Depth Psychology Blog

This blog offers information and education about Jungian and Depth Psychology oriented approaches by psychotherapists, counselors, coaches, speakers, authors, healing professionals, and dozens of other modalities. You'll read personal stories from these practitioners about the power of symbols, the unconscious, dreams, archetypes, Jungian thought, nature, ecopsychology, mythology, and so much more. 
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  • 22 Feb 2014 2:33 PM | Kim Hermanson, PhD

    Mythologist Michael Meade describes sacred occurrences as those in which the "seal that separates the worlds" is broken and Spirit enters through that break. In Doorway sessions, clients go through a portal into a sacred, interior place where they tap into their own metaphoric inner wisdom. The messages from this realm are clear, direct and immediate. Once we've received an image, there is no further analysis or thinking that we need to do.


    Valuing My Time: How a Metaphor Instantly Shifted Things

    I've often felt uncomfortable setting limits and boundaries on my time with people. I've struggled with feeling that I was being callous, or it was my ego. But in a Doorway Session I saw fruit falling off my tree...and the fruit was my time. My tree was producing fruit and if I didn't take care to harvest that fruit, it would hit the ground and be wasted. I had been acting like I had unlimited time and the image clearly showed me that I don't. My tree won't be producing fruit forever and it's my responsibility to harvest it now.

    After this image showed up, I had no energy about this anymore. Metaphors put an end to the stuckness, we're no longer in our heads analyzing the various sides of the issue: "Is it better for my business if I do this or I do that?"  Instead, we experience immediate truth. We all have such metaphoric inner wisdom available to us for any issue that we struggle with.


    I have two upcoming Doorways groups starting in March. For more information: http://aestheticspace.typepad.com/aesthetic_space/workshops.html

    Kim Hermanson, Ph.D. is adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. To find out more about Doorway Sessions for Creative Breakthroughs: http://aestheticspace.typepad.com

  • 04 Feb 2014 11:10 AM | Mark Gundry

    Exploring Depth Psychotherapy

    by DRMARKGUNDRY on JANUARY 10, 2014

    pathway to the psyche

    Here’s a start to a few blog entries exploring important aspects of psychotherapy as practiced by depth psychologists of various stripes.
    Let’s assume a basic working definition of depth psychotherapy. Let’s assume that it’s a form of therapy that goes out of its way to include the unconscious psyche in treatment. By unconscious psyche we mean at minimum certain dynamic patterns that are always at play beneath the surface of our awareness. Let’s assume that engaging the psyche stimulates growth and movement and often helps to ease problematic symptoms of emotional suffering.

    So how does a therapist go about engaging the psyche? Truth is, there are lots of ways. There are lots of schools of thought in the history of depth psychotherapy, each with its own opinion about how this should be done. Today, as neuro-mania (the reduction of all psychological experience to brain phenomena) reveals its limits both as theory and treatment in psychiatry, renewed interest in the depths of the psyche is creating excitement as psychology begins to re-balance its lopsided though important focus on brain and behavior.

    The best place to start exploring is the therapeutic relationship. Someone comes to therapy, usually in a state of suffering and concern. Something in the suffering–the symptoms–expresses the individual’s difficulty. I’ve found that it’s rare that people will seek out and commit to psychotherapy when they are feeling okay. Maybe they begin in a state of crisis and difficulty, and then begin to feel better, and continue therapy for the sake of further personal development, but it usually takes a painful difficulty, or symptoms, or a loss, or an illness, or a life crisis to bring a person into my office to begin an adventure of self-discovery and renewal.

    The relationship of therapist and client therefore includes this aspect of seeking help, wanting relief and healing. At the same time, it’s odd to say yet definitely true that most people are ambivalent about the very same changes they long for. I can say this based on my experience both as a therapist and as a client! There’s something scary about change, apparently. Sometimes this is called resistance. Forces for change are mobilized, but so are forces against change. This is normal, and a good therapist makes room for ambivalence and facilitates change at the pace the client is okay with.

    One fundamental gain in psychotherapy is the experience that the client has of being seen and understood. Having a hard time brings isolation, and most of us tend to hide the less fun aspects of our lives. Who wants to hear that? we say to ourselves. Or we try to share what’s going on, but it’s too much for our friends and families to handle, or seems to be. That’s why a depth psychologist will try and provide the kind of safe container that welcomes all of the client’s conscious and unconscious parts into the mix.

