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Record Type: Review   ID: 488

The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development

Washburn, Michael

This is a work of transpersonal theory by a philosopher from Indiana University at South Bend. Washburn himself provides the best overview of the main thrust of the book. He writes: "I have approached transpersonal theory from a dynamic and phenomenological orientation. For this reason my thinking, in drawing upon psychology, religion, and philosophy, has drawn most heavily upon dynamic depth psychology (especially Jung), psychospiritually oriented religion (e.g., ascetical and mystical theology, yoga, alchemy), and existential-phenomenological philosophy (especially Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre). I trace the unfolding interaction between the ego and the Dynamic Ground from the ego's initial differentiation from the Ground (the period of the pre-Oedipal body-ego), through the ego's repressive dissociation from the Ground (the period of the Cartesian ego and the dynamic unconscious), to, finally, the ego's return to and reconstitution by the Ground (the period of spiritual regeneration and higher integration). And in tracing these stages of the ego/Ground interaction, I also speak to the different senses of selfhood, the different existential projects, and the different experiential life-worlds that correspond to the stages" (p. vi).

A chapter is devoted to meditation as the royal road to the unconscious. The processes of "withdrawal and return" are closely outlined in the last three chapters: "Regression in the Service of Transcendence," "Regeneration in Spirit," and "Integration." In this last chapter dualism is transcended, resulting in "prophetic vision," "saintly compassion," and "mystical illumination" (subsections of chapter 9). Washburn fleshes out in great detail the outline provided by Jung in his "The Integration of the Personality." This book is heavy reading, but it is highly rewarding as well.

Publisher Information:Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988. 271p. Bibl: 255-264; Chap notes: 239-254; 3 figs; Ind: 265-271; 8 tables
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