Pioneered by William James, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Gustav Jung, Depth Psychology is the study of how we dialogue with the Unconscious via symbols, dreams, myth, art, nature. By paying attention to the messages that show up from beyond our conscious egos, we can be guided to greater understanding, transformation, and integration with the world around us, inner and outer. Join the conversation in community at www.DepthPsychologyAlliance.com
In literature, an archetype is a typical character, an action or a situation that seems to represent such universal patterns of human nature.
An archetype, also known as universal symbol, may be a character, a theme, a symbol or even a setting. Many literary critics are of the opinion that archetypes, which have a common and recurring representation in a particular human culture or entire human race, shape the structure and function of a literary work.
Carl Jung, Swiss psychologist, argued that the root of an archetype is in the “collective unconscious” of mankind. The phrase “collective unconscious” refers to experiences shared by a race or culture. This includes love, religion, death, birth, life, struggle, survival etc. These experiences exist in the subconscious of every individual and are recreated in literary works or in other forms of art.
The Gnostics recognized the condition of exile as more than an event in history. They saw it as having a profound cosmic and even transcosmic dimension. The human spirit, they held, is quite literally a stranger in a strange land. "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child," laments the American spiritual. The Gnostics would have agreed and might have been tempted to replace "sometimes" with "always".
The exile may indeed find himself in a dark land, but his very awareness of the darkness can also reveal a light on the path to freedom. So also, the awareness of our alieness and recognition of our place of exile for what it is are the first great steps on the path of return. We begin to rise as soon as we realize that we have fallen. The predicament of exile and alienation is not confined to humanity nor does it originate at the human level. Long before there was a cosmos as we know it, a great drama of exile and return was played out in the story of the divine feminine being named Sophia. Having resided in the lofty height of eternal Fullness... (Click title to read full article)
Why do we have dreams? Where do they originate? Do they have meaning? Are dreams of any value to us, or are they just so much nonsense? These questions have puzzled thinkers since the dawn of humanity. Every culture in the world has offered explanations. For instance, the Australian Aborigines believe that what we consider the realm of dreams is the real world (the Dreamtime), and the world we experience with our senses is a dream.
C.G. Jung put forth a theory of dreams which is quite popular today. Following in the footsteps of Sigmund Freud, Jung claimed that dream analysis is the primary way to gain knowledge of the unconscious mind. He says that the dream is a natural phenomenon which we can study, thereby gaining knowledge of the hidden part of our mind.... (Click here for more....)
(From 1996) --There's no easy way to sum up what Hillman, grounding himself in Jung, calls "archetypal psychology," but one can start by noting that nearly all the current interest in "soul" as an aspect of everyday life is influenced by Hillman; and Hillman's notion of soul is steeped in mythology and aesthetics and mysticism.
His psychology, as he puts it in The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, requires "radical shifts of orientation, so that we can value soul before mind, image before feeling, each before all, aesthesis and imagining before logos and conceiving, noticing before knowing, rhetoric before truth, animal before human...(Click title for more)
I am going to interpret this fairy tale using a Jungian approach, and, as I do, try to explain some of the reasoning behind what I am doing. There are particular issues to bear in mind as we do this together : the whole tale is a description of the psychodynamics of an individuation process in one psyche, and, all characters in the tale represent structures in the psyche.
One thing I do know having worked with, and taught fairy tale interpretation, is that strong emotions are stirred up by our interaction with tales. People’s complexes and typology are constellated in uncanny ways through this work. The most common error one can make is to take a fairy tale character and expect human or reality-base qualities to guide that character and confuse the character with the structure of the psyche. ... (click title to read the full essay--once there, just scroll down the page)
The concept of ‘tikkun olam’ (Hebrew), which means ‘repair of the world’, takes its origin in rabbinical literature and Lurianic Kabbalah. It refers to the pursuit of social justice, such as protection of the disadvantaged.
