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Posts Tagged ‘Life of Carl Jung’
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When John Hill performed the role of Father Victor White in The Jung-White Letters, he seemed possessed by the spirit of the man. In John Hill’s recent publication, At Home in the World: Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging, leaves me wondering if he has now been possessed by an entire cloud of witnesses comprised of Irish poets spanning centuries. There is a lyrical quality that pervades the book and the publisher, Spring Journal Books, has done a marvelous job with the layout, cover design, the references, and every detail of the book. Perhaps John Hill pulled his inspiration from a Fairy fort but the result is magical. As the February 4th conference Architecture of the Soul: The Inner & Outer Structures of C G Jung, (with Murray Stein & Andreas Jung) approaches, this is a timely read. Hill’s scholarship is systematic and rigorous, but the book is replete with powerful and evocative language. Hill gently weaves into the text many others who have shaped and influenced him like Paul Ricouer, Ernst Cassirer, along with one of my favorite fiction writers, Jhumpa Lahiri. The thesis of his book may appear self-evident but I could not have imagined the depth and breadth of material I found in this book. John Hill has been practicing Jungian Psychoanalysis for forty years and it shows. He has been devoted to matters of the spirit even longer. The reader will enjoy the subtle, perceptive way Hill incorporates clinical material from client’s dreams and narratives. It is refreshing to encounter a writer who also lays himself bare to the reader without crossing the line into self-indulgence that can easily become a spectacle. This is an analyst who comprehends that self-disclosure, even within the pages of a book, can be a powerful tool. And I suspect he also understands that self-disclosure can also be unwieldy. Therapists do well to stay alert for moments when self-disclosure serves their own unmet needs for mirroring and affirmation since they may easy remained it is for their client’s benefit. Modernity has ushered in unprecedented opportunities for homeowners to furnish their dwellings in cohesive, well designed styles that may sold as an entire package. Some furniture retailers make it easy to avoid making mistake by standardizing entire groupings of furnishings. IKEA is not unique in its ability to commoditize home furnishings and to impart a sense to its customers that a unique look can be achieved on a budget. The sheer volume and global reach of an IKEA testifies to the inclination to make a home unique through elements that are in fact standardized. Such a home, according to Hill may be at risk of being left “…. without a soul.” In contrast, we will have the opportunity on February 4th to participate in a conference whose outer, visible subject is The Home of C. G. Jung. After reading Hill’s, At Home in the World: Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging, I suspect the upcoming conference presented through Asheville Jung Center will end up being about our own magnum opus, our home. We each approach this differently, just as we each approach the magnum opus of our individuation differently. For some, the reliance on a standard assortment of furnishings provides a personal space that avoid too much personal disclosure but also impedes personal discovery. For others, the home provides a platform of self-expression. There are homes I have entered where I could sense the disconnection between the soul of its inhabitants and the structure itself. There are limitless permutations for combining the inner dimensions of our being and the outer structure of our home. And according to John Hill, “When a home becomes a mere product, dissociated from one’s own personal and collective history, it is probably in danger of losing its soul.” (pg11) Some individuals delight in assembling elements into a home. They strive for that ineluctable symmetry between the inner call of the soul and the outer manifestation of their home. When we speak of homemaking as a function of managing the household we miss the much deeper connection between the demands of keeping things going in a family and the making of a home. Hill notes, “We live in a world that offers us two different ways of seeing it — one functional and the other symbolic.” (pg47) It seems there as many different modus operandi for fashioning a home as there are styles of composition, materials and technique for the artist. Good teachers like John Hill convey complex subjects in clearly understandable ways. The five or six pages on transference provide a good illustration and despite their conciseness Hill does not sacrifice the rich, evocative quality of his prose. Images alone do not necessarily address key psychological issues or cross the great divide between Thou and I … (pg112) Often in the deep constellations of transference and countertransference, the client finds the opportunities to relive much of the past. … The