Jung and Spielrein

A Woman Shall Lead Them: The Feminine in “A Dangerous Method”


And a Woman Shall Lead Them

The Feminine in A Dangerous Method

By Len Cruz, MD

A Dangerous Method is one of the best psychological film portrayals of the feminine I have seen in a very long time.  Knowing many of the historical elements that director David Cronenberg smoothly wove together in a 95 minute film helped me look past the two Titans of 20th century psychology and delight in the figure who was for me the main character, Sabina Spielrein.

I am looking forward to the conference (webinar) led by Dan Ross that is scheduled for February 8th.  For registration information visit http://ashevillejungcenter.org/webinars/february-discovering-psychotherapy-dangerous-method/register/  

The arc that transports Sabina Spielrein from wounded virgin delivered forcibly to the Burghölzli by uniformed Russian guards to the pregnant Hectate (in all her chthonic, celestial, and maritime glory) sitting on a bench by the fragile Jung, fresh from his break with Freud, depicts so many facets of the feminine that a list may do them justice.


Ravaged Virgin


When Sabina arrives at the Burghölzli we discover that the harsh, brutal corporal punishment her father administered had awakened something.  The early studies on hysteria posited that sexual abuse and unacknowledged sexual desire was akin to Lethe, the subterranean river that flowed around the cave of Hypnos from which all who drank experienced complete forgetfulness.  Sabina’s character is extraordinary in her capacity to first remember, the first achievement of the talking cure and then press on to a healthy integration of the sexual pleasure she first experienced at her father’s hand.  Sabina starts out as a ravaged virgin and this image is re-presented in the scene of Jung’s first sexual intercourse with her.  But even as she lifts the bloodied sheet and the camera draws back we do not observe a young woman ravaged by her father figure.  Instead we are witness to a woman who has taken another step in claiming her full, individuated capacities.  It evoked a sense of baptism and Jung the man was an instrument of this baptism into womanhood.




Sabina is also portrayed as a vulnerable waif who cautiously places her trust in Jung.  Jung is looking for someone on whom to try his hand at this new talking cure.  Rather quickly, Sabina displays her perspicacity in a scene in which Jung is conducting his word association experiment with a pregnant woman whose ambivalence is evident.  When she asks if the woman was Jung’s wife (she is), we observe the native gifts and talents that will mature into an analyst whose influence has never been properly acclaimed.

Divine Daughter/Vestal Virgin


Spielrein matures fairly quickly during the film.  She is well into her medical career and displaying uncanny abilities in the infant field of psychiatry.  Like the Vestal Virgins of Rome, she has respected a chastity that has allowed her to learn the rituals of the psychoanalytic state.  And like the Vestal Virgins, she keeps the sacred fires of eros burning in Jung.


There is scene in which Sabina initiates a kiss.  Sabina and Jung are discussing her ideas concerning creative destruction and the inherent clash of opposites from which arises something new and creative.  Jung admonishes her for being the aggressor.


Jung “It’s generally thought to be the man who should take the initiative.”


Sabina “Don’t you think there is something male in every woman and something female in every man, or should be?.”


What is so striking in this scene is the intimation of many foundational ideas of analytical psychology: transcendent function, conjuctio mysterium, anima, and animus.  The scene also suggest the possibility that one woman, shuttered away and later shot by the Nazis, might have been a fount for Jung and later Freud whose concepts of Thanatos may owe a tremendous debt to Sabina according to Cronenberg’s portrayal.


A Completing Woman


Sabina reaches the completion of her training, she presents a paper titled “Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being.”  Astoundingly original ideas were contained in this article made me wonder if another unnamed giant from Vienna may have been inspired by Sabina.  Joseph Schumpeter, the famous mathematical economist credited with popularizing the idea of creative destruction introduced ideas that sound like spin-offs of Spielrein’s ideas.  This concept of creative destruction still enjoys considerable cache as evidenced in its frequent appearance in the Republican Presidential Debates in America concerning Mitt Romney’s time at the venture capital firm, Bain Capital.  When others have accused him of shuttering American companies in which Bain Capital invested, he defends himself with Schumpeter’s (or should I now say Spielrein’s) ideas of creative destruction.  that has recently found its way into the United States’s political discourse concerning Mitt Romney’s venture capital dealings that shuttered certain companies.


Wrathful Feminine (The Furies, Hera, Athena, Kali)


There is a tense period in the film when it appears that Spielrein intends to cause Jung’s destruction.  It turns out that Jung has unleashed more than one fury when he discovers that the anonymous letters Freud received about his indiscretions with Spielrein were not authored by his mistress but by his wife Emma who apparently write to Spielrein’s mother and perhaps others in Vienna.  Spielrein does strike out and cut Jung’s face, but her temperance dignifies her even more and begins to establish the strength of this character in the film.  I cite the Erinyes (Furies), because Spielrein appears to threaten to unleash a severe vengence upon Jung and the whole psychoanalytic movement.  Recall that the infernal goddesses were chthonic deities whose vengence was unleashed upon those who swear a false oath.  How fitting that this figure of the feminine should menace the great pioneers of depth psychology.  I call upon Hera for the wrath she displayed whenever she discovers Zeus’ infidelities.  How like Hera Spielrein desires to be and Emma appears to be.  I invoke the image of Athena because of her fiery warrior eruption from the head of Zeus.  Spielrein, like Athena, comes to life within the container of Jung’s intellectual interests but must emerge fully formed by breaking out that same container.  Is there a woman who strives in the patriarchal realms who cannot identify with the goddess of just warfare?  Athena had no consorts and is also called Athena Parthenos.  Towards the end of the film, when pregnant Spielrein reappears with barely the mention of a husband, Athena Parthenos, somehow comes through as having had no consort.   This woman’s fertility has transcended the need for the man’s sperm.




There is gentleness in Spielrein’s attentions to Jung.  At the various stages depicted in her own evolution, she demands almost nothing, apart from a similar degree of care and regard.  She tells Jung when he insists they end their sexual relationship because she asked too much, “I never asked for more…”  The movie’s portrayal of Spielrein’s demand that Jung disclose the truth to Freud so that she may undergo analysis with him, is at once forgiving, firm, and self-assured.  For a brief instant, Freud is depicted as redeeming Jung’s mistakes until he reminds Spielrein that they are both Jews and will always be Jews.  Spielrein understands the powerful and nuanced destructive forces being acted out between Jung and Freud better than either of them do.  Yet she seems capable of holding them both with the gentle forgiving qualities that the feminine sometimes exudes that can heal the deepest wounds in a man’s soul.  It is in these scenes that Spielrein’s dignity and force of character was most apparent to me.


The Miller’s Daughter (The Rumpelstilskin Story)


Something about the development of Spielrein’s character left a deep impression of what the individuated woman is like.   A Dangerous Method’s portrayal of is a woman who has secured, through hard fought struggle, a formula for making inner gold from the base metals of her life experience.  This film’s Sabina Spielrein is a stark contrast to the miller’s daughter from the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale.  That miller’s daughter had to reply on the impish Rumpelstiltskin to spin gold for her.  Rumpelstilskin we recall deliver’s the miller’s daughter from her plight on condition that he can take possession of the girl’s first born child.  In the final scenes of the movie, Jung shares a great deal in common with Rumpelstiltskin.  He is seen sitting on a bench, overtaken by deep melancholy when he declares that Spierlein’s baby should have been his; she agrees.  Like Rumpelstiltskin, Jung comes across as an incomplete, broken, maybe deformed man who covets the fecundity he sees before him.  But Speirlein, unlike the miller’s daughter, has a connection to her animus.  She has learned to spin gold without relying on a covetous or undeveloped man.  (See Robert Johnson’s Inner Gold for a concise rendering of alchemical gold).  When she confirms that Jung has moved on to another mistress, Toni Wolff, the viewer is left with the impression that Jung has progressed very little yet.  He has hardly remembered, he has repeated, and he has yet to work through his struggle with monogamy and sexual license.




There is one more facet of the feminine that comes to full fruition in the final scenes at Lake Zürich. Emma and Sabina seem to understand one another now and they both have a wisdom about Jung.  It seems that in the course of a man’s development, in those early years when he severs the connection to his interior feminine, he also loses the connection he might have had to Sophia.  If such a man is fortunate to encounter a woman possessed of sufficient Sophia and she elects to share herself with him, the ability to rekindle the relationship with his anima is likely to quickened.  Jung may have had the blessing of at least three women who imparted to him Sophia.  In the case of Emma, she also gave him his beloved home at 228 Seestrasse in Künsnacht.   Perhaps, Spielrein, in addition to Sophia, gave Jung a container in which he burst onto the scene of psychoanalysis and also delivered him beyond it to the place he was destined to go.  And Toni Wolff, apart from Sophia, may have furnished a vessel for his completion.


A Woman Shall Lead Them; The rest is silence.

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Broad National Release this Friday for “A Dangerous Method”

The long awaited Hollywood film about Carl Jung titled “A Dangerous Method” is scheduled to enter broad release across the nation this Friday, January 27, 2012.

The Asheville Jung Center will be hosting 2 seminars on it; a 2 hour webinar on February 8th and a 3 hour Zurich based seminar on March 8th.  Do try to see the film prior to our seminars on it.  Click here for more information on our first seminar.


For those of you who live in the Asheville area, join us at the Carolina Cinemas on opening night to view and discuss this important movie.   Many of us will be going to the 7:50 pm showing on Friday, January 26, 2012.

