Reflections on Transpersonal Psychology 's 40th Anniversary, Ecopsychology, Transpersonal Science, and Psychedelics: A Conversation Forum1by
Mark A. Schroll, Stanley Krippner, Miles A. Vich, James Fadiman, Valerie Mojeiko
International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 28(1), 39-52..
original source: http://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1163&context=ijts-transpersonalstudies
Mark A. Schroll - Rhine Research Center Durham, NC, USA
Table of Contents:
Recollections of humanistic and transpersonal psychology's origin's morph into the pros and cons of humanistic/transpersonal oriented schools developing APA accredited clinical programs. This discussion dovetails with the question will ATP ever become an APA division, raising an interesting alternative for those of us considering a career in counseling: becoming a spiritual coach. Enter the issue of psychedelic therapy and the Supreme Courts decision to allow ayahuasca as a sacrament by the Uniao Do Vegetal Church, and the importance of why humanistic and transpersonal psychology need to clearly map out the territories and sub-divisions of science and religion. Finally this conversation raises a concern, that Maslow's call for a "trans-human" psychology sought to encourage creating what we now call ecopsychology.
This conversation forum took place on September 8, 2006, at the conference "100 Years of Transpersonal Psychology," in Palo Alto, CA, sponsored by the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (ATP) and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP). Mark A. Schroll organized and served as the moderator of this forum asking Miles Vich, James Fadiman, and Stanley Krippner to reflect on transpersonal studies broad spectrum of inquiry, with additional reflection by Valerie Mojeiko on the current status of psychedelic studies. The discussion begins with some reflections on early meetings of humanistic and transpersonal psychologists in Anthony Sutich's home in Palo Alto.
The Early History of Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology: Reflections on Tony Sutich's Living Room
Miles Vich: ... . with characteristic energy and foresight he decided to write a documented account of his involvement in humanistic and transpersonal psychology. In June 1974 he formally began the necessary research for this project and contracted to write a dissertation on the subject as part of the requirements for a doctoral program in psychology at the Humanistic Psychology Institute in San Francisco. I used to joke with Tony as we were working on this project for a couple of years that he typically did things the long way around. Instead of getting the usual graduate degree somewhere, he waited a whole career-lifetime, formed a couple of fields, helped get some schools started, and then he got a degree from one of them. He brought this project to a successful conclusion when he completed his dissertation "The Founding of Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology: A Personal Account." He received his doctoral degree April 9, 1976, one day before he died; and the three of us [Jim Fadiman, Stanley Krippner and I] were all there.
It is difficult to adequately describe or characterize this remarkable man; nevertheless it is necessary to recognize that thousands of individuals and many institutions have been influenced directly or indirectly by the efforts of this unusual human being. Tony Sutich's contribution is, among other things, an example of the value of what is humanistic, personal and transpersonal in our lives. If you go to the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology [JTP], you will see four or five articles [of his], and you will get a sense of what he says. His personal account, abbreviated to perhaps a dozen pages, is in JTP 8(1), 1976. I suggest you read Tony himself and get a sense of all the adventures that he had in this and related fields.
Stanley Krippner: Miles Vich has just given you a wonderful cameo presentation of Tony Sutich's life. The fourth member of his doctoral committee at Saybrook, formerly The Humanistic Psychology Institute, was Eleanor Criswell, who was also a leader in the transpersonal field and a real pioneer. When we went down to do his oral defense, he could barely speak; and yet he was so happy this work had been completed that it was a very joyous occasion. I went back home that night and had a dream. In the dream who should be coming in the door but Tony Sutich and he was walking. I said Tony this is the first time I have ever seen you walk. Tony said, "Oh I can do anything now I'm dead you know." This of course was the night he died.
His dissertation, on the founding of humanistic and transpersonal psychology is a classic: beautifully written, very articulate, and it was stolen from our files a few years later. Written in the days before computer files we thankfully were able to piece together a duplicate dissertation from a carbon copy. Just today Miles tells me he has discovered a pristine copy of Tony's dissertation. This discovery will be a cause for great rejoicing at Saybrook because now we can put it on microfiche and computer files, and it can be distributed more widely. Hearing the news of this discovery is really the highlight of my coming down to this conference today.
I should mention one other thing. Abraham Maslow was also a close friend of mine. He was talking about founding a new psychology the last time I saw him, that he was calling trans-human psychology. "As we talked about it, and in retrospect, I now realize that he was talking about what we now call ecopsychology" (Schroll, 2008/2009, p. 16). Because it stemmed from the deep ecology movement, the recognition (nearer to what Native Americans have believed for millennia) that humans as a species are just one of many species on planet Earth, maybe other planets too. "We should therefore extend our concern to them-go trans-human- and not make this a human-centered psychology. Unfortunately Maslow never had this dream realized" (p. 16), but other people like Theodore Roszak (1992) and Jeremy Narby (2001) have picked up on this idea, an idea we will be hearing more about in the future.
