Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bill Plotkin, "Wild Mind"

A few months ago, I was thrilled to receive a copy of Bill Plotkin's newly published book, Wild Mind:  A Field Guide To The Human Psyche.  The book is a worthwhile and important addition to the fields of depth and eco psychologies.

Just as in Plotkin's other two books, Wild Mind organizes its material in a wheel-like fashion (similar to medicine wheels within Native American cultures), using the cardinal directions as focal points.  In his previous works, Plotkin used the wheel format to describe the different stages of life that a human should go through, from birth until death.  In Wild Mind, Plotkin expands the use of the wheel format to describe the aspects within a healthy human mind, at any stage of life.  He calls these "the four dimensions of our innate human wholeness".  The better we are at fostering these four dimensions, the healthier and more fully alive we will become.  Conversely, if any these dimensions are lacking, imbalances in the self will occur, and negative aspects will arise.  Plotkin calls these aspects "subpersonalities." The negative subpersonalities are not to be shamed, however.  They are a part of us and need to be embraced.  Otherwise, we will continue to run away from our selves, avoiding (via antidepressants, alcohol, shopping, etc.) the psychological problems within us for eternity (not good!).  They need attention, acceptance, and love.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, especially Plotkin's analysis of the subpersonalities.  Using this book, I have been able to map out the facets of my self, realizing which ones need more fostering and attention, and where in life I have been lacking. 

Wild Mind is not something just anyone can pick up and read.  The book has a bit of an academic feel to it, it is a little dry, and takes time to get through.  I feel the writing style of Wild Mind is more similar to the Plotkin's other book, Nature and the Human Soul-- a rather dense read, compared to his first book, Soulcraft--quite the page turner.  Nonetheless,  there is a breadth of knowledge oozing off of each page, and I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in depth psychology or for those who are interested in overcoming their shadows, and becoming more fully human.

To offer a bit of my own bias:  I originally found Plotkin's first book, Soulcraft after essentially being torn to pieces by other enivironmental authors who wrote of the psychotic state of the culture I was born into.   I was very thankful for becoming more aware, but I was also a bit like Humpty Dumpty who fell off the wall.  Thankfully, Bill Plotkin (and a several others), did a much better job at putting me back together again than any of the king's horses and men.

- Teddy

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