analyst must realize that he cannot indulge in the fantasy of providing a home for all those who need one. (pg113) I live on the hyphen as a Cuban-American. My soul has one foot firmly planted in the United States of America where I was born while the other foot, the one possessed of dreams of return to an island I have never known, has nowhere to step. Countless others share my experience of life on the hyphen. The nations that bookend their hyphen do not separate us nearly as much as the hyphen unites us. We who are hyphenated are a diaspora in our own right. We are caught between two homes the one we left and the one where we dwell. But we are all likely to find ourselves somewhere along the continuum of a home we have known, a home we know now, and a home that awaits us. Salmon Rushdie writes that, “Exile is a dream of a glorious return.” Like Odysseus, we may find ourselves in a seemingly endless pursuit of a return home. John Hill reveals to us some of the personal details of his own life away from his native Ireland without being mawkish. At Home in the World would be wonderful preparation for the upcoming conference Architecture of the Soul: The Inner & Outer Structures of CG Jung, (with Murray Stein & Andreas Jung). It will also be a great resource for anyone interested in the psychological implications and underpinnings of home from a Jungian perspective. John Hill gave a gifted performance of Father Victor White in The Jung White Letters that moved me to examine the chords that resonated through Jung’s relationship with Sigmund Freud and later Father White. It also deeply moved me to consider what chords resonate through my relationships with men in my life. Now At Home in the World has moved me to examine from a fresh perspective my relationship to place. It has stirred a renewed interest in exploring the spaces and structures, past, present, and future that are called home in my life. Hill’s last paragraph reads like a closing hymn in prose and here he reveals a dream that arrived as he brought the book to completion. … All at once the dream flashed across my mind, and I “knew” what it was trying to say. …The house was my book on home. The brickwork symbolized the thoughts and ideas of others who had influenced me, and contributed to its making. The rough-hewn stones indicated that the work was connected with my identity. … I have built the house from the materials of the earth. It is a house that contains, but it is also open to the world and to the spirit. Hopefully it can be an object of delight and contemplation, not just for me, but also for all who have crossed its threshold, so that you, dear reader, may appreciate your own home in new and creative ways. Invitation Take a moment to consider the word “home”. Let your imagination run free and let yourself be transported to homes you have occupied, homes you have wished to occupy, homes you have left, homes you have awaiting you in the future. Consider what home means in your interior life and notice where the interior experience or awareness of home is in sync with the structure you call home and where the two seem out of sync. Please consider posting a comment about “home” so that we might open the doors and let one another peak in. Len Cruz, MD
On February 4, 2011, Dr. Murray Stein will present a conference together with Andreas Jung, in collaboration with the Asheville Jung Center titled “Architecture of the Soul: Inner and Outer Structures of C. G. Jung”. Andreas Jung is an architect whose father and great uncle were also architects. He is a graduate of Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ) and currently lives in the home on Seestrasse. C. G. Jung was intimately involved in the design of this home and attended to such things as the cladding upon the walls that provided deeply niched windows and lovely inset glass cabinets in the dining room. Andreas Jung authors two very personal chapters and serves as the co-editor of the book. Arthur Rüegg, a professor of architecture at ETHZ, opens one of the chapter titled “Living in a Museum?” with the following rendering: The house of Carl Gustav Jung is without a doubt the physical expression of a great mind. In 1906, while still “an impecunious assistant medical director at the Burghölzi mental home in Zürich”, Jung wrote to his cousin, architect Ernst Fietcher, of his plans “… to build a house someday, in the country near Zürich, on the lake”. It was the untimely death of Emma Jung’s father that allowed the couple to build the home. The Jungs worked closely with the architect and landscape architects on the design. Three generations of Jung’s have lived in this home that is now owned by a foundation (Stiftung C. G. Jung Küsnacht). Two of those generations of inhabitants were “…families who could read these traces and respectfully carry on the tradition.” (p 90). The history of the house and it’s renovations is crisply and artfully presented. What emerges from the pages of The House of C. G. Jung is a portrait of an intentional man who demonstrated an uncanny ability to move between the worlds of the