Mark A. Schroll: This brings me to several concerns. Let's pick up on when Tony had his mystical experiences, what triggered these? Did he take something? Was it natural? Do any of you know what caused him to have these mystical experiences?
Vich: Yes, we know a little bit about this. Some of this is in Tony's dissertation. Tony was always very modest about these discussions; its just he had a lifelong interest in these kinds of experiences and he read a lot. But I think too because he faced death so early, he was told he was going to die and then it didn't happen; this made him question everything. Likewise Tony would privately speak about his mother being such a positive supportive influence, yet his father was not quite as supportive. His family helped him through-this was the bottom of the depression when there was nothing out there; and this guy is on his back [Sutich was disabled by an accident at a young age and was unable to move for most of his life-], what does he do? So every conceivable question a person would ask was amplified in terms of being a crisis; everything had to be dealt with.
Tony too was just naturally brilliant and intellectually alive to all kinds of things. The other side of it in terms of psychedelics is something that Tony did not talk about much. All I know is from what he said; he said in print he had some experiences that were not particularly determining, powerful, or overwhelming. But they were in the line of other experiences that he had. You might call them mystical or spiritual or higher or a deeper psychology-it was broad. It has all kinds of cultural elements and all kinds of modes and vehicles; it was not just one channel it was many channels for him.
Schroll: Okay this was an important point. Another point I want to return to is that Tony then created a way to license himself. Could this possibly be a model for an alternative licensing board that would be an alternative to APA?2 Can we reflect on this?
The Maturing of Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology: Examining the Challenges of Academic Accreditation and Clinical Practice
Vich: Historically things are never the same. My two colleagues on the left here [Stanley Krippner and Jim Fadiman] are much more conversant with these issues. I have been out of the organizational, political and professional loop for a long time. But I will say it does not take much; it takes a particular idea, a particular action and a seed grows, but it is the later development where it affects lots and lots of people and the refinements occur. Consequently I do not know if what Tony did could be a model now. You would have to be in a kind of frontier situation where you had friends in the legislature; and then there are three of you in the whole damn state of California that cannot do anything except counsel. Then by a grandfather clause some political restrictions are overcome, and through some careful maneuvering the legislation comes out. But I do not think that things happen this way anymore.
James Fadiman: The issue of accreditation is always an interesting one. I was thinking of what you said Valerie-a little quiet throwaway line with your reference to "outlaw therapists" at Burning Man. Oh (the thought occurred to me), are there outlaw therapists? Well, there are people that have made a commitment to help human beings and they think that there is an unwritten law that trumps restrictive legislation that prevents any of us (that choose to) from helping human beings. This is true in mainstream psychology; it is true in transpersonal psychology. But it is not true in institutions. Institutions are highly visible; it is very hard to be an outlaw institution. Having been in a school where we began with the premise that we were an outlaw institution, we found the culture indeed accepted us as an outlaw institution and said, "You are not welcome anywhere."
Laughter from the gallery.
Fadiman: And there were very few similar kinds of institutions. I use a different term now, not outlaw but outlier, which means outside or near the edge. Whereas if you are leading, then you are known as avant guard; if you are simply at the edge and everyone moves in the other direction then they think that you are just a crank. Certainly as schools we've been dealing with this issue. The problem of accreditation of any sort (be it medical, psychological, nursing, massage, religious institutions) is you should be close to normal or close to the middle of whatever distribution of the family or group of ideas and practices you are attempting to represent. This is the task of assessment, and what accreditation represents. Accreditation never says that you are really terrific, interesting, exciting, and innovative. Or they say if you are, then you are not ready for us. But if you are vanilla, if you are interchangeable with other institutions, then you should be accredited. I'm not fond of accreditation, because being an outlier is more interesting, but that is the way it works. So that any institution which goes for accreditation has to see how it can at least appear to be vanilla before it gets accredited. Then fortunately once you are accredited, you are allowed to-changing metaphors here-to do a few things under the blanket that have a different point of view. I'm mentioning this because ITP-which, as Miles said, was not founded by Tony-at least he did not found everything...
Laughter from the gallery.
Fadiman: is looking to be accredited as a clinical institution by APA. The question is, this is good for people trying to earn a living, because APA is gradually controlling more and more state legislature's licensing rules.3 But is it good for transpersonal? This is an entirely different question. Perhaps we will look at this.
Schroll: It is good in terms of the fact that to get paid by the insurance companies you have to be licensed. But it may not be good for philosophical reasons.4 Tony was trying to help people-and as Valerie points out there are outlaw therapists that are also trying to help people. So how can you help someone and yet get paid?
Valerie Mojeiko: I don't really know that much about licensing, [so my question is this]. Currently people that are licensed as transpersonal psychologists-whether or not they are giving out illegal drugs-are not able to get paid by insurance?
Fadiman: If you are a licensed psychologist, there is not an adjective in front of that; its a licensed clinical psychologist, and whatever the restrictions on a clinical psychologist are, you have all of them. One of them certainly is that you are not allowed to prescribe drugs that are legal, let alone the more interesting ones.
