Posts Tagged ‘Active Imagination’

Fall Conference in New Mexico: “Civilization in Transition”

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  – Proverbs

Civilization in Transition:

Jungian Presence in Creative World Change.

Carl Jung foresaw a change in world order that he believed was a “spiritual transformation” in civilization. Aware of both its dangers and positive potential, he spoke of it in Civilization in Transition, part of which is paraphrased as follows: Humankind’s process of spiritual transformation cannot be hurried by rational process; but it is within our reach to change those who influence others. Those with insight into their own actions and access to the unconscious involuntarily influence their environment, not by persuading or teaching, but through an effect that pre-industrial peoples call “mana,” an influence on the unconscious of others… (CW X, para 583) The Foundation for International Training will meet in November for penetrating dialog about changes we face in the 21st century. We invite you to join us as we explore what these changes mean and the influence the Jungian community might have in promoting growth rather than destruction, hope rather than despair. In our world divided, there is a fractious split between old religious concepts and newer, more individual spiritual understandings. Brash greed of giant corporations is juxtaposed against a movement toward greater respect for earth’s people and resources. East and West battle for dominance. Distrust of leaders causes confusion, rage. Vitriolic rhetoric spills over into violent action. What major forms of individual and collective identity will solidify if human beings continue to split the world with rigid assignments of good and evil, insist on finding the enemy in otherness, and demand simple answers to complex problems? If it is who we are, not what we say, that effects lasting change, we must consider deeply who we are, who we are becoming, and what our role is in the collective. Dr. Jung’s insistence on the need for introspective awareness does not mean living entirely in isolated contemplation. He himself wrote, lectured, composed long, thoughtful letters, and risked his reputation as a scholar and scientist in exploring unpopular topics and challenging collective assumptions. Our conference will explore what is asked of us as we move into an unprecedented era of rapid travel and instant communication of information and misinformation. Ahead are opportunities for greater accord and understanding, and also dark emotions of fear, despair, suspicion and discord. The Foundation for International Training is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the support of concentrated studies in Analytical Psychology. Directors: John Desteian, Murray Stein, Stefan Boethius, Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Wynette Barton, Judith Harris, Paul Brutsche, John Hill, Penelope Yungblut and Dariane Pictet. **CLICK HERE FOR A BROCHURE AND REGISTRATION DETAILS** THE PROGRAM: A blessing by a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo will be followed by speakers, short videos, panel discussions, break-out discussions, and a few surprises. Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Jungian Analyst from Birmingham, Alabama, author of The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine, will speak on the healing role of feminine consciousness. Jacqueline Hairston will share rare insights about the sustaining, healing qualities of America’s Black musical tradition. Combining classical Julliard training with her knowledge of Negro spirituals and gospel music, Jacqui has composed and arranged music for Kathleen Battle, Robert Sims, William Warfield, and Sweet Honey and the Rock. Her new CD is Spiritual Roots + Classical Fruits: A Healing Harvest. David Barton will address “Titanism” (the tendency to dominate/ destroy the natural world) that comes from literalism rather than symbolic thinking and clashes with care of the soul. David is former publisher of The Salt Journal and guest editor for Spring Journal. Zurich Analyst Bernard Sartorius, long-time student of Marie-Louise von Franz, will discuss his recent travels in working with the polarities of Islam and the Western world. Conference moderator is Wynette Barton, Jungian Analyst from Austin. We await final confirmation (depending on schedule) from Governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. Congressman, U.N. Ambassador, New Mexico Governor, and world peacemaker; and other knowledgeable contributors. DATE:     Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011, beginning 4:00 PM. through Wednesday, Nov. 9, ending 1:00 PM. LOCATION:     Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, known for centuries to American Indians for its healing mineral waters, is a two-hour scenic drive from Albuquerque. (Travel details will be sent to registrants.) WEATHER:     Early November is usually sunny and brisk. Sweaters needed. CONTINUING EDUCATION:     8 hours credit for mental health workers. RESERVATIONS:     Reservations should arrive by March 10, 2011. Later registrations accepted if space is available. (Special room rate is available for those wishing to stay after the conference.) See photos of Ojo Caliente at **CLICK HERE FOR A BROCHURE AND REGISTRATION DETAILS**

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CROESUS SYNDROME: The Shadow in Psychotherapy


CROESUS SYNDROME: The Shadow in Psychotherapy

What, if anything, can the psychoanalyst or psychotherapist do to contend with the shadow aspects of their professional persona?   This is by no means a universal concern among psychotherapists for several reasons.  Certainly there are many persons practicing forms of psychotherapy that do not regard the unconscious as their concern at all.  Behavioral, cognitive, and solutions-oriented therapies, to name a few, have no need of the unconscious.  I am reminded of one of my supervisors in residency who attempted to encourage me to face facts squarely about a certain repeated conflict I was experiencing.

