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This Jungian Life

Author: Deborah Stewart, Lisa Marchiano, Joseph Lee

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Eavesdrop on three Jungian analysts as they engage in lively, sometimes irreverent conversations about a wide range of topics. Join them for discussion of news events, family dynamics, personal issues and more as they share what it’s like to see the world through the depth psychological lens provided by CG Jung. Half of each episode is spent discussing a dream submitted by a listener. Lisa, Joseph and Deb went through their Jungian training together, becoming friends and developing working partnerships. Now they are engaged in a new creative venture with a spirit of adventure and hope you will join them.
100 Episodes
We can all cite examples of behaviors that defy reason and meaning. How can we understand X shouting those things at a party, or the bizarre thing Y filmed himself doing on YouTube? There is a great array of psychological labels for such behaviors, as if pronouncing them “histrionic,” “manic” or even “drunk” explains radical actions and cascades of feelings. The roots of such exaggerated expressions may lie in early relational traumas and attempts to compensate for authentic lacks by appearing uncaring and daring, or dramatic and demanding. Overall, an inability to hold the tension between feeling and action has occurred, hinting at an adaptive failure. Extreme behaviors are often the externally expressed compensation for their internal opposites, so outrageous behavior may be a plea for empathic attention and authentic connection.   Dream I am observing two creatures walk up a steep flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs lies another creature, this one is beautiful and majestic. It is dying. I see its spine protruding, the bones have made it to the surface. I am disturbed. I watch as one of the creatures opens the dying creatures’ stomach - which has been sliced open. The creature slides inside. I have the felt sense that it is sucking up what little life force remains of the dying creature. I feel simultaneously disturbed, angry and paralyzed by terror. I wake up at this time.   References Salman, Sherry. Dreams of Totality: Where We Are When There’s Nothing at the Center (Amazon, paperback) McWilliams, Nancy. Psychoanalytic Diagnosis (Amazon) Sunset Boulevard (film)
The power of projections to hit psychic targets serves both defensive and integrative functions. Projections are a natural aspect of psychic functioning, as we know from watching children at play: we first see inner images “out there” in order to experience them internally. Projections give shape to affects and archetypal images, from the hero to the healer, the derelict to the destroyer. We also tend to project our shadows outward, attributing disliked or undeveloped aspects of ourselves to others. In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy and her companions project the power to change their lives onto the wizard. When they discover he is only “the man behind the curtain” they recognize their projections as illusions and are able to see the wizard more objectively. Withdrawing projections allows us to become more empowered and whole.   Dream There is a group of young women/girls - I am either one of them or I am all of them (that’s the sense I get). There is the knowledge that one of us has to make a sacrifice for the group. The youngest is chosen – a beautiful girl (maybe age 10-12) with long dark hair in shiny curls. She is kind and willing to sacrifice. She is led to an old stone building by two of the other girls (twins with bobbed dark hair and a harsher personality). Instructions for the sacrifice are in the building. The next day the girls/women return to find the sacrifice was completed. The youngest has had to sacrifice herself to make a bowl of soup for the others. The red tomato and herb soup was made with her outer layers - skin and flesh. The sacrifice was made willingly and for the benefit of the group.
Recent severe environmental events have made facing climate change urgent. We talk with Jeffrey Kiehl, PhD, climate scientist, Jungian analyst, and author, about bringing a psychological perspective to our present situation and the process of change. (Kiehl’s book is listed below.) The modern myth of infinite growth and limitless natural resources has led to equating consumerism with personal fulfillment. This belief underlies environmental imbalance; a new attitude is needed to restore right relationship with the earth. Kiehl draws on a tale Jung loved: a Chinese village struck by drought sent for the rainmaker, but right after he arrived he retreated to a secluded hut outside the village. Three days later, it rained. The rainmaker explained that the villagers had been so out of balance that he became infected. He then had to withdraw in order to return to Tao—and then, quite naturally, it rained. The rainmaker—and Jung—knew that one’s inner life and wholeness is the foundation for external change. Kiehl underscores the importance of a lived relationship with Nature and the unconscious, sources of wholeness and harmony. If we engage in the rainmaker’s work we can infect—and affect—the external world.   The Myth of Erysichthon In lieu of an individual dream, a myth, a dream from the collective, is analyzed. Have you had a dream that you feel relates to our global climate emergency? This Jungian Life is collecting such dreams. You can share yours with us here. References: Kiehl, Jeffrey. Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future (Amazon). Ovid. The Metamorphoses (Amazon). McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary (Amazon).