Will Transpersonal Psychology Ever Become an APA Division? Wrestling with Spirituality and Organization
Schroll: This comment opens up the question of ayahuasca.5 Earlier Stan Krippner mentioned the Supreme Courts decision to allow ayahuasca use as a legal sacrament.6 This reopens the opportunity for psychedelic exploration. This also gets into the issue of moving psychedelic inquiry away from the medical model because we no longer need to be worried about the fact that we are either dispensing or ingesting a substance that could be regulated as a licensed medicine.
Krippner: Well in one church. Remember that only one church has the legal right to use ayahuasca as a sacrament right now. This brings up one of the advantages of a church organization because if you are a member of the clergy, you can give spiritual counseling. You do not have to call it psychotherapy; in fact you had better not call it psychotherapy. But just to avoid problems in the advice that I give people-in the secular trips I used to lead people on back in the old days-I became a minister for the Universal Life Church, and also for the Center for Spiritual Healing. I do wedding ceremonies; I'm doing one tomorrow, which is why I have to get back [to San Francisco] this evening to prepare. I perform weddings for people that want a typically unorthodox ceremony, where they can write their own vows, cite scripture from other traditions-such as Eastern, Native American, and even Wiccan traditions. If they prefer they do not even have to mention the word God, so what I do provides people with a meaningful ceremony, and I'm very happy to oblige.
Now the institutionalization of a movement is always a two-edged sword. On the one hand, accreditation does help a lot of people earn money because they get a more solid recognized degree. Some 30-years ago at Saybrook there was a group of faculty members that did not want accreditation; they said this would clip our wings, and ruin our freedom. We had state approval; they said state approval is enough as we are giving a legal degree. Others at Saybrook thought differently (I among them) and we won out and got Saybrook accredited, and we really did not have our wings clipped or anything like that; the same thing [came up] for ITP when it became accredited. But getting a program like a clinical psychology program recognized, that is a little different thing. Because if you are going to be a clinical psychologist, the way the zeitgeist is moving and the states are drawing laws, you have to be from an APA approved program.
Now I've been a member of APA for decades. APA has been very good to me, I'm a fellow of four APA divisions, and so I'm not critical of APA-except where I need to be like when they put too much emphasis upon their division of military psychology as they did at the last convention. But this is a whole other set of concerns that we do not have to go into right now. Anyway, APA has gotten to the point where they will give approval to an institution if it is solid and if it does what it purports to do.
I think that ITP has a very good chance of getting its [clinical] program approved by APA if they can convince APA that they've gotten their act together, that the therapists that come out of ITP are knowledgeable, that they can handle a variety of dysfunctional behaviors and attitudes. I know of some schools that the APA would not have approved 20 years ago that are now becoming APA approved. So the signs are favorable on this.
Nevertheless, getting an APA division called transpersonal psychology is an entirely different thing, and Mark wanted us to speak to this concern. There was a movement, 30-some-years ago, to have a Division of Humanistic Psychology. Most of my colleagues and I were against it. We asked, why do we need to create a division? Why not just have humanistic psychologists and transpersonal psychologists create their own associations, and then bring the humanistic flavor into already established APA divisions. The person spearheading this proposed Division of Humanistic Psychology was a radical psychologist named Don Gibbins, who went around and got the signatures, not from any of us, but from thousands of other people. Thus a Division of Humanistic Psychology in the APA was approved. We then got together for our first meeting and Gibbins wasn't even there; so we named one of the members of our group president, and the division has been going on ever since.
Was this a good thing? Not necessarily; because since this time Positive Psychology has come into the picture, and has sort of distanced itself from Humanistic Psychology.7 If humanistic psychology had diffused itself into the already existing APA divisions, I think there might have been an earlier influence, and even marriage, with the positive psychology folks, and you wouldn't have the split that there is now. Not that the two groups are antagonistic, they are just moving in different directions.
Now when the transpersonal psychologists got the number of votes and decided to appear before the APA council they solicited advice, but my advice was not taken. I said you have to speak in the language that the council will recognize. First of all come up with an operational definition of transpersonal psychology. Secondly, ground it in mainstream psychology. William James used the word transpersonal,8 go back to William James; everybody in psychology reveres William James. I gave a couple of other guidelines that were not taken, and the APA council voted it down, not once, not twice, but three times.
But did all my work go in vain? No, because some years later I was on the committee that came down to check into accreditation for ITP; although I cannot reveal what went on in the deliberation session where we voted to give accreditation to ITP, I used the same arguments that had been lying around for 20 years. I gave an operational definition of transpersonal psychology, grounding it in the mainstream of the psychological history, et cetera, and they said thank you for educating us about transpersonal psychology; it is not as far out as we thought it was. This is as much as I'm allowed to say, but you see the results, ITP is a flourishing institution and I'm delighted.
