Stalking the Predator



This Webinar explores the archetypal element of the predator in two recent films. We explore the predator in the outer world in films such as “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “We Need to Talk about Kevin”, and then stalk the intrapsychic predator that invades our dreams and opportunities. We discuss Jungian concepts from the works of Clarissa Pinkola Estѐs and Donald Kalsched whose classic work The Inner World of Trauma helps us discuss the predator in the context of the self-care system within us and draw on fairy tale and case example to amplify these concepts. Stalking the predator is a modification of the title borrowed from one chapter in Clarissa Pinkola Estѐs’ seminal work Women Who Run with the Wolves. It is not surprising that the protagonists in these films are women. There have been several very good films the past two years depicting women and their individuation. Last August we presented the film the “Black Swan” and the confrontation with the shadow in the context of the world of ballet. We continue pursuit of the intrapsychic predator in our next two films. “What shall we do with those inner beings who are quite mad and those who carry out destruction without thought? Even these must be given a place, though one in which they can be contained.” This aspect of nature Jung called the contra naturam which means against nature. The danger of ignoring this aspect of our nature is in projecting it out into the world.

“Martha Marcy May Marlene” is the first feature film by director Sean Durkin. It is the story of a young woman, played brilliantly by Elizabeth Olsen, who escapes a cult at the very beginning of the film and lives with her sister. The rest of the film is about how her cult experiences, seen as flashbacks, contaminate her new life with her sister. We see the ripple effects of these experiences in very subtle ways at first, then gradually the true nature of the trauma emerges and we find ourselves caught up in the terror of the experience. This film exposes the intrapsychic predator that pervades the collective and personal unconscious and does so first by seducing us into feeling safe and protected. There is a loose comparison of this cultish family to Charles Manson and the menace that this allusion conjures is sufficient to keep us on edge.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” brings the predator closer to home, in fact, in one’s own house. Tilda Swinton gives an extraordinary performance as an ambivalent mother who gives birth to and raises a predator and the story is told, as with MMMM, through movement back and forth from the present to the past in flashbacks. As this mother rebuilds her life from the ruins brought on by her son she must cleanse herself of the psychic blood stain that is left behind. In the process of this cleansing she is able to give this intrapsychic element “… a place” and contain it as she continues with her life.



Daniel Ross has worked in the field of Hospice for over 20 years and in health care for over 30 years. His interest in analytical psychology grew from his work with dying patients and in 2008 he completed the Clinical Training Program at the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago. Working as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, he is committed to the integration of Jungian psychotherapy in hospice care and to the training of clinicians as well as the public in the practice and principles of analytical psychology. He serves on the Board of Trustees at the C. G. Jung Center in Evanston, Illinois.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe key concepts of complex and archetype as it relates to the films, stories and case study being discussed.
  2. Discuss how these films expose shadow material in the collective unconscious around difficult and disturbing subject matters such as the role of cults and of the sociopath in modern society.
  3. Explain key concepts from Donald Kalsched including the self-care system in the realm of trauma.
  4. Discuss Clarissa Pinkola Estѐs writings about the role of the predator in the individuation process.


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