The Carolina Asheville, 1640 Hendersonville Rd. Asheville, NC 28803. www.carolinacinemas.com



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A Dangerous Method

A  Dangerous Method, a film by David Cronenberg based on the script by Christopher Hampton is exciting from its very first scene in which Keira Knightley portrays the disturbed young Sabina Spielrein.  Then over time as her healing begins and the secrets of her sexual perversions are brought to the light of consciousness, she begins to heal and turns her attention to her savior who she falls in love with, Carl Jung played by Michael Fassbinder.  Jung treats her as a colleague and this too gives Spielrein hope and guidance as she begins a career in medicine and psychiatry.  In the middle of this love affair Jung and Freud, played by Viggo Mortensen, do battle over the direction of the neophyte psychoanalytic movement and Spielrein gets in the middle. This  new film by Cronenberg, after his recent successful films “A History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises”, explores the relationships between four people, five if you include Jung’s wife Emma who struggles with her husband’s sexual relationship with Sabina Spielrein. There is an oppressiveness felt in this film, in its female characters and their orbit around their men, of a patriarchy whose women are its victims and Spielrein the dramatic response to that oppression.  After Jung sees success with his new methods with Spielrein he begins a relationship with Freud first by letter and eventually meeting him a year later in Vienna where the famous 13 hour conversation takes place.  This successful case is brought to Freud’s attention by Jung early on in their writings though Freud is not told the identity of the patient. It was as if Spielrein is Jung’s trophy which he brings to lay at Freud’s feet.  So begins this relationship trinity with roles from which each will eventually struggle to disengage but will take the form of a serious and irreparable betrayal.  Otto Gross (played by Vincent Cassel), a patient of Jung, plays the role of Mephistopheles in the story by telling Jung he should, “…repress nothing” and Jung believes him.  Freud plays a bit of a role in this Faustian shadow by virtue of referring Gross to Jung.   Spielrein then completes the drama as Gretchen, the spoiled virgin whose life is destroyed by Jung/Faust.  But Spielrein does manage to break free and goes on to become a successful psychiatrist and analyst in her own right and eventually moves back to Russia to raise her family and focus her practice on the psychoanalytic treatment of children, a field she began.  In fact, she was the analyst to Jean Piaget, the great child psychologist of the 20th century. Cronenberg intended to shock us in this film perhaps because the beginnings of what was to become called psychoanalysis provides such fertile ground for the shocking and irreverent in contrast with the image of an analyst sitting quietly with a patient, just talking. There is much mystery to the lay person of what goes on behind those closed doors.  Perhaps the mystery will draw people to the theater but what they are likely to find is a well researched depiction of a story not well known of a few people who were instrumental in getting psychoanalysis off the ground and perhaps nearly crashing it to the ground as well.  Jung tries out this new form of treatment on his young female patient. He has been reading about psychoanalysis  from Freud’s works.  This story, at its very origins, is wrought with a political landscape made up of ambitious men and women and sex scandals, even with some S & M thrown in.  In fact, with the upcoming elections it seems the perfect time for psychoanalysis to pull out its own dirty laundry.  But is that not where we begin, in the dirt, to find the gold as the alchemists taught us.  The S & M by the way is a bit of poetic license for which there is no evidence in any of the documents that have survived that era.  The sexual component of the relationship between Jung and Spierein was never explicitly mentioned in the Spielrein letters though one can deduce as much. The film is also about ideas, new ways of thinking about human behavior and the structure of the psyche.  There is an excitement around the possibilities of this new thinking, this new approach to understanding man.   Kerr’s premise, as depicted in the film, was that the ideas that would evolve in Jung’s work originated in his relationship with Spielrein and the dialogue bears this out. Spielrein suggests that in each of us exists both man and woman. Jung contemplates this and is intrigued by the idea.  Later she discusses the archetypal (she does not use the word) opposing nature of life-giving and life-taking forces working at the same time inherent in the act of sex.  In one theory she combines mysticism and biology and claims they are connected.  Freud dismisses the biology and the mysticism with a narrow prescriptive approach to the unconscious.  Jung embraces the mystical in what he perceives as an ever expanding universe of what would later be called the collective unconscious.  In a sense Spielrein tried to hold both trains of thought together even as she tried to hold together the men from which they originated, to no avail. In a letter to the great Geneva psychologist Theodor Flournoy , William James wrote of Freud, “…he made on me personally the impression of a man obsessed with fixed ideas.  I can make nothing in my own case with his dream theories, and obviously “symbolism” is a most dangerous method.”  This statement takes on a layered meaning in the context of the film, “A Dangerous Method”.  The dangers are inherent in this new method of therapy which more commonly came to be known, “the talking cure.”  Christopher Hampton took some poetic license in the original play which he called The Talking Cure which was based on the book by John Kerr called The Most Dangerous Method.  David Cronenberg, dives right into the shocking images of Sabina Spielrein, played brilliantly by Keira Knightly, in which she succumbs to uncontrollable tics and seizures in a display that is difficult to watch.  These horrific movements are perfect physical manifestation of the psychological torment this 19 year old girl from Russia was experiencing when she first meets Carl Jung at the Burghölzli clinic in Zurich, Switzerland. There is a scene in the play that I was looking for in the film that did not come.  It was at the end when Spielrein, now married and pregnant, visits Jung at his home on Lake Zurich.  Spielrein seems strong and determined, her career ahead of her and the promise of a new life.  Jung is depressed and haunted by dreams of the destruction and bloodshed of all of Europe. Their roles have been reversed from those that began their relationship.  The serene landscape is disquieted by a darkening of the sky and ominous clouds rolling in towards the couple and the play ends.  The advancing storm of course could be interpreted as the advancing war or the nervous breakdown that lay ahead for Jung.  Perhaps there was simply enough drama and it was not needed.  In the film, Jung’s famous last words to Freud (actually written words in real life) were “…and the rest is silence”.  But before the silence the tremendous influence each of these people had on each other would be analyzed thoroughly.  John Kerr’s book is a thorough analysis of these influences and that of Spielrein whose ideas did not receive the recognition they deserved by the men who seemed to gain the most from them. February will begin our 2 part series of amplifications of the film “A Dangerous Method”.  By way of introduction the seminar on February 8th will provide an overview of the film’s historical context and begin discussions of some of the intriguing ideas that emerged and would later be developed by Freud , Jung and Spielrein.  Then on March 8  Murray Stein will bring his knowledge and experience to a discussion of the film, its historical significance and its possible influence on the Jungian community. Please join us in an examination of “The Dangerous Method”.   Further Reading / viewing: Film My Name was Sabina Spielrein , (2002) Tango Film. Books Christopher Hampton, The Talking Cure Thomas B. Kirsch, The Jungians John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method John Launer, Sex Versus Survival: The Story of Sabina Spielrein Coline Covington and Barbera Wharton, Sabina Spielrein: Forgotten Pioneer of Psychoanalysis Aldo Carotenuto, A Secret Symmetry

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Martha Marcy May Marlene: Movie Analysis by Daniel Ross


A close friend of mine, a psychotherapist, told me when she walked out of the theater after seeing this film she struggled getting her footing.  I too found the film to be unexpectedly disturbing like when you wake up in the middle of the night after hearing a sound and you begin quietly searching the house while your spouse sleeps comfortably in bed.  You feel alone to face what lies in the darkness which you know is nothing, yet your entire body is braced to meet the intruder. Click here for information on our webinar, Stalking the Predator.

We first see Martha, played perfectly by Elizabeth Olsen,  in the early morning hours stealing down stairs through a room filled with young people who are sleeping on the floor of an old farmhouse.  She flees through the woods to a train station and calls her estranged older sister who she has not seen in a few years.  Her sister and bother-in-law take her into their summer home inConnecticut only a three hour drive from the train station in which Martha was found. One of the brilliant aspects of the film is the disquieting influence each has on the other, Martha arriving from this mysterious life after dropping off the face of the earth for a few years and her sister Lucy and her husband (Ted) living this idyllic life in a summer home in Connecticut.   Martha brings with her to her sister’s home a mixture of experience that is both sedating and disquieting.  Martha and Lucy are talking near the beach and Martha decides to take a swim by taking off all her clothes before diving into the water, while her brother-in-law is in the water close by.  Lucy scolds her and offers her a bathing suit.  Martha accepts her sister’s parenting which suggests there is hope in this dark story. But Lucy and her husband simply do not understand what is lurking behind this behavior that disturbs and excites.   Director Sean Durkin, making his  film debut, skillfully manages to pull us into this seduction while then making us open the door to a secret room that hides Bluebeard’s dead wives.

The story of Bluebeard is a cautionary tale of three sisters who are courted by a wealthy man with a blue beard.  The older two sisters are frightened of his blue beard but the youngest doesn’t mind it and weds him.  Bluebeard comes to his young wife and tells her he must go on a trip and he gives her all the keys to all the rooms in his castle but shows her a small key to a room she must never enter.  She is allowed to enjoy the rest of the house and even invite her family over.  She invites her sisters over who are curious about the small key and play a game to find which room it belongs to. When the room is found the young newlywed opens the door and enters the room to find it filled with blood and the hanging bodies of Bluebeard’s dead wives.  In her horror she drops the key and it becomes stained with blood.  Unexpectedly, Bluebeard returns home and asks for his keys. His wife says she lost them. He knows she is lying and grabs her by the hair and drags her toward the room and tells her he must kill her.  She asks for a quarter of an hour to prepare herself for death and he complies.  With her reprieve she gathers her sisters to watch out for her brothers.  The sisters do not see the brothers yet and then see something in the distance.  Bluebeard yells for his wife at the quarter hour.  She asks her sisters if the brothers are there yet.  Finally, as Bluebeard is climbing the stairs to get his wife the brothers arrive and gallop into the house to kill Bluebeard.

This is the story of the intrapsychic and in many cases a literal predator and how one maiden must confront this nature in her journey of individuation.  It is the youngest sister that is most vulnerable to the predator, perhaps because the older sister is likely to leave home and not look back or in the case of Bluebeard, the older sisters had a sense that Bluebeard was dangerous and rejected his advances. In any case, the older sisters are helpful in finding the secret room and revealing to the youngest the carnage.  In our film, Martha is vulnerable to Patrick’s seductions. Perhaps it was because she had less parenting than her sister before her parents died or perhaps she was at an age in which every child is susceptible to the seduction of someone offering something the child never had.  Patrick gives her the keys to the mansion but we soon learn there is a hidden room in his house. In the Bluebeard story it is the seduction of a carefree life, filled with riches and luxury and leisure and status.  In MMMM it is the seduction of finding the ideal family which Martha longs for after her own family was suddenly broken up.  We know Martha is needing parenting because she allows Lucy  It is the seduction of sacrifice to the clan, a patriarchal clan, a primitive lifestyle embracing our outer nature and one’s inner nature and being told that instinctual nature, predatory nature is good.  On this farm there are no personal possessions; everything is collectively owned. The clothes are drab squelching individuality and self-expression.  The women watch as the men eat first then take their places to get what’s left over.  After a night in which Martha is raped by Patrick after she has been drugged, he sings a song that is chilling in its depiction of his world view.  He sings, “She’s just a picture” while looking at Martha telling her at once she is special while he strips her of her  body and self-hood.  Again the film demonstrates the paradox of seduction and destruction. Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that Bluebeard was a failed magician.  Charles Manson was a failed musician. Patrick writes songs to lure his prey.  Once seduced there is a systematic severing of old ties, including one’s name.  Martha is discarded for Marcy May,  a name given by Patrick himself.  Marlene is the name used by every girl if anyone from the outside were to ask their name. This protects the family from outside intrusion while reinforcing the egoless structure forced upon these young people.  Martha’s journey is into anonymity, ego destruction and self-lessness as signified by this final meaningless name. As Martha loses her individuality, her ego, she is floating amidst the collective and susceptible to the overpowering and destructive archetypal forces, within which lives the predator.

The predator is very active in our society.  It is the trafficker that lures our 12 year old sisters and daughters into prostitution and pornography.  It begins with the seduction of money or fame or family and once imprisoned the predator whispers what will happen to them if they try to escape, what will happen to those they love if they try to leave.  It is the wife living with the abusive husband who is seduced by his promises of reform, his childish charm until the next time he tries to kill her.  The predator is the killer of newness, new ideas, dreams and hopes for change.  It is precisely at a time in Lucy’s life with her husband that they are trying to have a child.  The predator is constellated when we seek newness.  The predator whispers to us precisely when a new opportunity presents itself, “You’re not good enough…”,  “You’ll fail…”.  Patrick whispers his commands as if there is a remnant of a hissing in his voice.  We understand how children are caught and kept in this trap.  Adults may not fare any better because the archetypal powers are irresistable.