Still the question remains, should transpersonal psychology be a separate division of APA? Right now there are plenty of transpersonal programs at APA, most sponsored by division 32 or humanistic psychology; some by the division for the scientific study of religious issues, some by other divisions. I think there is enough transpersonal work going on, and I am really against too many divisions in APA. There are 52 right now, going on 53, and this cuts into the time that other divisions have to present their programs at APA. I am not wild about the idea of a division of transpersonal psychology in APA, frankly, because I do not think that it is needed. I think that there are vehicles for transpersonalists like me and other people to present our ideas in other divisions and then diffuse the work, spreading the word to get other people in other divisions interested. So we'll see what happens.
Schroll: Thank you Stan, so the message is to network with these other groups. I had an image while you were talking where each one of us can be an autonomous member, and yet to see the whole we have to be able to have these dialogues with other people and find a common language. In other words, what you are saying is rather than continue to work for a division of ATP in the APA, it is better to try to find a common ground of dialogue, and/or a conceptual model or a genealogy of where our roots come from in terms of our ideas with these other groups.
Krippner: Yes, that's my position; I might be wrong but that is where I'm coming from.
Vich: Could we say something about this from a slightly different perspective? When we were formulating AHP and ATP, their publications, and gathering people together at conferences to create an identity as to what we thought might be called transpersonal psychology, there was an assumption that first we had to understand what we were doing. What are we about? So that first phase was the identity development phase. There was an interesting period-I guess late 1970's early 1980's-where a concern was raised. The concern was this. If we tried to assimilate (or have too much connection with other systems or fields in whatever profession), this would risk transpersonal psychology's independence along the lines that Jim was talking about earlier concerning institutions.
The final point is about the future of educational institutions and licensing and so on. This oddly enough occurred to me very late in the game of almost 40 years of work. In a way maybe it does not make any difference what happens organizationally, politically, and so on. This is because at the root human beings are always going to have this interest, this inclination, this desire for understanding, this awareness, this questioning of where they fit into the big scheme of things, and other basic questions are always going to be there.
So those of us that are working in this field, we are working with forms, with channels, with methods, with systems, and I was able to be personally relieved of the concern that all this might pass away if we did not get approved or recognized, or licensed or whatever. Whereas the basic fundamental concerns always exist and they are rising and growing, so this is the assumption that I'm operating under. We just happened to live at a time when particular institutions are helpful necessarily and useful to people.
Schroll: So the practice of transpersonal psychology/ transpersonal psychotherapy takes another form. Some people take the path-they go the ministerial route and/or pastoral-counseling route-and this is the other possible option, the spiritual psychology option. This is where people like Stan and Jim do not have to call themselves a clinician; they can call themselves a spiritual minister or some word that people can recognize so they can actually get paid for what they are doing.
Krippner: Like a spiritual coach.
Schroll: Right-so we need this language. Would people wanting to be counselors from a transpersonal perspective be opposed to calling themselves a spiritual coach? We may have to change or broaden our definition of what we mean by religion; and/or focus on developing an expanded operational definition of what it is we mean by religion.9
Mojeiko: I think that one problem that would arise that has in the past-or at least as far as from the perspective I'm most knowledgeable about-which is issues concerning the psychedelic therapist. Once the study of psychedelic therapy or psychedelic counseling is in a medical model it is more accepted, it is more reviewed, there are more people that are watching out and making sure that what the person is doing is ethical. As people go more and more underground there is more of a chance the kind of therapy that they are offering people is not actually helpful. It might be more harmful, and this is something to think about when there is no real law or rules overseeing its operation. Regarding psychedelic therapists in particular, one thing that MAPS [or the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies] is starting to develop is some kind of training program and accreditation for people that are doing psychedelic therapy; because there are a lot of particular issues that come up.
There has traditionally been a lot of sexual abuse between therapist and client; this is just something to think about. I have heard so many reports-there are a lot of clinics that people can go to where they can take ayahuasca in South America, and-except for MAPS- there is not any larger organization reporting on which ones are ethical or safe. We have so many people calling our office, because it is really the only group of people to call about such a thing, just complaining that certain groups and/or individuals are dangerous; or are not what they advertise themselves to be. I guess either way it would be good to have some kind of licensing board-yet order and rules are not typically my thing. Still I can see some benefit in having some kind of structure, whether it is medical or religious.
Schroll: You mentioned ethics, or more specifically an ethic of behavior, this reminds me of all of the problems with gurus and the tendency of the so-called spiritual teacher to abuse their power and authority, and likewise various problems with sexual issues or any issue. Because having sex should certainly be consensual, not about power and control, and this is where we need some kind of an ethic that involves regulating behavior.
Mojeiko: But whose ethic? Where does it come from?
Schroll: From my perspective, it comes from talking, from getting feedback from other people, and by working it out through dialogue with others-just like we are doing right now-as a community.
Fadiman: If you kind of look at history now and then, you find experiments that have been tried. In the USA up until about 1830 there were no licensing laws about any kind of medical practice, psychological practice, spiritual practice, et cetera. The rule was that any practitioner or anyone that called themself [a practitioner of medical, healing, spiritual arts] could charge you and if you felt that you had been harmed, you could sue; that was it. Eventually, however, the American Medical Association was formed, and not with the concern of creating the kind of high minded ethical rules that we hear from you-[Mark and Valerie], because the AMA's creation did not in any way deal with psychedelic experience.
