Psyche – Project Overview
Psyche is an ambitious new project from Aeon, the digital magazine of ideas and culture, which has offices in London, New York and Melbourne.
Aeon is creating a new channel, called Psyche, focused on psychological wellbeing. Psyche will experiment with innovative editorial content, including short articles as well as videos, longer articles, and audio. Our coverage will be philosophically and clinically sophisticated, as well as offering practical insights.
In addition, we are establishing The Psyche Foundation, to support the prevention and treatment of mental illness via a small grants programme.
The scope of Psyche
Psyche is committed to addressing the full spectrum of psychological health, taking into account a broad range of perspectives on what it means to be human. We will focus in particular on four key perspectives:
- Therapeutic. The therapeutic approach addresses psychological difficulties such as anxiety, depression and addiction. It focuses on helping people to relieve the burden of psychological suffering.
- Eudaimonic. In the past 50 years, psychology has broadened its focus from the relief of suffering to a wider interest in the development of human potential and the cultivation of positive emotional and mental states.
- Philosophical. Psyche is committed to a philosophical inquiry into the questions and concepts that underpin psychological wellbeing, such as the nature of the self and consciousness, beliefs and values, and questions of meaning and ethics.
- Poetic. The imaginative, aesthetic and felt aspects of life are intrinsic to human experience and psychological wellbeing. Psyche will explore the role of the arts, ritual and creativity in shifting our perspectives and eliciting a sense of beauty, expansiveness, play and human possibility.
Psyche is committed to:
- Diversity. Psyche will draw on a wide range of practitioners and researchers from different perspectives in the field of psychology (broadly defined) including cognitive-behavioural approaches, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, depth psychology and the existential and humanistic traditions. It will also include thinkers and artists from beyond psychology itself (including philosophers, poets, anthropologists, etc) who share an interest in the puzzles of psychological wellbeing and whose knowledge helps to enrich the insights of the psychological profession and discipline.
- Excellence. Psyche will engage leading practitioners, researchers and thinkers. We aim to avoid superficial and sensationalist approaches, focussing on depth and nuance and on well-founded models and practices. Psyche will build on the existing global networks of thinkers and writers already connected to Aeon.
- Accessibility and communication. Psyche has a strong, democratic commitment to making everything we do available and accessible to as wide an audience as possible, in both the practical and intellectual senses. The translation of complex, nuanced ideas from the world of expertise to a broad, general audience requires a suite of skills and arts of communication and Psyche is committed to fostering these among its experts (whether thinkers or practitioners).
- Knowledge that works. Psyche is committed to communicating well-tested approaches to psychological challenges, including the development of practical skills. The key criterion here is effectiveness, measured by a range of empirical methods, across varied contexts of psychological practice and research.
- The embodied self. Biology and the body play an important role in psychology as does the evolutionary history of human beings. Emotions are deeply tied to the body and to our evolutionary history. The achievement of psychological wellbeing involves working with the body and emotions as well as the analytical mind.
- History and culture. Values, beliefs and identities are not free-floating psychological phenomena but are embedded in and shaped by historical processes and cultural forces. Psyche is committed to bringing sophisticated historical and cultural perspectives to psychological questions in order to enrich and broaden our understanding of them.
- The imagination. Imagination complements the role of analytical reason and is essential for thinking creatively about life’s possibilities. Psyche is interested in the role of play, performance, ritual and the arts as means of activating change and enriching life.
- Ecological thinking. As well as being interested in the many different elements of the self (the imagination, the analytical intellect, the body, etc), Psyche focuses on how the self functions as a complex, dynamic system, in turn embedded in the complex, dynamic systems of society and the wider environment. Simple instruments and understandings are limited in their capacity to capture this complexity, reinforcing the need for multiple tools and approaches.
- Human potential. Psyche is an optimistic venture, grounded in the belief that humans are capable of learning and development. Psyche is committed to providing access to a wide range of knowledge and skills that can help individuals to develop their own potential.
- The frontiers of the mind. Psyche operates in a spirit of openness to the unknown range and depth of the human mind. It is interested in the far reaches of studies of consciousness and in bold experimental methods to understand and harness these possibilities.