Posts Tagged ‘United States’
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.
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
Projections & Introjections in Global Politics: Obama, da Silva, Merkel, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Mandela
(See other Bible verse translations at end of BOLG.)The constellation of forces that are activated between members of society and their leaders is among the topics being explored in “Symbols and Individuation in Global Politics: The Case of Barack Obama” on September 10, 2010. This blog entry explores one portion of that realm involving projection and introjection. It suggests some ideas for how any citizen might engage his/her leaders as part of their individuation process. I offer a simple definition of terms. Introjection is a maneuver characterized by the unexamined incorporation of traits of another. Individuals with weak ego boundaries are more prone to use introjection as a defense mechanism. (Winnicott, DW. Home is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst.New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1986. 50.) Projection is somewhat antithetical to introjection in that one’s own unconscious content is projected outward upon the other. What is projected is then encountered as if it actually belonged to the otherperson to begin with. Projection is a fundamental mechanism by which we remain uniformed about ourselves. (A word of caution is in order.) The recent discovery of mirror neurons in primates (including humans) should give us pause to cast all projection and introjection into some pathologic basket. These neurons are present in the motor cortex and are activated when we observe someone executing an act. It is as if our own motor strip is carrying out the act we observe; it may be a form of rehearsal. So, neurobiology may one day help us to better understand projection and introjection. Political figures who are charismatic and able to resonate with individual & cultural complexes are likely to activate processes of projection and introjection in the individual. These forces may illuminate unconscious material and facilitate its integration into the personality. But it is also possible for political figures to become targets of our projections and also possible for us to introject aspects of these figures into our personalities without having authentic encounters with the Self. President Obama’s ability to galvanize the electorate and to generate widespread participation was unprecedented. There remains some doubt about the claims that the vast majority of Obama’s contributors made small donations (under $200) but the breadth of participation that he either engendered or “appeared” to engender is notable. Individuals were lifted up during the campaign and a sense of unity among people of different backgrounds and even across national borders was kindled. Such broadly appealing (or irritating) leaders provide fertile ground for projection and introjection to take root. Ask yourself what sort of relationship you developed with Obama during the period leading up to his election. Consider what sort of relationship you have with other leaders. How did the rise of President Lula da Silva, a union leader with limited formal education engage your projected hopes and/or fears? What role did introjection have in celebrating the indomitable and noble qualities displayed by President Mandela? How does President Sarkozy’s noble Hungarian family roots or his marriage to Carla Bruni contribute to his wide appeal? (He might a target for projections of royalty with a common touch.) Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi affords another powerful example of how leaders may receive our projections and introjections. Does Berlusconi’s alleged ties to organized crime and his triumphs in several prosecutions tap our own desire to be outside the law? And then there is the fascinating example provided by Chancellor Angela Merkel, a scientist whose family enjoyed unusual freedom of travel between East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. How has her own personal capacity to unify opposites within herself captivated the German people who were struggling to unify East and West? When Chancellor Merkel resisted EU pressure during the sovereign debt crisis what feelings toward the German people were provoked in your psyche? In asking those questions I am inviting each of us to explore how leaders become lightning rods for our own psychological process. I was a youngster when President Kennedy was stuck down by an assassin’s bullet and watched in horror the reports of Dr. Martin Luther King’s murder. Within two months I endured the defeat of seeing Senator Robert Kennedy gunned down. President Obama was the first political figure to heal those wounds and I engaged more than I had ever engaged. I allowed myself to hope and in the course of those months I remembered the painful wounds I’d suffered at a tender age. Loss of several idealized objects produced a sort of exquisite corpse to which President Obama added the most recent touch. I have remained deeply afraid for President Obama but I have also been delivered from what had been a forty year political slumber. Not long ago my sister expressed her outrage at what she perceived as President Obama’s betrayal of campaign promises. He had cozied up to Wall Street’s powerful elites, I offered a more sober perspective. I suggest that President Obama’s presence in office alone might have more lasting and transformative effects than many (perhaps all) the policies he pursues. It will be difficult to look upon the Office of the President in the same way now that an African American has occupied that hallowed spot. Though I know very little about President Lincoln’s tenure in office, the impression of a self-educated man capable of writing beautiful and lyric words (the Gettysburg Address) is etched into my political character. I am dimly aware that President Obama helped illumine the inner landscape of my childhood losses. If projection and introjection were at play, the result was helpful. But there is an unconscious domain to my relationship with this man I call President. I am a Cuban-American born on US soil. I have lived on that hyphen with a measure of uncertainty about where I fit in to the fabric of American society. I suspect that President Obama receives my projections about the immigrant experience. Early in his candidacy, conversations about whether or not he was black enough combined with the vehement attacks upon him for attending Rev. Jeremiah Wrights church struck deep chords in me about what it means to succeed in White-Anglo culture and the price I’ve paid for blending in. But I have also marveled at the President’s capacity to reject the white majorities definition of him. His example empowers me to be less concerned with what others might think about a passionate, expressive, festive Cuban spirit that has always been an irrepressible part of me. Whatever negative aspects of projection and introjection that have been aroused by my relationship with President Obama remain unconscious. I suspect my desire to have a deliverer, a king in the mold of the ancient Israelites is one complex that has been aroused but there are likely many more. I am hopeful that projection and introjection may recede with time and that in its place will emerge a mature political self. That political self may be better equipped to take full advantage of the psychological impact that leaders exert while avoiding the dangers that anyone who attempts to escape from freedom. Take a moment to examine your own psychological relationship with Obama or any other political figure. We are interested in hearing from you about the psychological dance you’ve had with political leaders. Len Cruz, MD ___________________________________________________ Mas o povo recusou dar seguimento aos avisos de Samuel. Mesmo assim, sempre queremos um rei, responderam; queremos ser iguais às outras nações, à nossa volta. Será ele quem nos há-de governar e conduzir nas batalhas. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 Porque nesses dias Israel não tinha rei, de tal forma que cada qual fazia o que melhor parecia aos seus olhos. Juízes 17:6 Ciò nonostante il popolo rifiutò di dare ascolto alle parole di Samuele e disse: «No, avremo un re sopra di noi. Così saremo anche noi come tutte le nazioni: il nostro re ci governerà, uscirà alla nostra testa e combatterà le nostre battaglie. 1Samuele 8:19-20 In quel tempo non c’era re in Israele; ognuno faceva ciò che sembrava giusto ai suoi occhi. Giudici 17:6 Le peuple refusa d’écouter la voix de Samuel. Non! dirent-ils, mais il y aura un roi sur nous, et nous aussi nous serons comme toutes les nations; notre roi nous jurera il marchera à notre tête et conduira nos guerres. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 En ce temps-là, il n’y avait point de roi en Israël. Chacun faisait ce qui lui semblait bon. Juges 17:6 Aber das Volk weigerte sich, zu gehorchen der Stimme Samuels, und sprachen: Mitnichten, sondern es soll ein König über uns sein, daß wir auch seien wie alle Heiden, daß uns unser König richte und vor uns her ausziehe und unsere Kriege führe. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 Zu der Zeit war kein König in Israel, und ein jeglicher tat, was ihn recht deuchte. Richter 17:6