Splitting and Regression in Humanistic Psychology


Alix Pirani’s keynote address to the 1989 Training and Development Conference of the Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners provides the text for a searching analytic dialogue. The dynamics of any group tend to be dominated by the common unresolved unconscious content of its members and the AHPP is not exception. Patterns of polarisation are noted between powerful and powerless, male and female, in-group and out-group, left-brain and right-brain, implosive passivity and explosive aggression, psyche and soma, good and bad, time-based process and timeless regression, the human and the transpersonal. As a society whose ‘world is caught up in the therapy of deviance’ the Association is vulnerable to the collusional acting out of the most common and most primitive processes of anxiety defence. The paper concludes with the challenge: ‘For humanistic psychology to collude in defence-preservation is a fundamental contradiction of the movement’s commitment to health and wholeness’.