Who is Paul Golding?
Tragedy seemed to have been necessary to move me forward in life. My first wife died of cancer 33 years ago, and, at that time, I started working with a Jungian analyst. Since then, I have become more and more interested in a psychological view of life, and this has much to do with why I went to Pacifica and what I describe below.
Tell us about Your Work
I am the President and Executive Director of the Santa Fe Boys Educational Foundation. This is an operating foundation which means that most of its funding goes into projects that the foundation itself carries out. Our main effort right now is organizing a conference—The Psychology of Boys at Risk: Indicators from 0-5, in Santa Fe, Nov 5 & 6. As the title indicates, the focus of the conference will be on the early psychological development of boys as seen through bio/evolutionary and longitudinal studies and cultural perspectives. With a variety of great speakers and researchers in various fields related to child development, our goal is to be able to examine the complex elements that exploring this issue of the psychology of boys at risks requires.
How/Why did you get into this line of work?
Even before I started at Pacifica in 2004, I was attracted to what has been referred to as the boy crisis—that is the disproportionate incidence of school failure, psychopathology, and juvenile conduct problems that we see attributed to boys.
What is most rewarding about it; what makes it all worthwhile?
I am most excited by the sense of progress defining the work of the foundation. What has surprised me is that when I express my concern publically at meetings and talks, I have gotten the answers and help that I need to move forward. Especially in the infant mental health area, for example at events associated with the Zero to Three national organization, prominent scholars who are influential in the field have responded to my questions and concerns about boys and have pointed me in directions I need to go. I am actually quite amazed at the path my work has taken since starting the foundation 2 years ago.
What are the most critical problems faced?
The most critical problem has been defining the foundation’s approach to this issue of boys. I am constantly looking for ways to promote the mission of the foundation in a manner that feels good to me and that seems fresh. (The mission of the foundation is to broaden the conversation by supporting public discourse, projects, and research to better understand the unique developmental needs of young males.)
Has there been a defining moment in your life that made you decide to take the direction that you did?
In 2000, William Pollack, the author of Real Boys, spoke in Santa Fe. I was President of Big Brothers Big Sisters at the time and was curious about what, in my “little brother’s” life, might account for his difficulties with school and friends. The lecture did not really give me the answers, but it indicated to me that the issue went far beyond the life of this one child. It was the first time I realized how badly boys collectively were doing. In a sense, I can say that the base of curiosity laid down that evening led to my going to Pacifica, to starting the foundation, and to the conference in November.
If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you, what would be your “dream” achievement?
I would hope that our conference will have been a big success, that the Infant Mental Health Journal special issue on boys at risk, which will publish the papers presented at the conference, will be widely read, and that I continue to do work that feels fresh and vibrant and important thanks to the base of momentum that the conference and journal have established.
How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
I swim everyday and spend a lot of time talking to my wife, Bonnie Ellinger, PhD, who keeps me balanced and on track. Left completely to my own devices, I hesitate to think what might happen!
About Pacifica & You
What brought you to Pacifica?
An attraction to the writings of Jung and his followers and the desire to find a way to apply that interest to a societal problem, which at the time was (and still is) the boy crisis. I thought that Pacifica had the right balance between theory and concern for what was happening in the world outside the classroom.
How has your Pacifica degree served you professionally in your occupation or your vocation?
Most helpful has been the ability to understand the academic research areas that I have come to since graduating, mostly infant mental health and development, and to be able to relate that material back to where my base knowledge has been in depth psychology.
How has your degree served you personally?
Since I went to Pacifica, I have no free time, and I guess that is a good thing. I feel in touch with the world and excited about what I will do in the future.