mythopoetic interior life and the tangible, concrete realms. It should be no surprise that the man who constructed the Tower at Bollingen would have built a home worthy of memorializing. Jung gave attention to details such as wall hangings, tile selection and placement of the rooms where he conducted analysis so as not to displace Emma from the library and interfere with her work. The chapter “Living in a museum?” reads like a patient’s anamnesis as it reviews the homes history and developmental influences. The reader is reminded that homes, like organic things, change and adapt to their circumstances and their inhabitants. Despite several major renovations through the last century, the respect and regard for the original home was preserved. The home is a testament to what concentrated self-examination and openness to the individuation process can produce. It is the biography of a house that is no less impressive for what it reveals or the man who built it. Architecture and psychology are first cousins. Consider a few quotes assembled from several renown architects. “Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.” Le Corbusier “The home should be the treasure chest of living.” Le Corbusier “Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun.” Frank Lloyd Wright “Form follow function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.” Frank Lloyd Wright “Freedom is from within.” Frank Lloyd Wright “The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind.” Frank Lloyd Wright “Architecture is the will of the epoch translated into structure.” Ludwig Miles van der Rohe Invitation: The house that “you” built Take a moment to consider the space you inhabit, whether it is a home, office, apartment, or just a room. Examine it for details that reflect aspects of your interior life. Where do you see function pronouncing itself and where does aesthetic seem to announce itself? Examine the space for signs and signifiers of your individuated self and for signs of where your individuation is ensnared in its effort to emerge. Compose a work of your own that reflects the house you have built. If you feel so moved, please share those reflections with others in our community by posting a comment on this blog. If you are planning to attend the seminar on February 4, “Architecture of the Soul: Inner and Outer Structures of C. G. Jung”. then this exercise might be a useful preparation, like tilling the soil before the planting. Len Cruz, MD
The Asheville Jung Center would like to thank Thomas Singer, M.D. for allowing us to republish his captivating review of The Book of Symbols in our blog.
(Thomas Singer, M.D. is a psychiatrist and Jungian psychoanalyst with particular interests in contemporary political and social movements. He has written and/or edited several books including the newly published Psyche and the City: A Soul’s Guide to the Modern Metropolis (editor) which has been published by Spring Book Publications, The Cultural Complex (co-edited with Sam Kimbles), The Vision Thing, Who’s the Patient Here? (with Stu Copans, M.D.) and A Fan’s Guide to Baseball Fever: The Official Medical Reference (with Stu Copans, M.D.).
The publication of The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images is the child of an unlikely marriage between ARAS, a hidden gem of an archive, with Taschen, the daring and brilliant world wide publisher of fine art books. The union of ARAS and Taschen is not so strange when one realizes that both organizations are passionate about depth and beauty. Each is willing to spend the time, money, and human energy to bring a unique vision into the world. The result is a gorgeous bargain of a book which follows in the ground breaking tradition of C.G. Jung’s Man and His Symbols. For most of its seventy five year history, branches of what is now known as ARAS (The Archives for Research in Archetypal Symbolism) have pursued its mission in relative obscurity, hidden away in the filing cabinets of a handful of Jungian Institutes. A few years ago, ARAS created ARAS Online by digitizing its collection of 17,000 images and 90,000 pages of cultural and psychological commentary. ARAS Online and its free quarterly ARAS Connections offer stunning public access to the archive. The Book of Symbols is the newest and richest offering of ARAS which is now sharing its treasures and wisdom with the world. The publication of the book represents the culmination of a fourteen year effort by a large team of collaborators who were led by Ami Ronnberg and Kathleen Martin. The emergence of ARAS into more public arenas has caught the eye of both the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal. In August, 2010 Arianna Huffington turned to ARAS Online to help understand the symbolic power of Sarah Palin’s identification with the mother bear. And just a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported with some fascination on the ARAS approach to the archetypal world of images! This is astonishing because ARAS has about as much to do with financial markets as the great German mystic, Meister Eckhart, does with the