    One final note for now: I’ve noticed over the years that many people in my office feel a deep longing that is almost unspeakable. Something is missing. It’s hard to say exactly what, but there is a felt sense of lack, and a heartache. I’m not saying therapy necessarily is the answer to this longing, but it can be surprisingly effective is accessing the longing and can even change the way a person gets to bring it into the world outside. Deep desire can lead to interesting transformations that ripple outward through a life. Transformation can happen from the inside – out. Inside the therapy office to outside in the world. Inside the inner self to outside in outer behaviors.

    I will save this inner – outer dynamic for another post.

    http://markgundry.com/portland-therapy/2014/01/10/exploring-depth-psychotherapy/

  • 04 Feb 2014 11:06 AM | Mark Gundry

    Dream On

    by DRMARKGUNDRY on MARCH 6, 2013

    We depth psychologists talk a lot about dreams. But what is it to dream? And what is it not to dream?

    Psychoanalyst Thomas Ogden has this to say in “On not Being Able to Dream”: “Much has been written on what dreams mean; relatively little on what it means to dream; and still less on what it means not to be able to dream.” He goes on to tell about Wilfred Bion’s notion that the activity of dreaming is more fundamental than we normally think.

    Dreaming is not identical to the “dreams” we wake up remembering. Instead, when we are functioning well, dreaming is happening all of the time, waking or sleeping. It is the unconscious psychological work of linking elements of experience that have been stored in memory. Dreaming makes sense of our emotional realities by making these links and giving elements of experience form. This can take place while we are sleeping, and it can take place while we are awake.

    I remember consulting with a very experienced psychoanalyst a few years ago about cases. I asked him how he worked with dreams in his own practice, with his own clients. He said that his approach had changed over time. Now, he said, he thought of each session itself as a kind of dreaming. In other words, each session enters the space of making associations, links, and playing with meanings. Client and therapist dream up the session together and so engage in learning from experience.

    In this view, the background experiences held in memory are raw ingredients. We can’t digest experience without first dreaming it. The act of dreaming cooks the raw ingredients. It creates a meal that we can eat and share with others.

    Bad things happen when we can’t dream. At the extreme, some individuals become unable to dream when in a psychotic state. Psychological digestion is disturbed, and the results can be catastrophic. For most of us, there may be moments of failing to dream–aspects of self and world that we choke on and need help to swallow and metabolize. That’s where psychotherapy comes in and creates a vessel for this alchemical work.


    http://markgundry.com/portland-therapy/2013/03/06/dream-on/

  • 01 Feb 2014 12:53 PM | Kim Hermanson, PhD

    I have a client who loves history. Before working with this client I’d never thought much about history. I like watching historical movies, but I disliked history as a subject in school and I always did poorly in it because it required memorizing information (names, dates, places) that felt dry and dead to me. But when my client talks about history, it’s anything but dry and dead. For him, history is alive--it’s something he engages with, something that challenges him, something that has continuing wisdom to share. Listening to him talk about it, I wanted to see what he saw. I wanted to experience that. And now history has started to come alive for me as well. Being able to see what he saw was a gift that he gave to me. I believe we each open these spaces for one another.

    I’m reminded of a story by Robert Romanyshyn in The Metaphors of Consciousness about two men--a geologist and a botanist--who are walking together through a forest. They are both walking through the same forest, but the botanist notices the flowers and trips over the rocks…while the geologist notices the rocks and steps on the flowers. Each of them has a clear experience of being in the forest and are certain about what they have seen. There is only one forest, but the two men see very different things and have different experiences of it.

    Romanyshyn’s story brings us back to the heart, because it is our loves and passions that drive our curiosities and subsequently, what we see. The geologist loves rocks and doesn’t see the flowers. The botanist loves flowers and doesn’t see the rocks. It’s the heart that moved the botanist to be passionately curious about flowers and the geologist to be enamored with rocks. Rudolph Steiner said, “Unless I love something it cannot reveal itself to me.” Romanyshyn’s story beautifully illustrates how life is a creative process and we each participate in it in a unique way. Our hearts govern where our gifts lie and how we can contribute to others, because our hearts shows us what we see.

