Home Concepts Schools of Coaching Appreciative Multiple Perspectives and Multiple Truths: Challenges and Opportunities for Professional Coaches

Multiple Perspectives and Multiple Truths: Challenges and Opportunities for Professional Coaches

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In this essay, I wish to build on a utopian proposal offered by the philosopher, Richard Rorty (1989), and relate it to the psyche being described by the psychoanalyst, Carl Jung (1979). Along with Rorty, I propose that the condition of irony (within Jung’s psyche) is one in which we must recognize and appreciate multiple perspectives, multiple truths and multiple narratives within our own psyche. I further propose that as professional coaches we can assist our clients in becoming more appreciative of Rorty’s “unfamiliar sorts of people” and the unfamiliar thoughts and “truths” that accompany these people. It seems that “unfamiliar” others increasingly populate the global environment in which we live and work.

Engaging the Wisdom of Carl Jung and Richard Rorty

The work of Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychoanalyst, is littered with dichotomies. Everything in the human psyche seems to have a counter-weight (or more accurately a counter-energy) that offsets or at least modifies the dominance of any one element of our psyche. The conscious element of the psyche is balanced off by the unconscious. The persona is balanced off by the shadow, the anima force by the animus force, sensation by intuition, thinking by feeling, the personal unconscious by the collective unconscious. In many ways, Jung’s psyche is like an accountant’s ledger: everything balances out in the end.

There is much more involved, of course, in Jung’s psyche. It is dynamic and ever-changing unlike the accountant’s ledger. While Freud’s psyche often resembles an archeological site, with layers of unconscious material remaining undiscovered until it is carefully unearthed with the help of the expert archeologist/therapist, the various elements in Jung’s psyche are moving back and forth between consciousness and unconsciousness. So-called unconscious elements are manifest in daily life when we “slip up,” are “caught off guard” or find ourselves infatuated, frustrated, angry or hopeful for a moment. These elements are also displayed publicly in works of art, religious symbols and rituals, and in various temporary systems (Miles, 1964) and sanctuaries (e.g. festivals, taverns, theatrical events, television and movies, Internet games).

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