What is the ISPDI?
Essential to psychology is the recognition that the psyche is not only the object of psychological investigation, but at the same time, and recursively so, its subject. Having no point of perspective outside the psyche to view it from objectively, and no substrate or pre-suppositional base in anything more substantial, literal, or positively existing, a truly psychological psychology, it follows, must be internal to itself, a discipline of internal reflection.
As its name implies, The International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority is dedicated to the furthering of psychology by means of this very same process of rigorous self-application and continuing self-redefinition. Embracing the inwardness of psychology in an absolute manner, its aim is to advance the discipline by subjecting psychology, again and again, and at ever new levels, to its constituting recognition that everything that it asserts about the psyche--all of its insights, theoretical statements, knowledge claims, and topic choices--are at the same time expressions of the psyche, a part of its on-going phenomenology.
Letter from the President
Dear Members and Colleagues,
Welcome to the ISPDI!
As you look around our website you’ll discover that we are a diverse group of people all interested in the strange and beguiling concept: “soul”, and especially the study of “soul”, i.e., psychology.
The formation of the society was inspired by the writing and thinking of Dr. Wolfgang Giegerich, a Jungian analyst living in Berlin, who has refocused thinking and discussion concerning the essence of depth psychology in the Jungian tradition.
Psychology understood as a discipline of interiority, while being a decidedly modern approach, is, however, mindful of the fact that the concept of psychology is rooted in an ancient, historic desire to “tend to” or “study” the soul in its deepest nature. This perspective often leads to a more comprehensive and indeed remarkable understanding of consciousness, soul, psychology, and our place in the modern world.
The society is made up of a cross section of members, for example, Jungian analysts, Educators, Therapists of all sorts, Psychologists, Scientists, Psychotherapists, Information Technologists, Philosophers, Writers, and Thinkers.
Our last in-person conference back in 2018 in Dublin with the theme “The Soul Always Thinks” certainly seems like a long time ago now! As many will recall, our follow-up conference planned for Lisbon had to be canceled at the last minute due to the pandemic. We then regrouped and eventually held a successful zoom conference last year (2021), with the highest number of participants at an ISPDI conference ever. The conference theme was “The Soul’s Logical Life” in honour of Wolfgang Giegerich’s book of the same name.
Now as we wait for the last vestiges of the pandemic to wane, we are looking down the road to when we can have the opportunity to hold an in-person conference again. However, in the meantime we have been taking advantage of the “zoom-culture” and hosting regularly scheduled, smaller scale, online presentations/discussions we call “Topos”.The idea behind “Topos”, originally an ancient greek word for “place”, is to open up a topic with a short introduction followed by informal discussion and questions. These events are open to members and non-members and the themes revolve around the concepts of psychology, soul, and the works of Giegerich and Jung.
The three Topos events so far have generated very interesting discussion. They were:
1. Jennifer Sandoval, “Our Relation to Soul”
2. Harry Henderson, “Geist and Ghost: The Departedness of Soul”
3. Hal Childs, “What Does the Historical Soul Want”
We look forward to next Topos on October 30th, 2022 which will be hosted by Pamela Power and is titled: “The Search for the ‘Arcane Substance’ in PDI”
A reminder to check out the new website, Dusk Owl Books, the only publishing site dedicated to PDI related publications. Go here https://www.duskowlbooks.com to find books by Greg Mogenson, Marco Heleno Barreto and Wolfgang Giegerich.
Available now are three of Giegerich’s latest books, The Historical Emergence of the I, What are the Factors that Heal? and Coniunctio. These important books will be foundational for understanding psychology theoretically and practically. The The Historical Emergence of the I includes a helpful explication and differentiation of subjective consciousnesses throughout the course of history. For example, Giegerich looks at the difference between what he calls the psychic or linguistic I, and the psychological I, as well as between the modern “I” and the “ego.” The range of examination is from archaic consciousness through to modern times and beyond, with the final section titled: “The soul’s way into the future through its self-overcoming: projecting its future goal as “God” into heaven and slowly realizing its projected idea.” What was particularly fascinating for me were the numerous beautiful colour plates that Giegerich included to illustrate how these historical developments of consciousness were represented in art from different eras.
What are the Factors that Heal? is a therapeutically based account of healing viewed from the “soul’s” perspective, really unlike any to be found in the Jungian world. Very insightful for psychotherapists or anyone interesting in how “soul” heals itself within the context of psychology as the discipline of interiority. Parts of this comparatively short book come from lectures Giegerich gave at various locations including the C. G. Jung institute Zürich. I was lucky enough to attend one of these lectures and am very happy that this work is now available to a larger audience.
Giegerich’s latest book, published in 2021 by Dusk Owl Books, is titled Coniunctio. This work examines the concept of the coniunctio first from a “horizontal” and then “vertical” perspective, before going on to describe it more fully as an “outrageous transgression.” He writes, “This is why the coniunctio is a mysterium. But it is more than a mysterium. It is also an outrage, a shocking trespass! For it is a crossing over from the transcendental, metaphysical, archetypal, or heavenly level to the empirical, earthly level, that is, the decided crossing over across an ‘ontological’ boundary or the crossing over across the border between two mutually exclusive logical categories, namely, ideality and reality, absolute negatively and positivity” (p. 25). Giegerich then takes up a critique of Jung’s use of the coniunctio in his psychology, especially in terms of his notion of individuation but also from the much broader question of whether or not modern “born” truly has access to a real coniunctio. For me, this is book is just another example of Giegerich raising a topic of such fundamental importance and relevance to depth psychology that I was left wondering to myself, “Why haven’t I been thinking about this issue years ago?”