He pointed out:

“It’s entirely up to you whether or not you choose to ignore reality;  the question  is, will reality ignore you?”.

Likewise, modern therapies that emphasize ego adaptation are free to ignore the unconscious; the question remains; however, will the unconscious ignore the therapy?

A psychotherapist in training is more likely to remain in contact with their unconscious.  Formal supervision may provide a measure of scrutiny to the psychotherapist’s unconscious process.  Ideally, supervision imparts to the psychotherapist a praxis and a habit for such examination.   This may then develop into a continuing process of self-examination that will serve both therapist and clients in the future.  This is, however,  where reality frequently diverges from the ideal objectives of training.

There are no formal requirements that the psychotherapist remain in supervision.  Instead, there is a tacit implication that a figure has arisen in the psychotherapist whose function becomes supervisor in absentia.  It seems highly unlikely that if this figure ever really coalesced that it will be preserved.  There are many reasons why such an interior figure is likely to atrophy or die.   Chief among the reasons for this figure either never fully developing or atrophying is what I shall call the Croesus Syndrome.


Croesus was King of Lyda from 560 BC to 547 BC until his defeat by the Persians.  He is credited with being the first to introduce gold coinage of a standard weight and purity.  His wealth and power was vast and before setting out on his campaign against Cyrus of Persia, he consulted the Delphic Oracle.

The message provided by the Oracle took its usual cryptic form.  Croesus was told that if he campaigned against Cyrus of Persia a great empire would fall and he was further advised to align himself with the most powerful Greek state.  He struck alliances with Sparta among others and set off.  As was the custom, Croesus disbanded his army when winter arrived.  Cyrus did not and he attacked Croesus in Sardis.  Croesus then understood the great empire that the oracle foretold would be destroyed was his own empire.  Such is often the fate of the psychotherapist who endeavors to cultivate an interior figure that serve as supervisor in absentia.




Like Croesus, that psychotherapist seeks the oracle’s message but the psychotherapist’s dreams, associations, and active imagination yield their mysteries in cryptic form.  And also like Croesus, the psychotherapist suffers a predictable inclination toward interpreting his or her unconscious material in accord with their conscious, more acceptable understanding.  Notice that the psychotherapist’s shadow need not be included in this process.  In fact, the shadow elements of the psychotherapist will further resemble Croesus’s tale in that its unacknowledged state may be credited with the failures of the campaign, the psychotherapy or psychoanalysis itself.


I have some ideas of what may be done about this predicament but I am interested in knowing what other therapists think about this dilemma and how others endeavor to address it.

Please share the methods you employ to not only remain in contact with your unconscious and also share the strategies you have found useful in engaging the inherent blind spots that Croesus so dramatically illustrated in antiquity.

