Depth Psychology

Adding the term “depth” extends traditional psychology beyond the confines of the individual mind and invites us to consider how the groups we live within and the societies of which we are a part also have a collective psychology. Things like culture impact a person’s psychology, and with depth psychology we can also examine the psychology of that culture.

Both traditional psychology and depth psychology agree that an event that happens in our external environment, for example if a certain behavior is rewarded, creates an impact in our internal experience, for example the desire to repeat the behavior. However, depth psychology also realizes that the way we pass down behaviors (often through the sharing of stories, I.E. myths and fairy tales) from one generation to the next, influences the way each individual relates to the behavior, and is reflective of our cultural psychology. To me, it is very interesting is to examine when our responses to our inter-cultural behaviors is so commonplace that we forget this is a choice, and we think this is “just the way nature is.” In fact, many instincts and motivations are universal (for example the desire for pleasure); however, it is our behaviors to satisfy the motivation that are unique.

A fascinating aspect of depth psychology that illuminates a culture’s psychology is the examination of its customs. These can be shown through a review of things such as popular art (film, music), or through investigating a culture’s relationship to its neighbor cultures, or even through an analysis of how individual members of the culture are treated.

Depth psychology respects the inherent nature of the individual, and also of each culture. In this way, depth psychology does not bind its concepts to the individual mind, but instead extends them to include how individuals, groups, cultures, nations, and the planet are each affected by the ways in which we all interact.

In writing this blog, I want to share depth psychology topics in a way that is accessible to everyone. Often these topics take so many terms to define them, that the resulting discussion is difficult to understand. As a student of this vast and exciting field, I plan to share my thoughts in fun and provocative ways, and to learn together with those who read and comment on my perspectives.

Note:  I co-created this definition, with support from Pacifica Graduate Institute’s website, click here for further information on depth psychology.