    Kim Hermanson, Ph.D. is adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. To find out more about Doorway Sessions for Creative Breakthroughs, click here: http://aestheticspace.typepad.com

  • 21 Jan 2014 7:45 PM | Bonnie Bright (Administrator)

             When challenges arise for each of us, it is easier to turn to denial or distraction rather than holding the tension of what's arising long enough to allow the self-regulating function of the psyche to take over.  Carl Jung suggested that the opposing attitudes of the ego (which gets us through some tight spots, usually by choosing the path of least resistance) and the unconscious or greater Self (which has our personal growth and spiritual awakening at heart) can be mitigated and even transcended if we are willing to regard the reality of our struggle and hold the tension long enough for some kind of insight and movement--a transition--to occur.

    Employing or maintaining a state of "disregard" in daily life is quick, easy, and painless: almost a default mode of survival in our western consumer-based culture where everything moves faster and faster with each passing moment. In a world where we are focused on meeting deadlines, following timelines, achieving goals, and taking action, we are often are unwilling to make the time to find value in things, people, or ideas that arise around us.

             In our haste, we often disregard our health, our emotions, our memories, and our loved ones. We dismiss the natural world, the earth, the landscape around us. We ignore famine, violence, and disease if it’s not in our own backyard. And we judge and disregard "others": other races, other cultures, the "other" gender, and other beliefs.

             Worst, we disregard the profound feelings of loss and longing that run like deep currents beneath our intensity and our frenzied pace, relegating them to the dark shadowy realms of the unconscious where we are not willing to look. In fact, we have ignored so much and so many of our true deep needs and emotions, we individually and as a whole, feel like something is missing. And indeed it is: pieces of ourselves and our collective humanity have become atrophied and dropped away like lost pieces of our souls, leaving us wounded and fragmented. Both universally and personally, this soul loss is a byproduct of the tremendous capacity we have developed to disregard.

             Disregard drains the life force of every living thing, and those who do, in fact, make an effort to regard the liminal, the elements that are not front and center, the "non-mainstream" if you will, know that everything is alive. By judging something to have no value (or only monetary value), we dishonor it, kill it, objectify it: turn it into an dead, inanimate object which we feel justified to use, control, manipulate, or destroy. We have done this collectively with Mother Nature, Mother Earth and all of her natural resources. We have done this with animals we raise for consumption in unnatural ways pumping them full of steroids or genetically modifying supplements along with genetically modified fruits, grains, and vegetables. In fact, in many cultures and a multitude of ways over the past few millennia, we have disregarded the sacred power of the feminine itself from whom all life comes. 

             Evidence from ancient cultures indicates sublime reverence of the Divine Feminine, a life-giving mother who created all things. Goddess-imaged figurines with ripe breasts and bellies said to represent her fertile presence and power have been found from as far back as 30,000 years ago. Cave drawings, art, and pottery from as recently as 6000 to 3000 BCE depict her enlivening force. This feminine aspect is also the nurturing force that enables us to tenderly hold the tension and distress that inevitably arises during times of change long enough for it to transmute into something more sublime.

    As the Great Mother of nature, life, and indeed, all creation, she oversaw the transition from birth to life, then to the realm of death. Our ancestors were embedded in the web she wove. They understood that all things are born into life and light; then fade into the dark of a new phase of being. The goddess has long been associated with the moon. Our indigenous predecessors, who lived in a more profound state of regard for the world around them, traced the infinite circle of life, death, and rebirth through the cycles of nature. Just as the moon died to the sun each night, or faded each month to three days of darkness of the new moon, then was born again, the “people” understood the infinite rhythms of being. We are all born, and we will all die, returning to the earth from whence we came. Systems--sometimes cultures--will eventually collapse and new shoots will arise from the deadwood and debris. Our ability to regard the inevitable, and to surrender to and even embrace the change, will free some of the psychic energy around transition that often makes the transition itself difficult for us as humans.

    Mythologist Joseph Campbell suggested that when a deity (or nature or the process of our own individuation and becoming--whatever that “something bigger” is to you) wants to open us up and we are too ego-centered, too attached to let go of our fixed beliefs and desires, we perceive the deity as wrathful and the experience as painful. If we are able to let go and open, we perceive the same deity, the same process, as compassionate and kind. If we are NOT able to surrender to the coming death in what ever form it presents itself--the loss of a job, the decline of health, the passing of a loved one--to dance with it, grieve with it, open to it, then we will suffer, interpreting the process as wrath coming from God or from nature, or from somewhere outside ourselves.

