on 8 January 2008
With scant few exceptions, the Tarot's inherent ability as a powerful and practical tool in the psychotherapeutic realm has gone on relatively unrecognized in the publishing world. Rarer still is a work devoted specifically and solely to this fascinating topic. So the publication of Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility by Arthur Rosengarten, Ph.D. (Paragon House/2000) is an unquestionably notable event. Happily, Dr. Rosengarten has provided us with a work marked by characteristics uncommon in any genre. His always-engaging text sparkles throughout with great humanity, warm humor, and profound depth. Furthermore, impressive research findings and extremely sane argument support his what-might-be-considered controversial use of the Tarot selectively in the therapeutic setting. Tarot and Psychology will be of equal value to the Tarot professional seeking wider horizons in which to assist clients, and the psychotherapist open to new techniques with the same valiant goal. With admirable eloquence, the author's thought-provoking approach reveals the significant and even sacred connection between these superficially-divergent subjects. In the role of Virgil-like guide, Dr. Rosengarten leads the reader on an awe-inspiring journey through the portal between the two and into an underground composed of the psyche, heart, and soul. For those daring enough to accept this challenge, the potential rewards are wondrous indeed. -Michael Orlando Yaccarino, Certified Professional Tarot Reader
on 25 April 2011
Dr. Arthur Rosengarten is a psychologist and tarot reader of many years standing, during which time he has taught many students of both disciplines and written numerous articles. The author's stated intention in writing this book is to make Tarot relevant to "those who desired greater spirituality in their lives, including the benefits of psychological insight and depth, without the baggage of affiliation that invariably accompanies any single set of beliefs" (p.5). His hope is that a clinician such as himself offering an in-depth explanation of the Tarot might tempt other such people to consider seriously the value of Tarot as a therapeutic agent. And finally, to encourage Tarotists etc. to see the benefits of understanding Tarot from a psychologist's perspective, thus opening another area for exploration (see p.6). All of which is summed up much more succinctly by Rosengarten towards the end of his book, "our mission, as stated from the outset, has been to blend the strange bedfellows of Psychology and Tarot, to get them to lie down together, as it were, without competing for the remote control" (p.242). In order to accomplish his intentions, the author has divided the book into three sections. Section One, 'The Tarot of Psychology' examining how, why, when and under what circumstances Tarot can be seen and understood as a tool having psychotherapeutic value. This section includes some mini case studies to illustrate such possibilities. Section Two, 'The Psychology of Tarot', addresses the issues of how, why, when and under what circumstances psychology can enrich the Tarot's contribution towards the healing of the wounds of humanity. This is examined in-depth through an exploration of 'The Fool's Journey' (p.153). The Final Section, titled 'Empirical Studies' is based mainly around the documentation of a research programme to look at whether Tarot really can offer understanding and insight on a par with Psychology with regard to individual/social problems, i.e. use of Tarot as a way of identifying personality types, e.g. abuser/victim. Right from the outset, Rosengarten is at pains to expose the shortcomings of both Tarot and Psychology, positing neither one nor the other as having superior value in terms of the therapeutic possibilities. Likewise, he is also very clear about the positive uses of both disciplines. But the most compelling theme throughout the book has to be the ultimate recognition that both systems and the people they are aimed at helping have many more similarities than differences, and as such, Tarot and Psychology both have a great deal to offer. The author's final paragraph is a quotation from Eliphas Levi - "The Tarot is a monumental and singular work, simple and strong as the architecture of the pyramids, and in consequence as durable. It is a book which is the sum of all sciences and whose infinite permutations are capable of solving all problems; a book which informs by making one think. It is perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the human mind, and certainly one of the most beautiful things handed down by antiquity" (p.246). So, has Dr. Rosengarten delivered on his intention? He has by very erudite means presented compelling evidence that both Tarot and Psychology can indeed work side by side and hand in hand - as can Tarotists and Psychologists if there is a willingness on both sides to do so. On a personal note, I found this book to be very 'meaty' and an enthralling read. Highly recommended.