The stain on the key that cannot be removed is the psychic stain that stays forever after seeing what’s inside the secret room.  When one sees what’s in one’s secret room with the parts of ourselves that have been slaughtered it changes us forever. It makes us more aware of the predatory instinct and we can “smell” a predator when he enters a room. It also connects us with the “murdered” parts of ourselves.  We must come to terms with these aspects or they can make us vulnerable and devour us if we deny them.   I recently watched the film Capote,  again.  It is likely Truman Capote got too close to the predator embodied in Perry Smith somewhere in the secret room that ultimately devoured him as manifested in his inability to write and in his alcoholism.

Martha is not strong enough to break completely away from this cult-like family and its seduction.  There is something addictive about it.  It is the core of the mother complex, the devouring addiction toEden.  For this weakness Martha unknowingly brings the predator to her sister’s home.  Her sister is not prepared for this for she is naïve herself having spent the years since leaving home collecting things and living the American dream.  She hasn’t confronted her own psychic predator. On some level her sister knows this and doubts her ability to be a mother and perhaps feels guilty she abandoned her sister.  Her sister’s psychic predator is whispering to her she will be a bad mother.  Martha catches this vulnerability.  Noone escapes the destructive influence of the predator in this film.  There is a destabilization in the egos of both Lucy and Ted.  They realize they are in over their heads and seek help.

There is enough semblance to the Manson family to conjure up the horror that was collectively experienced  without overdoing it.   As we struggled then to understand the meaninglessness of the murders, we sense the murders in the film are closer to home, perhaps because we are allowed closer proximity to the predator.  We realize with Manson any meaning lies only in the mind of an insane man who spent his life in correctional institutions. But then how do we explain all those who followed him? We could keep our distance from such insanity, such horror that included the murder of a young beautiful mother about to give birth and the ripping of the child from the mother’s womb.  In the film we are welcomed into the family with Martha and into its seduction until the seduction slowly gives way to dread and then to horror.  We see Lucy and Ted’s vulnerability as well, starting out believeing their life surely would be the stability Martha needs.  But noone is immune to the predator.

We are never sure if Martha’s paranoia is based on fact or if the destabilization of her ego consciousness is causing her to be delusional and hallucinate.  We suspect at the end that it is real and both she and her sister and brother-in-law are in danger, if not literally, psychologically. Martha has come to realize there is something wrong with her and is willing to seek help.  She is on her way to salvation or death, the ultimate paradox.  So perhaps it is both, her salvation and death, death of that naïve part of her.

Clarissa Estes in her major work Women Who Run with the Wolves, teaches us that the predator cannot be gotten rid of completely. We can lock him up and keep him contained, we can become wise to him and develop a warrior stance when he is in proximity, but he is always there.  Just as the “family” is following Martha and her family at the end of the film, the predator is always stalking us.  That is what is disturbing about the film.  It conjures up an intrapsychic force within the collective unconscious, one we thought we left behind, but it’s still stalking us.

There is a transformational role for the predator as well.  Nancy Dougherty and Jacqueline West discuss the predator in the context of the psychopathic character structure and points out that in stories and in film the role of the psychopath is transformational for the protagonist. The psychopath is seductive because he is willing to perform what lies inhibited in us, and this is his draw, initially.  He is exciting and manifests an energy that is intoxicating but when his true pathology emerges it allows the protagonist an opportunity to differentiate his or her character from that of the predator (Dougherty and West, 2007).

The secret room within which lies Martha’s dead and forgotten parts of her life, the hopes and dreams and fantasies that we must set aside in order to comply with expectations layed before us by parents and community.  This secret room must be opened wide and explored so a proper burial can take place or those parts that can be are revived.  This is the work Martha needs to do but she needs help.  The traumitized parts of herself need proper love and parenting, perhaps from her sister with some help by a therapist.  The ending suggests that possibility while reminding us the predator and its influence is always close at hand.

Dougherty, N.J., West, J.J.(2007) The Matrix and Meaning Of Character.  New York,New York. Routledge.

Estes, C.P. (1992) Women Who Run With the Wolves.New York,New York. Ballantine Books.

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In Memoriam: James Hillman

James Hillman died on Wednesday, October 27, 2011.  He was more than an interpreter of C. G. Jung’s work, he was a pioneer and explorer who extended Jung’s work in highly original, approachable ways.  His contributions were so extensive they could have filled the vessel of several lives.  He was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and Trinity College in Dublin.  Following graduation from the C.G. Jung Institute, he served as Director of Studies for a decade and then became editor of Spring Publication.  But the acorn within James Hillman would burst forth and the oak took root in a larger, plebeian realm.  He became a bestselling author.

Hillman was such a gifted writer that he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Re-visioning Psychology (1975).  The Soul’s Code (1997) established a firm foundation for archetypal psychology within the human potential movement.  If modern psychology overemphasized a scientific, rational, egoistic approach, then Hillman can be credited with revitalizing the psyche or soul.  Myth, metaphor, and poetry figured prominently in Hillman’s works and therapy becames artistic creation.  For Hillman the dream was revelation, “…dreams tell us where we are, not what to do.”

Hillman’s influence will reverberate for a very long time.  He invited us to grow down while we endeavor to grow up. It was given to James Hillman to bring us back to the ancient notion of the daimon. Across the world there are people who were touched by James Hillman who will mourn his death.  His courageous, sustained willingness to pursue his daimons provides us a precious example.  He struck out anew many times.   It seems fitting to offer a few lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses as an homage.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

When people like Steve Jobs, Princess Diana, or Mother Teresa pass, there is an enormous outpouring of emotion.  James Hillman’s passing will evoke an outpouring of emotion and perhaps it will also provoke an enormous inpouring too.  One way we might pay our respects to James Hillman is to redouble our efforts to grow down as we honor the unique journey of awakening and individuation that belongs to each of us to reveal.  May his family and loved ones, his students, and his friends find comfort and inspiration in this time of loss.

Len Cruz, MD, ME

The New York Times article on James Hillman.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/health/james-hillman-therapist-in-mens-movement-dies-at-85.html?scp=1&sq=James%20Hillman&st=cse

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The Christchurch Earthquakes: A Jungian Analyst’s Devastating Journey


Reflections on the impact and significance of the Christchurch earthquakes

An address to the Christchurch Branch of the New Zealand Assn of Counsellors

by Joy Ryan-Bloore, Jungian Analyst



Abstract Since 4 September 2010, we, the people of Christchurch have been subjected to ongoing, extreme trauma. Whether we have been materially affected or not, we are all swimming in the same collective trauma. Each of us has wounds – what I would call ‘inner fault-lines’. Even if we have done a lot of work on ourselves, these can erupt again if put under enough pressure. Part of the experience of outer trauma, such as we have all endured, is having those personal fault-lines exposed. Our dreams will also show the impact of the earthquake on our inner landscape. These reflections are offered to assist you to explore how we can truly care for our selves in the midst of these unprecedented events, by connecting with the deeper Self, enabling us to be much more conscious and alert to the needs of those who seek our assistance.

“In all chaos there is a cosmos,

in all disorder, a secret order.” (1)


The proposed topic for this evening was “Self-care in the Midst of Inner and Outer Fault-lines”.  I am aware that you have plenty of experience looking after yourselves and your clients and I am also sure you are more than competent to do it, otherwise I doubt you would be working as Counsellors!!  Especially in this climate! I am also aware you have had other people talking to you about how to take care of yourself and your clients when afflicted by trauma.   And you will have received relevant supervision.

My focus will be a little different – I will try to explore how we can look after our essential and often wounded ‘self’. In other words how do we continue to walk on the particular path we are meant to be on, in the face of what has happened?  And more importantly, how do we make sure we stay connected to the deeper Self – the Mysterious Other – God – Buddha, Christ, the Sacred Presence or by whatever name we give to that which resides in the depths of our being – and connects us to the Whole. Because if we are in possession of a deeper meaning – a ‘world-view’ – one which connects us to Something, Someone greater than our egos – we will cope much more easily with trauma – especially that caused by the eruption of inner fault-lines. And if we remain connected to this deeper Self we will be more able to care for our selves and those who come to us for assistance. However, if we have nothing greater than the perspective of our egos with which to evaluate our life and events outside of our control; or our world-view is too small – or our image of God is too infantile, the present catastrophe may well overwhelm us – for there is nothing Greater than ourselves to hold us in it.

I would like to begin with two quotations from Jung. One written at the beginning of his adult life, the other towards the end. The first is from The Red Book – a massive, illustrated ‘tome’ which has just been published – a highly personal record of his immersion and extraordinary journey into the unconscious; his discovery of the collective unconscious and the archetypal forces inhabiting it. This experience provided him with the raw material for all his subsequent theories: the cornerstone of which was his discovery of the psyche, at the centre of which is a religious function operating in the depths of each person’s interior. He writes in a way strangely reminiscent of the great vision in the Book of Revelation.  (2)

“May the frightfulness become so great that it can turn (our) eyes inward, so that (our) will no longer seeks the Self in others but in (ourselves). I saw it. I know that this is the way.  I saw the death of Christ and I saw his lament.  I felt the agony of his dying, of the great dying.  I saw a new God, a child who subdued daimons in his hand …” C G Jung  The Red Book, P.254

The second quotation is from Memories, Dreams, Reflections which he wrote as he approached the end of his life, just before he died.  They are the reflections of an old man reminiscing on the significance of his life and the journey it demanded of him.

“The decisive question is: are we related to something infinite or not?  That is the telling question of life.  Only if we know that the infinite is the thing which truly matters, can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all sorts of goals which are not of real importance.  Thus we demand that the world grant us recognition for qualities which we regard as personal possessions: our talent or our beauty.

The more we lay stress on false possessions, and the less sensitivity we have for what is essential, the less satisfying is our life.  We feel limited because we have limited aims, and the result is envy and jealousy.

If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.  In the final analysis we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted.  In our relationships to others too, the crucial question is whether an element of boundlessness is expressed in the relationship. P.356

Likewise for us! The experience of so much death and destruction of archetypal and even apocalyptic proportions to which we have all been exposed, can prematurely precipitate and perhaps accelerate, questions such as the ones with which Jung grappled. The recurring earthquakes may cause us all to stop, take stock of what is important in our life, and perhaps more importantly, compel us to ask the deepest questions of all – why existence?  Why my life? What is it for and what does it mean?

My sense of self, what my life was about and my connection to God was severely tested by the events of September 4.  At the risk of inflicting yet another ‘earthquake story’ on you who have listened to hundreds of people’s stories, including your own! I would like to start with a short summary of what happened to me (at the outer level) during 4 September earthquake. I will then spend time reflecting on the inner significance of that event as an example of what can happen to each of us when our inner fault-lines erupt and our world-views are shattered.  I find I can only speak from personal experience! The rest you can find in books! My hope is you might find an ‘echo’ within yourself which will take you more deeply into your own journey.

