Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Journeying with Jung 20

Chapter 19:  The Importance of Going Astray

We have all had the experience of going astray and sometimes on that detour we discover things that we did not expect but which are important nonetheless.  Often, then, our going astray is worthwhile in that we learn a lot of new things and indeed gain insight into ourselves.

By 1916 Jung had discovered what he termed the 'transcendent function' which he maintained fused our inner and outer experience, or in other words brought together our conscious and unconscious thinking.  Hayman puts Jung's new insight into psychotherapy or depth psychology thus:

He rejects psychoanalysis and free association in favour of singling out strands of unconscious thinking by lending them voices and by listening to inner voices as if they were people.  (Hayman, 203)

Jung went on to explain his new therapeutic method thus: 'If you can isolate these unconscious phenomena by personifying them, that is a technique that works for stripping them of power.'  (Quoted ibid., 203)


At the Burgholzli Jung had helped those who suffered from schizophrenia by talking to the characters in their delusions.  He now helped himself by talking to characters in his own. Dr Anthony Storr, a fairly recent Jungian therapist and psychiatrist, argues that the concept of integration is central to Jung's thoughts and ideas.  Likewise disintegration or dissociation are psychiatric phenomena encountered in mentally disturbed patients.  The object for both doctor/analyst and patient is re-integration or proper association of sundered parts of the psyche.  Murray Stein, commenting on Jungian therapy, underlined the fact that in healing himself and others, the founder of Analytical Psychology arrived at re-integration or individuation by going through a three-phased process: (i) defending one's self from the persecutory inner object by use of paranoid thoughts and fantasies - the function of which is to place the object 'out there' - that is, a denial that the object is part of one's psyche, (ii) period of relief and restoration - quiet after denial and finally (iii) the attempt to integrate or re-integrate the good and bad sides of the self.  Jung used to paint mandalas when he arrived at this third phase in the process.  (See ibid., 204)

In schizophrenia, Jung argued, the unconscious usurps the reality function, substituting its own reality

Jung vs Freud on Interpreting Dreams:

Jung criticised heavily the 'reductive' analysis of Freud with respect to dreams.  The Freudian analyst, said Jung reduced say certain dream objects, say a sword to a phallus, and did not allow for that image to have a more specific personal association for the patient.  Jung would see the 'sword' in a far wider context than just the sexual - it was not alone part of her own heritage but of the heritage of the whole community.  Jung stressed that his analysis was far more 'constructive' insofar as it can release unconscious fantasies through personal and cultural associations.  As Hayman points out in this wonderfully rich book, the founder of Analytical Psychology argues 'in his theories of archetypes and the collective unconscious...that the psyche exists outside place and time.' (Ibid., 204)

Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious:

I'll quote Hayman in full here as he is crystal clear:

His differentiation between and collective unconscious in clearer in 'The Role of the Unconscious', an article he wrote in 1918 for the monthly review Schweizerland.  While the personal unconscious contains material that has been repressed and forgotten, the contents of the collective unconscious come from the inherited brain structure.  Though no ideas are inherited, the unconscious is 'above the world of the past, which is activated by the one-sidedness of the conscious attitude.'  When the conscious mind becomes unbalanced, the unconscious tries to reassert the needs that are being ignored.  (Ibid., 208)

All the gods are inside us:

The great writer Hermann Hesse, through Dr Josef Lang, an analyst who had trained under Jung, had been very much influenced by the thought and therapy of the founder of Analytical Psychology.  In Hesse's novel Demian we read the following which is pure Jungian thought:

What constitutes each one of us is the whole contents of the world, and just as our bodies carry in them all the stages of existence, back to the fish and still further, we have in our souls everything that ever lived in the human soul.  All the gods and devils there have ever been, whether for the Chinese or the Greeks or the Zulus, they are all inside us a possibilities, as desires, as outlets. (Quoted, ibid., 211)

The Mandala as Healing Whole and Circular Unity:

From, during, and for his life after his breakdown or breakthrough, Jung made many sketches in his many notebooks.  These sketches practically always took the form of circles and circular patterns.  He believed that they represented the restoration of inner peace and harmony of the self.  He called these circular patterns by their Sanskrit  word mandala (circle).  The circular form had always appealed to him, and he found it soothing and indeed healing to go on drawing these circles and stated that in them 'the seething confusion is protectively encircled.' (Quoted ibid., 212)

By 1918 there occurred the final and complete rift with both Freud and Sabina, who had recently been one of Freud's patients and had taken to practising psychoanalysis along Freudian lines, having dismissed Jung's methods as less effective.  In his last letter to Sabina, written in the third person, he admitted to her that 'occasionally one must go astray, simply in order to survive.'  His obsessive relationship was now finally buried, consigned to a straying away from his spiritual path.

Above I have uploaded a piece of art called Cavallo from a sequence of pieces of art called Archeologia dell' Anima by the wonderful contemporary artist Livia Alessandrini whose work may be viewed here at her own site: Livia Alessandrini

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