James Hillman’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf was an early, prominent Reform Rabbi, and from Dick Russell’s excellent biography, we learn to what a great extent Hillman listened to the voices of the ancestors, as well as being the very individual thinker he was.... (click title to read more)
From C.G. Jung...."You see, man is in need of a symbolic life - badly in need. We only live banal, ordinary, rational, or irrational things . . . but we have no symbolic life. Where do we live symbolically? Nowhere except where we participate in the ritual of life. . . . "
Have you got a corner somewhere in your house where you perform the rites, as you can see in India? Even the very simple houses there have at least a curtained corner where the members of the household can perform the symbolic life, where they can make their new vows or their meditation. We don't have it; we have no such corner. We have our own room, of course, - but there is a telephone that can ring us up at any time, and we always must be ready. We have no time, no place.
We have no symbolic life, and we are all badly in need of the symbolic life. Only the symbolic life can express the need of the soul - the daily need of the soul, mind you! And because people have no such thing, they can never step out of this mill - this awful, banal, grinding life in which ... (Click title for more)
Metalworker, blacksmith, and artisan, Hephaestus was the only Greek god that worked. In mythology, he is honored for having taught mankind that work is noble (Homeric Hymn to Hephaestus), and having imparted the desire not not only to work, but to excel at one's craft. Understandably, he therefore became the patron god of artists and craftsmen of all kinds - metalworkers, blacksmiths, leatherworkers, weavers, potters, painters.
Much of the time, Hephaestus was at his volcanic forge, passionately engaged in solitary creative work, resulting in creations that spoke to the psychic depths of both gods and humans. He had the power to reach into the collective unconscious, and to create works (such as Achilles shield) which were extraordinarily beautiful, detailed, and lifelike.
One reason for Hephaestus' appeal to many men and women throughout the ages is that he personifies the psychological archetype of the wounded creator or artist - rejected initially by both mother and father....
"Religious experience is absolute. It is indisputable. You can only say that you have never had such an experience. No matter what the world thinks about religious experience, the one who has it possesses the great treasure of a thing that has provided him with a source of life, meaning and beauty and that has given a new splendor to the world and to mankind." Carl G. Jung
THE RELIGIOUS MAMMAL
What an amazing contemporary thought, that the human being is a "religious mammal." It is amazing because it implies that since we are human, we are religious by nature, by simply being alive as human. If this is so, and I believe it is, then the human being will reveal religious behavior as far back as we find recorded human history....
“It does seem that we are possessed by some demonic power that is leading us, trance like, into self-destruction.”Jung comments, “…an unknown ‘something’ has taken possession of a smaller or greater portion of the psyche and asserts its hateful and harmful existence undeterred by all our insight, reason, and energy, thereby proclaiming the power of the unconscious over the conscious mind, the sovereign power of possession.”“When we are possessed we are not free, we are not masters in our own house. When we are possessed by the unconscious, we become dissociated from ourselves such that, as Jung writes, there is “a tearing loose of part of one’s nature; it is the disappearance and emancipation of a complex, which thereupon becomes a tyrannical usurper of consciousness, oppressing the whole man. It throws him off course and drives him to actions whose blind one-sidedness inevitably leads to self-destruction.”“Commandeering and colonizing our psyche... (click title for more)
Culture takes place in closed, even closeted places, involving the alchemical putrefactio, or decadence as the body of fermentation. Generation and decay happen together; and they are not always easy to distinguish. What goes with civilization are irrigation systems, monuments, victories, historical endurance, wealth, and power as a cohesive force with common purpose. Civilization works; culture flowers. Civilization looks ahead, culture looks back. Civilization is historical record; culture a mythic enterprice.
They may interelate, but they also seem able to do without
each other. Civilization without culture is all around us. Culture
without civilization? I think of the Tierra del Fuego Indians found... (click title to read more)
Find out what your choice of a Halloween costume might be saying about you!...
According to Carl Jung and Jungian psychology, everyone has a persona and a shadow. Our persona is the face or mask that we show others. The shadow represents the darker, hidden aspects of our personality that we hide from others. The two create a polarity of opposites and a need for balance; the larger the persona, the larger the shadow.
A person may exert a great deal of effort to maintain a persona as a pillar of society while exerting equal effort to maintain secrecy about some deviant behavior; the judge who is a repeat DUI offender and the scout leader who despises children are examples. It is this need for balance that explains the popularity of Halloween, with its roots in pagan ritual. One night a year... (click title for more)
Before we begin examining the monster archetypes, it’s important to realize that they don’t just represent a dark, malevolent side of us, but rather the part of our being that is least familiar to our conscious mind.