As I am sharing mine, I invite you to consider what particular fault-line, inner wound or ‘Achilles heel’, did you re-visit during the earthquakes? Or re-visited you! And more importantly, what if anything, enabled you to cope with it! And what is happening for you now?

At 4.35am on Saturday the 4th September last year I, like every one else in this city, woke in terror. You all know too well what happened – our city was struck by an unprecedented earthquake – magnitude 7.1 on the Richter scale – the beginning of a cataclysmic period of unprecedented destruction few of us ever dreamt we would experience.

At that moment, the world as I knew it simply disappeared. There was a terrible roar and our home shuddered and moved to such an extent I thought it was going to break up.  I don’t usually collapse in a crisis – I respond quite well and then collapse afterwards!!  (Part of a life-long defence against my particular fault-line about which I will say more later!!) But in that moment I did collapse. I was stripped of every capacity I previously had and plunged into a place of terror I never knew existed, both inside myself and in the outer world.  It went on for a shattering 46 seconds which is a long, long time.  (I figured it was as long as it takes an extremely competent runner to complete one lap of a 400metre track)!!


Over the next 24 hours alone we were all hit by 431 aftershocks and as I began these reflections on 21 February 2011 the Christchurch Quake Map website showed we had lived through 4,782 aftershocks. The weekend passed in a daze, compounded by the fact that the suburb in which I live had escaped any obvious damage.  It just added to the surreal nature of the experience, knowing that not far from us streets were ripped up, buildings had collapsed, people’s homes were destroyed; power, water and sewerage facilities were out of action.

Our TV showed pictures of the devastation, but we had lost the sound.  So we knew there had been a terrible catastrophe but we had escaped for the most part.  I started to feel what I can only call ‘survivor guilt’ – my shock being more about what could have happened to our home – rather than what had happened.  (We didn’t escape the 22 February!) Sleep was impossible and was to remain like that for about two weeks.

Allan and I decided to go out into the city on the Sunday – almost like an exercise to test the reality of what had happened – and at another level – to claim back our city and to join in solidarity with the thousands who flocked to the inner city that day doing just that.  People of all ages, from all walks of life. Dazed and sleepless, bewildered and in disbelief.  Children being pushed in prams and held in arms.  People with mobile phones, cameras and videos – all trying to record and come to terms with what had happened.  I found myself looking at buildings which had been part of my life since adolescence, as if seeing them for the first time, sensing a deep grief that many of them would not survive.  It was as if a substantial part of my history and my life had disappeared in front of me and would never be the same again.

Later I was to feel an incredible sense of my own fragile mortality and the shortness of life, because the likelihood of being alive when the city was fully restored again seemed remote.  Maurice Carter, a respected elder in the city, since deceased, simply said it would take at least 20 years for Christchurch to really recover because certain areas would have to be completely rebuilt for the 21st century. It felt like the end of an era and a portent for the end of my own life, too. On reflection, I now know that the clinicians would probably diagnose what I experienced as a mild version of PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder!

But what I was feeling was not solely about the outer devastation.  It was something deeper and to do with my soul.

For the worst part of the September 4 earthquake experience was what I might call ‘loss of soul’ or ‘loss of faith’.  I felt throughout that ordeal and for long months after, that any religious belief, philosophical container, knowledge or experience which would have earlier held me in the face of that sort of outer horror, had completely disappeared.  Not only did the outer ground shift under my feet.  My inner ground shifted and vanished too.  I found myself without any container.  My religious beliefs simply didn’t seem to ‘do it’ anymore. What had happened outside seemed too big to be held by my previous belief structure.  Not even a fairly conscious faith informed by psychological understanding!! The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, which has been part of my life for the last 25 years or so, had been severely damaged and was no longer available as an outer sanctuary in which to take refuge.

I was stripped and I was terrified.  I felt like a small particle of sand floating in a vast, impersonal cosmos – my human plight seemingly of no interest to the mighty forces which create, sustain (and disrupt) creation as we know it.  I was deeply afraid.  Six months later I was able to articulate it more accurately: On 9 January 2011 I wrote in my diary:

4pm While resting … I suddenly became aware of my ‘smallness’ in the face of the universe and became very frightened.  It was as if I was simply a speck (which I instinctively know I am) but that knowledge somehow terrified me causing me to profoundly doubt how could I have any purpose and/or meaning and how could there be any Other who was interested in me?  It felt like that everything I had previously thought or believed; all structures which gave my life meaning  … simply disappeared.  All I could do – was simply allow those feelings to be there.

I remembered reading something about this by Teilhard de Chardin and later found it.

He wrote: “I felt the distress characteristic to a particle adrift in the universe, the distress which makes human wills founder daily under the crushing number of living things and stars. And if something saved me it was hearing the voice of the gospel guaranteed by divine successes, speaking to me from the depth of the night: “ego sum noli timere”- ‘It is I, do not be afraid’.John 6:20(3)

The purpose of sharing this is to show that what happens in the outer world has a corresponding impact on the inner. We are all connected – not only with each other – but we are connected to the very planet on which we depend for our existence – we participate in the same energies and are made out of the same ‘stuff’.

And in a mysterious way – due to the stage we are now at in our evolutionary journey towards consciousness, we now know everything in this vast universe, in which we float on planet Earth, is similarly connected.  Consequently, recurring earthquakes of the magnitude to which we have all been exposed, can not only destroy our outer landscape, but can expose each of us to what I would call our inner fault-lines, which shake up the inner ground on which we stand upsetting our ‘normal’ psychic, emotional and spiritual stability.  Like huge gaping cracks in our psychic edifice through which pours the disturbed, uncontained unconscious – inner liquefaction!!

Each of you will have your own way to ‘be with’ or interpret the deeper significance of what has happened to you over these last few months. Or you may be struggling to find one. Finding meaning in our lives is essential – a life lived without meaning is one of the deepest causes of emotional and psychological turmoil a human being can experience, as each of you will know.  Jung puts it this way:

“For thousands of years the mind of human beings has worried about the sick soul, perhaps even earlier than it did about the sick body.  The propitiation of gods, the perils of the soul and its salvation, these are not yesterday’s problems.

Religions are psychotherapeutic systems in the truest sense of the word, and on the grandest scale.  They express the whole range of the psychic problem in mighty images; they are the avowal and recognition of the soul, and at the same time the revelation of the soul’s nature.

From this universal foundation no human soul is cut off; only the individual consciousness that has lost its connection with the psychic totality remains caught in the illusion that the soul is a small circumscribed area, a fit subject for ‘scientific’ theorizing.  The loss of this great relationship is the prime evil of neurosis.” (4)

I still draw meaning from the symbols and rituals of the religious tradition into which I was born – Roman Catholicism – but in a much broader and deeper way than what I inherited – but at this stage in my life, the nature of that belief is vastly different and has been enriched by encounters with other religious traditions – both within Christianity and outside it. Especially Buddhism. Coupled with this I have some slight ‘smatterings’ of understanding about  the extraordinary insights coming from cosmology, archetypal astrology and quantum physics.

However, what gives an even deeper insight into all these ‘smatterings’ of inter-connected disciplines, comes from my growing knowledge and experience of Jung’s discoveries of the depth sciences – especially the collective unconscious and the purposeful nature of dreams, symbols and religious rituals in the human psyche. So my processing of recent events is inevitably interpreted in the light of my own meaning ‘structures’.

I say this by way of sharing where I am coming from … not in any way seeking to impose that on you!! But all this seemed to disappear on the morning of 4 September! I struggled to find some foothold.  I remembered I had heard an Australian Priest say: “God reveals himself to us in all the events of our life and the revelation is complete when we reflect on these events in the light of the scriptures.” (Gerald Manley – 1973)  Those words have often returned to me.

But what event in scripture could inform the horror the earthquake had unleashed in me?  I knew there was only one possibility.  The silent cry on the Cross – Jesus’ cry to his Father “My God, my God why have you abandoned me”. The gospel writer, Matthew interprets the event this way:

“At that, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked the rocks were split …  Meanwhile the centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place and they were terrified and said, ‘in truth this was a Son of God.” Matthew 27:51,53


Except an earthquake didn’t cause his cry.  In a synchronistic way, his cry, his surrender to death –  this archetypal event at the level of the Spirit – caused an equivalent response at the level of Nature – an  earthquake.  These two poles – the world of the Spirit and the world of Nature – synchronistically (5) connected and impacted on each other. It was like the earth went out in sympathy – it paralleled the shocking nature of what was happening at the level of Spirit.  Nature rebelled at what humankind was doing to its Creator. Christ crucified.  Deicide.  There are only a few references to earthquakes in the Christian Scriptures that I am aware of.  I wondered, as I reflected, were the recent earthquakes connected not to Deicide – the death of the Son of God – but to Divine Matricide – the death of Mother Earth?

Was the earth in fact reacting to how we have exploited her over the last century?  This may seem a rather far-fetched, esoteric or “New Age” hypothesis, an attempt to soften the experience –   drag some meaning out of an event which many feel has no meaning  – “after all” they say – ‘its just nature.” But if we have time I will share some personal experiences of synchronistic events which seem to suggest something deeper might be happening.

The forces we are dealing with are apocalyptic in nature and in some people a parallel experience registers in the psyche, threatening their psychic stability.  It is totally unpredictable.  There is nothing one can do about it.  It is absolutely beyond our control.  That is the worst feature.  Not knowing when and how and with what force it is going to strike.

I have also had some prospective-type dreams which only ‘made sense’ in the light of both earthquakes and many of my analysands have had some extraordinary dreams as well.  The outer chaos has acted in many cases, as a powerful and somewhat premature accelerant for change and increased consciousness.  It is a bit like what happened the night of the September 4 earthquake.  A record number of babies were born that night or the next day.  Something like 23 in 24 hours as I recall.  Like Mother Nature was making sure they all got out safely!

I think the same thing has been happening on the inner level.  The birth of a new level of consciousness – a more inclusive world-view – is vital if people are going to be able to cope creatively with the outer threat to their current world views, be they religious or philosophical.  And those of us responsible for the process of others need to be even more tuned to what is being demanded of each of us – otherwise it will visit us in the form of negative transference, counter-transference or inexplicable sickness and/or accidents.

The fact is that enough conscious individuals need to emerge – be born  – if we and the planet on which we depend for our very existence are to survive. The medieval, metaphysical, dualistic world-view coupled with scientific materialism which has informed the collective’s world-view over the last two centuries, is dying. Needs to die. As does the current ego-driven economic rationalism plaguing our world, a philosophy which denies the existence of anything greater than itself:  which is even insidiously infiltrating vocations like Counselling which take place at a soul level and cannot be quantified, evaluated or rationalized by market forces!

