Freud discovered psychology on his couch; Pavlov in his dogs; Skinner in his rats; William James in religious experience; Milgram in his weird lab; John Bowlby in the observation of infants in hospital settings.
All of these varieties of psychological experience represent different angles, perspectives, and components of the psychological world, from the complex psychodynamics of meaning to the rather more simple mechanisms of stimulus and response. The public reception of psychology swings from mystical reverence (they can read your minds!) to outright dismissal (Psychoanalysis is a load of codswallop!).
While psychological discoveries are often made in the consulting room or the lab, from its very origins its insights were applied and shared in wider ways. Freud’s The Psychopathology of Everyday Life was published in 1901 – a year after The Interpretation of Dreams.
It took just one year after his founding book on psychoanalysis of individual dreams to open up this new discipline to ‘everyday life’.
I strongly believe in psychology’s role in everyday life. My end of psychology is the talking therapies, a discipline of high confidentiality that takes place in closed and private consultation rooms supposedly cut off from the rest of the world. The wisdom that is accrued in these rooms is invaluable; yet how do we share such insights without breaking the rules of confidentiality or delivering them in ways that are incomprehensible to the public?
In 2014 I published my book The Psychodynamics of Social Networking: Connected-up Instantaneous Culture and the Self, which aimed to do just that: to apply learnings from the clinic to the modern challenges that confront us all. This experience led me to meet a pioneering grouping of Jungian analysts from Zurich and Berlin who were interested in the same questions as myself: How can the insights of depth psychology be brought faithfully into the 21 st century?
Further, how can it be appreciated by others outside the fields of psychology and psychotherapy?
These analysts had already started experimenting by applying these questions to a series of events in Zurich and Berlin called ‘Psychoanalysis on the Street’, asking important questions in public spaces, which over time turned into Stillpoint Spaces, a more formal organisation which opened its doors first in Zurich and Berlin a couple of years ago. Following their lead, I brought Psychoanalysis on the Streets to London, which, in March of this year, became Stillpoint Spaces London, a hub for thinking about psychology, in depth, inside and outside the consulting room.
Stillpoint Spaces is a brand new project in the UK that strongly believes that psychology belongs as much in the consulting room as it does on the street. That is why we have created an innovative hub in Clerkenwell where we offer both high quality depth psychology in our five consulting rooms downstairs, and our Lab, a co-working and events space upstairs where ideas from depth psychology are applied and shared at public and professional events.
We call our non-clinical space ‘The Lab’ because we see it as an ongoing experiment, continuing to ask ourselves others, how can we apply depth psychology to contemporary life to better understand and support positive change in our modern world?
From traditional CPD events to film screenings and book launches, we experiment every day in taking this forward.
We take it forward online too, via our encrypted video-conferencing platform (designed by therapists for therapists) and our continued desire to build an international community of psychological thinkers through our online events and our city-based venues; we open in Paris in September.
Where does psychology belong and who does it belong to? It belongs to all of us, and all of
us can benefit from its insights. Especially today, in a world riven by discord and division, what might psychology as a shared resource have to offer. We hope to find out, experimentally.
Dr Aaron Balick is the Director of Stillpoint Spaces London, which is based in Clerkenwell.