As we grow, unconscious unity becomes differentiated into feeling, ego, personality and desire. As we grow, we will have initiatory encounters with shadow, demanding the sacrifice of innocence and identification with ego. The story of Adam and Eve conceives this archetypal experience as the fall. The stories of Job, Faust and even the children’s tale, The Velveteen Rabbit, tell us how we may achieve redemption from a fall. The fairytale of The Black Princess depicts this vividly as the struggle to engage shadow and the need to surrender to something greater, which Jung called the Self. We experience redemption as grace: the gift of a relationship with the Self. For Jung redemption was part of the work of individuation, a process of reclaiming lost or forgotten parts of ourselves in order to become consciously whole and in relation to a guiding Self. Dream "In my dream, my mom and I are in the backyard that is adjacent to a street. We see Jimmy Fallon walking over to us with a baby's car seat held over his head. Jimmy greets us and my mom asks if she could see the baby. So, Jimmy lowers the car seat, sets it on the ground and reveals that the car seat is filled with this orange liquid that completely submerges the baby. My mom was very excited to see the baby and Jimmy smiles at her excitement. I then panic and ask them if they can't see the baby is drowning. Although I brought it to their attention they didn't seem very worried but I wound up tipping the car seat over to discard the liquid."
Polyamory, a current phenomenon, endorses open relationships with multiple lovers. The term means many loves, and polyamory strives to legitimize the benefits of non-monogamous romance and sexuality among adults. Jung engaged in an open, extramarital relationship with Toni Wolff. Does polyamory represent an overthrow of outdated cultural mores in an age when sex can be safe? Or is committed, often sanctified bonding a deeply rooted part of human nature and development? There are parallels in the development of a relationship between two people and the relationship of ego to the unconscious. Jung discovered that the alchemical images in The Rosarium Philosophorum, depicting stages of relationship for a couple, illustrated the individuation process. Is polyamory a way of rationalizing ego gratification and avoiding monogamous commitment? Or is polyamory a call to forgo outmoded cultural restrictions and experience connections with others that can facilitate inner growth? Dream "I am walking alongside the man that I am currently dating. He is on my right side. Suddenly on my left side, the man I am still in love with appears with the woman he has a child with (in waking life, he has a child with a woman he did not marry and co-parents. I am still not over him and wish we were together). In the dream, he has had another child with her. I’m surprised he’s had another child with her. It makes me think he has had even more intimacy and “work to do” with her in his life path. I am stuck in the middle... the man I am dating is on my right side, but I am not really interested in him (even though he treats me wonderfully in real life, he doesn’t feel like “the one”). The man I desire is on my left, with a woman and two kids, a life and world he’s been focusing on. He sees me, and I feel this strong and pleasant attraction and connection between us - like a youthful friendship mixed with love - I realize/know that he continues to be interested in me too, even though we are apart. I wake up, confused but happy to have a positive dream about his feelings towards me (In waking life, I continue to regret our breakup and he has ignored attempts I have made to rekindle a friendship and begin communication again)."