The old order has died in Christchurch.  The new one has yet to be constructed.  We are ‘in between stories’ as the cosmologist Thomas Berry said recently.  Edward Edinger, using the Christian myth as a basis for a similar conclusion, once said that we were living in the ‘Holy Saturday of history’. (6) That’s what it has felt like to me as I have walked round the empty tombs of every major Church of every major religious domination in our city – and all the destroyed landscapes and other buildings which have previously held the history and the myth of this city. Two weeks before the 22 February quake I had a prophetic dream.  (Dream)

I pondered the demise of all the Churches since the 22 Feb earthquake. I wondered how people will ever get to the spiritual and psychic truths behind these archetypal symbols if they are deprived of the outer rituals and liturgies in which these symbols are most profoundly encountered. I was grateful I had been brought up in a religious tradition and spent many years in a Religious Order – and lived its then somewhat monastic horarium in which these archetypal symbols had been embraced so intensely.  For only now, can I begin to more fully appreciate the inner, psychic truths they embody – a living, dynamic process to be encountered within my own psyche.

But how, I ask does one come to this without the outer bridge to the interior which these archetypal symbols provide?  For despite my knowledge, when the Cathedral closed after the 4 September, I realized how much it contained me. – against what?  I do not know.  But slowly and persistently, the earthquakes have collapsed the outer structure – to an extent that now the Cathedral may even have to be demolished – forcing me – reluctantly – to find even more deeply within, the inner meaning of these treasures which the outer structure and symbols contain.  I feel I have been ‘shifted’ ever so subtly and at times violently, into a new level of consciousness, as if something has been waiting to be shifted for some time.  The earthquake has somehow precipitated and completed it.

But I am ahead of myself … let me go back to last year … my dreams continued and by late October they were starting to show the impact the earthquakes were having on my psyche and on my physical health generally.  They also showed that although I was being supported; my energy levels were much lower than I realized and a part of me was pushing me to do more.

Throughout this time I have had incessant questions – which brought about a sense of panic and increasing terror.  I faced the deepest questions once again.  Who am I? What is my purpose in this world?  What meaning do I have and what meaning do I bring to the world?  Has my existence a meaning?  Is there a purpose to the vastness of the cosmos as we now know it?  And if there isn’t what point my existence?  Any religious, philosophical, psychological belief or system simply didn’t ‘cut it’ anymore.  I felt suspended in a terrible place.  At the same time as this inner destruction was happening, it was being mirrored outside. I watched all the places in Christchurch which held memories of my life, damaged or demolished.  Both my past and my present ‘holy ground’ were being destroyed.

I faced into a dark void – a place which made me feel like a terrified child exposed to the impersonal forces of an uncaring and remote universe.  Which reduced me at times to a state of terror and once of inconsolable sobbing.  This was the vulnerable, fragile side of myself – the inner fault-line – which I was so afraid to own and expose – both to myself – and certainly to my colleagues.  After all I’m supposed to be able to help others in this state!  And a voice whispers in my heart – “Physician heal thyself”. I can’t”, I heard myself say.

I faced into an empty place – devoid of all meaning and purpose.  At the same time I knew that these feelings were the only real ‘truth’ I could trust.  All other systems, theories, beliefs were simply ‘translations’ of reality.   Images.  It took my Buddhist friend and colleague in Zurich to remind me, that the first commandment in the Old Testament forbade images!  “I am the Lord Thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me”.  I have attempted to live my life according to many ‘translations’ supported by many ‘images’ – all attempts to make sense of, create images of the Great Unknown, the Holy Mystery.   She also spoke to me about the Void – or the Nothing that holds us behind all the images.  As she spoke I was very aware that all the great mystics within Christianity had also written about the experience of the Nothing: Meister Eckhart; the unknown author of the Cloud of Unknowing; John of the Cross; Teresa of Avila and in recent times, Evelyn Underhill and Thomas Merton.

How did I cope? With great difficulty but primarily by clinging to what I knew ‘professionally’ and from previous experience – trusting, hoping – that the feelings were purposeful – even though I was terrified. That if I remained with them they would take me to a different place. I also trusted that whatever I needed would be given.  It came in many different guises: my husband, a close friend, books, resting a lot more, just being with what was without wishing it would go away or ‘get better’.

I also found a strange solace by continuing to go to Mass – even though I felt bereft and strangely distant from it. It was the sacred music which contained me. And I remembered what Don Whelan Music Director of the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra had said not long after 4 September “Music, unlike art or buildings, is infinitely renewable.” Paradoxically, I felt quite calm when I was working with others.  In hindsight I think because I was consciously working with what was happening to me, I was more able to be with others without my process getting in the way.  Not that I didn’t succumb to some counter-transference issues once or twice!

11 September 2010

I read Bede Griffiths book “The Marriage of East and West’ – and realized that even though my belief structures had collapsed with the earthquake, there must be a Mystery behind all the forces of Nature. But how could there be – Nature was so huge.  Then I realized that one self-reflecting human being was more significant than all of created matter because they knew it existed.  And somehow something ‘clicked’.  All that ‘stuff’ had an energy whose ultimate goal was human consciousness.  All religious rituals, beliefs, symbols, images were attempts to ritualize, make conscious, come to grips with that inner process by which we are connected to the Whole – and within that painful evolutionary journey – become more and more aware of this Holy Mystery, this divine presence, Sacred Centre, the Nothing: the ‘Divine Milieu’ as the French Jesuit Paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin described it. (7)

So what was happening?  It was not so much a fear that the earth no longer supported me as I initially felt, but more like an inner shattering of all previous world-views – all were reduced to rubble and found lacking.  I was being forced, rather brutally, to look even more deeply inside – and more paradoxically, look outside – but in a new way.

For nights after the September 4 quake I had broken sleep punctuated with ongoing ‘after-shocks’ – each shock sending a rush of adrenalin through my body, causing extremely high blood pressure and a pounding pulse-rate. There was nothing I could do to stop it. In the beginning, nothing would comfort me or make  me feel secure.  There was a blankness and a silence in the face of Nature’s violence. I found myself reaching for my Mother’s Rosary Beads – the pair of Irish Greenhorn beads which I associate with her for as far back as I can remember.  I held them in my right hand and tried to sleep. They were the only thing which gave me any sense of security.  The fact that her hands had held these beads through her long years of life and journey into death, somehow said that if anyone was beyond time and space, she would be the one who would take care of me and keep me safe.  I held on to them for about four nights.

My deepest experience has been that of profound silence in the face of something too big for me to comprehend – yet somehow I also knew I needed to let go ‘the need to know’. Even this 7.1 earthquake paled into insignificance before the might of planet earth itself, let alone the vast cosmos in which this solitary planet is but a speck of sand.  What or Who is the Author of such vastness?  And how can that Who or What be remotely interested in me?  Does my life and does Life itself have an ultimate  meaning and if it doesn’t, then what is the purpose of my existence?

These were the questions which uncovered the fault-lines in my own psyche – shattered the ways I had previously made sense of my life – and thrust me not into outer chaos, but inner.  It was like an experience of cosmic agoraphobia.  Too much space and too much of everything. At some point I thought of John Mattern, my first analyst.  I remembered talking to him about being overwhelmed by the immensity of the universe.

He had said ‘you are allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by the immensity of matter – and forgetting psyche’.  At the time (1993) I didn’t really understand what he was saying.

But as I began contemplating my ‘cosmic agoraphobia’ I gradually became aware that the fact I was conscious of the immensity of what I was a part of, was actually of greater significance than the cosmos of which I was aware.  I realized then, that human consciousness, was the crowning point of evolution – and that all matter – all that exists in creation – converged, and continues to converge in one direction only – the ongoing evolution of human consciousness. Towards what Teilhard de Chardin called the “Omega point”. The fear and the agoraphobia have not totally diminished, but somehow I know that being aware – being conscious of what I am afraid of is more ‘immense’, more significant than the immensity of matter itself which was threatening to destabilize me psychically and emotionally.

I was immensely comforted by Bede Griffiths’ book during this time. Phrases like Ultimate Reality, Mystery, The Vastness and the Void started to describe much more accurately what I was experiencing – more than any of the religious or psychological paths I had walked to date. He said things which I already knew, but didn’t.  Like the paths were just that, paths.  Not an end in themselves. That each great religious tradition was a face – an image of the Ultimate Reality which is finally beyond description.

That Jesus Christ embodied in his life and being the destiny of every human being viz the marriage within each person of the human and the divine.  That in a unique way, he experienced  the truth of the inner presence of the Divine Ground, that he called ‘Abba’ – residing in the depths of our interior.

Suddenly, without warning, being committed to Catholicism and my vocation as a Jungian Analyst, seemed to fall away.  None of them ‘did it’ completely.  Nor do I now think, they are meant to.  They are all paths, symbols – ‘bridges towards an unseen shore.”  But in the ‘falling away’ something different was returned. My particular religious tradition is still a valid path for me – even more so – despite all its human failures. I have simply seen a little bit further along the bridge than I used to, but I don’t yet quite know what it is that I have ‘seen’.  I am also acutely aware that what I have ‘seen’ is still very elusive and can slip from sight.

Final Thoughts

While reading Richard Tarnas’ book Cosmos and Psyche (8) this afternoon and looking out into my garden, I became even more aware of the source of my ‘cosmic agoraphobia’ and the dualism still subtly lodged in my thinking.  It was as if I was trying to come to terms with Something or Someone ‘outside’ of the Cosmos who was its source and who had created it.  Set it in motion.  An old, metaphysical, mechanistic, medieval world-view: instead of seeing that the cosmos itself is an unending vessel in which the Soul of the Universe resides and has been evolving into human consciousness over light years.  Suddenly I looked outside differently.  Not only was I physically part of what I contemplated; my soul, my consciousness, my ‘self’ was connected to the World Soul – the Unus Mundus which informed it all.

The inner fault-line through which this new awareness had been painfully born, somehow had its origin in the experience of a little girl – myself – whose mother had nearly died giving birth to my brother. Her near death had caused a terrible fear of abandonment – of death and loss – of floating endlessly in an alien universe, against which I defended myself by developing a life-long capacity to somehow cope with whatever life ‘threw at me.’ Somehow that two-and-half-year-old decided that her life’s task was to take responsibility, probably for everything! but especially for her mother – to ‘make it all better – or something terrible would happen’.

It was only when something ‘terrible’ did happen – totally beyond and outside my control or capacity to ‘make it all better’ – like a 7.1. earthquake!! that Something, Someone much greater could begin to break through. And in its dark, frightening, but somehow compelling presence, I returned once again to Teilhard de Chardin’s experience and found the same words tentatively rising in my heart as it did in his: “ego sum noli timere” – ‘It is I, do not be afraid’. John 6:16-21  (9)

In that moment I gave thanks for the faith of my ancestors, particularly my mother and father, who initiated me into Catholicism – the heart of which gives ultimate meaning to trauma, suffering – particularly of the innocent – and death. And I also give thanks for all those whom life has placed on my path – enabling me to find meaning in my life and support for my inner fault-lines!!  And ramifications thereof!!

