Friday, May 6, 2011

Jung at Heart

Carl Jung is my guy.  When asked on the rare occasion what my theoretical orientation might be as a therapist, I reply "I am a Jungian, at the heart of it."  My own analyst was a Freudian and for many years, she and I grappled with her idea that I became a Jungian just to recreate their famous split.  This is a very Freudian approach to analysis.  I'm not sure I completed analysis as somewhere in the process it seemed like a very bourgeois endeavor that only the wealthy could afford.  Still, without her efforts on my behalf, I would not have married or had children and so I hold her in my heart, as well.  She pointed out that Jung was anti-Semitic, possibly schizophrenic, and slept with his female patients.  All true.  He also developed the idea of the collective unconscious and was unashamed to be a mystic.  His writing is virtually unreadable in English but some of his points are soul-piercing:  Bidden or Unbidden, God is present or The decisive question for a man is:  is he related to something infinite or not?

At the age of 82, he wrote (I am quoting here from Jung, A brief insight by Anthony Stevens)

In the end, the only events of my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world erupted into this transitory one....All other memories of travel, people and my surroundings have paled beside these interior encounters with the "other" reality, my bouts with the unconscious, are indelibly engraved on my memory. 

How do we journey into the "imperishable world"?  Jung had a small place on a lake with a room that only he was allowed to enter.  This is where he did most of his writing and I daresay journeying into that world.  His wife, Emma, who was a brilliant analyst in her own right, took care of hearth and home.  So she is in my heart, as well....the workhorse behind the racehorse.

Jung would say that we are all in each other's hearts from the beginning of time.  As I age, I have moved through the archetypes of maiden to mother and am headed toward wise woman or crone.  These have not been smooth transitions but what has allowed for some small semblance of grace has been turning inward. 
As I return to working more, I have to make such a conscious effort to protect that.  I have no workhorse sweeping my castle:)

The last thing I want to say about Jung is that he believed that all psychological events, even the most disturbing symptoms, have purpose and meaning.  Those symptoms are the psyche's best shot at solving prickly problems and they provide a jumping off point for movement toward health.  It seems a good place to start in doing this work.

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