    If you are in transition, there are many depth perspectives and techniques that can help you hold the reality of what is happening, and to regard the coming change with compassion and self-love, with awe, respect and hope. Be sure to check for depth-oriented therapists, Jungian analysts, art therapists, shamanic practitioners, dreamworkers, somatic therapists and other practicing individuals here on DepthPsychologyList.com to help you regard and to hold the very human process of change until something new can emerge. In this way, you risk less the act of disregarding the beauty and value of the insights to be gained with all change in life, large or small, and the joy of becoming to which they lead.###


    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's most comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free-to-search online database for depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych


  • 14 Sep 2013 8:07 PM | Kim Hermanson, PhD

    The mythologist Michael Meade describes sacred occurrences as those in which the “seal that separates the worlds” is broken, and Spirit enters through that break. And William Blake told us, “There’s a moment of eternity waiting for you every day.”

    The making of art, in any form, gives us those “moments of eternity” and “breaks” between the worlds. The creative process creates a pause, a way to drop down to a deeper level and receive guidance that we wouldn’t have gotten in any other way. When done in an intentional way, it can open a portal to what the Irish call the “Other World” or “the world beside this world.” All of us have times when we get stuck in a mental loop, endlessly going over the details of a situation, analyzing its various aspects, trying to “figure out” what to do. But when we pause our mental story and engage in a creative process, we are taken out of analysis and into a place of spacious insight. 

    The modality that I use in Doorway sessions for passing into the “Other World” is writing. An intentional writing process takes my clients through a portal into a deep, rich, interior place, where a different language is spoken (metaphoric images) and another way of knowing is embraced (heart-knowing). This is a shamanic process--we enter the “Spirit world” and the only assurance we have is that we will be surprised.

    The client doesn’t need to be a skilled writer and the process is certainly not about producing a great piece of writing (although this may happen.) It’s not writing in the “usual” way, where our minds direct our words. It’s an intuitive writing process that drops us below the surface of our conscious minds into the mythical imagination.

    Writing, like any form of art-making, also gives us a product, something to keep and savor. The images and guidance that come from this deep, interior world are alive, and putting them down on paper retains that feeling of aliveness. The words on the page have their own energy, their own wisdom, their own life. I save every piece of writing that I receive from this realm.

    When I do individual sessions, I go through the portal to the “Other World” at the same time as the client and do my own writing. My intention is to address the person’s issue in a helpful way, and I write what I see and experience. The writing that I do is similar to a “reading” of the client, or his or her issue or situation. It’s normally uncannily accurate in pointing out something important for the client, and he or she is often moved by it. My own writing often instigates an essential shift of perspective.


    Below, I offer a few key signposts for opening the portal and embracing this rich, interior place of the mythical imagination.  

    An Animate World

    When we “drop down” into the “break between the worlds,” we are dropping into an animate place. In the literal, everyday world, a tree is just a tree. But in the “Other” World, a tree is alive and it has something it wants to say to you. In this animate world, we get to have conversations with things that we don’t normally get to have conversations with. A tree, a table, a cup of coffee…any particular thing can be a source of wisdom or a doorway to something else.


    A Different Kind of Language

    The “language” of this Other World is not words but images. Images lie at the heart of the creative process and I nearly always start the writing process by working with images in some way. We can simply pause and wait… until something interesting appears. The images need to be directing the writing, not our minds.

    Guidance may show up as mud or vegetable soup or a blade of grass… and our conscious minds may be inclined to dismiss these images as too simple or silly. But this is simply the language of this realm. One client said, “This work was riveting, partly because it was so profoundly simple.” If the images were complex or polished, it means our minds created them. Our minds aren’t creating this language.

    Over time people start to recognize their own images--the images that appear over and over again. These recurring images make up their own internal language and way of creatively healing and transforming their lives.