Finally – in the midst of my reflections I came across an extract from an anonymous letter written in the 15th century which seems to say all I have attempted to say – and more. I have entitled it “Thou Silent Cry.”

O deeply buried treasure, how wilt thou be unearthed?

O elevated nobility, who can reach thee?

O rushing fountain, who can drain thee?

O luminous radiance, power that breaks forth,

Hiddenness laid bare, security that is hidden,

assuring confidence, harmonious stillness in all things,

manifold good in the silence of concord,

thou silent cry, no one can find thee

who knows not how to let thee go.  (10)

Thank you.


(1)     Found on the home-page of the Irish Psychoanalytic website.

(2)     “Now a great sign appeared in heaven; a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head with a crown.  She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.  Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon  … it stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother.  The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the world with an iron scepter, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had made a place of safety ready, for her to be looked after in the twelve hundred and sixty days”.  (Revelation 12:1-6)

(3)       Teilhard de Chardin’s The Divine Milieu P.76-80 especially p.78

(4)     Carl Jung, Collected Works 10:367

(5)     Synchronicity A term coined by Jung to designate the meaningful coincidence or equivalence

(a)     of a psychic and physical state or event which have no causal relationship to one another.

(b)     if similar or identical thoughts, dreams etc occurring at the same time at different places.  Neither the one nor the other coincidence can be explained by causality, but seem to be connected primarily with activated archetypal processes in the unconscious. Jung writes:

“My preoccupation with the psychology of unconscious processes long ago compelled me to look about for another principle of explanation, because the causality principle seemed to me inadequate to explain certain remarkable phenomena of the psychology of the unconscious.  Thus I found that there are psychic parallelisms which cannot be related to each other causally, but which must be connected through another principle, namely the contingency of events.  This connection of events seemed to me essentially given by the fact of their relative simultaneity, hence the term ‘synchronistic’.

“It seems indeed, as though time, far from being an abstraction, is a concrete continuum which contains qualities or basic conditions that manifest themselves simultaneously through parallelisms that cannot be explained causally, as for example, in cases of the simultaneous occurrence of identical thoughts, symbols or psychic states.” (The Secret of the Golden Flower pp 142 following – modified) ….

“Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics. It is only the ingrained belief in the sovereign power of causality that creates intellectual difficulties and makes it appear unthinkable that causal events exist or could ever occur … Their inexplicability is not due to the fact that the cause is unknown, but to the fact that a cause is not even thinkable in intellectual terms”. (Ibid pp 518 ff)

Extracts from the Glossary of Memories, Dreams, Reflections, P.418-419 Collins Fount Paperbacks 1977

(6)     Edward Edinger, P.119 The Christian Archetype


(7)     After his horrendous experience of war through his chaplaincy in the trenches of the First World War, Teilhard de Chardin describes the process of evolution this way: “Seen from the viewpoint of our human experience and drawn to our human scale, the world is an immense groping, an immense enterprise, an immense attack; its progress is made at the price of much failure and many wounds.  The sufferers, no matter to what species they belong, are the expressions of this austere but noble condition.  They pay for the forward progress and the victory of all”. … “The Cross is the symbol of this arduous labour of evolution, rather than a symbol of expiation.” Teilhard de Chardin; Pensees Number 4

(8)     www.cosmosandpsyche.com/AuthorInterviews.php

(9)     The following is a contemporary reflection by Lionel Corbett on this process, reflective of Teilhard de Chardin’s insights in Note 6 above.

“… our emotional (and physical) suffering always contains an element of the divine.  The archetype at the centre of our complex, no matter how painful, is this element, (the divine); so there is no escape from the numinosum (divine presence) at the core of our difficulty.

This is why the Self images which appear to us always contain elements of our deepest needs and fears.  If the divine is never further away than our suffering, then our suffering becomes the beginning of our spirituality.  Any attempt to develop spiritual techniques that do not penetrate and understand suffering, run the risk of avoiding the sacred itself.” P.51 Lionel Corbett, The Religious Function of the Psyche Brunner-Routledge 1996

(10)    Sited by Dorothee Soelle in the frontpiece of her book The Silent Cry – Mysticism and Resistance, 2001 Fortress Press, Minneapolis

Copyright 2011

Joy Ryan-Bloore


Joy Ryan-Bloore (High Dip Tchg, Dip Theol (Undergraduate), BA, Dip Analytical Psychology) is a Jungian Analyst and Psychotherapist working in private practice in Christchurch. In 1993-1997 she trained at the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich together with her husband Allan, and complemented her analytical training with body therapy. She has been a member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists since 1984; is a member of the International Assn of Analytical Psychologists; and an Executive Member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Jungian Analysts. She has a particular interest in the inter-face of psychological and spiritual development and since her return from Zurich has facilitated ecumenical retreats and seminars for people in New Zealand and Australia, particularly in Melbourne and Perth. Earlier in her life she was a Religious Teaching Sister with the Sisters of Mercy working for 18 years as a primary and secondary school teacher in Christchurch. Her current work involves psychotherapy, and/or Jungian Analysis with specific attention to dreams; and supervision of Counsellors, Teachers, Spiritual Directors, Psychiatric Nurses and Social Workers.


Contact Details

Phone +64 3 389 6010  Email ryanbloore@xtra.co.nz

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The Better Angels of Our Nature

During the last portion of the seminar on October 13, 2011 titled Energy! The Ecology of the Psyche and the World,  Dr. Murray Stein spoke about a book review he had just read on “The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker.  I looked up the source of that title and discovered that it was in the closing lines of President Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address given on March 4, 1861.
Here is an excerpt:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

These words, uttered over seven generations ago as a nation was being torn asunder, remind us that we are not enemies.  We are not enemies with each other, with the companion animals who share the earth, nor with the environment; though at times, it seems like we have declared war.  Perhaps the day is dawning when again touched by the better angels of our nature, we may be at peace with our world.

Dr. Egger and Dr. Stein imparted so many profoundly important things during last Thursday’s seminar that any remarks are likely to detract.  Instead, I offer a few quotes I jotted down during the seminar and subsequent question and answer period.  Let these remarks, like dew upon a parched land, offer the promise of renewing waters.

“When we face a destructive phenomenon, a symptom, we can take it heuristically, as a solution, we can take it as energy” (that is blocked).

“Everything psychic has a slight asymmetry (between the material world and psyche) in favor of the psyche.”

“If libido retreats from the world it goes to the unconscious and there, Jung says, you must follow it.”

“Nothing is so dangerous as life energy unable to be expressed honorably.”

“When you cannot listen to the other person, you may be under possession, where something is projected.”

“…the older the mythology, the clearer.”

“…energy is a movement that evens out opposites.”

“The archetype behind energy is the capacity for Divine Creation.”

“To withdraw a projection is to regain energy.”

“Neurosis is always a projection on a stupid thing…the symbolic life is a means to fee energy…”

“Human beings are born with an instinctual appetite … (and) driven to a spiritual inheritance.”

Seminar participants were invited to consider the impact of excessive energy usage and also invited to consider what energy is devoted in our society (both psychic energy and external energy).  Strangely, the distinction between the energy of the interior life and the energy of exterior engagement grew less certain but more meaningful.

Dr. Egger recommended cultivating Joy, Hope, and Love.  She likened this to the proper tuning of a violin in that proper tuning makes it easier to find the correct note.  As she explained, cultivating Joy, Hope, and Love “makes opportunity”.

The depth of perspective provided by Drs. Stein and Egger in the handling of their subject is difficult to convey.  The work of individuation and the work of conservation in their skillful hands seemed to be different facets of the same jewel.  Their teaching was clear, evocative, and nourishing.

Many thanks to those who chose to share something during the past two weeks.

Len Cruz, MD

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Ecopsychology: Revisioning Ourselves and the World


Revisioning Ourselves and the World

By Len Cruz, MD, ME

Seminar Registration  http://ashevillejungcenter.org/upcoming-events/ecopsychology/

“…our present ego-feeling is only a shrunken residue of a much more inclusive, indeed, an all-embracing, feeling which corresponded to a more intimate bond between the ego and the world about it.” (Sigmund Freud)

Ecopsychology is more than the conflation of two words, ecology and psychology.   This nascent field expands the horizon of the deep self beyond the frontiers of the individual. James Hillman said, “The deepest self cannot be confined to “in here” because we can’t be sure it is not also or even entirely “out there”![i] The exaggerated emphasis on the personal, interior, individual psychology has contributed to a denial of the world “out there”.  Several trajectories can be subsumed under the broad canopy of ecopsychology and the field is distinguishable from other related subjects[ii]. There is an arc that begins with the personal unconscious, traverses the collective unconscious, and leads to a planetary unconscious.  The near apotheosis of mankind that installed our species with a belief in our dominion over flora and fauna may be coming of age.  The Navi race depicted in the movie AVATAR is a pop culture reflection of an emerging archetype or at least a cultural complex.  As Thomas Singer points out, “Failure to consider cultural complexes as part of the work of individuation puts a tremendous burden on both the personal and archetypal realms of the psyche.”[iii] Depth psychological influences have shaped out language appearing with phrases like Biophilia (Erich Fromm[iv], E.O. Wilson[v]), Ecosophy & Deep Ecology (Arne Naess)[vi], Terrapsychology (Chalquist)[vii] or Ecotherapy (Clineman)[viii].  There is an ecological imperative forcing itself on our consciousness through images environmental catastrophes, species and habitat destruction, and threats of irreversible climate change. Lifton’s concept of psychic numbing regarding the threat of nuclear disaster applies to the ecological crisis upon us.  But this festering wound can no longer be located solely within nor strictly outside of ourselves.[ix] Ecopsychology attempts to restore the intimate connection between the ego and the world.  And with the added the richness of the archetypal strata a more inclusive psychology is emerging.[x]

If a planetary consciousness is developing and we should expect that there will be a planetary unconscious developing alongside.  In the pioneering days of psychoanalysis, Janet, Freud, and others were cartographers of a vast inner landscape.  A centrifugal force developed in the generations following Freud.  Ego psychology pressed beyond the id, social psychiatry and later self psychology expanded into the interpersonal and social milieu, and Jung expanded the personal notion of the unconscious into vast territory of the collective  unconscious.  However, all these trends established human beings at the axis of the psychological world.  Ecopsychology revisions this singular focus upon man.  It is a restorative psychology, where place matters and the distinction between inhabitants of the earth is removed, hierarchical disappears.  Ecopsychology grounds our existence and psychology in a broader context of the ecosphere.

Let us agree that human activity is causing rapid and profound changes to the climate, to the water cycle, to the soil, and to species extinction.