derivative bond market. According to C. G. Jung “psyche is image” and The Book of Symbols is all about the evocative power of images to move us in profound and mysterious ways. Most books of symbols manage to kill the symbol by reducing it to simplistic equations. The Book of Symbols moves in just the opposite direction by allowing the living symbol to shine through poetic evocations of beautifully chosen images. It follows the lead of Eckhart who taught us that “When the soul wants to experience something she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.” The mission of ARAS is to collect and research examples of archetypal symbolism from every culture and every age. For example, if you go to ARAS Online and select “snake”, you will get the following “cultural time line” which displays by culture and age every image in the collection related to “snake”: The Book of Symbols follows this principle of using images from around the world and every era to explore a symbol. Here is a small sampling of images and shortened, accompanying text offered in The Book of Symbols: 1. Creation and Cosmos: Passing through the Fire of Purgatory, manuscript illustration from Dante’s Divine Comedy 15th century C.E. “In myth and in reality, fire sometimes merely destroys, but often destroys so that from the purified residue or ashy essences a new world may come into being.” 2. Plant World: Pine Trees, detail, by Hasegawa Tohaku, screen. 16th Century C.E. “With a few brushstrokes, a Japanese painter conveys the strong, standing presence of pines amid the grey mists of winter. Associated with Confucias and the Taoist immortals, the pine is a favorite subject of Chinese and Japanese painters and poets. Because of its hardiness and the fact that it retains its green leaves even through the winter, the pine has become a symbol of long life, immortality, constancy, courage, strength in adversity, and steadfastness unaffected by the blows of nature.” 3. Animal World: The Ba or soul bird from the Book of the Dead of Tehenena, 18th dynasty (ca. 1550-1295 B.C.E.) Egypt “In our desire for boundless freedom, we identify ourselves with the flight of birds. In our imagination, we transcend the ordinary world by leaving the earth and the weight of the body. Wings lift us.” 4. Human World: The Bleeding Heart (Lamb of God) anonymous, oil on tin, 19th century, Mexico “Stop the flow of your words, open the window of your heart and let the spirit speak.” Rumi 5. Spirit World: Rock Painting by San Bushmen, South Africa “In the very earliest time, when both people and animals lived on earth, a person could become an animal if he wanted to and an animal could become a human being. Sometimes they were people and sometimes animal and there was no difference. All spoke the same language. That was the time when words were like magic. The human mind had mysterious power. ….. Nobody could explain this: That’s the way it was.” Translated from Innuit by Edward Field In the early stages of creating The Book of Symbols, one of the contributors dreamt of the emerging book in the following way:
“I am in a library, looking in a reference book. The first page is ‘A’ which has a listing for ‘apricots’ — except the apricots are real and I can take them off the page, put them on a plate and eat them. A man next to me is looking at the entry for ‘beans’ under B and he can do the same thing with the beans.”Many readers of The Book of Symbols are finding this prophetic dream to be true as they partake of the book as an unexpected and magical feast of living symbols that they can ingest. About the phenomena of the edible book, one can only follow the lead of the Inuit poet and say:Nobody can explain this: That’s the way it is.
There is an age old battle between the rational and irrational, the logical view versus an artistic or symbolic one. Jung talks of a “Mythopoetic Imagination,” which he saw as severely lacking in our modern culture. It is what often engages us on the Jungian path, which stands in stark contrast to our daily & mundane realities. Watch this brief video from our 2nd Red Book seminar (AJC #11) where Dr. Murray Stein introduces the idea of the Mythopoetic Journey. As always, your comments are welcome… ____________________________ ____________________________
We recently released a powerful theatrical drama of Carl Jung and Victor White wrestling profoundly with the natures of God, satan, good and evil.
http://ashevillejungcenter.org/dvd-store/ The 90 minute dramatic piece is followed by 2 hours of Dr. Murray Stein lecturing on these topics out of Zurich. In this weeks 7 minute video blog below, Dr. Stein answers the question “what did Jung mean by the age of the Holy Spirit?” Jung saw an evolution of the tension of opposites being transcended into the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He starts with the Old Testament “God the Father,” then progresses to the New Testament “God the Son.” These plolarities are eventually transcended into the “Holy spirit” Watch this brief video piece as Dr. Stein describes how the “Age of the Holy Spirit” comes into being.