    Feeling Your Way

    Clients sometimes tell me that they are not visual, but the process here is not a visual way of knowing. We are not so much visually “seeing” something; we are feeling it. We are not “taking in” something in our usual ways of auditory, kinesthetic or visual learning. We are “feeling as a way of knowing” and any or all of our senses may be activated. This all-sensory way of knowing is the only way we can step into an “Other” World and learn from it. This interior place that we are dropping into is animate, and it can’t be understood with our rational minds. We must feel our way.


    Stepping into the Image

    I often tell clients to “step into” whatever image is showing up. If it’s a volcano, they become the volcano. If it’s a shabby, worn-out house, they become the shabby, worn-out house. Becoming the image is very different from standing back and interpreting something from an analytical distance (like we might do when we reflect back on images from our night dreams.) Our minds, of course, are likely to harshly judge an image of a shabby, worn-out house, but when we become the shabby house, our empathy shows up and we get a completely different perspective.

    Let’s say we receive an image of deep tree roots planted in dark, fertile soil. We experience the shift when we feel what it’s like to BE this deep tree root… held and embraced in a dark, warm nurturing place with infinite space around us to spread out and grow. We are not learning how to visualize, we are learning how to feel and empathize.

    One client received an image of being in the center of the cyclone and everything else (and life-as-she-knew-it) was whirling around her. She came to the session anxious, and of course, anxiety is understandable when dealing with a cyclone. But the key image that was calling her was the "center" of the cyclone, not the cyclone itself. When she actually stepped into the center of the cyclone she experienced the shift--calm peacefulness, rather than the whirling cyclone she’d been immersed in. Transformation comes when we step into the image, not when we analyze it from a distance. Remember, this is heart-centered learning, it requires our empathy and willingness to step into it.

    If you’re having trouble receiving an image for your particular question or situation, ask yourself what the situation feels like. Mucky soup? Mysterious darkness? When we ask ourselves that question, we have no choice but to respond to it metaphorically, and the metaphoric response naturally wants to bring us into the Other World.

     

    What Are the Qualities of the Image?

    In the everyday world, we presume that we already know about the things that we encounter, but in the Other World we do not know. Each quality that we notice has the capacity to lead us somewhere else. What aspects of the image stand out to you. Is it light? heavy? cold? hot? Noticing qualities opens up more portals, more openings and ways to explore.

     

    Where is the Movement?

    The hallmark of the creative process is movement. If your writing has taken you to an image or scene that seems to be stuck, you can always ask, “In what direction does this image or scene want to move?” What does it long for? What does it desire?

     

    What To Do When You Need Resolution

    If you receive an image that’s negative, confusing, or troublesome, it simply means that there is more to be revealed. In this case, imagine that you are opening up more space “beside” this troublesome image, and wait for the second image to reveal itself. (In this rich, interior world, we have an infinite amount of space available to us. We can create as much space as we need at any moment.) The second image will come as a “response” to the first image. In other words, it has come because it wants to creatively interact, in some way, with the first image. Remember, this is “heart wisdom”--the intention is always loving; and it is creative, meaning that movement always wants to occur.

    One of my clients wanted to come to peace with the rocky relationship she had with her mother. Her first image, which represented her relationship with her mother, was dry, cracked, parched earth. The second image that showed up was mucky vegetable soup. How did the two images creatively interact? The mucky vegetable soup wanted to fill the deep, dry cracks in the earth. On a literal level, these two images are not related. But in the metaphoric realm, they created a third space that was profoundly healing. My client could feel the mucky vegetable soup filling the deep, dry cracks. It was all that she needed for a transformative shift

     

    Shape-Shifting

    Unlike our everyday world, in the imaginal realm we’re never stuck. I once received a vision of millions of women throughout history… whose heads had been cut off. The image was a metaphor, representing how women have historically been “bodies” with no voice. It was gruesome and the darkest image that I’ve ever received. And when I became the millions of headless women, I could feel the horrible powerless feeling of having no voice. But I stayed with the image. I had no power to speak, but I could melt… so I melted and became black tar. And the black tar had a certain kind of power, because it could cover things and it proceeded to cover the entire earth. This second image of black tar covering the entire earth was also disturbing--my rational mind deciphered this as signifying the end of life on earth as I knew it. But of course, I was not in the literal, everyday world, I was in the deep, interior, metaphoric realm. In this rich, interior place, creative movement always wants to happen and in this case, the black tar created a new kind of rich, fertile soil. It was a deep and profound rebirthing image.