Billions of people watched oil gush into the Gulf of Mexico for months. On a daily basis human beings grew more alarmed by the risks of massive radiation leakage from the Fukushima nuclear reactor.And though the ecological underpinnings of mass migration and starvation in sub-Saharan Africa are poorly understood, the images of starving human beings nevertheless etches itself into our psyches.  Such events remind us that there is an imperative imposing itself with ever-increasing urgency.  But the complexity of these issues exceed our capacities.

Robert Jay Lifton, coined the term psychic numbing to describe “a form of desensitization … an incapacity to feel or confront certain kinds of experience, due to the blocking or absence of inner forms or imagery that can connect with such experience”.[xi] The intricate webs comprising our world are complex.  Ever increasing computing capacity permits us to model extremely complex systems and to detect elegant patterns.  Nonlinear systems (see also complexity, chaos, Madelbrot sets)possess some unique characteristics including inflection points (see also attractors, repellors, bifurcations) where sudden, large changes in behavior result from small changes in conditions of a a stable system.  Catastrophe theory, a branch of bifurcation mathematics, demonstrates that bifurcations are in fact part of a large well defined geometric structure.  Carl Freidrich Guass laid the foundation for these discoveries but the ability to model such complex systems had to wait for the invention of supercomputers.

Our ability to recognize patterns, create accurate models, and decipher complexity on our own has limits.[xii]Rebecca Costa suggests there are five common supermemes that we should understand because of their limiting effects upon our capacity to reason.  These include: irrational opposition, counterfeit correlation, personalization of blame, silo thinking, and extreme economics.[xiii] Time magazine recently suggested that people like Rebecca Costa might be able to solve the world’s biggest problems (http://tinyurl.com/6fz6uuu).  The rest of us may need to acknowledge that the sheer complexity of the ecological crisis combined with our own psychological complexity often exceeds our capacity to understand.

There a practical ecopsychology developing that might equip us to navigate through the treacherous times with greater understanding.  Ultimately it may also preserve us.  First, we will need to acknowledge that the planet and many of its inhabitants are being placed at risk by the impact our species has upon the environment.  There is an ecopsychological unconscious, and like all unconscious material, it resists exposure and yields its fruits reluctantly.  Those of us who live in the technologically advanced first world must make sure that we keep contact with the wilderness.  An earlier blog (May 31, 2010) addressed the diminishing wilderness of childhood and readers may want to read an excerpt from Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs.[xiv] A practical ecopsychology will provide tools for working through the despair and psychic numbing that so easily overwhelms us.  Out of the fertile fields of ecopsychology will emerge ecotherapeutic techniques and understanding that can be expected to equip us to participate in the healing that we all need.[xv] In 1973, Our Bodies, Ourselves[xvi] became a feminist canon through its empowering, educational message.  The time has come for Our Planet, Ourselves that might collect the expanse of ideas that intersect with ecopsychology.

The confluence of many shaping influences unite many archetypal energies forming a bedrock for  further psychological explorations.  A river’s delta provides a good metaphor for region where complexes, archetypes, and outer come together.  In the  delta fresh water and salt water meet and mix.  In the ecopsychological delta, conscious and unconscious, interior and exterior, introject and projection combine and create a limen realm where the participation mystique more easily is detected.  Jung wrote, “PARTICIPATION MYSTIQUE is a term derived from Lévy-Bruhl. It denotes a peculiar kind of psychological connection with objects, and consists in the fact that the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object but is bound to it by a direct relationship which amounts to partial identity.”[xvii] It is tempting to oscillate between extreme impressions of the world.  Between Cormac MacCarthy’s The Road[xviii] and Fox’s recent Fall series Terra Nova with a tagline of “There is no paradise without sacrifice” we encounter repeated apocalyptic scenarios alongside utopian ones.[xix] [xx] [xxi].  KIA Motors produced a Superbowl commercial last year that exploited apocalyptic images of the Mayan Prophecy.  The appearance of such impressions in popular culture points toward the chthonic psychic regions, the places where archetypes reside.  Paul Ricouer observed that utopias function to develop “new, alternative perspectives”.[xxii] And some of our most compelling utopian literature actually present dystopias (Brave New World, Nineteen eighty-four, Fahrenheit 451). These days anyone can turn on a computer and create their own utopia (SimCity).  IMDb, the movie database, has compiled a list of the top 50 Post-Apocalyptic movies (http://www.imdb.com/list/2WCgJcXeSEQ/).  The images and impressions of a global consciousness, of an ecopsychological dimension are everywhere.

A recent favorite of mine is AVATAR.  James Cameron’s creation of the Navi, a large, lithe, colorful, and powerful race of humanoid creatures with tails.  These tails, symbolizes the Navi’s sustained connection to their world and hints of a noble savage. From the opening minutes of the film the there are rumbles and rhythms of mechanization that contrasts with a perky newscaster announcing the comeback of the nearly extinct Bengal tiger we are presented with competing impressions of soulless exploitation of the planet’s resources by an interplanetary corporation and the soulful natives and their planetary conscious ways.  By the end of the movie our sympathies are powerfully attached to the Navi.  Apart from the symbolism of the Navi’s tail, it is the physical means by which they experience a deep empathic connection to their world, it is the vehicle for their participation mystiqeu. As if these images alone were not enough, Cameron chose for his protagonist a physically disabled man injured in battle.  He seems to be telling us of our woundedness, our disability, and our hope for restoration.  In the final scene of AVATAR, the viewer is left believing that the protagonist has made a final and complete transformation from man to Navi.  The movie’s ability to arouse archetypal energies of both apocalypse and utopia is gripping.  But the promise that WE might experience such a deep connection to the biosphere as the protagonist is even more compelling.  Ecopsychology is unlikely to deliver some well wrapped experiences of connectedness like we get in the movies but perhaps it can provide a guide for the journey.  This is journey that began in an idyllic garden to which it one day hopes to return.


Take a moment to reflect on the impressions that reside in your own psyche of this world, your place in it, and the planetary images and impressions that you have encountered.  Perhaps it is a dream, a piece of art, a moment of communion with nature.  As we share our stories, we may help one another to awaken to something deep within that also is suffused outside.  If we hope to develop a consciousness spacious enough for the biosphere it must include one another.  Share your stories here.

Len Cruz

[i] Roszak, Theodore, Mary E. Gomes, and Allen D. Kanner. Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1995 (page xix).

[ii] Scull, John. “Ecopsychology: Where Does It Fit in Psychology in 2009?.” The Trumpeter Fall 2008: 68-85. The Trumpeter. Web. 8 Oct. 2011.

[iii] Singer, Thomas. “The Cultural Complex and Archetypal Defenses of the Collective Spirit | Psyche-and-culture | Articles.” IAAP. IAAP, 19 June 2005. Web. 08 Oct. 2011. <http://iaap.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69:the-cultural-complex-and-archetypal-defenses-of-the-collective-spirit&catid=66:psyche-and-culture&Itemid=380>.

[iv] Fromm, Erich (1964). The Heart of Man. Harper & Row.,

[v] Wilson, Edward O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-07442-4.

[vi] Næss, Arne (1973) ‘The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement.’ Inquiry 16: 95-100

[vii] Chalquist, Craig (2007) Terrapsychology, New Orleans, Spring  Journal Books.  ISBN-10: 1882670655

[viii] Clinebell, H. 1996. Ecotherapy: Healing ourselves, healing the earth. New York: Haworth Press.

[ix] Chalquist, Craig. “The Environmental Crisis is a Crisis of Consciousness.” Terrapsych.com – serving the animate presence of place. Terrapsych.com, n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2011. <http://www.terrapsych.com/cris (also Chalquist, Craig, and Mary E. Gomes. Terrapsychology: Re-engaging the Soul of Place. New Orleans: Spring Journal, 2007.)

[x] Watkins, Mary . “On Returning to the Soul of the World: Archetypal Psychology and Cultural/Ecological Work.” Terrapsych.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2011. <www.terrapsych.com/Watkins.

[xi] Lifton, Robert Jay (March 1968). “America in Vietnam—The circle of deception”. Society 5 (4).

[xii] Costa, Rebecca D. The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way out of Extinction. New York: Vanguard, 2010.

[xiii] Costa, Rebecca D. The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction. New York: Vanguard Press, 2010.

[xiv] Chabon, Michael. “Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood by Michael Chabon | The New York Review of Books.” New York Times Review of Books. New York Times, 16 July 2009. Web. 7 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/jul/16/manhood-for-amateurs-the-wilderness-of-childhood/>

[xv] Buzzell, Linda, and Craig Chalquist. Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 2009.

[xvi] Our Bodies, Ourselves. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.

[xvii] Jung, C.G. ([1921] 1971) Paragraph 781. Psychological Types, Collected Works, Volume 6, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

[xviii] McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.

[xix] Geus, Marius De. Ecological Utopias: Envisioning the Sustainable Society. Utrecht, the Netherlands: International, 1999.

[xx] Thiele, L. P. 2000. Book Review: de Geus, M. 1999. Ecological Utopias: Envisioning the sustainable society. International Books, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Conservation Ecology 4(1): 18. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol4/iss1/art18/

[xxi] Gues, Marius de. Ectopia, sustainability, and vision. Organization & Environment. Vol: 15:2, 187-201Jun 2002. Web. October 7, 2011.


[xxii] Ricoeur, Paul.  Lectures on Ideology and Utopia.  Ed. George H. Taylor. New York:

Columbia UP, 1986.

Additional Recommended Readings:

Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York: Ballantine, 1972.

Buber, Martin, and Ronald Gregor. Smith. I and Thou. New York, NY: Scribner, 2000.

Capra, Fritjof. The Hidden Connections. London: Flamingo, 2003.

Capra, Fritjof. The Web of Life: a New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems. New York: Anchor, 1996.

Chivian, Eric, and Aaron Bernstein. Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

Matthiessen, Peter. Courage for the Earth: Writers, Scientists, and Activists Celebrate the Life and Writing of Rachel Carson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

McKibben, Bill. Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age. New York: Times, 2003.

Singer, Thomas. Psyche & the City: A Soul’s Guide to the Modern Metropolis. New Orleans: Spring Journal, 2010.

Suzuki, David, and Amanada McConnell. The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature. Vancouver, BC: Greystone, 2007.

Walljasper, Jay. All That We Share: How to save the Economy, the Environment, the Internet, Democracy, Our Communities, and Everything Else That Belongs to All of Us. New York: New, 2010.

Wilson, Edward O. Consilience: the Unity of Knowledge. New York: Knopf, 1998.

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“Stone” – A Film Analysis


The movie “Stone” directed by John Curran, dropped like one from the theater marquees before you anyone knew it and so when I ask anyone of they have seen the film, the answer is “Oh yea! What happened to that one? I saw the trailer and that was it.”  So “Stone” will be remembered for its trailer which is misleading anyway.   In fact, “Stone” sneaks up on you and catches you off guard.  If you expect something plot driven with action and a high speed chase forget it. Instead, it is a film about transformation of character based on archetypal elements.