When we speak of being triggered, what exactly is it that sends us into a familiar  arc of feeling and behavior we may later regret? That mysterious force seems external and can elude our ability to locate it within. Jung called these autonomous and unconscious incursions complexes, and he discovered them through his Word Association Test. A subject’s delayed or inappropriate reaction to a stimulus word such as tree or house indicated an unconscious disturbance that could then yield to understanding. Complexes are a fundamental part of our inner landscape: our experiences cluster around innate human patterns, emotions, bodily sensations, and personal memories. We are complexed when we are automatically, emotionally and physiologically aroused, often in ways that are out of proportion to the situation. We begin to transform a complex by noticing, naming, and claiming it as our own. Then we can catch it before we react—and instead, respond. Complexes are constellated, clustered together like stars—and they can shine their light on our unconscious patterns.   Dream "I am going to become the next queen of England. But first, I had to clean a lot of food and trash from an audience seating area (like stands at a sports arena). I asked the Queen if I was making a mistake by becoming the next queen. She said yes, and that I will have no time to give to my own children (once I have them). A young male adviser to the Queen was assisting her and helping to set everything up for the transition. On a break from cleaning, I went down to a craft fair and visited some old ladies and talked to them about the beautiful art they made. My grandmother was there, trying to print a photograph I took of a Legislature building. I returned to my task and at 6:00 PM, I made my way to sit on the right arm of the Queen's chair, ready for the ceremony." 
Although there have been a number of recent destructive environmental events, the duration and devastation of the fires in Australia have made a powerful impact on the collective psyche. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, although disastrous to humans, seem acausal aspects of Nature. Other environmental damage, such as Amazon fires, is caused by human behavior. Australia’s plight, however, calls into blazing question mankind’s relationship with the Great Mother herself. Like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or The Flood, we may wonder about archetypal retribution for man’s environmental sins. Just as ego may be called through crisis into right relationship with soul, perhaps the heartbreak of this current psychic scorching will open new consciousness and caring.  Dream "It's a sunny afternoon and I'm walking, in a loose crowd, with my entire extended family up a hill on a large field of green grass. Forest surrounds us at the far edges. We are on our way to a funeral, the atmosphere is serene. Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I notice a lumberjack-like man walking past everyone through the crowd carrying a huge leather/mesh bag on his back. I can see the bag consists of three grown grizzly bears. Once the man arrives on top of the hill (quite far ahead of me and my nuclear family) he sets down the massive bag and zips it open. I'm thinking, "STOP"! The three bears scramble out the bag and wreak havoc on the crowd. It quickly goes dark and the dream turns into a hide-and-seek sort of horror show. I'm hiding with my father in a small, half built old wooden cottage by which a river flows and I see one of the bears swimming, searching."
A new year often symbolizes a new beginning, with resolutions to make specific lifestyle changes related to self-improvement. Research indicates, however, that up to 88% of these resolutions fail. If changes—no matter how worthy--are imposed by ego alone, the unconscious is likely to have its say by rebelling. Meaningful change requires the willingness to sit at the crossroads of inner conflict, steep in its mystery, and honor the opportunity for relationship rather than repression. Contemplation before action includes inner assessment of readiness, resources, and response-ability. Sacrifice is required, external programs or people may provide support, and the goal must be aligned with purpose inspired by the Self. Jung stated that we don’t solve our problems, we grow bigger than our problems. Meaningful change and renewal occurs when we have engaged an inner conflict and thereby become more whole.      Dream "I'm in a fortress with a tall tower and I'm participating in some kind of sacrificial ritual. I know there are other participants but I don't see them. We have to answer a question correctly or face a painful death. I fail the test and am brought to the top of the tower for the sacrifice, which involves being cut into pieces. I run away and throw myself off the top of the tower to avoid that torture. I hit the ground and find myself back in the tower, having to throw myself over the edge again to escape the sacrifice. This happens multiple times."
