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The Mystery of Personal Identity

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Psychology meets astrology in this exploration of that ancient question, “Who am I and what does my life mean?” The author leads readers on a journey beginning with his own...
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Psychology meets astrology in this exploration of that ancient question, “Who am I and what does my life mean?” The author leads readers on a journey beginning with his own forty-night vision quest in the woods alone, to Native American and other ancient and modern traditions of identity formation. The first edition of this book was written between 1973 and 1977 as a doctoral dissertation called, A Holistic Perspective on Meaning and Identity: Astrology as a Language of Personality in Psychotherapy. It won the astrology prize from the Astrological Association of Great Britain for being the most valuable contribution to astrology in 1979. The book was then turned into this popular book, called The Mystery of Personal Identity, now in this updated 2nd edition. The reasons that the book won the world prize are: (1) The book put forth a new theoretical basis for astrology that makes astrology palatable even to sceptics. Instead of proclaiming a scientific relationship between cosmos and personality, it emphasizes astrological metaphor’s ability to transform the meaning of our lives, to awaken wonder and to heal. (2) The book was the first to show how astrological metaphor can function as a tool in depth psychotherapy. (3) The book shows psychotherapists how to use astrological symbols to help a client explore his or her life’s meaning, and shows astrologers how to use psychological methods to deepen astrological counseling. (4) It sets forth an alternative language for psychologists to counter the tendency for the field of psychology to label people with pejorative language; less emphasis has been placed on offering a viable alternative. This book shows that modern psychotherapy’s lost lineage was from an ancient tradition of “name givers,” and how reconnecting with this tradition can revitalize our relationship with the wider whole of which we are a part. This view contributes to the tradition of transpersonal and Jungian psychology regarding the depathologizing of personality descriptions. (5) It re-visions astrology into an astro-poetic language so that the essence of astrology can be used without speaking a word of astrological language.