Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Journeying with Jung 26



Plumbing the Depths:

Freud and Jung are undoubtedly the two greatest proponents of Depth Psychology - a psychology, psychiatry or psychotherapy which sought to explore the depths of the mind layer by layer rather like an archaeologist might the layers on a dig.

Jung was often accused of being very mystical in his approach to psychiatry - interestingly enough he hated this accusation, because like Freud he saw himself as a clinical psychiatrist and analyst and in that respect very much a medical scientist.  However, while he may have dismissed the term 'mystical' as derogatory he certainly had a lot of time for the world of the spirits, for the primitive intuitions of humankind, for the occult and for parapsychology.  To these ends he read widely in areas that one might not think very germane to psychiatry namely the occult, alchemy, ancient religions, mythologies from all the various world cultures and parapsychology as well as a lot of Eastern wisdom from China to India.  He was enthralled by the world of primitive man because he thought it more natural and authentic.  To this extent he railed against the materialisation and reification of life and the absence of mystery and consequently meaning in our lives.  I should like to begin this post with a relevant quotation from the writer D.H. Lawrence:

Superficially, the world has become small and known... There's no mystery left... Yet the more we know, superficially, the less we penetrate vertically.  It's all very well skimming across the surface of the ocean and saying you know all about the sea.  There still remain the terrifying under-deeps, of which we have utterly no experience.  (Quoted Hayman, 256)

If anything Jung's approach to psychotherapy or to depth psychology could be seen as a process of re-kindling the fires of the mystery of the 'under-deeps' in his patients.  Jung describes individuation at this period in his life (1925) as 'the process that brings unconscious material under conscious control.' (Quoted Hayman, 261)  This is in line with Freud who also saw the goal of his psychoanalysis as making the unconscious conscious.

The Inner flames of Lust (my title): 

Once again this year Jung was to encounter attractive women who set his sexual appetite burning.  However, now fifty years old, he stifled the flames of his desire for Christiana Morgan (wife of William Morgan), yet another American visitor and devotee because 'he was scared of damaging both her marriage and his, as well as his daughter, her son and his career.' (ibid., 262)  Another American couple Harry and Josephine Murray also arrived.  Harry was taken aback and shocked with the fact that Emma and Toni lived under the one roof as wife and mistress to CJ.  Jung never failed to attract and influence his followers.  Harry was to write later in life that with CJ  he 'experienced the unconscious, something not to be drawn out of books.'  (Quoted ibid., 262)

Jung Changes his Approach:

Indeed Jung had been a marvellous and sincere listener for much of his young life and certainly when he was a practising psychiatrist at the Burgholzli.  Then he had been eager to learn all he could about the nature of the psyche and had listened patiently in a concentrated manner to all, including schizophrenics.  Now he was less interested in listening to the life experiences of his patients (and way less interested in his own theories of type) - say personal history and problems and far more concerned with listening out for anything that might surface from the collective unconscious.  When patients even so much as started to bring up personal history Jung would cut in with something like: 'Why don't you work with Toni Wolff?  She likes that stuff, and we'll just talk about the collective stuff.'  (Quoted ibid., 264)  Hayman gives the following reason for this change of tack: 'Now, having formed clear-cut ideas about the unconscious, he wanted patients to learn from him.' (Ibid., 263)  In short, then, CJ had now little talent and patience for listening.  He was far more concerned with his ideas and his theories.

Once again Hayman is quite pertinent in the following comments as regards Jung's approach to therapy:

Throughout the first nine years of his career as a doctor, he had more contact with schizophrenics than with neurotics, but after 1909, none of his patients had been incarcerated, and though he maintained that many neurotics were schizophrenics in disguise, this does not resolve the problem of whether he had 'really ceased to be a physician,' Storr points out, as 'Jung was mainly interested in altering his patients' outlook.'  Analytical psychology, Storr concludes, 'is certainly closer to being a religion than it is to being a medical treatment for neurosis.'  Jung might not have liked this formulation, but he said that as a doctor, he encouraged belief in immortality, especially in older patients and took all religions to be 'therapies for the sorrows and disorders of the soul.'  (Ibid., 260)    

Chapter 24: Negotiating with Heaven:

It was now 1926 and Jung was 51 years old.  He was tiring of seeing too many patients and admitted to Frances Wickes, an American analytical psychologist that 'patients eat me.' (Ibid., 271)  I must say I admire this fact in Jung that he too so much time off to work on himself - for his personal health and happiness so that he could achieve a measure of individuation in his own life.  Hayman tells us that he took roughly 17 weeks off work per year - a very long spell for any practising psychiatrist and analyst. Jung was irascible by all accounts and could lose his temper over little enough.  In fact a number of patients credit Toni Wolff with being a far better analyst than CJ himself.

Some insights into therapy:

Jung knew that what mattered most was the confrontation with the patient, what we call today the therapist-patient relationship. 'Faced with the patient,' he said, 'you see at once...that all theorising is absurd.  Everything depends on how you strike the patient as a human being.  In the end the personality is the most powerful therapeutic agent.' (Quoted ibid., 272)

One of the analogies Jung used to describe analysis or therapy or more specifically what we call today the therapist-client relationship was that of director-actor encounter.  Analysing a patient is like directing an actor as nothing can be gained from winning an argument.  What matters is not intellectual conviction but emotional adjustment and the developing transference. 

Jung often addressed the following types of questions to a client: "Who or what has come alive in ______________ (name of place visited) for you?" "Who or what has entered your psychic life and causes disturbances and wants to be heard?  "Is it speaking to you?"  In a letter to an unsettled friend, Jung wrote:

Then switch off your noisy consciousness and listen quietly inwards and look at the images that appear before your inner eye, or listen to the words the muscles of your speech apparatus are trying to form.  Write down what comes next without criticism.  Images should be drawn or painted assiduously, no matter whether you can do it or not.  Once you have got down at least fragments of these contents, you can reflect on them afterwards.  (Quoted ibid., 275)

In this way Jung was training his patients in his technique called "active imagination."  he was in no way encouraging them to become artists - rather he was encouraging them to self-expression or more correctly expression of the Self.  In this way they would encounter all the fragments and splinters of self, i.e., in more technical language all the sub-personalities.  In this way they could aim at their goal - the goal of all therapy, namely personal integration or individuation. 

In June 1926 Jung began analysing the American woman Christiana Morgan once again.  Jung was somewhat overpowered by her and told her that she was a prophet with an important message for the world.  Her visions, he said, were a sacrament containing 'material for the next two or three hundred years.' (Quoted ibid., 277)  Judging from what Jung said a year later we can say that he was less interested in analysing her than in collecting evidence to illustrate his theory about the collective unconscious.  A married woman, Jung encouraged Christiana to have a sexual relationship with Harry Murray whom I have mentioned above at the top of this post.  He informed her that 'sexuality is the sine qua non of spirituality'. (Quoted, ibid., 279)  To Harry, this is what Jung wrote:  Your life is yourself.  Nothing matters but the completion of self.'  (Quoted ibid., 280) A man needs two mothers, and the second must be a 'femme inspiratrice.'  Christiana's function, he said, was to create Harry.

A Further Note on Schizophrenia:

Complexes, he said, had 'a certain willpower, a sort of ego', and that 'in a schizophrenic condition they emancipate themselves from conscious control to such an extent that they become visible and audible.  They appear as visions, they speak in voices which are like the voices of definite people.' (Quoted ibid., 276) 



Above I have uploaded one of my favourite pictures of all time - The Ancient of Days - by William Blake. It depicts God the creator of the universe. You can feel and see the power and force or energy in this famous picture!

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