    No matter what image is being presented to you, you have the ability to shape-shift. And with that ability to shape-shift, comes power. True power.

     

    The “learning” that we engage in when we drop into the interior world serves us well in our everyday lives. After all, how many times in our lives do we “go into darkness,” get confused and have to “feel” our way through it? We are learning to engage with life in a different way, one where we aren’t reacting to external conditions, we’re feeling our way from a deeper place. No matter what situation you’re in, there is always fertile possibility available to you. It’s just that you need a certain kind of eye and a certain way of looking to see it. Seeing-feeing-sensing-intuiting… all at the same time. Only the heart can do that.

    The creative process lies at the heart of all change that happens in life. And a deeply rich creative process requires that we open the door to a certain kind of space. When we allow ourselves that “moment of eternity,” the answers reveal themselves. 


    Kim Hermanson, Ph.D. is adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute and the author of Getting Messy: A Guide to Taking Risks and Opening the Imagination. She has co-authored articles on learning and the creative process with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago.

    Note: I have ongoing Doorway Coaching groups, and also have package rates for Doorway Sessions. For more information go to: http://aestheticspace.typepad.com

  • 04 Aug 2013 6:58 PM | Kim Hermanson, PhD

    25 years ago I critically injured my spinal cord in a head-on collision on a rural highway in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I could tell that I’d broken something in my back, and I had no feeling or movement below the waist. I was subsequently airlifted to one of the best spinal trauma units in the country, where the doctors gave me less than 5% chance of walking again.

    In the days that followed, I listened carefully to these esteemed physicians, asking them questions about my condition. But despite my prognosis--I not only had broken vertebra, my spinal chord had been displaced by 40 degrees--what they were saying never really registered. Even with their brilliant educations and considerable experience, I did not feel they were giving me a “truth.” Some part of me knew that I would walk again.

    Education and science were highly prized in my family. Both of my parents and both grandfathers received college degrees in the sciences; my sister is a physician, my brother an engineer. I was young and had no training or experience in disbelieving experts. After all, these were esteemed physicians at a prestigious medical center. Why did I not believe them? Why did I have an internal “knowing” that was different from what I was being told?

    I wasn’t feeling resistance toward what they had to say. I was not blocking out their advice and information and I wasn’t proclaiming that I would “do my own thing” and prove them wrong. I was not locked into a battle with them or the information they were providing to me. On the contrary, I was open to their advice and wanted to learn whatever I could from them. What was happening for me was a knowing on some other level--a level where I could understand and process their information, but then make my own determination about what to do with that information. The “knowing” did not come from my rational mind, but from some level that I could not see or explain. I just knew.

    Another unusual thing was that in the six months prior to the accident, I was focused intently on rigorous physical exercise. Every night after work, I played two hours of intensely competitive racquetball with my male coworkers, followed by an hour of lap swim. Although I’ve always been an active person, this period of time involved an abnormal amount of highly focused daily exercise…as if my body was preparing for what was to take place. Again, this was not a rational knowing. I was simply following some unarticulated inner wisdom.

    In both instances, I was trusting in something that I could not see. I can’t explain why I get frazzled by minor traffic tickets or bad hair days, but when face-to-face with the best medical doctors in the country telling me that I would be permanently paralyzed and unable to use my bladder again, I was unfazed. I simply did not believe them. After several weeks in the hospital, I was able to walk with the use of a cane. Twenty-six years later, no one would ever guess at the extent of my injuries.

    In my work with clients, I tap into this deeper way of knowing through metaphor. Metaphoric wisdom is ancient, powerful, and non-verbal. The earliest humans did not have verbal language; they communicated metaphorically by gesturing and drawing pictographs on cave walls and tuning into the natural world around them. In a metaphoric, synaesthetic feeling way, the earliest humans learned from and communicated with the raging river, thunder and lightning, sunrise, plant life and animal creatures. They knew things about the external world in a way that was not “rational.”

    Metaphoric wisdom is what I was accessing years ago in that scary situation, and it has been my friend and companion ever since. It is our primal, instinctual language. 