Instead, the founders of the AMA were aware there was a competitive medical form called homeopathy. And they established rules which if you did not know what the game was, said that you [-as a practitioner of medical, healing, spiritual arts-] should have a certain amount of laboratory equipment-microscopes, slide trays, etc.-all things that homeopaths did not need. Then the AMA turned around and said, now let us accredit each other and surprise, all of the homeopathic schools were not accredited. The question is has medicine in the USA [established itself and become a] beacon throughout the world of how it should be done? The answer is in certain areas yes, absolutely, and in other areas [not at all, but] is simply a method of keeping ways of healing out of peoples hands, [and this] is a problem.10
The issue gets more interesting when we ask, is there [or would there] be any motive for accreditation other than good? The answer is that in most human institutions there are people that sometimes have a different point of view. I love the idea that MAPS wants to be in the training business; but I am not sure that MAPS wants to be in the accreditation business.
One of the things I like about the church and state issue is you can really be a wacko religion, and there is an enormous effort not to stop you. Let me give you an example of where this issue comes up tough against the culture. Now this is not a wacko religion. This happens to be (I think it was a Vietnamese or Hmong group) that came to the USA after what we did to their countries, and among the things that they would do in the park in San Francisco is catch squirrels and eat them. This was part of their religious practice, and you could just see the cultural discomfort of people saying, Well you cannot just kill these little animals. But it is their religion. But they are killing squirrels! Had they eaten rats, or pigeons, it might have been a different issue.
Consequently when you watch people trying to protect you from something it is well worth looking at what are the underlying cultural assumptions. One of the ways the use of ayahuasca passed the Supreme Court was based on the concern about whether or not they wanted to start legislating which religious practices are acceptable. Also, ayahuasca has one very beneficial side effect that helped its case, which is people that take it almost always have nausea and vomiting. The Supreme Court said yes...
Laughter from the gallery.
Fadiman: this is probably not going to become a recreational church. This genuinely helped; again, what is an acceptable or unacceptable practice, just as in our personal life where do we want licensing to protect us and where do we want freedom to make an informed decision? There are no right answers; but watching the way this process moves through history sometimes is helpful.
Schroll: This might be a good place to raise the issue whether people should just chose to empower themselves to try to develop an alternative position or practice and then hope that people will come to them and pay them money for their services rather than worrying about accreditation. Likewise rather than worrying about getting a division of transpersonal psychology in the APA, therapists should empower themselves by saying if you believe in what we are doing, and it seems right for you, and you think I am helping you, would you pay me? Or you can just go somewhere else for whatever kind of help you are seeking.
Fadiman: It's an alternative model, it's called education. How do we deal with education? If it is good, we pay for it. If it is not, we do not pay for it. Are there bad schools? Are there schools of the dark side? I think so, but they are mainly APA approved, so I cannot say much.
Fadiman: Are there schools that go out of business? Are there schools that thrive? Are there schools that break whatever laws there are? We can say yes to all of these. Now I being a crank, long in the tradition of crankdom, I think that psychology made a terrible mistake when it looked around the university when it was just a little child and it saw who the big kids were that received lots of money. It was not the French literature department, and it was not even sociology; it was hard science that received funding. So psychology said, we are a hard science; the academy said, you are kidding. No, we use numbers. Where? [This of course raises the issue of methodology, which continues to be a matter of concern within humanistic and transpersonal circles (Schroll, in press).] The helping of another human being by talking with them became- partly because Freud (who made this discovery) was a practicing physician-allied with the medical model, and I'm not sure this was a good decision.
It could have become allied with the educational model. Have you ever been to a wise being, and then did you ask what their credentials are? For example, you say that you are a Hindu sage; how do I know that you have the right credentials to be a Hindu sage? The wise being replies, that is a very interesting question that you should ask. In my seven lifetimes ago I did have a degree. Now what is your real question? The point is, it is a different model, and there are different models and fortunately in a culture that allows for different models we do not have to choose one or the other.
Now I'm coming from both not being licensed in anything I have ever done and being a minister-in case someone dies or wants a wedding. But I cannot say the theology is very deep in my church, since it is the same as one of Stan Krippner's churches. The point we are raising here is what is the purpose of what we are doing, and what is the best way to achieve it? I listened to a presentation this morning, about a model of working with psychedelics. The core of the model was, does this way of working increase suffering or decrease suffering? This was the core question around which everything else arises quite naturally. This too is another way of framing what we are talking about regarding accreditation and licensing.
I would by the way not want to leave off ecopsychology, which probably is the least appreciated and most failed system we have. We are now all aware that if there is anything that we had to guess is the major problem the world is suffering from, it is that civilization as we know it may simply melt, fry, boil, hurricane, storm, drought, itself out. Now who should be consulted at the highest levels of government in the world? Ecopsychologists. Is it happening? Not yet, do you have anything to say about this Mark?