Betrayal is a hard topic to look at and hold onto for any length of time. It engenders some of our most intense emotions. In this week’s blog, Murray Stein dives into the Christian Scripture and how it deals with betrayal in the Book of Job and the Gospel story. The following is an excerpt from Dr. Stein’s recent lecture at Jungian Odyssey 2010 in Switzerland: We should not be so surprised by the behavior of the current bankers and money people. In the Christian scripture, the most infamous example of betrayal is Judas, the disciple who handled the finances for the devoted group of disciples around Jesus. In his act of betrayal, when he “delivered up” (in Latin this is expressed by the word tradere, from which descends the English word “betray”) the Lord to the Romans, he displayed for posterity the archetypal image of the flawed Moneyman. Wisdom counsels caution when sitting with people who deal with money. It can be a short step from trust to cynicism when one considers the betrayal behavior of human beings in possession of power through the ages. Power corrupts integrity, as does money, and so does desire in all its forms and manifestations. Desire reaches for gratification, and all too often it abuses the trust placed in position and authority. The current fierce controversy burning through the Catholic Church regarding the trust misplaced in predatory priests, who have abused their sacrosanct positions for sexual pleasures at the expense of children, has led more than a few people to question clerical sincerity at all levels and in all places. Many are leaving the church as a result, and with feelings that can lead to cynicism, sneering angrily at all allusions to any possible goodness in human motives. Especially the abused who have now risen up and are calling for transparency are filled with rage. Will the traumas inflicted upon them as children and youths drive them ineluctably into sheer cynicism? We must recognize that the benefits of the idealizing transference are hard to resist by its beneficiaries, whether they be priests, analysts, weather newscasters, a Miss or Mister Swiss (or America), golf champions, or just simple men or women who are admired and loved too well. Transference objects, be they gods or humans, are dangerous to keep around because of the trust we place in them. The cynic is one who knows this all too well, having been deeply wounded and unwilling to let go of the pain inflicted, but rather hangs on to it and reinterprets the world through the eyes of mistrust, even paranoia. Is there another possible outcome? Can betrayal lead to wisdom instead of to cynicism? This is a possibility I wish to consider, and to that end propose the following: Betrayal shatters images that consciousness has built up into seemingly reliable structures in which one can place faith and trust. Out of this shattering of trusted images, which leads to profound darkness and despair, a light of new consciousness may emerge that we would call wisdom. “In God We Trust” If we take betrayal to the ultimate – its archetypal apex – we have to consider the greatest betrayal of them all, the betrayal of a blameless man by God Himself. I must confess that it will forever remain a wonder to me that the Biblical redactors would allow what appears to be such a subversive work into the canon. Doesn’t this book blatantly question the faith and trust the community is supposed to place in the Lord with whom they have an agreed upon Covenant, a sacred contract of mutuality? Here is the problem. In the fifth Book of the Pentatuch, Deuteronomy, the Lord swears for all to hear: “And because you hearken to these ordinances, and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love which he swore to your fathers to keep; he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples.” (Deut. 7:12-14). This is the promise made by God to Israel. In The Book of Job, however, the Lord unaccountably takes a contrary position. First he praises his servant Job as faultless, hence his enviable prosperity as represented by his ten children, his thousands of sheep, camels, oxen, and she-asses, and his many servants. He is the richest man of the east, and the Lord is pleased to have kept his promise as stated in the Covenant above. But when the wily Satan challenges Job’s sincerity, God easily yields to his doubting thoughts and to Satan’s seduction: “Behold, he is in your power; only spare his life” (Job 2:9). Therewith he delivers his faithful servant Job over into the hands of the archetect of ruin and destruction who is now going to put him to the test. Job has done nothing to call for this unfair trial. Is this not a betrayal of the Covenant? So what is the Bible trying to say with the inclusion of The Book of Job? Let’s remember that The Book of Job belongs to what in Biblical Studies is called Wisdom Literature. We need to consider, therefore, the role of betrayal in the attainment of wisdom. Jung’s “Answer to Job” In his astonishing late work, Answer to Job, Jung draws some startling conclusions from the placement of The Book of Job in the Biblical canon. Jung puts himself in the position of a psychotherapist