Written by Barbara Somers with Ian Gordon-Brown, Editor Hazel Marshall
A Transpersonal Perspective of Inner Journeys
Review by Gunnel Minett
In this book Barbara Somers in particular presents the transpersonal approach to psychology based on a unique model that she developed together with Ian Gordon-Brown. Having worked in the field for many years and with an interest in various forms of psychology, they started a centre for transpersonal study in the 1970’s. The book is a distillation of the transpersonal training model they developed at their centre. The book starts from the very beginning of our lives. Chapter one deals with how we are formed as a human being, describing it as the
seed of potential in all of us that needs proper nourishment in order to develop properly.
The first chapter starts: “I approach each individual with the understanding that within everyone is an original seed. That unique seed will grow in the soil in which it was impregnated and embedded, the darkness of earth, the shadow. Lodged in the matrix of the lower unconscious, it will grow out of the soil of infancy and childhood and begin to develop an everyday awareness. This I becomes ‘I’, the personal self in the everyday world, revealing my nature as I grow up into adulthood.” This first paragraph gives a good illustration of the warm and humanistic tone of this book.
In chapter two Somers continues the child’s development from the transpersonal perspective and looks at concepts such as the persona, the ego and the shadow. She also discusses neurosis and psychosis, rejected attitudes, unlived life, unresolved conflicts and images of transformation.
In the following chapters individual development is follow through the different phases of life; the child in the adult; the mother and the father and their respective image and archetype; the brothers and sisters and the family; spaces and boundaries – how to handle crisis, power in organisations and working with people. Having dealt with our individual life paths in everyday reality, the authors takes it to a deeper level and looks at the meaning of illness, polarities and the transcendent function, projection and collusion. The final chapters look at archetypal patterns and dreams, and conclude with the transpersonal and spiritual aspects of the issue of choice.
Even if the aim of the book is to give a detailed description of the transpersonal training model Somers and Gordon-Brown developed in their centre, the book is much more than this. It is not just for therapists. The way it is written makes it accessible to anyone interested in transpersonal psychology, or indeed only interested in learning more about our own inner journey. The language is accessible and clear – almost poetic at times, and as colourful and beautiful as the many paintings by the artist Frances Crawford. This makes the book very easy and enjoyable to read. The presentation is also unusually warm and human; displaying a genuinely positive and embracing view of life that I am sure will touch readers on a deep level – as it did me.
Archive Publishing, UK, 2002