Friday, October 31, 2008

Journeying with Jung 28



In his splendid book Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science (Cambridge University Press, 2003), Sonu Shamdasani, a major modern historian of psychology at University College London (UCL), begins his learned book with a prologue entitled "The most accursed dilettante" which is a quotation from Jung referring to the fact that he was criticised for reading so widely and embracing so many fields of study to help him in his own specialty namely psychiatry, or more specifically analytical psychology.   Jung has been called at one time or another - Occultist, Scientist, Prophet, Charlatan, Philosopher, Racist, Guru, Anti-Semite, Liberator of Women, Misogynist, Freudian Apostate, Gnostic, Post-Modernist, polygamist, Healer, Poet, Con-Artist, Psychiatrist and Anti-Psychiatrist.  These comments will only be made by people who have read little of his major Works, or at least have not attempted to digest their collective intent.  Admittedly, this is no mean task and requires much attention and not a little concentration.  However, such concentrated work is well worth doing.  Also, we are indebted to scholars, better acquainted with Jung's oeuvre, who have done the work for us.   Shamdasani manages, as does Hayman, to situate Jung in his historical context and in helping to dispel the widespread misunderstanding that has surrounded the personage and indeed influence of Jung in Western intellectual history.  That both these erudite authors manage to do so is worthy of no little praise.

Today's comments in this blog refer yet again to material from Chapter 25 (entitled His Magic Wand)  which I was unable to cover in my last post. 

Active Imagination:

This technique in therapy is much associated with Jung and I wish to  discuss it in more detail here.  I also wish to return to Hayman who in his usual clarity says:

Though he was making regular use of active imagination, he mentioned it only briefly or cryptically in published writings.  Marie-Louise von Franz regarded it as 'the most powerful tool in Jungian psychology,' and attributed his refusal to publish 'The Transcendent Function' or whatever else he wrote about active imagination to awareness of 'how far removed these documents were from the collective, conscious view of his time.' (Hayman, 287)

The quoted essay called The Transcendent Function was written in 1916 and it was not published until 1957 for the above mentioned reason.  In the technique of active imagination Jung encourages his patients to make drawings or paintings of figures who appeared in their fantasies and then to ask these figures, as it were, a whole battery of questions.  In this way, the patient,with the help of the analyst, strives to understand those images and eventually how to incorporate them into their lives.  In this sense Jung believed that there were answers inside each of us and if we were not afraid of them we could find them through this work of active imagination.  For him, it was a matter of 'letting the unconscious come up.' (Hayman, 193)

Jung's reluctance to publish was associated, then, with the fact that in the summer of 1914 he had started applying spiritualistic ideas to clinical practice.  His patients were taught how to make contact with their internal god (or gods since he much later came to realise that there were a plurality of them within the psyche)through active imagination, 'a technique he had developed out of his conversations with figures in his fantasies, and indirectly out of his experiences with Helly.' (see ibid., 191)

In all of this Jung took inspiration from everywhere.  The dilettante knew no borders to his quest for knowledge and wisdom and unity of vision.  This I admire deeply in Jung.  He knew the I Ching, the ancient Chinese text off by heart and impressed  Joland Jacobi in 1928 by writing out all sixty-four hexagrams from memory.  Jung told her of the 'flight back to the primitive' and stated that the primitives were better than we are at releasing the powers that lie dormant in every human being.  A hidden artist 'slumbers in every man,' he said, 'Give him a chance to bring to light the pictures he carries unpainted within himself, to free the unwritten poems he has shut up inside him, and yet another source of psychic disturbances is removed.'  (Quoted ibid., 293)

The Gold Within:

Jung, following his in depth studies of alchemy began to believe that the 'real' gold was within us.  He said in a lecture in 1935 in London:

If the possession of that gold is realised, then the centre of gravity is in the individual and no longer in an object on which he depends.  To reach such a condition of detachment is the aim of Eastern practices, and it is also the aim of all the teachings of the Church.  (Quoted ibid., 289)

He later said, in a comment to Harry Murray (now a retired psychology professor of the University of Ontario):  'Your life is yourself.  Nothing matters but the completion of the self.' (Quoted., ibid., 289)

Jung on Dreams:

There is a brief insight into Jung's philosophy of working with dreams.  He is reported by Hayman as saying that he treats every dream like a text, say a Latin, a Greek or a Sanskrit text and then he tries to translate it as it were.  He describes his methods of interpretation as akin to those of a philologist working on an ancient manuscript.  'My idea is that the dream does not conceal; we simply do not understand its language.' (Quoted ibid., 289)  Jung invited his patients to write out their dreams, illustrate them anyway they wished - drawings, sketches, mandalas etc.

Once again Jung appealed to the 'whole' nature of the psyche.  In this he quoted his obsession with the interplay of opposites which I have dealt with in detail in the last post.  The polite business man, the cleric, the teacher, the painter and decorator, the carpenter or the surgeon or journalist will achieve wholeness only if he or she will recognise the primate ape within themselves - even if those dreams are replete with violence, rape, murder etc.  One woman patient spoke of 'man's experience of the opposites, of woman as the Yin principle, of Evil, of Eve, of spirit and flesh, and I saw it as a man describes it, as I had often seen it before from woman's side.  I felt in easy and true rapport with Dr Jung, a great man who had wrestled with his own soul and stood before the opposites till they met in him...I felt...the Yin going over to comprehend the Yang...' (Quoted ibid., 291)

Patients' Views of Jung:

These Hayman reports as being somewhat of a mixed variety.  Some patients were frustrated by his lack of interest in their childhood and personal relationships while others were greatly helped by the transference he encouraged and by the impression that he had magical powers.  In other words, here we have the guru idea that persists even today with respect to the founder of Analytical Psychology.  One patient had a dream in which Jung had liberated her from captivity in a great rock by touching it with his magic wand.  Hence the title of this chapter.

Jung's form of Analysis:

This chapter ends with Jung's account of what he says is the basic form of his analysis or therapy viz., (i) Confession.  This is where secrets or repressed emotions (similar to sins) need to be confessed.  Once confessed the patient can regain his or her wholeness and become independent of the doctor.  (ii) Elucidation.  This is where transference must be explained - it is in the form of a fixation. (iii) Education.  This involves the patient being drawn out of herself to attain normal adaptation.  Then there is finally (iv) Transformation where the doctor himself changes, resulting from 'the counter-application to him of whatever system is believed in...' (Quoted ibid., 296)  Jung even went so far as to describe Analytical Psychology  as 'embracing both psychoanalysis and [Adler's] individual psychology as well as other endeavours in the field of "complex psychology" ' (Quoted ibid., 296-7)

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