  • 26 Jul 2013 2:57 PM | Bonnie Bright (Administrator)
    In honor of what would have been Jung's 138th birthday, July 26, I'm sharing an excerpt from my essay on Jung's role in Depth Psychology, "Occupy Psyche: Deconstructing the Jungian Shadow in Depth Psychology," published in Occupy Psyche: Jungian and Archetypal Perspectives on a Movement (2012, Eds. Jordan Shapiro and Roxanne Partridge).

    The essay takes a look at how Jungian psychology relates to depth psychology and examines the influence of the larger-than-life persona of Jung on many of us who feel profoundly impacted by his work. 

    It also cautions us, by the way, to regard the shadow cast by the legend Jung has truly become and to ground ourselves in remembering his humanity and not idealizing him. 



    Read on...

    The theories of Swiss-born Carl Gustav Jung (known as C.G. to his peers) developed during the infancy of the emerging field known as psychology, established him as a pioneer and one of the founding fathers of depth psychology. The broader field of psychology was essentially born in 1879 when German physician and philosopher, Wilhelm Wundt, set up the first laboratory that carried out psychological research. The next few years marked the award of the first doctorate in psychology, the first title “professor of psychology, and the establishment of the American Psychological Association in 1892 (Zimbardo, 2001). In 1890, American philosopher William James, published Principles of Psychology, which marked an important transition from a mental philosophy to a scientific psychology. A few years later, in 1896, a Viennese medical doctor trained in neurology, Sigmund Freud, introduced the term “psychoanalysis” to define the practice of “talk therapy.”

    In 1900, the same year that Jung graduated from the University of Basel with his M.D. degree, Freud published his groundbreaking work, The Interpretation of Dreams--strongly establishing this aspect of mental life as an area of study. Freud’s explication of psychoanalysis based on his theories of hysteria, dreams, and word association as a doorway to uncover repressed material was one of the turning points that led to the birth of what was ultimately called “depth psychology,” a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler around the same time. Depth psychology claimed to reveal critical understanding of the conscious mind through exploration of the depths of the unconscious one. Jung’s path to depth psychology solidified when he completed his doctoral dissertation for his Ph.D. in 1902 at the University of Zurich on a depth-related topic, On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena.

    Jung met Freud who became Jung’s colleague and mentor in 1907, and they continued to establish the study of depth psychology both independently and together until 1913, at which time Jung’s capacity to support some of Freud’s theories reached a breaking point. While Freud continued to be entranced by the idea of a personal unconscious that harbored secrets, wishes, drives, and desires that could be mined and explained by childhood experiences, Jung moved more toward his theory of a collective unconscious which was a reservoir for archetypes, dreams, and stories that applied beyond the individual. The ensuing rupture between Jung and Freud was partially responsible for sending Jung into a downward spiral into the depths, instigating the fear that he was losing his mind, and ultimately resulting in an engagement with the objective unconscious that led to his writing the Red Book. When he emerged from his “descent,” Jung went on to make many vital contributions to depth psychology as we know it today.

    By the time of his death in 1961, Jung had become something of a legend in his own time. As John Ryan Haule (2011) pointed out in volume one of his new scholarly work, Jung in the 21st Century, Jung “has become the most beloved of the original giants of psychoanalysis” (p. ix), even though Jung’s credibility in scientific circles and even the general field of psychology has been controversial due to some of his unusual theories which have branded him more as a mystic. Recent years have only emphasized the growing cultural interest in such esoteric topics and in Jung himself, evidenced in part by the warm reception of Jung’s Red Book (published in 2010), and also by the release of the recent film, “A Dangerous Method” (Cronenberg, 2011), which profiles Freud and Jung’s relationship and tells the story of how psychoanalysis developed. And, with growing numbers of Jungian analysts and organizations employing technology like video conferencing to educate or conduct sessions around the world, Jungian psychology is experiencing a golden era of rebirth. In fact, the headline of a January 2012 article in the Guardian boldly proclaimed, “This Could be Carl Jung's Century” (Samuels, 2012).

    On top of his professional persona, Jung’s life was a human life, marked by its own unique set of challenges, and further complicated—as with all of us—by human companions and colleagues. This, however, bears out the opportunity and the invitation to look at our attachment to Jung, the man, and his role as one of the founders of an institution many care deeply about. While it is easy to idealize both Jung and his ideas, it is critical to examine where we are accepting without questioning, buying into unauthenticated stories, worshiping while ignoring foibles, and establishing our convictions based on emotional attachment to an ideal image or outcome.