In any case, these are three examples of Giegerich’s latest works that I can recommend.
Also, a note to consider trying out the ISPDI Open-Inquiry monthly meetings, now on Zoom, organized and moderated by Colleen EL-Bejjani. Presently the group is making its way through THE HISTORICAL EMERGENCE OF THE I: ESSAYS ABOUT ONE CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF THE SOUL. Contact Colleen for more information: email@example.com.
For those interested, our society publishes a regular newsletter with current activities and updates as well as articles and essays on specific topics. This newsletter is available to the general public, is found on our website, and the Spring 2022 one can be found here.
If you are not already a member we encourage you to join the ISPDI! Membership in the society gives you access to the Topos series and special features of the website such as papers, video presentations, audio recordings and picture galleries from previous conferences as well as a discussion forum.
Best wishes and good health,
Sample of the New Topos Series
The ISPDI has had many gatherings since the society began in 2012 and our pattern has been to hold a larger event about every 2 years and an “off year” event in-between these conferences. Last year, in 2021, we held a larger conference “The Soul’s Logical Life” and this year, instead of a more formal event, we thought we would try something different for our members. Throughout the year we will hold informal opportunities for discussion where a presenter, perhaps from the executive committee perhaps someone else, will present a relatively short topic which will be followed by questions and discussion.
Topos, was originally an ancient greek word for “place” and
over the years it has come to mean a common or rhetorical theme, more a mental “place.” So the term’s history is a movement from literal place or location, in reality, to one in the mind, in thought and discourse.
The point of these discussions, and in fact the whole focus of the ISPDI, is to open a space, a topos, to talk, think and learn about “soul”, especially the psychological idea of soul formulated by C.G. Jung and Wolfgang Giegerich.
In any case, welcome to TOPOS, a place that is, in some ways, “no place”
Our first host is Jennifer M. Sandoval. She is a licensed psychologist, lecturer, and writer. She is also your treasurer, so be nice to her! She is the author of A Psychological Inquiry into the Meaning and Concept of Forgiveness and co-editor of a book of collected essays, Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority: The 'Psychological Difference' in the Work of Wolfgang Giegerich, both published by Routledge. She resides in Southern California with two dogs, two birds, and quite a few fish.
This alchemical engraving well conveys the dialectical process wherein the mind attains new statuses of itself via a process of negation and sublation.
In the foreground of the picture, the reigning or existing concept, imaged as the King, is shown to be negated. He is a fallen King, and the inner discrepancy or contradiction that has occasioned this is tautologically out-pictured as a wolf eating into his side.
It is the famous recursive and self-redefining Hegelian formula A = A and –A by which the mind or a particular concept drives itself into new determinations of itself.
The King emerging from the flames higher up in the background of the picture represents the sublated or newly defined reigning concept which is produced by the aforementioned negation having been “tarried with” to that point where it is itself negated and the restored or newly defined position attained.
Entrance Requirement for Psychology
A rupture in one’s identity is the only entrance requirement [for psychology]. He who wants to be admitted has to have left his old self-identity behind and has to enter with or as a new identity. Not: I am not allowed in, whereas others are, but: my ordinary self in my street clothes is not allowed in, while some other part (hitherto probably unknown to me) of my personality is allowed to enter. (Giegerich, 1999, The Soul’s Logical Life, p.17)
The goddess Artemis on her stag
Royal Ontario Museum
The Psychological Difference
The substantial difference between a psychological and unpsychological mode of being-in-the-world is explained by Jung with the notions 'inside' and 'outside.' Especially since Jung emphasizes the notion of two 'sides,' these words foster a spatial imagination: 'inside' as in us, 'outside' as the world out there, around us, the physical or cosmic dimension. This would be a very preliminary, imperfect way of conceiving of this difference. We would do better to comprehend psychology as the discipline of interiority or inwardness, not in a spatial, but a logical or methodological sense. Interiority here does not refer to containment in something else, in a kind of vessel, e.g., ourselves. It means the process or work of interiorizing a phenomenon into itself, into its concept as its soul. 'External' and 'exteriority' would consequently refer primarily to that mode in which phenomena are not inwardized into themselves, but taken as how they appear, in their first immediacy, as empirical facts, as positivities.
Wolfgang Giegerich, CEP,III p. 3
“To become conscious means to have learned to distinguish oneself, to see oneself soberly, detachedly, as if from outside. It means to have become de-identified from oneself. The
original participation mystique or unio naturalis with oneself has to be disrupted. One has to become to oneself just an objective fact, a given (given to ourselves), in the same sense that all the other facts of our world around us are objective facts and givens. One has to take an empirical, almost scientific, attitude toward oneself, maybe like a zoologist towards the animal he observes” (Giegerich, 2020, The Historical Emergence of the I, p. 314).
Wolfgang Giegerich and ISPDI president John Hoedl at the inaugural conference in Berlin, Germany 2012