Schroll: I think this is where we get into this problem again: where does ecopsychology fit in? Is it within ATP and ITP; because certainly we are bringing it up here and I have brought it up at past ATP and ITP meetings, but I do not think that ecopsychology is a field. This is not just me talking, but the echo of a point Ralph Metzner and Theodore Roszak came to agree on at the 25th Anniversary Convocation of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, a view that is shared by Robert Greenway.11 I agree ecopsychology is not a field, it is an emerging conversation that is happening, or should be happening, in every discipline; it is also not just a conversation we need to be having in science, but it should also be part of the humanities central core. Indeed everyone should be involved and engaged in trying to keep us from cutting ourselves off from the living systems that we are a part of.
Krippner: I'd like to underline what Jim just said, that this is a real opportunity for transpersonal psychology. Remember I said earlier that Maslow was hoping to move into a trans-human psychology, which in his conversations with me I would interpret as being ecopsychology; and nobody else is doing it in terms of major organizations. I think that ecopsychology is absolutely critical. I've written some articles in which I've said that if we are stuck with the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, and if this is something that is going to chart the course of psychopathology, we should have a category for people that are destroying the environment. Persons that are doing this should be diagnosed as pathological and they need help, because they are doing something that is increasing human suffering and the suffering of all sentient beings.
A few years ago I received an award from APA, so I had an opportunity to publish an article in the American Psychologist. In my last section I put in a plug for ecopsychology-which is the only time that I know of that it has been mentioned in the American Psychologist (Krippner, 2002). I did not have very many words, but I wanted to make sure that I was heard loud and clear on this issue. The way our planet is being devastated, and how the groups with the power and money are abetting and not holding back on this devastation is clearly pathological. If you saw the documentary The Corporation, you know that the Corporation was diagnosed as what we call a sociopathic personality. One aspect of this pathology that this film failed to mention is the devastation of the environment that most corporations-not all-are up to.
The ironic thing is that some very conservative Christian church organizations are becoming green. They are coming out for stewardship of nature, they are not coming from the same place where I am coming from in terms of my theology, but at least they are ending up in the same place. So there are some hopeful signs and I see this as being a transpersonal vision. But I have to say that with the exception of indigenous people like the Native Americans, the major religions in the world have dropped the ball on ecopsychology-both Eastern and Western. Now it is time to pick up that ball and get rolling with it before it is too late. [Indeed] any of us that have been reading or seeing documentaries on this topic know the critical situation that the world is in. And I think, Jim, that if psychology-instead of aligning itself with the physical sciences, had aligned itself with philosophy, we would not be in the mess we are in now. Because from a philosophical point of view we would have realized some of the issues that psychology, from a hard science point of view, has ignored until now.
Fadiman: William James who created psychology, eventually-and is best known-for ending up in philosophy, where he could deal with more problems seriously. To the extent that we honor, venerate, and celebrate him, we would probably do well to read him. Both because it will embarrass us how well he writes, and because the issues he raises are the issues that we are raising. Some of which will be commented on by me later in my presentation this afternoon.
Vich: I wanted to add something on the ecopsychology issue, it is not something that I have done much development in, but two things. One is the film An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, which I gather a lot of people have seen-how many of you have seen it? A lot of you it seems. This is really quite a cold shower for anybody that for the first time has encountered the concerns of how precarious our current situation is relative to the issue of global warming.
At the end of the film, Gore is on this elevated ladder, plotting one of those fatal curves that goes right though the roof. He comes down and turns back to the audience and says some people when they see this-and what I've been saying-fall into despair. Gore says, I understand this. But we do not need to. Then he goes on to show these slivers of adjustment and it is like a fan, 10% if we do this, 15% if we do this, and gradually bringing that curve down. What I noticed is these slivers of adjustment are all do-ables, probably within a generation. These are things that we have all heard about, like car mileage, and power plant emissions, et cetera, and the curve starts to decline once we begin addressing these problems. These are not huge turn-arounds that can evoke cultural and economic disaster; instead these are adjustments that can be made. So the message Gore is giving us is that we have the capacity and the power to solve the problem that we have created. But you have to think large and you have to think responsible and you have to make all of these connections we have been making.
The second point goes back to the organizational question. A couple of years before I retired as editor of JTP at the end of 1999, I was very impressed by the British group and the British Psychological Society taking on the transpersonal issue. Especially two of its principle authors, David Fontana and Ingrid Slack (1996), who led the appeal to the British Psychological Society (our equivalent of the APA) for a division of transpersonal interest. And they got the votes 1,623 to 899 in favor, so the British Psychological Society has what they call a section of transpersonal psychology. How did they do this? What makes their situation so different? They had a list of rational arguments that were well delivered with their typical British understatement, and beautifully articulated, but the key thing I saw there that really made me feel that this was the way to do it, was they said, and I'm paraphrasing, what we are concerned with in transpersonal psychology is those very things that have created, affected, and sometimes destroyed, and sometimes improved civilizations all through time. The arts, the literature, these have all had to deal with transpersonal issues. It has affected our lives individually and personally, and in groups and collectives and entire nations and cultures. Shouldn't we know something about it?