Len Cruz

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Missed It By That Much

Missed It By That Much Len Cruz, MD Those who are familiar with the television show, “Get Smart” recognize the source of the title.  Maxwell Smart, a hapless secret agent would justify his obvious missteps with the phrase, Missed it by that much! During yesterday’s Red Book conference with Dr. Murray Stein, there were too many gold nuggets to even attempt a summary.  Instead, I chose one that Dr. Stein illustrated by recounting one of Jung’s dreams.  I’ll begin with a shortened version Jung’s dream as recounted by Dr. Stein. Jung and his father are in a mosque.  They find themselves kneeling and beginning to bow.  Evidently, Jung’s father bows fully allowing his head to make contact with the floor.  However, Jung stops within a millimeter of the floor.  He will not permit himself to bow completely. (Missed it by that much!) Yesterday Dr. Stein suggested that in Jung’s later years Jung stated that he did not believe but he knew. This may reflect Jung’s integration of the figure of Philemon a sort of prophet with whom he had engaged in fertile relationship for years.  According to Dr. Stein, the famous dream described above reflected Jung having outgrown a childish faith.  Soul had invited Jung to offer obedience to the gods, an exhortation he refused.  He argues with this anima figure and refuses to offer unqualified, blind obedience.   Instead, Jung proposed that if the gods wanted him to obey they must do something for him.  Dr. Stein suggested that this is evidence of Jung’s mature faith, a fully flowering faith founded upon knowing and not believing. At an earlier point in the conference Dr. Stein explained that Jung did not oppose faith but that the German word to which he objected might be better translated as belief, the experience of believing in something because you have been told to do so or because it has been transmitted to you.  Belief, in this context, is the untested, un-lived version of knowing. Dr. Stein connected his ideas about Jung’s mature faith to the modern theological trend known collectively as “Process Theology”.  Anyone interested learning more about Process Theology may find these two books helpful, “Process and Reality (A. N. Whitehead) and “Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition” (John Cobb & David Ray Griffin).  What a brilliant insight Dr. Stein makes in suggesting that Jung’s later writings such as “Answer to Job” presage the movement that has come to be known as “Process Theology”.  An exceptional summary and commentary on “Answer to Job” by J. Marvin Spiegelman can be found online at .  It is no surprise that Dr. Stein, who is divinity trained (and possibly divinely trained), should make such a clear connection between Jung’s mature faith perspective and the process theologians.   However, let me propose a different rendering of Jung’s dream.  Jung may have missed it by that much! Dr. Stein discouraged the reader of the Red Book from viewing the material as some channeled work. Jung’s ego not only remained intact, it was actively engaged with the interior figures.  There was no merger, no suspension of ego into some passive vessel, no idle recipient of channeled experiences.   To the contrary, Jung was contentious, argumentative and even rude at times.  While this stance toward his interior figures may have permitted a fuller, deeper exposition of their insights and instruction, it may also have obstructed a different kind of knowing.  That stance also reflects an unyielding, willful, recalcitrant feature in Jung that earlier perhaps contributed to his split with Freud and delayed reconciliation with Father Victor White.  Perhaps the dream and that single millimeter are simultaneously a testament to Jung’s mature faith and his inability to offer a complete surrender into the mystical union.  It was a bridge he could not cross. Jung’s tenacious grip upon the egoic functions that allowed him to record such a rich travel log as the Red Book may have been the ultimate barrier to the experience of the mystic.  We think of Rumi’s poetry as a different sort of travel log from one who became lost in a merged state with the divine. This brings us back to Jung’s dream.  It is at once a testament by a man who has done the arduous work of soul building and one who had not found a way to step willingly into complete surrender.  Jung is a post-Promethean man.  He has received the fire of illumination and steps out fearlessly to claim his rights as an image bearer of God.  He sustains his fortitude when he declines soul’s request for his obedience to the gods.  Earlier, Philemon counseled Jung to always keep his eye on this figure (soul) and never lose sight of her.  But Philemon also advised Jung to beware since she would lead him astray.  Jung’s defiance to yield that last millimeter pays heed to Philemon’s counsel.   I propose that single millimeter of difference between Jung and his father extends in myriad directions.  It suggests an Oedipal defiance that conflates his earthly father and heavenly Father.  The drama of that single millimeter is like an harmonic in music, akin to an integer multiple of an earlier note in Jung’s life when he had his falling out with Freud.  And again, it is as if that millimeter he withholds is an overtone of an earlier conflict with Fr. Victor White. Jung exemplifies the Übermensch  Nietzsche glorifies.  In addition, the endless recurrence of which Nietzsche was so fond, seems confirmed by the harmonic resonance between Jung and his succession of opponents (earthly father, Freud, White, heavenly Father).  Jung claims his place in relation to the gods and will not demure.  He is reminiscent of Camus’ Sisyphus.  Camus imagines this rebellious, miscreant trickster differently as he carries out his sentence of rolling a stone up a hill only to have it roll down the other side and starting over again.  Camus turns away from suicide by rendering this mythopoetic figure as being happily defiant toward the gods who condemned him.  Jung’s refusal to yield that last millimeter conforms to Camus’ Sisyphus.  To parody the title of the 1967 hit Broadway musical, he was a Thoroughly Modern Mensch (not Millie). Sadly, Jung will not allow himself to recover the childlike realms of faith by offering a complete surrender.  It is tempting to wonder what might have occurred if Jung had descended one additional millimeter.  It is in that final millimeter that Jung reveals a profound struggle.  While not disputing Dr. Stein’s proposition that the millimeter reflects Jung’s mature claim upon his own divine attributes, I propose that the fateful millimeter is also an indication of the transcendent function falling short of its mark.  Perhaps it points to the unification of apparent opposites at a meta-level.  Can a person be simultaneously defiant as Jung is when he refuses refuses to descend one last millimeter and knowingly submit by offering himself as a living sacrifice to the gods (or God).  That sacrifice is akin to the one Jesus commits to in the garden in Gethsemane.  He knows his fate, he is fully developed as a Self, and he proceeds to surrender anyway.  Do not think that I am proposing some inflating identification with Jesus the Christ; I am not.  I am using His example to illustrate a point.  It may be the transcendent function failed Jung and in his final moments, he turned away from the mystical, merged state and chose to keep his bearings.  If he had plunged just a millimeter deeper perhaps he might have had nothing to show for his work but an exquisite love poem of the sort Rumi left us.  To Jung, who had faced his demons and realized that he was driven by the pursuit of honor, that might not have seemed enough. In Jung’s personal Twilight of the Idols he refrains from the callous, barren expression that Nietzsche arrives at but he seems unable to unify the rational, willful, fully developed man with the numinous, yielding, childlike man.  And so, it is in that last millimeter, that Jung truly may have Missed It By That Much. From “Thus Spake Zarathustra”-Nietzsche O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare? “I was asleep— From a deep dream I woke and swear:— The world is deep, Deeper than day had been aware. Deep is its woe— Joy—deeper yet than agony: Woe implores: Go! But all joy wants eternity— Wants deep, wants deep eternity.”

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