listening to a patient’s story. The protagonist, Job, presents himself as an utterly pious man, innocent of any conscious or unconscious faults or sins whatsoever. God agrees with this assessment. As He looks down upon his servant from his heavenly throne, He praises him as a perfect example of virtue and obedience to the laws of the covenant, a wholly pious and blameless man. Satan, the Lord’s sly interlocutor, challenges this perception and offers to put it to the test. He claims that if God’s servant Job is stripped of his possessions, his cozy family, his health and all that has gone into his rich and successful life he will turn cynical, he will curse God, and he will betray his faith and turn his back on the Lord. So God takes the bait and lets Satan do his worst, save only that he spare Job’s life. And thus the horrible story unfolds. Job loses his children, his entire wealth, his very health, and at this point his wife tells him to curse God and die. He refuses and declares in the famous lines: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destoryed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” (Job 19: 25-27) To his friends who come and advise him to confess his sins, arguing that he is being punished for some breaches in his supposed righteous conduct, he turns a deaf ear and stubbornly defends his innocence and faultlessness. Finally the Lord Himself steps into the picture and puts on a great display of majesty and power, showing Job his pitiful smallness as a man compared to His supreme authority as God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Job is silenced. He does not raise the slightest protest or objection to what the Lord has done to him and in no way does he voice an accusation of betrayal on God’s part. Rather, he silently receives this show of power in all humility, after which God restores his wealth, gives him a set of new children, and puts things back in order for him. As Jung the psychotherapist listens to this story, he becomes enraged. He experiences what Michael Fordham called a syntonic countertransference. He speaks up for Job’s repressed feelings of anger and outrage at being so unwarrantedly played with by God. As a deeply tuned and empathic psychotherapist, Jung registers the unconscious feelings of Job, and in his impassioned text he voices them boldly and without reservation. Going a step further in his role as psychoanalyst, he diagnoses this Deity as being dissociated from his omniscience, as split off from his anima (“Sophia”) and from Eros, and as abysmally unconscious and lacking in integration as a personality. Basically, he depicts the Lord of The Book of Job as exhibiting the features of a narcissistic or borderline personality, lacking in reflection and the capacity to contain his impulses, and totally incapable of empathizing with the troubles inflicted by his own left hand (aka Satan) on his victim. In other words, the Lord is made out by Jung to be the Great Betrayer and Job, an innocent victim, the betrayed. And this makes him very angry. He is in the grips of a profound countertransference reaction, and he lets fly with all his emotion. (For this display of raw emotion, Victor White took Jung to task and called it “childish” and a “venting of spleen.”) What happens to Job is not fair, so how can justice be served? Jung asks. God must be held to account. This is the surprising turn of events, unanticipated by the Lord who thought that only Job was being tested, whereas in reality He too is under scrutiny. Justice is demanded, compensation, a balance of accounts. Yes, Job has a replacement family and a new fortune, but this can hardly make up for what he lost. Job may have survived, but now justice must still be done and a new consciousness born. To this end, God the Betrayer must be made to suffer precisely what He has inflicted on the human being, Job. God must become conscious, and the only way to consciousness is through an equivalent experience. Therefore, God must suffer what Job has suffered, namely betrayal of the deepest and most devestating sort. And God must do this to Himself, since no-one could of course do this to Him. Consequently, God incarnates Himself in a man, as Jesus of Nazareth. Jung interprets the story of the New Testament as a direct reaction to the betrayal inflicted on Job. Jesus, the incarnation of God, will experience what Job was made to experience, and through this suffering God will satisfy the requirement of justice and also become conscious. The experiences of betrayal that Jesus is put through – not only that of Judas, which is quite minor by comparison to the betrayal by God as expressed in the words “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” uttered on Golgotha – are God’s sufferings in parallel to Job’s, and these comprise the “answer to Job.” Jesus is the Savior of God in this reprise of the story, not mankind. Like Job, Jesus survives the betrayal in that he resurrects and ascends to heaven. So in neither case does the story descend into cyncism and to complete breakdown of faith and trust, to a vision of reality that is devoid of trustworthiness and in which