Joyce was born in Australia and immigrated to the US with her parents as a young girl.  It was the time of the Great Depression and as her family moved several times a year to find work Joyce went from school to school, leaving friends before she could make them, attaching herself instead to her inner world of art and books and story writing.   Joyce eventually became  a professional fine artist, an animator for early cartoon studios in Hollywood (she drew Betty Boop and Popeye),  a dancer interested in all aspects of body movement and somatic expression, and a student of the symbolic aspects of the human psyche as expressed through dreams, images, fantasies, myths, and rituals -- whether personal, cultural or archetypal.

John and Joyce came together from their unstable childhoods with individual inner resources that meshed, over time,  into a synchronous combination of traits, characteristics and interests .  They magnified and enhanced each other's professional and personal creativity.  And they gave each other, through their work in Self-differentiation  and  personal growth education, the extended and enduring community and stable home they had never had. 

After their marriage in Miami, Florida John and Joyce moved to Los Angeles where Joyce began working as an animator and John joined the army and was stationed in India.  After John’s return he began his studies in psychology at UCLA while Joyce continued her animation work.  In 1947 Joyce became pregnant and eventually left her job to pursue motherhood full time.  When John completed his PhD in Psychology at UCLA he was hired by Caltec to “be” the Psych Department.  During his tenure there he began to experiment with T-group training, external business consulting and group development work with National Training Labs in Bethel , Maine.   Each summer the family would travel to Maine for 2 months of early training and study in group process and group dynamics.  Joyce was raising two children during this time as well as  pursuing increasing study in dance and expressive body movement.  Over time these two paths of inquiry converged and John and Joyce began to work together offering individual development training in a group setting combined with  the use of body movement and non-verbal activities to help people contact and explore their internal emotions, images, memories and behavioral motivations.

weirsTheir 35+ years of work together integrated their  personal and professional  attributes  into a unique and powerful educational/experiential seminar in depth self-discovery and the evolving skill of self-management.  They taught that it is possible to increase our awareness of the coherent process of personal self-differentiation and thereby to gain influence over and management of the direction in which we evolve as individuals.  They developed Percept Theory and the use of the accompanying Percept Language as integral tools in the development of self-insight and self-ownership.  They worked with dreams, guided fantasies, inter-actional activities, theories of learning and perception, lectures on the developmental stages of life, and tools that promote the opportunity to explore one's personal history from birth.  

John and Joyce provided a highly focused environment for some of the most effective personal growth opportunities available.  They were also generous teachers, willing to pass on their knowledge and understanding to participants and students alike.  At the end of their professional lives they taught a 3 year training program, with costaff Alexandra Merrill and Wendy Weir, designed to pass on their knowledge and viewpoints to those who would take their work forward into the next iteration of it's expression in the world.    Merrill-Weir Associates consists of an association of individuals from this training program as well as former colleagues of John and Joyce who are offering the next evolution of the Self-Diff experience as it moves forward into a world that necessitates disciplined understanding of self and our impact on others, humanity as a whole, and the living earth upon which we depend.  Nobody can copy the work of John and Joyce Weir nor return to the time in history from which it evolved.  Their unique contribution is an outgrowth of what they each brought to the life-team that they lived embedded in a cultural era that is past.  The essence of their  teachings and a deep understanding of their world views informs our current staff as we move forward in their tradition yet not as their tradition.

Over time Merrill-Weir Associates intends to evolve this History page to include an ongoing exploration of previously unpublished material regarding the theory, practice and essence of the Self-Differentiation seminars, quotes and writings by and about the work of John and Joyce Weir, insights into their thought processes and creative methodology both individually and as a team,  an exploration of their professional alliances, the evolution of their work over time and the theories and insights which led to the development of specific aspects of the seminars, as well as photos, film clips, movies .

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