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Psychology : African Dimensions


Dr Edward Bruce Bynum


Recent discoveries in Anthropology and Genetics have combined with human experience to cast our understanding of dreams and family life in a new context. The fact that all humans dream and that most live a significant portion of their lives in some dimension of emotionally meaningful family consciousness is woven into an unfolding field of interconnected relationships called "the Family Unconscious. "Dream life and family psychodynamics enfold each other over time and generations, with powerful implications for symptom choice and defensive style. It is an Africanist notion in that family consciousness is understood to enfold not only the present generation and its psychoenergetic matrix of images and ideas, but also "time flows" incorporate several generations in the past and one generation in the future. Modern neuroscience and quantum relativistic physics are perfectly at home with this Afrocentric paradigm of Personalism which must be taken to be at the very heart of science.

About this time in the last century in the 1890's a group of scientists, philosophers and physicians brought together biology, certain trends in Jewish mysticism and then current models in physics. The result was psychoanalysis, which revolutionized 20th century thought and cast a long shadow over psychology. That creation was about the rediscovery of the unconscious mind. We are in a similar situation with respect to quantum-relativistic physics, neuroscience, African Personalism and evolutionary neurobiology. This new perspective allows us to view the history of dream interpretation and its psychosomatic implications from Africa and elsewhere in a wider context. It documents that the workings of the dynamic consciousness on dreams and symptoms production were known to the Kemetic Egyptians of 3000BCE and that they consciously employed it in their clinical and religious work.They referred to it as the all Black Underworld of the Amenta and the Primeval Waters of Nun . They literally invented biological psychiatry and were aware of the dynamics of the neuromelanin nerve tract and light Later, some West African civilizations, especially the Yoruba, formalized a variant of the dynamic unconscious in philosophy and medicine, centuries before Freud.

This is a modified version of an earlier paper published in Psych Discourse, July 1994. vol.25. no.7.

Dr Bynum is the Director of Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Health Services, Amherst

Contact Dr Bynum for more information at "ebbynum@uhs.umass.edu"


Edward Bruce Bynum,Transcending Psychoneurotic Disturbances: New Approaches in Psychospirituality and Personality Development, 1993

Edward Bruce Bynum, Families and the Interpretation of Dreams: Awakening the Intimate Web, 1993.

Edward Bruce Bynum, The African Unconscious: Roots of Modern Psychology and Ancient Mysticism, Columbia University (Teachers College Press,1999)


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