THE DEPTH OF THE SOUL: JAMES HILLMAN’S VISION OF PSYCHOLOGY
Sanford L. Drob
For the past quarter century James Hillman has been creating a new vision of psychology, one in which psychology becomes a "supreme discipline" concerned not only with the psyche of humanity but the "soul" which is at the heart of the world. Vilified by some, he has been called brilliant, explosive and poetic by others. His ideas, through their popularization in the writings of the best selling author, Thomas Moore (1992, 1994), have reached millions, yet he is unheard of by many professional psychologists. While some psychologists have applauded Hillman's call for a return of the soul to a central place in psychology (Elkins, 1995), others have been put off by the fact that Hillman's own writings are critical of the humanist tradition, highly provocative and occasionally abstruse.
Hillman has been consistently critical of what he regards to be the basic assumption of contemporary humanistic psychology, the unity and essential "health" of the self. He is also critical of the humanistic (and spiritual) focus upon self-actualization and spirituality, as opposed to an experience of the chaos, multiplicity, and disentegrative aspects of the soul and the world (Hillman, 1977, pp. 180-3; Hillman, 1979). Yet a close examination of Hillman's ideas reveals them to be of great interest to humanistic psychologists and his position is far closer to humanistic/ spiritual psychology than he himself cares to acknowledge.
"Just as conscious contents can vanish into the unconscious, new contents, which have never yet been conscious, can arise from it," wrote Carl Gustav Jung, pointing to the critical importance of translating the symbols which show up in our lives through dreams, art, mythology, film, literature and dozens of other sources.
In Man and His Symbols, Jung spoke eloquently about the way symbols communicate the contents of the unconscious to us, saying...
"Because there are innumerable things beyond the range of human understanding, we constantly use symbolic terms to represent concepts that we cannot define or fully comprehend. This is one reason why all religions employ symbolic language or images . But this conscious use of symbols is only one aspect of a psychological fact of great importance: Man also produces symbols unconsciously and spontaneously, in the form of dreams.... (Click title for more)
Some people feel that nobody should read the book, and some feel that everybody should read it. The truth is, nobody really knows. Most of what has been said about the book — what it is, what it means — is the product of guesswork, because from the time it was begun in 1914 in a smallish town in Switzerland, it seems that only about two dozen people have managed to read or even have much of a look at it.
The Jungian Shadow: Its Phenomenology, Detection and Conscious Integration
Psychiatrist Carl Jung’s construct of the shadow, comprised of the denied aspects of the self (1959, p. 20), conceals within itself the golden key not only to understanding the agency by which wars and feuds of all kinds tend to start, but the very solution to preventing their emergence in the first place. Such conflicts develop out of constricted, narrow views, and Jung claimed the shadow itself was the result of a narrow identification with the persona—the social mask, at the expense of the unattended aspects of the self (Bennett, 1966, p. 117.
In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung says that the hero myth “symbolizes the ideas, forms, and forces which grip and mold the soul." (para. 259) The hero is an image or form of the living soul, ...
Paulette Turcotte's insight:
excerpt Like Jung, Rank saw that there was an intimate relationship between dream and myth. Myths are dreams of the masses of the people, expressing the libidinal aims of the collective social body. The hero is the leading figure in our collective dream. Jung says, “the finest of all symbols of the libido is the human figure, conceived as a demon or hero.” The hero is an image of the ‘creative force’ that is within man (immanent) and also extends beyond man (transcendent).
[Carl Jung on Christ, Mob Psychology and The State] Mr. Allemann: Then you would call Christ or Buddha exponents of mob psychology?
It would be wrong to say "mob psychology," but they were surely exponents of the creative will that was coming up from the depths.
It was not without meaning that Christ was crucified between two thieves, and that his first disciples were fishermen and such people: there were very few educated people among them.
He moved in the lowest strata of the population and he answered to the expectation and need of the ordinary man, the recognition of immortality and all that.
He came at the end of a very special spiritual development, culminating in the Ptolemaic civilization, when the Osiris became the Osiris of every better man: the ordinary man had no Osiris because he had no decent burial.
According to historian and philosopher Mircea Eliade, shamanism has been around for millennia, practically as long as humans have existed. In recent decades, the archetype of shamanism has experienced a rebirth. With growing consciousness, more and more individuals are recognizing spontaneously and consistently what our indigenous ancestors knew: that there is a divine intelligence at work in the universe, a life force of love andlight, of which, by nature and birthright, we are an integral part. Anne Baring (2007), psychologist and author, notes that C.G. Jung himself commented on the capacity of humans to respond to this greater force, saying: The archetypal image of the wise man, the saviour or redeemer, lies buried and dormant in man's unconscious since the dawn of culture; it is awakened whenever the times are out of joint and a human society is committed to a serious error...These primordial images are … called into being by the waywardness of the general outlook. When conscious life is characterised by one-sidedness and by a false attitude, they are activated…"instinctively" … in the dreams of individuals and the visions of artists and seers... (Click title for more)
Last Encounter with Carl Jung Miguel Serrano (Translated by Alex Kurtagic) Editor's Note: This is a translation of the article by Serrano published by the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio on 16 July 1961, following Carl Jung's death,…
Paulette Turcotte's insight:
excerpt: The Archetype of the Apocalypse
The word Apocalypse (revelation) is from the Greek meaning "uncovering what has been hidden." In other words, the revelation of new truth.
