Monday, March 07, 2011

Where is the Soul 3?


Not a pint of Guinness - it's Smithwick's actually
Toxic.  Now, there is a word that is used quite often these days, and, my goodness, it is all too appropriate, given the damage wrought on the Irish nation by reckless bankers, speculators, and dare I say it, equally reckless politicians.  I heard a young former student of mine, who is (and perhaps "was" could now be a more appropriate verb) a member of Ógra Fianna Fáil - the Youth Organization attached to the Fianna Fáil party, remarking that the brand had become toxic.  Indeed, it seems that everything Fianna Fáil touched and touches is turned into something vile and repulsive.  That toxic brand now has a Reverse Midas Touch that transforms absolutely everything it comes in contact with into the basest of metals.

In this interesting book, We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World's getting Worse (Harper San Francisco,1992), Hillman and Ventura argue that the world around us is toxic, and, indeed, it is so from the mess we have made of it.

Finding the Soul: other Critical Points:

  • While acknowledging the importance of nurturing or parenting one's inner child, Hillman argues strongly that we have overdone this particular archetype as we need support from the many other archetypes, too, as well as from outside forces like those of others and indeed nature itself.  He believes that contemporary culture has emphasized this archetype so much that it has made it into a myth.  In other words, this is a direct criticism of Freud and his followers.
  • The myths we believe in or are in the middle of, Hillman argues, we call them "fact," "reality" and "science." (Op. cit., p. 18)
  • At this stage, Hillman refers to his theory of the acorn or daimon or whatever native genius or destiny is naturally in a person.  See the following link for my account of his theory of the acorn.  In this theory everyone has an inner power or destiny, written in one's very genes.
  • Adlerian psychology argues, among many other things, that one takes one's deficiency, one's inferiority and one converts it into superiority.  (That's what Hitler did!)
  • Hillman's theory is very Platonic, arguing that destiny or "some great thing is inside" one (Ibid., p. 18).  I like his strong language in the following quotation (Remember that the first chapter of this book is a direct transcript of a conversation!):  "Instead of reading your life today as the result of fuck-ups as a child, you read your childhood as a miniature example of your life - and recognize that you don't really know your whole life until you're about eighty - and then you're too old to get it in focus, or even care to!"
  • It's hard to change some of our myths or theories into which we are locked, quite simply because we have built up a veritable industry around them! (Passim)
  • There are many people in us, many characters - me as child, boy, teenager, adult, middle-aged man, older man and old man and these all inhabit my soul!  Michelangelo called these the images in our heart.
  • Hillman on illnesses: "Your illnesses are partly ways of developing the older people.  They're the ways of developing the knowledge of your own body.  The illnesses tell you tremendous things about what you can eat and when you can eat it, what goes on with your bowels, what goes on with your balls, what goes on woith your skin.  The illnesses are your teachers, especially about aging.  devaluing the illnesses and suppressing them removes you from these figures.  We insult the inner people by what we do with our weaknesses."  (Ibid., p. 23)
  • Hillman sees developmental psychology with its over-emphasis on the child in us as being a myth of development - a one-sided one at that.  (see ibid., p. 25).
  • Over-emphasizing abuse: "The fact that everyone is upset about the child is exactly the point I made before, that the archetype of the child dominates our culture's therapeutic thinking.  Maintaining that abuse ids the most important thing in our culture, that our nation is going to the dogs because of abuse, or that it's the root of why we exploit and victimize the earth, as some are saying, that is the viewpoint of the child."  (Ibid., p. 25)
  • One can too easily become a victim to our past bad memories.  (See ibid., p. 26)
  • Therapy confuses the importance of the event with the importance of me!  (See ibid., p. 27)
  • On memory:  Hillman argues that we are not conscious most of the time that we are telling stories.  (Christ, think of all the horrible stories people told and still tell from the testimonies against the Salem witches to the lies the Nazis promulgated about the Jews and so on and so forth!).  He then quotes Freud to back him up here.  The founder of psychoanalysis said that "It's how you remember, not what actually happened."  In other words that is to say that the memory actually creates the trauma! (Again, see ibid., p. 27)
  • Hillman goes on to discuss the importance and power of stories, a topic with which I shall begin my next post.
To be continued

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