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Invisible Guests: The Development of…

Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues

by Mary M. Watkins

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108. psych *****
[Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues] [[Mary Watkins]]

This is a dense and radical look by a respected post-Jungian depth psychologist at theories of human development and the therapeutic goals that arise from these theories. She proposes that past practice (still only a little over a century old!) have more in common with cultural values than the living reality of the human pysche. In our western culture abstract logical thought has been given pride of place. Single-minded unity within the individual has been the most desirable telos (goal or outcome, more or less) in emerging adults. (Ego firmly in charge.) The end desired result is a single internal voice that forms the whole adult person.

Watkins proposes that the mind does not work that way. In her view, it is only through dialogue that humans can learn. Dialogue must first be learned --parents talking to children, children talking back, children playing with imaginary friends, seen and unseen, and with other children and so on. It has been assumed that particularly the imaginal dialogues were merely a method for learning to BE in the real world. Discarded once the individual masters interacting with others. However, we ignore, that as adults we continue to talk to ourselves, indulge in fantasies, and so forth. Watkins suggests that this need for internal dialogue never stops and is natural to the human psyche and is not only a viable form of problem solving, but likely even one of the most effective.

You do not learn from monologue, either inside yourself (where is can become pathological); you do not learn if you ignore your internal voices--we've all heard that voice saying, "don't do that!" which we then all too often ignore! If you can't listen to yourself then you cannot interact genuinely with other people or with the environment around you. Respect for self and for others is learned through dialogue with the often conflicting parts within yourself. If you are worried about pathology, Watkins addresses this issue, and curiously, in studies of schizophrenics, the internal voice(s) tend toward monologue! Certainly, they do not listen, have no interest in dialogue.

Therapeutically: What if a person can give a personality to their 'depression' - learn to talk to or write (as in a play) the dialogue that might then take place between your self that wants to get on with living and your self that wants to hide under the desk. What might you learn about yourself? It's deeply intriguing!

This is my second reading and as well as the reminder to remain open to my internal dialogue and to use personification to resolve conflicts and find creative solutions in my work, I find myself thinking about the current craziness in our country: television and movies, I suspect, play a kind of role for adults, of providing personas to be in some kind of imaginal relationship with. Only that life is in vibrant color. Work and real life are usually, for most, rather black and white, monochrome. Our current government leaders across the board (I include House and Senate) have no concept of dialogue, of listening, or of respect for others. Giving our imaginations free play, giving it an equal role of importance to logic and abstract thought. Wow!

Most of us here at LT know how powerful and necessary imagination is.*****

I've massively rewritten this review and probably will again. This is a very hard book to write about! ( )
1 vote sibyx | Oct 8, 2017 |
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