They become hostile only when it is ignored or misunderstood--expressing themselves through behavior that often sabotages our wishes or image of ourselves. But they serve us by nudging us toward the light. The important thing is that if you feel some resonance these or any other symbolic roles, you should examine what they represent to YOU.
Let’s think of our inner monsters as our as unexplored power, bringing light to what is in shadow.... (click title for more)
In The Great Work Thomas Berry invites a deep reflection on our current ecological and cultural predicament. The move through this era of enormous cultural transition, from a period of human devastation of the Earth to—potentially—a period of benign presence, is the ‘great work’ that we must undertake if we are to fulfil the historical exigencies of our time.
Thomas Berry, cultural historian, is a remarkable and influential thinker on the complexities of this era and the requirements of a viable future. Berry, a Catholic priest, trained in the classical traditions of theology, immersed himself in a comprehensive investigation of the phenomenon of religion, and in particular Eastern religions. He taught Eastern religions at several U.S. universities prior to founding the PhD program in The Histories of Religions at Fordham, from 1966-1979. Berry has written several books on Eastern Religions, such as Buddhism and The Religions of India,1 and during the past few decades has addressed his work to the magnitude of the crisis facing Western civilization.
To situate the essays within The Great Work as well as the responses to the book, it may be beneficial to know some of the key influences that have shaped Berry’s perspectives. Over the course of a lifetime, Berry has developed a deep appreciation for the intense and specific human experiences that give rise to distinct religious traditions and expressions. He could see that particular and penetrating (Click title to read the full article)
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...(Click title to read full post)
Given a plethora of television shows and films about zombies, what is a Jungian to see but a collective attempt to dream the unsayable. Carl Jung showed that what cannot be worked through at the conscious level is often worked through at the unconscious level, in symbolic fantasy (CW 5, para 4-45).
Encountering that for which there is yet no fantasy, we confront the limits of sense. For the collective social body, film and art are an unconscious attempt to work through collective transformation at the limits of reason and sense. In the case of zombie movies and the growing zombie apocalypse movement, we may be seeing an attempt to dream ‘apocalyptic’ change.
Zombie are the ‘Undead’: not living, not dead, driven yet not alive, the zombie images emerge from the recesses of the collective unconscious. Animated yet with out life, they move. Driven, yet without desire, they seek. ....(Click title to read more)
There is something special about this transitional season, as we move through the darkest and coldest days of the year toward the longer, warmer, and hopefully, brighter days to come. It seems that no matter how challenging, difficult, traumatic or discouraging the previous year may have been for many of us, these next ten days or so inspire us to let go of the past, to relinquish our frustration, disappointment, despair or resentment and look forward to the future with renewed hope, energy and optimism.
Psychologically, it is essential to do so, since hanging onto and wallowing in our rage, anger or hostility year after year, consciously or unconsciously, is what ultimately gives rise to Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder and so many other psychiatric syndromes. When chronically repressed, denied or deliberately clung to and cultivated, anger ... (Click title to read more)
Beginning with the fathers of the field, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, psychoanalysts have turned to fairy tales in an effort to understand the human mind. This is accomplished in two ways—either by studying the psychology and needs of the creators of these stories or by examining the characters in the stories. Just as many fairy tales hinge upon a revelation of the truth about those who have been somehow disguised, so too, fairy tales cut to the essence of the human psyche.
Freud suspected that dreams and fairy tales stem from the same place, and the relaxation of inhibition that occurs in the dream state is also true of many story tellers. So fairy tales might prove, like dreams, windows into the unconscious.... (click title to read more)
We cannot have the extraordinary without the ordinary. Just as the supernatural is hidden in the natural. In order to fly, you need something solid to take off from. It’s not the sky that interests me but the ground. . . . When I was in Hollywood the [script] writers said, surely Mary Poppins symbolizes the magic that lies behind everyday life. I said no, of course not, she is everyday life, which is composed of the concrete and the magic.
