I'm at work on an anthology with the working title Writings in Deep Psychology, and I thought I'd post a brief piece of it having to do with what constitutes "depth psychology." My anthology will include work from a number of pioneers, including Wundt (yes, Wundt: he did something for depth but most textbooks ignore it), Fechner (a tremendous nature mystic), William James, Pierre Janet, Freud and the Freudians, Jung and the Jungians, and work from Psychosynthesis, Humanistic-Existential Psych, and Transpersonal Psych. Cheers--
In 1910, psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler coined the term “deep psychology” (tiefenpsychologie) to designate the psychoanalytic focus on the relations between conscious and unconscious. Freud, Janet, James, and other pioneers had uncovered vital psychological connections between symptom and symbol, repressor and repressed, conflict and wound, and dream and emotionality. In each case what showed on the surface presented upon closer investigation a ripple or two of deeper currents in the psyche.
As psychoanalysis splintered and spread into multiple schools and perspectives, Bleuler’s term, now translated into English as “depth psychology” rather than “deep psychology,” narrowed as though by overcompensation to refer to approaches stemming from the work of Freud and Jung. Even now, graduate programs in depth psychology valorize Freud without referring to his intellectual debt to Janet and praise Jung while forgetting that an entire chapter written for but absent from Memories, Dreams, Reflections bore the title “William James.” Alfred Adler is lucky to get a mention by anyone but James Hillman.
Furthermore, depth psychologists have overlooked, downplayed, or ignored deep research and practice in humanistic, existential, and transpersonal psychology as well as in psychosynthesis, whose founder, Roberto Assagioli, rightly complained about the need for a “height psychology” to supplement the ongoing “depth” emphasis on lower, darker, the early, and the archaic.
“Depth psychology” remains a useful description of a specific stream of psychoanalytic descents, but restoring Bleuler’s “deep psychology” could foster cross-tradition consciousness of past and present explorations of the deepest ranges of human experience: “deep” not only as down or under, but “deep” as behind and within, as through deep walls or alight in a deep sky.