    Jung's work has personally profoundly affected me in many ways but he would likely be the first to minimize the tendency to put him on a pedestal. He purportedly said--more than once--“I’m glad I’m not a Jungian” and eschewed the establishment of a fixed initiative for studying “Jungian” psychology. 

    Happy birthday, Dr. Jung. I so appreciate your contribution to our world.


    References

    Cronenberg, D. (Writer). (2011). A dangerous method. In R. P. Company (Producer). U.S.: Sony Pictures Classics.

    Haule, J. R. (2011). Jung in the 21st century: Evolution and archetype (Vol. 1). London; New York: Routledge.

    Mogenson, G. (2003). A Review of Sonu Shamdasani, Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science., 387. Retrieved from http://www.gregmogenson.com/Shamdasani.pdf

    Samuels, A. (2012). This Could Be Carl Jung's Century. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/jan/25/carl-jung-century?newsfeed=true

    Shamdasani, S. (2003). Jung and the making of modern psychology: The dream of a science. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

    Zimbardo, P. G. (2001). History of Psychology. Discovering Psychology. Retrieved February 11, 2012, from http://www.learner.org/discoveringpsychology/history/history_nonflash.html    


    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She recently founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free online database to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych


  • 08 Jul 2013 7:14 PM | Bonnie Bright (Administrator)
    household garbage and urban dumpster
    Where does YOUR garbage go when you throw it "away"?

    Many societies have collapsed en masse over the course of human history due to over-consumption and extreme detrimental impact on the environment and ecosystems that supported them. However, the combination of our persistent unconscious and unchecked rates of consumption stemming from a rapidly growing population, our seeming lack of capacity to feel and respond to the need for balance in relationship to the planet, and our rampant exploitation of nature is alarming. It appears that never before have we had such a lethal combination in concert with such pervasive emotional, psychological, and spiritual disconnect.

    The fundamental issues behind our current disorder show up on a spectrum ranging from eco-apathy on one end, and ecopsychopathy on the other. Eco-apathy represents our capacity for denial and our ability to suppress emotional reflection and response to our troubling situation. Sigmund Freud, a primary contributor in establishing the field of depth psychology, based much of his theory on the idea of a personal unconscious in which memories and emotions can be repressed beneath the surface of our conscious thought, but still potent in their effect (Elliott, 2002).

    Often, in order for us to survive or bear the devastating consequences of events or circumstances that surpass our imagination or ability to comprehend, our psyche serves us by burying them beyond our awareness, diffusing their conscious energy and rendering us emotionless or even apathetic. Understandably, when it comes to the mass destruction of our environment, we are collectively unable to surrender to the horror we might feel if we truly allowed ourselves to comprehend what we’re doing as a culture to the planet. In this state of eco-apathy, many of us simply live our lives, unable to question or act on the conundrum we face, incapable of making the necessary changesundefinedor even of conceiving of them in the first placeundefinedthat will allow us to enter in a reciprocal relationship with earth and to find equity again.

    pollution-cars-exhaust-12111725pdWorse, eco-apathy is a dangerous phase that links directly to ecopsychopathy, a condition on the other end of the spectrum, which represents our ability to do violence to nature. When we turn to apathy, the feelings repressed below the surface of consciousness are still very much alive and ultimately will require an outlet to find resolution. Jung (1951/1976) suggested that “when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate” (para. 126). Unexamined issues or emotions we refuse to acknowledge can have tremendous impact on our lives whether we know it or not.

    Could it be that our mass consumption of fossil fuels which leads to toxic exhaust could be making us "exhausted" in our every day lives? Is the pollution we wreak in the outer world polluting our psychological life as well? Is our ongoing tendency to "drive" everywhere we go "driving" us to distraction, dis-ease, or situations that are less than healthy? 

    Now might be a good time for each of us to really reflect on how we feel about the planet we live on and how we are in relationship to it.

    References

    Elliott, A. (2002). Psychoanalytic theory: An introduction (2nd ed.). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Jung, C. G. (1951/1976). Christ, a symbol of the self. In R. F. C. Hull, M. Fordham & G. Adler (Eds.), Aion: The collected works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Vol. 2). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, Bollingen.


    Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology, and hosts a podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She recently founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free online database to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych

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