Fadiman: (chuckling) That's just wonderful.
Krippner: Yes, that's just great. People in this group certainly know the difference between religion and spirituality; this is an important distinction, more important as the years go on, especially on this ecology issue. You're probably familiar with the United Nations quality of life scale, and when this is applied to the nations of the world, the top 10 nations that have the best quality of life, that includes the environmental aspects of culture, the top 10 nations are the nations with the highest percentage of atheists. Now we are not talking about here of forced atheism, like North Korea. We are talking about voluntary atheism. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, all the usual suspects, they have the highest quality of life and the highest percentage of atheists.
What about the countries with the minimal numbers of atheists, and the lowest quality of life, and the most devastating environmental conditions, who are these? Take the top 25 countries that have the highest quality of life. Only two countries have a minority of atheists, Ireland and the USA; again this is the top 25, not the top 10. In January I was the token transpersonalist at a major conference of self-professed skeptics in Las Vegas, Nevada, organized by the Amazing Randi. It was called the Amazing Randi's Amazing conference. It was a three-day affair, and they did a poll, 85% of the people in the audience raised their hand that they were atheists. It was a fascinating conference, with Nobel Prize winners and 800 people in attendance, the largest collection of skeptics under one roof. The one theme that came up time and time again was the environment. I have not heard so much discussion of environmental issues in a transpersonal meeting, in a spiritual meeting, in a religious meeting; these folks are really on to something. They really care about the environment.
It is therefore time for transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal studies in general, to reassess and reclaim its history regarding ecopsychology so it can step forward and fill this void. I have to say that the psychedelic movement caught on to this long ago. I remember back in the 1960s, when people began doing informal work with psychedelics. One theme that came up time and time again was we are destroying the environment, and that taking psychedelics increased not only our appreciation of nature, but all forms of life. I think too the psychedelic movement has been given short shrift by historians in a number of other ways, because it also helped stimulate interest in the Peace Movement, the Civil Rights movement, et cetera.12 Of course the psychological experimentation had its dark side-and Jim and I are very aware of the casualties of the dark side-it did have a bright side in terms of the environmental movement. We can make the case that a lot of the environmental movement's roots are in the psychedelic work that was being done informally back in those days.
Schroll: This picks up on both of these points that have been made. Miles mentioned Gore's film, saying that all of the adjustments Gore suggests are do-ables; this brings me back to what Stan was just saying about Positive Psychology being a growing movement. We need positive motivational messages in ecopsychology to have people want to become part of it. The messages from mainstream environmentalism are all negative and I have summed them up as follows.
The rhetoric of catastrophe represents prophecys of doom, such as global warming, ozone depletion, deforestation, loss of species, et cetera. The rhetoric of shame says that the industrial nations of the world are consuming the majority of the earth's fossil fuels: coal, natural gas, and petroleum. The rhetoric of redemption tells us to drive less, slow down when we do drive and car pool; to turn our thermostat down, reduce human population growth, recycle, et cetera. All of these are negative in terms of their motivational message. We therefore need to re-examine motivational psychology, because we need to develop a positive motivational imagery and language to empower people to want to become part of this movement.
Fadiman: There is a curious unattractive parallel, which is it is very hard to train people to kill other people. We are really hard wired not to kill other people, yet we've managed to do a pretty amazing job of doing this. Perhaps if we looked at what could make it easier for people to become environmentally sensitive, which is a far more natural state, we might create this positive motivational imagery and language that you just mentioned, Mark. This is really what Stan is saying. I love the idea that environmental degradation should be listed as a DSM classification-it is like these horror movies where you keep getting a larger number and things are getting worse- people that trash the environment have a pathology. Imagine if the pharmacology industry got interested. I took EarthPill and I went around and all I could do was plant flowers. I feel so much better. I'm going to talk to my big farm Mafia friends. What is our time?
Schroll: We have five minutes left. I know all of you have dozens of questions, but we only have time for a couple. But first I want to say this is a continuing conversation. We do not want it to end today. We want this to continue to grow, not only in your own work, but also in creating future forums like this.
Audience question: I'm familiar with all of the psychedelics that were around in the 1960s and 1970s, but I've been out of that group for about 30-years now, would someone please tell me what ayahuasca is like? It must be pretty good if people are willing to risk all of the vomiting.
Krippner: It is very strong, and I do not advise that people take it outside of a church setting. If you are interested, seek out one of the Brazilian churches, and there are some operating in the USA and Western Europe. But it is very powerful. I have learned a lot from it. I am one of the very few people that have not thrown up. This does not mean that I will not vomit the next time, but maybe I am hopeless. If you vomit this means you cleanse yourself of all your impurities. Maybe I'm too far gone to get rid of them all. But do not let this phase you, because once you vomit, I'm told that you feel beatific for the rest of the experience. Again, I cannot recommend it because it is so powerful, but if this is your personal choice and if you are invited to a church session, then you might consider it. But be prepared as to what you want to learn from it. Ask yourself, what do I want to get from this experience, which will help you operate within a framework. And be prepared to follow the rituals of the church, because they are for your own benefit very stringent, very regimented, and do not allow much of a chance for you to go off and do your own thing. You have to stay within the structure of the church.