What is the Archetype of the Apocalypse all about?
For starters, it’s at the very core of what C.G. Jung believed is happening to the world today. Jung's psychology is the only school of psychology that believes there are two centers to the psyche---the ego being the center of consciousness, and the archetype of the Self being the center of what he called the objective psyche, or the collective unconscious. Other psychological schools certainly acknowledge two realms of the psyche, the conscious and unconscious, but only Jung posits the existence of two totally independent centers.
In talking about archetypes, it helps to note that Jung's experience with archetypes was that they are dynamic patterns, fields of potential, which have both forceful intentionality and complete independence. They are raw nature at the heart of the psyche, and, as such, serve as the foundational material for our complexes, both “good” and “bad.” The central archetype, the Self, is the transpersonal center of the psyche, and acts as the instrument and agent of transcendence. As such, it is indistinguishable from the God-image.
The word "Apocalypse" (revelation) is from the Greek meaning "uncovering what has been hidden." In other words, the revelation of new truth. This process operates in four phases: revelation, judgment, destruction, and a new birth. If we look back over two centuries, we see the revelation of torrents of new scientific, psychological and social truth; judgments or assessments made on the basis of this new truth; the collapse of beliefs and institutions based on the former truth, and are becoming dysfunctional within the context of the new truth; and the sprigs of the new worldview trying to blossom. Destruction and new birth take place simultaneously, although the popular use of the word apocalypse has come to mean total destruction.
But back to the archetype. Just because an archetype exists in humans doesn't mean it's necessarily activated. It could lie dormant for a person's entire life, or for the life of an age. What Jung sees happening in our era is that the Self, the central archetype of order and meaning, has been activated in the collective unconscious. And when the Self becomes activated, it means a change in the collective cultural worldview. At the core of every cultural worldview is the God-image, whether it’s Christian, Moslem, Hindu or whatever. (Buddhists don't subscribe to a God, but they believe in the Infinite, which, from a psychological standpoint, serves the same purpose.) But when the Self is constellated, then the process of "uncovering what has been hidden," the Apocalypse, the "revelation of new truth," begins. And this is a process that takes ages.
Looking back, it may well have taken six hundred years for Christianity to emerge into being as a “religion.” Many of the themes Jesus espoused go back at least to Ezekiel, who referred to himself as "Son of Man" (symbolically, "Son of God"), which was the way Jesus referred to himself. Many of the early Church “fathers” believed some of the Psalms prefigured Jesus. After Jesus died, it took another three hundred years for Christianity to solidify into a religion. It wasn't that Jesus suddenly came on the scene, worked miracles and preached magnificent sermons, and presto, Christianity bloomed. Not at all. Jesus articulated and manifested what had been gradually growing in the collective psyche over an extended period of time. And this happened as the gods of the Greco-Roman world were losing their hold on the imagination of the Greco-Roman “creative minority.” Nietzsche's 1882 cry, "God is dead," was heard throughout the Roman Empire 2,000 years earlier in a similar cry, "Great Pan is dead." In other words, the prevailing God-image of the Greco-Roman world had been losing its resonance and relevance in the depths of the collective psyche of the Greco-Roman world. But at the same time, there was a psychic maturation taking place, which the old gods failed to express, but which Jesus expressed and manifested in a manner that resonated in the depths of the collective soul of that time.
Recently, I have been writing on the aims and instincts of the human soul. Carl Jung speaks of the human soul's "longing to attain rebirth through a return to the womb, and to become immortal like ...
Paulette Turcotte's insight:
In order to understand the evolution of consciousness, we may liken the collective social body of civilization to an infant, attempting to birth itself out of the Mother World, out the womb of life. From an immanent perspective this is only a fantasy, there is no realm that exists beyond the Mother World. To believe so is only to partake in fantasies that might seek to denigrate and destroy the Mother. The truth is: we need this world, we need a connection to the ‘Soul of the World.’
Carl Jung opens a space for the realization of immanence, a realization of the psychical immanence of spiritual (archetypal) forms. We need only make one further shift in perspective to realize the full nature of ‘immanence.’ Here, I am not speaking of a Deleuzian immanence, but a Jungian immanence. This realization is not so much about a ‘pure plane of immanence’ (Deleuze), but a realization of ‘withinness.’ This realization is deeply related to images of the Mother World and of rebirth.