A brief history
Goethean science did not turn its attention to psychology and this is remarkable given that the basis of all Goethean scientific work is an observation of the phenomena which includes the observer’s inner life.
Mainstream psychology also took a long time to be accepted as a science, since the model for science was physics and mathematics, so psychology struggled to quantify its observations. Behavourism, which ignores the inner life, was one extreme outcome, while deeper studies of the psyche such as that of Carl Jung were on the periphery of what was acceptable as science in the 20th Century. Psychology faced the uphill task of having to adopt the solid criterion of measurement in order to be respected and only recently has it begun to assert itself, for example, by conducting studies of the prejudices that are hidden within the most carefully designed ‘objective’ laboratory experiments.
Paradoxically, Goethean psychology should not have the difficulties that mainstream psychology had, to take its place as a Goethean Science.
Clearly, a Goethean psychology must be consistent with the methods of Goethean science. It cannot adopt techniques of external measurement to make the unconscious visible. It cannot create theories about the human inner life of thinking and feeling and look for evidence to support them..
What makes an observation Goethean? Increased consciousness of the inner life, awareness of the whole outer context, alertness to the detail, quiet contemplation, letting the image pass into sleep, patiently returning to the phenomena again and again, never letting expectations ‘fog’ the observing, never seeing the phenomena from one side only – the list is endless.
It is the observer’s own inner life which is intimately involved in all observing. This is easily illustrated with so-called ‘Illusions’, which are actually ‘Truths’ as they reveal the extent to which we create the world we see around us.
Looking at the well-known duck/rabbit picture below. We can become aware of our inner participation, as our experience changes from duck to rabbit and back.
We become aware the activity of our perception. The second cartoon illustrates the power that a perception can command, when this creative activity is unknown or denied.
A science which ignores this activity, creates theories which become fixed dogma, contradicting the fundamental freedom of science, in which openness to new theories is balanced by the scrupulous observation of the phenomena that prompted the theory.
A Goethean observation of any kind, whether of colour, cloud, mineral, plant or animal phenomena, will enter the dynamics of the inner life of feeling, which in Goethean observation is subject to scrutiny and discipline. Conventional science seeks to suppress or eliminate feelings, which is why measurement is the main tool of enquiry.
Awareness of the inner life
Clearly then, a Goethean psychology is needed to develop a Goethean observation..
If we had a clearer consciousness of our impatience, of our tendency to leap to interpretations, of our frustration when we seem to be getting nowhere etc, we would be much more in command of how these common psychological qualities enter the dramatic performance that is our inner life and distract us from our goal. They can each play their part in supporting our Goethean endeavours but only when we are conscious of them and take them in hand.
Impatience could then be transformed to an opening of ourselves to the phenomena, leaping to interpretations could be transformed into a new richness and depth of thinking, frustration could be transformed into persistence and perseverance, returning to the phenomena again and again.
Goethean Psychology provides the framework to explore the inner life and the fundamental processes that take place, whenever we attempt understand what we experience.
Using this framework and its methodology, Goethean Psychology strengthens any path of Meditation or Self-development, supports Self-care in stressful situations. For those issues which adversely affect our lives in a repetitive and destructive way, Goethean Psychotherapy opens a new and self-determining approach to emotional issues from anxiety, panic and grief to addiction, phobias and abuse.