Fadiman: This is what we used to call the three variables, drug, set, and setting.
Fadiman: And in this case they are welded together, as Stan said, so keep this in mind.
Mojeiko: I think too that while it might be helpful for a person doing a particular therapy to keep drug taking a secret, in general it is not a good idea. For the average person that has taken psychedelics, it is not a really big risk to say that you have done them. And it is not going to become more acceptable unless people stand up and speak out about it, so I think that maybe this is what we still need to deal with and come to terms with as we try to integrate psychedelic experience with the rest of psychology. It is therefore worth the minute risk of coming out as someone that has used a psychedelic.
Fadiman: You see we are a lot less special than people would like to think. Remember when Stan Grof asked people this morning, how many of you have had an incredible experience, and almost everyone raised their hand; and that when Grof goes and talks to regular audiences it is also a pretty high percentage. I put out a novel a few years ago titled The Other Side of Haight, and everywhere I went no matter who I was talking to, I brought up the fact that I'd written this novel and that they could buy it. I would ask the damnest people to comment on what they thought about psychedelics; such as I'm sitting on a plane and there is this person that looks like he is a CIA operative and I say, I've written this novel have you ever used psychedelics? You'd be surprised how many people will say, Oh yeah in college once. I did mushrooms. Then I'd find out that they were a CIA agent or someone that worked for a pharmaceutical company that I did not like very much, and that they did not like about themselves after we had finished talking. But what I found out is that sharing something that works for you is really not a bad thing to do in almost any sub-culture, and you will be surprised at how many people respond favorably. And yes to answer your question, set and setting is a lot harder when the thing you are doing is illegal. As the early Christians used to say, I hate meeting in the slimy sewers of Rome, but this is the only place we can rent to meet. And it is important that we keep meeting, so we do what we can.
Schroll: On that note, this is a good place to end because that's right Jim. What you and Valerie just mentioned is the idea of self-disclosure and this is what Sidney Jourard was talking about in the earliest days of this movement, thereby linking our discussion right back to the very beginnings of humanistic and transpersonal psychology (Jourard, 1971, 1972).
Mark A. Schroll, PhD, serves as Editor for The Rhine On-Line: Institute for Consciousness Studies Newsletter, www.rhine.org; he is on the Windbridge Institute Scientific Advisory Board, the Editorial Board Journal of Ecopsychology, the Advisory Board Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and he is the 2009 Co-Chair for Bridging Nature and Human Nature, the annual Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness conference co-sponsored by the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. In addition, he is Guest Managing Editor of the special Anthropology of Consciousness issue, Bridging Nature and Human Nature: Envisioning Transpersonal Ecosophy, which is due out spring 2011. Schroll is a transpersonal cultural theorist and conference organizer with multi-disciplinary interests ranging from philosophy of science to ecopsychology.
Stanley Krippner, PhD, is Alan Watt's professor of psychology at Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco, is a Fellow of four APA divisions, and past-president of two divisions (30 and 32). Formerly director of Maimonides Medical Center Dream Research Laboratory, Brooklyn, NY. He is co-author of Extraordinary Dreams (SUNY, 2002), The Mythic Path, 3rd ed. (Energy Psychology Press, 2006), and Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans (Greenwood, 2007), and co-editor of Healing Tales (Puente, 2007), Healing Stories (Puente, 2007), The Psychological Impact of War on Civilians: An International Perspective (Greenwood, 2003), Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence (APA, 2000), and many other books.
Miles A. Vich, MA, D.H.L., (hon). Has served in various roles, 1962-1999, in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, including staff positions with The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and editor of JHP (1968-1970). He is founding Board member of the Transpersonal Institute, The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, and the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. He served as Executive Director of ATP for many years and as editor of JTP from 1975-1999. Since retiring in 2000 he has consulted on various projects, pursued a longstanding interest in art, and archived many transpersonal documents in the library at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, and many humanistic era documents in the University of California Santa Barbara Davidson Library.
James Fadiman, PhD, received his doctoral degree from Stanford University doing psychedelic research (with and without government support). As a Harvard undergraduate he worked with Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) and Timothy Leary. He is a cofounder of The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, where he still teaches, and was the director of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. His books include Unlimit Your Life, Essential Sufism, Personality and Personal Growth, 5th ed, and The Other Side of Haight.
Valerie Mojeiko, BA, Program Director and Clinical Research Associate, has worked with MAPS - the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies since 2000, facilitating research of the healing potentials of MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD, Ibogaine and other psychedelic medicines. In her work leading MAPS' psychedelic harm-reduction project, Valerie has prepared over 2000 volunteers to provide peer-based psychedelic emergency services from Burning Man to Tel Aviv. Formerly educated at New College of Florida and the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).