U is for… Unity

The Psychologist A to Z continues.

In his March 2018 interview, social psychologist Paul Stenner cited the German poet Rilke, who wrote about a life of ever-widening circles: ‘he was conveying a kind of optimism about such “worlds”, our spheres of activity which are bound together into one big circle that gives our life as a whole a kind of unity… as we get older, the limits of our “world” come to expand, qualitatively as well as quantitatively.’ 

In his 2011 ‘One on one’, Adrian Furnham highlighted the challenges of ‘coherence and unity’, saying that: ‘The tectonic plates seem to be moving and the archipelago of psychology drifting further apart. The first inaugural lecture I read was a man who in 1950 said he would probably be the last Professor of Psychology because all the signs were that the different parts would dissociate themselves from each other.’ Is our discipline just about managing to hold together? (We like to think The Psychologist has a part to play in that.)

Some astronauts and cosmonauts have reported transcendental experiences, religious insights, or a better sense of the unity of mankind as a result of viewing the Earth below and the cosmos beyond. Nick Kanas wrote about this in his October 2015 article.

Epic adventures in wilderness can spark a sense of unity: see ‘Psychology at the end of the world’ on our Research Digest (tinyurl.com/yamrkmqk).

Tweet your suggestions for any letter to @psychmag using the hashtag #PsychAtoZ or email the editor on [email protected]

- Our Psychologist A to Z so far is collected here.

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