BAUM FORMS AND THEIR MEANINGS: A CASE STUDY
Logesh Sivapakianathan, Universiti Sains Malaysia
New conceptions of science are continu-ously emerging, particularly in the areas of social sciences. One such development is Hermeneutic Science, introduced by Dr. K. Loganathan and many others which simply means the science of interpreting a text and understanding it correctly, accurately and truly and through that the psychology of a person. Agamic psychology as a branch of Hermeneutic Science, uses products of human activities such as essays, articles, docu-ments i.e TEXTS as such to understand man. A significant contri-bution of Agamic Psychology is the development of the Baum Test as a species of Access Tests. The test uses an individual's drawings of tree bearing fruits as a text to interpret his thoughts and behaviour and thus disclose the unconscious factors shaping his psychology.
The methodology involved is quite simple. The individual is required to draw a tree bearing fruits. The instructions differ slightly as to gener-ate four different types of trees or baums, namely baum A, B, C and D. Baum A and B reveal memories and experiences of the past, while Baum C discloses the present and Baum D projective possibilities that are consequences of the present. Hence the access test discloses the historical under-standing a person has of himself. In general the baums have been classified by Yoshikawa as follows:
The branches grow alternatively and are attached to the trunk. The tree very closely re-sembles a natural one, with the top of the trunk being closed by an apical termination. The branches differentiate further into smaller branches and do not have leaves. The drawn lines appear firm and realistic.
The main features that distinguish this form from others is the presence of an envelope or crown of leaves or blossoms covering the branches and sub-branches. The branches may alternate but they are all within the crown and emerge naturally from the trunk. The edges may be shaded. There may also be more than one cloud like crown around a bunch of branches. Sometimes the edges may appear wavy or formed out of curls. The location of the fruits may be anywhere within the envelope.
The essential feature is that there must be many branches with all the main branches radiating from the top of the trunk, that remains open. The branches grow naturally from the top of the trunk with lines that are realistic.
This form is a representation of a palm tree, such as the coconut tree. It does not have branches or sub-branches, instead thin long leaves emerge in a regular manner from the top of the trunk. The fruits that are located at the top of the trunk are round and large. The trunk is thin and long, tapering slightly and has horizontal strokes spaced regularly on it.
The word 'Musa' in Latin means banana. Thus, this form resembles a banana tree. The tree possesses broad leaves that grow naturally from the top of the trunk. The trunk is thin, tapers very slightly and has vertical lines on it. The unmistakable feature is the banana fruits which always appear in well organised bunches either pointing upward or downward.
Two types of analysis are used as a basis for analysing and interpreting the thoughts of an individual. The global structure analysis views the Baum as a whole, such as the type of form the Baum represents, its overall size and its loca-tion on the paper. The internal structure analysis focuses on the finer details, such as the size or shape of the roots, unusual characteristics, shad-ing, symmetry and archetypal features. Some examples of archetypal features are snake, geo-metrical patterns, ghost, human being and so forth. It is these features that disclose the unconscious factors that govern ones thinking and actions. Dr. K. Loganathan states that amongst the thousands of samples of Baums analysed, it has been found that only Baums C and D reveal archetypal features. To further illustrate how the test is put to use, I describe a case study that involves a student of the University of Science Malaysia whose personal details are as follows.
Name: Anusia (false name)
Course of Study : Geophysics Age: 23 years
1) Is involved in a romantic relationship
2) Is currently extending her studies for an addi-tional semester.
An interview was held with Anusia to verify the interpretations drawn from the access test. Some of Anusia's experiences and feelings have been cited to further substantiate the interpre-tations.
Baum A represents the radial form. It possesses many branches that originate from the main branch. It appears very much like a Rambutan tree and is large in size. It is located in the centre of the paper. The radiating branches imply that Anusia is an intelligent, active and courageous young lady. She is capable of reasoning well and making ratio-nal conclusions. The position of the tree in the centre shows that Anusia'a awareness is not pre--eminently dominated by any of the three types of learning, namely alpha, beta and gamma, the types of learning postulated in Agamic Psychology. The presence of many branches indicate confusion (also indicated by the vertical lines on the trunk)
uncertainty, fickle mindedness, lack of con-centration and lack of capability in completing tasks undertaken. The spikes that appear on the fruit indicate anger. Anusia substantiates this statement by disclosing the fact that she often expressed anger through arguments with her boy-friend regarding the degree of his involvement in a religious organisation.
