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The Greening of Psychology: Jung’s Contribution to Evolving Environmental Paradigms

November 9, 1996 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm PST


Jungian psychology can make an important contribution to environmentalism at the most fundamental-by offering a new psycho-spiritual paradigm that can help change Western culture’s perspective on nature. Joseph Campbell felt that the next world myth was likely to have an environmental orientation. Jungian psychology is ideally situated for the task of exploring possible new paradigms. Jung’s concepts about the psyche and its connection to the natural world were born out of his intimate connection with nature. This connection was put into historical context by his study of alchemy, primal cultures, mythology and the I Ching. Jung’s concepts of synchronicity and the pychoid dimension of archetypes are radical natural paradigms, in contrast to the reigning scientific world view.

This workshop will begin with an examination of Jung’s life and Big Dreams as presented in his autobiography, to establish Jung’s paradigm of the human connection to nature. Jung felt that a person not connected to the land is neurotic, and he emphasized the cthonic dimension of the psyche. Our attention will then shift to the Greek god, Hermes. The very practice of Jungian Psychology is a hermetic endeavor that, if true to the spirit of Hermes, opens us to a deep connection to the environment. The archetypal life pattern illuminated by Hermes will be examined as a basic Western myth for our relationship to body and nature. These perspectives will be used to illustrate a holisitic approach to nature education by looking at the most succesful form of life on the planet-the insects. Our cultural attitudes toward insects, particularly the pesky ones, to a large extent reflect our attitude toward the unconscious. The psychological significance of insects in dreams and myths will be explored. The importance of animals in dreams and the concept of the spirit animal and animal medicine will also be examined.

Related Lecture: Seasons of the Soul: Archetypal Patterns in Weather and Climate

Dennis Merritt Ph.D., holds a doctorate from Berkeley in Insect Pathology and is a diplomate of the C.G. Jung Institure in Zurich. He is in private practice as a Jungian analyst, Ecopsychologist and Sandplay therapist in Madison, Wisconson. He and his wife have conducted week-long Spirit in the Land Institutes combining scientific, Native American, and depth psychological perspectives on the environment. He is writing a book-The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe: the Greening of Psychology and Education, and co-editing an book with Chris Merritt-Spirit in the Land: Developing a Sense of Place.

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November 9, 1996
10:00 am - 3:00 pm PST
We offer Continuing Education Credit through NASW. The fee for CEU credit is for the workshop is $10 for 4 hours. To obtain CEU credit, add the CEU to your shopping cart when registering.


First United Methodist Church, Fireside Room
1838 SW Jefferson Street
Portland, United States
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Ample free parking in both church lots.