Edward Norton plays a convict, as he has done before, but this time he portrays a man seemingly struggling with his dual nature, the sacred and profane, or is he?.  He is intent on manipulating Jack into freeing him on parole or contributing to his release. But in the process of struggling to understand his nature, the part of him that could allow his grandparents to be brutally murdered and then burn down their home, begins struggling to reach consciousness and Stone discovers an obscure religious teaching that teaches him about moving through stages in life.  Stone’s wife is played by Milla Jovovich.  Jack Mabry is played by Robert DiNero and Stone is played by Edward Norton.  Jack Mabry is a man tightly wrapped in a life hanging from a thread. Stone begins to work on Jack by asking him questions about whether he has the right to judge anyone, has he never done anything wrong? His life is being honed by Stone and by these questions that begin working on Jack and begin to wear him down.  He is wearing his ego down, weakening his fixed stance against the world.  Jack does not know his particular view of the world has died and is decaying and makes him vulnerable to someone like Stone who provides him a different pedagogy to his Episcopalian upbringing.  Stone knows Jack’s life is meaningless.  Stone’s accomplice is is his wife.  Stone and Lucetta (which means light) remind us of Elijah and Salome for Jung.  Lucetta seduces Jack sexually and Stone seduces him intellectually by making him doubt his life.  Jack was long overdue for such a change in life.  There is much in his life he needs to come to terms with including his marriage to his wife, played by Francis Conroy, the mother in the HBO series written by Alan Ball called Six Feet Under.  This is a Faustian tale and Jack, just like Faust, thought he had everything figured out.  But also like Faust Jack Mabry is dead from the neck down.  There is no passion in him and early in his marriage his wife tries to leave him because he keeps her “…soul in a dungeon” but Jack threatens to kill their child if she ever left him. Their marriage is coerced and the only two things that sustain it are alcohol and religion, both of which they consume on a daily basis.  In fact, the only intimacy between them is in reciting prayers and sharing drinks with each other.

There is a scene in  Goethe’s Faust, before Faust is given the gift of youth as part of his agreement with Mephistopheles, when his companion shares with him a natural way to youth that doesn’t require witch’s brew and potions. Mephistopheles suggests he work the “yonder fields” with the ox, as an ox and spread manure and reap the benefits of the earth.  Faust would have none of this for he is a learned man, not a common worker.   The part of Faust that is unlived is his instinctual nature, connected to the earth.  His passionate side remains in shadow deadening Faust’s outlook on life now in middle age.  He never married, never was with a woman, never had children.  Jung once said between Faust and Mephistopheles he thought the latter much more interesting than the dead cerebral Faust. In fact, Mephistopheles is Faust’s shadow and as his life is destroyed in taking his guidance, he also finds salvation.

If Stone is Jack’s shadow figure then Lucetta is Jack’s anima figure.  Lucetta connects him to his own instinctual nature again over which he now seems to have no control. This is his nature he denied his wife their whole marriage.  But by sleeping with Lucetta he has broken every law to which he clinged his whole life and career.  In a way Stone and Jack were shadow to each other. Each honed their character off the stone of the other.  Jack unforgiving, inflexible approach to his life required a conflagration and Stone’s chaotic drug-bathed unreasonable and unreasoned life required the discipline and Logos to bring order out of disorder.  As Jack descended into chaos after meeting Stone, Stone arose from it.

When Jack begins his descent he goes to his church minister for advice who tells him to remember what is in the Holy Scriptures, “Be still and know that I am God”.  The minister suggests that Jack needs to listen and that God works in mysterious ways.  This stillness is what Stone is searching for himself.  There is the incessant chaotic noise in prison that is parallel to the incessant noise Jack experiences with the radio talk shows discussing religion and God and righteous pathways and the sinfulness of human nature.  Jack has been listening to these voices for years just as Stone has been listening to his prison soundtrack for years and both now are becoming unbearable for each. Even the sensual and sensate Lucetta struggles with these changes Stone is going through and at one point feels left out of the lives of both men as they come to terms with each other.

There is some symbolism to the sounds in the film that cut through the chaos as one sustained sound of consciousness which we choose we listen to or not.  It is the sound of the insect that is extinguished when Jack threatens to kill his daughter.  It is the sound Jack hears perhaps for the first time at the end of the film before he turns his gaze above.  It is the sound that Stone tried to discern from the chaos in the prison.  It is also the sound that Jack cannot hear over the din of the religious rhetoric on the radio.

I began this review on the anniversary of September 11th and felt it was fitting that a film that is about self-reflection, self-transformation through coming to terms with our own shadow and reminding us of the work we have to do.  If we only mourn the loss of life on this 10 year anniversary we would have short-circuited the process of self-examination which would serve better those who died on that day and since.   Faust did not do the hard work needed to expand his life and consciousness; he did not take his shadow’s advice and work the fields.  He chose the short cut and that was his downfall.  That is our downfall.  And as for the film, we are not sure at the end who or how the characters are transformed but as Stone suggests “Let it burn, let the whole thing burn” and Jack’s life does burn up.  In alchemy fire is represented as the calcinatio which is a purification process by firing elements down to their purest form. It results from prolonged frustration of desires unfulfilled.  Jack blames Stone for his own house burning down at the end of the film but there is reason to suspect his wife who felt she was acting out the will of God.

Perhaps the reviews were right, what starts out as a film noir complete with anti-heroes and sexy dame is unraveled by the end in ambiguity and paradox.  “The paradox is that what they try to subvert in “Stone” — namely, your viewing habits — are intrinsic to your enjoyment of the movie.” (New York Times)   So amidst the din of high-budgeted, high-tech sound and fury films waiting to assault us this Oscar season, “Stone” requires we ponder a little bit about ourselves and how we may be transformed by the simplest, quietest, easily dismissible sound or image.   It requires us to listen very closely.  At the very end of the film Jack has gathered his belongings at work and is preparing to leave for retirement, his life now in shambles, the only role he knew was as a parole officer, as a judge of other men’s lives, to begin a journey in which, we suspect, he begins to rebuild his own life , a more complete and conscious man.  So as the film “Stone” falls fast and hard from our collective memory it hits the sidewalk not with a bang, but a whimper.

– Daniel Ross

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Putting Aside Childish Things: Enantiodromia From Ancient Israel to the 2012 Presidential Election

Some of Barak Obama’s original supporters have grown disenchanted. The depth of disappointment moved inversely with the collective appetite to make him a king and savior savior during the 2008 election cycle. The combined effects of the economic maelstrom that began in 2008 and collective, infantile hopes are now apparent in the rabid disappointment.  The impulse to select a scapegoat is understandable. What, if any, insights does archetypalal psychology offer during the upcoming United States election cycle?

Obama burst on the national scene out of nowhere galvanizing the US electorate and people in other countries.  He was vested him with symbolic, transformative qualities that few leaders achieve.  Dr Tom Singer proposed suggests Obama carried the “transcendent function” for our collective psyche.   Obama’s own mixed heritage of  Caucasian and African American, Christian with a Muslim background, Ivy league educated but upwardly mobile with humble roots made him a suitable figure to bear the transcendent function.  Candidate Barack Hussein Obama was a lightning rod whose power arced through the electorate and through people across the planet in almost palpable ways.


Howver,President Barack Obama inherited an economy mired in debt, slow growth, and unforeseen consequences that resulted from complex investment schemes that went awry.  The confluence of these forces and our collective hopes for deliverance are now exposing the enantiodromia present in the prersent-day political fervor.  The pall upon the age of American expansionism (some prefer imperialism) is made worse by the naive hopes we projected upon the man who would be king.  Something shifted and the choruses of “yes we can”, reminiscent of Reagan’s  “it’s morning in America”, began to sound like a vengeful mob.

The Old Testament prophet warned of the perils of turning away from Yahweh in favor of a king (1 Samuel 8).  The nation of Israel wanted a leader, they wanted to be like other nations.


Samuel issued one final warning (1 Samuel 12:14) “If God’s people will remain faithful to God’s Commandments” and if they would preserve Yaweh as their ruler, God would do great things.  Samuel proclaimed that God’s people must not abdicate their responsibility simply because a king had been appointed.

Modern history offers another example in the rise and fall of the Third Reich.  The collective despair of a defeated Germanic people, burdened with impossible war reparations, was transformed by a charismatic leader who restored hope and purpose. The degree to which the German people invested exaggerated hopes in their Fürher (leader) correlated with their subsequent disappointment and shame.

Let me be clear, I am not asserting a link between Obama and Hitler, but others have.  I am proposing that collectively charismatic figures activate complex tendencies to project the wish for deliverance and the fear of evil rulership.

Time and again we witness how unbridled hope precedes a fall.  When emotional investment in being “saved” crests, like it did in 2008, we should prepare to be overtaken by a trough of disappointment.  From Heraclitus to Jung this principle of enantiodromia reappears again and again.  The pendulum swings swings back, again and again.  Here, archetypal psychology offers guidance through the recognition that collective influences are at play and through the possibilities provided by the transcendent function.

Obama became an icon, one who delivers.  Yeshua, a name used by Messianic Jews and certain Christian sects in place of Jesus, means “one who delivers“.  Strains of this run throughout Judeo-Christian culture and the Western tradition.  While the the duties of the President of the United States allowed Obama to place his hands on some of the levers of this world, his election did not imbue him with Yahweh’s power.  It barely equipped him to play a convincing Oz.  The last 2 1/2 years of proven that he neither governs the world nor can he  (or anyone) sustain the illusion of such a reign.

Perhaps some of the malaise and disappointment being expressed can be accounted to Obama but such disappointment can also become an invitation to recover the extreme projections we placed on him.   Perhaps we can admit our role in the outcome.  Instead of placing the sin of naive, exaggerated hopes upon a scapegoat (President Obama) let advance a more transcendent, individuated perspective.  Let’s admit the part we play in this and similar political dramas.

Regardless of one’s political leanings, the tendency to project hopes on a “führer” leader contributes to the subsequent clamor and complaint.   We’ve yet to learn this lesson.  Our individual work can help us pull the reins when exaggerated hopes of deliverance surge.  And when our exaggerated anger and disappointment surges we can remember that we paved the way.  Archetypal psychology frames these dramas at the personal and collective levels.  Here we a Jungian perspective has something timely and universal to offer.


I invite you to watch the conference on President Obama that was placed on sale this weekend in light of the current election cycle.  Look for examples in the present race to select a Republican candidate of the impulse to project exaggerated hopes on successive individual candidates first Palin, then Bachman, and most recently Perry.  Consider that with each overstated hope emerges the seed of later disappointment.  Then consider how these outer narratives can in-“form” a more integrated, mature engagement with the world and politics.

Don’t miss the sale (http://ashevillejungcenter.org/dvd-store/40-off-dvd-sales/)

To candidate Obama I hope he can maintain sobriety. May he be mindful of Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer ” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”.

Those who cherish archetypal psychology might become purveyors of a new “golden mean” stirred by the cause of integration and individuation.  Share your thoughts with others (in this blog) and elsewhere in the months ahead.

– Len Cruz, MD

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