Another interesting feature of Baum A is the appearance of large and long roots that plunge deep into the soil, as if groping in the dark. This feature indicates that Anusia has been intro-specting and analysing herself. An interview with her disclosed the fact that she often questioned herself about her lack of interest in religious matters.
The absence of a crown on Baum A indicates lack of inner psychological security. Anusia ia a victim of scoliosis, a kind of disease on the shoulder and spine. Her physical condition often drew attention from the public. Thus she depended very much on her father for security and strength to endure the mental stress and feelings of inferiority that society had imposed on her.
The Baum drawn can be classified under the crown form. It does not represent any particu-lar natural tree. It's large in size and its trunk slants slightly to the left. The slight slant of the trunk to the left indicates the presence of the beta type learning whereby one gains an understanding of one's psychical constitution - desires, interests, attitudes, competencies, etc. This feature also indicates that one tends to be withdrawn. Anusia'a main concern before she had decided to extend her studies, was society's perception about her position in this mat-ter. Anusia presumed that everyone had a negative perception about her. This presumption caused much discomfort in Anusia. especially when she interacted with the campus society. Hence, Anusia gradually reduced her interaction with others and soon became reserved or withdrawn.
The main feature in this baum that distinguishes it from Baum A, is the presence of a envelope which indicates self confidence, a feeling of security and calmness. Successive discussions with her boyfriend finally led to a mutual agreement or compromise concerning the degree of involvement of both parties in a religious organisation. The positive outcome of this compromise was a relatively stabile relationship
. Where academic matters were concerned after a lengthy discussion with her aunt, Anusia was convinced that the best option to take would be to extend her studies to the following semester. As she had finally found solutions to her academic and personal problems, she gained more self confi-dence and composure.
On the whole, Baum B denotes personal growth. Anusia supports this statement as follows:
"It was only when I had interacted with the society in campus did I realise I wasn't too conser-vative nor modern in expressing my views. I am moderate in my thinking. This realisation has enlightened me about myself'.
The trunk of this tree is similar in shape to the 'Yantra' in Tantric Psychology. The Baum in general appears as an integration of geometrical figures and belongs to the crown form.
The Baum possesses archetypal features of vari-ous kinds. For, instance, the crown, trunk and branches that appear triangular in shape indicate a keen interest in intellectual matters. Anusia admits that currently she invests most of her time in completing academic tasks and reviewing her les-sons. These triangular form possess sharp peaks. This feature indicates aggression. Anusia admits that recently she had expressed anger and aggres-sion towards those who posed a threat to her rights.
On the whole, the Baum does not appear symmetrical, as the top of the trunk is not posi-tioned in the middle of the crown. The lack of symmetry denotes a lack of balance in character or activity. Presently, her main concern is to complete her studies successfully. Hence a significant amount of time is spent on studies, leaving very little time for other activities.
The inverted tree indicates that Anusia may in future lead a physically active life. The flowers denote happiness; however the arrows that emerge from the trunk denote continued feelings of anger and aggression.
Based on the interpretations of the Baums, an understanding that I have gathered about Anusia's personality is as follows:-
2) Dynamic - strong personality
3) Reflective - constantly introspecting and analysing herself
Thus the Baum Test proves to function as a vital tool in counselling as it aids the counsellor in gathering a comprehensive understanding of an individual. Once a person is enlightened on his actions that may have negative consequences, he would be urged to change for the better.
I am told by Dr. K. Loganathan that the kind of counselling involved here in Hermeneutic Counselling, a form of counselling that is termed Upadesak Kalai in Saiva Siddhanta tradition. We may also note here that the central part of Bagavat Gita also contains elements of this form of counselling.
1. Dr. K. Loganathan, Agamic Psychology and Religious Experience. Saiva Ulagam - 6.
2. Kimio Yoshikawa & K. Loganathan Mutharayan.
Cultural Ecology through Tree Test Tokyo: Tokai University Press, 1985.
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