Schneider, A: Archetypal Perspective Anti-Homeless Architecture


Adam Schneider


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This paper argues that anti-homeless, or hostile, architecture—for example: sidewalk spikes placed on the border of buildings; public benches that are sloped so that a body, if sleeping, would slide onto the ground; artificially rocky pavements; sprinklers that randomly start despite there being nothing to water—is a concrete example of the repression of beauty that archetypal psychologist James Hillman (1926-2011) insists requires a reawakened aesthetic response. Not only is such design a consequence of the depersonification of our environment but consequently depersonalizes the people who inhabit these spaces. The very result architects are hoping to achieve through these designs – people avoiding these spaces because of bodily discomfort – is how we recognize such designs as distortions of beauty.

Hillman also argues that the aesthetic response must come from people practicing in the field of psychology. Too often the struggles of the homeless are located inside their minds instead of the sickness of the spaces around them. While the anti-homeless architecture intends to rid our neighborhoods of their presence, we need the homeless for the messages their presence communicates about the ugliness of our structures and souls. Hillman is arguing for a foundational perspective that needs to be enacted which can and should change the way we diagnose and treat. Thus, the practice of psychology is inherently political. Hillman directs the field of psychology to dismantle its narcissism to recover its aesthetic response. Doing so enables practitioners to aid those most impacted by the ugliness of anti-homeless architecture to bring their experience to bear on the larger manipulations at work around them.

Presenter Bio:

Adam Schneider is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has worked in residential treatment, wraparound care, and outpatient settings. He is currently completing his internship at state psychiatric hospital. His dissertation research explores psychologists’ experiences treating psychosis in inpatient settings.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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