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Samuels, A. (1989). Analysis and Pluralism: The Politics of Psyche. J. Anal. Psychol., 34(1):33-51.

(1989). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 34(1):33-51

Analysis and Pluralism: The Politics of Psyche

Andrew Samuels

Pluralism is an attitude to conflict which tries to reconcile differences without imposing a false resolution on them or losing sight of the unique value of each position. As an ideology, pluralism seeks to hold unity and diversity in balance—humanity's age-old struggle, in religion, philosophy, and politics, to hold the tension between the One and the Many. My use of the term pluralism is intended to show differences from ‘eclecticism’, ‘synthesis’, ‘parallelism’ and ‘perspec-tivalism’. As the paper unfolds, the distinctions should become clearer.

We learn from political experience that, though societies may aim at harmony and mutual respect, the opposite often takes place. Political pluralism suggests that a fostering of competitive bargaining between conflicting interests produces creative rather than destructive results. However, I am not trying merely to advance pluralism as a desirable state or goal for depth psychology. My suggestion is that we begin to use the idea of pluralism as a tool or instrument to make sure that diversity need not be a basis for schismatic conflict. This instrument would also tell us when a split has become inevitable or even desirable. Pluralism could function as an instrument to monitor the mosaic of the psyche, or that of depth psychology, and help us to carry out repairs when necessary. Not only a goal, also a yardstick.

In our personal lives, we experience conflict; we have to live through it every day. Thus the notion of psychic conflict is central to dynamic conceptions of the psyche. As far as depth psychology as a whole is concerned, the divisions and congeries, organised into schools and studied, or perceived as chaotic and ridiculed, provide the institutional variation on this theme.


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