there is no redemption. According to Jung, God should have attained to wisdom through this experience of betrayal. A psychologist, however, must ask: Are these outcomes satisfactory? Do they convey psychological truth? Or are they illusory, defensive, and a mere flimsy patchwork placed over the deep wound of betrayal? Jung the psychotherapist does not buy into the view that all ends well in these parallel narratives. The betrayal is too deep. (In his writings, Jung rarely speaks of the resurrection and the ascension. Easter is not his favorite holiday. Good Friday is more convincing.) For Jung, who is listening to the story of the Bible unfold from his psychotherapeutic chair, the story of Job ends with the revelation of God’s awesome power that silences the human, and the story of Jesus concludes on the note of betrayal cried out from the cross. He will not be drawn into an illusory solution, a folie a deux with the patient that says everything is OK when in fact it is not. As a psychotherapist, he insists on staying with the nigredo state until it transforms from within. No magical solutions allowed, no easy escapes, no defensive flights into fantasy. The tragedy of betrayal must be fuly digested before it can transform into wisdom. So Jung presses on – again, not as a theologian but as a clinician. One has to come to a state of consciousness that can positively accept and contain evil alongside the good. To simply flee into the good is to set up what Don Kalsched, following Fordham, has called a defense of the self, that is, a defensive structure that is meant to protect the soul from the insult of deep betrayal but does this job at a price too high. The naïve believer in this story’s happy outcome gets stuck in the defense of religious belief in the Good and so cannot cope with the evil within and without. This is a trap with enormous consequences for the individual and for society, as we see in our fundamentalistic age. It isolates the soul from life and from further experience. The consequence is in this sense suicidal. Jung wanted something better for his patient. He wanted to preserve the possibility for life, and to that end he advocated going further into the suffering. Betrayal shatters the precious and often sacrosanct images a person has lived by, hoped in, found guidance from, and trusted. The idealized transference object is broken, and another reality is presented, a reality that shows the shadow beside the persona, the depths of pathology in the human condition alongside its nobility and glory, the destructive element in God beside the creative, the hateful beside the loving. It is a hard vision to bear, but it is the only way to go on from betrayal toward wisdom and to further life. The theological image resulting from this psychotherapeutic analysis and treatment as espoused by Jung is a vision of God as a union of opposites. God is to be seen as a complexio oppositorum, a unified complexity that includes good and evil. I will close with a story that for me illustrates so well the passage from betrayal through darkness to wisdom. “By the time he was fifteen, Elie Wiesel was in Auschwitz…[where a] teacher of Talmud befriended him… One night the teacher took Wiesel back to his own barracks, and there, with the young boy as the only witness, three great Jewish scholars – masters of Talmud, Halakhah, and Jewish jurisprudence – put God on trial, creating, in that eerie place, ‘a rabbinic court of law to indict the Almighty.’ The trial lasted several nights. Witnesses were heard, evidence was gathered, conclusions were drawn, all of which issued finally in a unanimous verdict: the Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, was found guilty of crimes against creation and humankind. And then, after what Wiesel describes as an ‘infinity of silence,’ the Talmudic scholar looked at the sky and said ‘It’s time for evening prayers,’ and the members of the tribunal recited Maariv, the evening service.” (Brown, p. vii) References Brown, R.Mc. 1995. Introduction to The Trial of God by Elie Wiesel. New York: Schocken Books, pp. vii-xvix. Jung, C.G. 1952. Answer to Job. In CW 11. Lammers, A. (ed.) 2005. The Jung-White Letters. London: Routledge.
Jung’s escalating conflict with Freud drives him to the conclusion that his life is dramatically off course and needs imminent change. In 1913 Jung drops most all of his professional positions and prestige and enters a dark encounter with his soul. Watch this 8 minute video where Dr. Stein describes Jung’s wrestling with his inner demons and finding “The Way.” This encounter with the unconscious led to his initial writings in the “Red Book.” How have we had mid life major course corrections? How has your confrontation with your dark unconscious helped you discover your personal “Way”? We invite your thoughts and comments…. – Steven Buser, MD
- How would I articulate my personal theoretical/philosophic stance about the work I do with clients?
- Where do I see evidence that having a stance helps me relax enough to really be with my clients?
- When I depart from my theoretical/philosophical stance, what causes can I recognize?
Len Cruz, MD