clinical Psychology Program
Mary Watkins
  • Depth Psychology Program
Joseph Cambray
  • President's Office
Hazel Da Breo
  • Depth Psychology
Carpinteria, United States