—P. L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins (in Lawson, 1999, p. 161)
Clearly, there is something special about Mary Poppins that captures the collective imagination, yet the goal of this essay is not to apply the analytic lens to better understand the character of Mary Poppins, but to utilize Mary Poppins as an analogical tool to better understand the character of depth psychologists.
Depth psychologists believe that within our unconscious lies a wealth of material that expands our capacity to understand, accept, release, and repair aspects of ourselves, that can lead to a more developed sense of wholeness and connection. Such information reveals itself through symbols, metaphors, dreams, imagery, intuition, synchronicity...
This article explores the significance of comedy as a transformative art form. Many treatises have been written on the significance of painting, literature, or film as mediums for sacred creativity but I found that research that focused upon similar aspects at work of the comedian turned up short. By distilling the essential elements of the trickster as an archetypal figure the following article illustrates how the cultural icon of the comedian resonates with and is shaped by this archetype.
Though the trickster is most often depicted as a mythological god or hero, the comedian, along with iconic figures like the alchemist or shaman, are actual facts of human history that are strongly bound by archetypal material which initiates transformation in a mercurial manner similar to the trickster. I put forth that through the art of comedy, the stand-up comedian taps into the ... (click title for more)
Jung was free to look into basic issues of Eastern and other sources, including traditional sources of Europe.
Things depend in part on what Jack and Jill were taught to look up to and back up at a tender age. Below are some Jungian ideas tied in with old and new fiction tales. The good tale deserves to be told and listened to full well. Night-time could be fairly ideal for that, incidentally.
What comes out of analyses of dreams and folktales and much else, tie in with ... (click title for more)
I’ve recently read Jungian analyst James Hollis’s book, The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife. It is one of the best books on this developmental phase, and its many opportunities, that I’ve read. The author says that childhood lasts until around age 12, the first adulthood from around ages 12 to 40, and the second adulthood–if a person chooses to progresss–from around age 40 to old age.
Many people never pass from childhood to adulthood developmentally, but are overgrown children, and many people never pass from the first adulthood into the second, and thus have unlived lives.
Hollis writes that the middle passage presents us with the opportunity to reexamine our lives and to ask, “Who am I apart from my history and the roles I have played?” It is an occasion for redefining and reorienting the... (click title for more)
I would contend that soul's absence denotes a loss of depth, meaning, and attachment. In a society driven by disposable consumerism, we have lost a deep understanding of lack, of doing without, of making do, of abstinence, celibacy, solitude, restraint, and limitation. Americans tend toward expansive, growth-oriented, manic, Jupiterian lifestyles and leave no place for Saturnine melancholia. In an effort to increase the levity and leisure in our lives, we have neglected the gravity of existence. We move restlessly about, disposing of dwellings, vehicles, relationships, possessions; changing our beliefs, families, and lifestyles as easily as changing undergarments; and pursuing the fantasy of growth and progress.
We are by no means materialists as some would clamor, but rather we are spiritists who have little or no appreciation for the material world, while believing in the abstraction or idea of things with no attachment to the things themselves. We live in counterfeit and artifice... (click title for more)
(From 2008)...Usually, most of us try to be on our best behavior. We dress appropriately, speak politely and try to fit in with others where we work, where we socialize and where we go to school. Then comes Halloween, where despite the economy, 64.5 percent of consumers plan to spend a total of $5.77 billion on the holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation's recent survey.
It's an opportunity for a shy musician to transform into a scary witch and for children to don fairy wings and imagine themselves in flight. And that's great, says Ron Schenk, a Jungian analyst with private practices in Dallas and Houston. .
"Halloween gives a place for those parts of our psyche that don't fit in," Dr. Schenk says. "You can dress up as a princess and feel you are the
Watching a friend struggle to create an owl costume for her pre-schooler to wear this Halloween, I asked her why she didn’t persuade him to think of something simpler. “He says he wants to be an owl because it’s the scariest thing he can think of,” my friend replied.
Ahh. Precisely. Her little guy is wiser than I am. He knows instinctively what I had forgotten: From ancient times, the point of Halloween has always been to confront our fears of the dark, of death, of evil spirits and all the things that “go bump in the night.”
Death always has been and probably always will be a mystery and mysteries make people nervous. Our fears and anxieties about what happens next has driven the imagination of ... (click title for more)