Episode 092 - Trickster

Episode 092 - Trickster


The archetype of the trickster shows up in ambiguity, duplicity, contradiction and paradox. Usually depicted as masculine, trickster has been featured in tales worldwide through history. We see him as a boundary crosser, shape-shifting imitator, versatile adapter, and disrupter of norms whose deceptions often backfire on him. Our inner trickster causes ego’s intentions to go haywire, and shows up as slips of the tongue, forgetting something important, or dream behavior that jolts the waking mind. Trickster’s disregard for rationality and rules disrupts stasis and rigidity, paradoxically helping to establish standards and create culture. Trickster lies at the heart of art and story, enlarging our world by imaging and voicing psychic truths. Trickster confronts us with our limitations, and can be counted on to teach us flexibility and humility with irreverent humor. Dream "I’m walking along the edge of a wood along a path. I see a stag emerge from the wood and then the rest of his deer herd join him. I think ‘wow how magical’, but it quickly becomes evident that they are a threatening presence. The stag starts running towards me and the rest of the herd follows. I run as fast as I can, but as I start to feel the stags breathe on my back, I realize that I cannot out run him. I decide to grab him by the horns and throw him down. I kill him." References Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes This World, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Amazon). 
Episode 091 - Secrets

Episode 091 - Secrets


Although a secret is usually considered information deliberately kept from others, we also keep secrets from ourselves. Internal secrets consist of emotionally laden knowledge that consciousness represses; the price of such secrets may be a complex or neurosis. Secrets can alienate us from ourselves as well as others, and are often fueled by shame, guilt and fear. Family secrets can be especially burdensome, even toxic. However, secrets can also serve positive purposes. Sharing a secret can strengthen friendship through a special bond of trust. Secrets help social life run smoothly; initiatory rites may be secret to enhance the significance of a life passage; secrets can help children and teens realize their unique and separate selves; and secrets can protect others from harm. Secrets are also essential to psychoanalysis: secrets can be safely discovered and will be well contained in the temenos of the consulting room. Dream "A man is recovering from an illness, sitting down on a chair. He calls me for protection. As I go forward towards him, he looks to his right side to some human figures (females) hidden in the dark. He is afraid of them, he tells me. I come close and hug him and notice that he has a very thick and voluminous hair. His hair emanates energy. I wake up feeling this high energy around my arms." References Westover, Tara. Educated (Amazon).
Something's going on in Scrooges soul...and it's tired of waiting for an invitation. Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, vividly portrays the journey to healing and transcendence. It was written in a fever, released on December 19, 1843, and sold out before Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge’s visitations by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come are vivid depictions of the path from trauma to transformation. As in psychotherapy, Scrooge revisits his past; by reclaiming the feelings he exiled as a child, Scrooge discovers compassion and connection. The visitation to the present shows Scrooge familial abundance of spirit despite material poverty and possible death for Tiny Tim (also a representation of Scrooge’s own emotionally crippled inner child). The last scene, like the lysis of a dream, shows Scrooge the bleak future to which his miserly ways lead. Scrooge’s encounters with transpersonal power break through his defenses and transform him into a man of joyful and generous heart. Scrooge has learned from his former partner’s ghost that: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”   And so, as Tiny Tim declared, "God bless Us, Every One!”
Siblings are embedded in the human psyche as they are in life. Even if one lacks siblings, there is ready access to them through friends, fairy tales, myths, and scripture. All feature multiple experiences and examples of sibling solidarity and siblings as shadow carriers. Birth order, sex, temperament, and the quality of parental presence play a part in constellating the intense polarities of sibling relationships: competition and cooperation, admiration and envy, hierarchy and partnership, aggression and intimacy. We often carry the dynamics of early sibling relationships into adult life and project them onto individuals, work teams or social groups. Jung used the alchemical image of the soror mystica and the adept to represent a relational ideal, whether externally between self and other or internally between ego and unconscious. Each must have a respectful and equal say, from collaboration to confrontation.    Dream In my dream, I visited a pet shop to buy a snake. I had my dog with me. I looked around the store and couldn't find any reptiles, so I asked the staff and one of the employees told me they kept them in a separate room. He had no face and reminded me of a jailer as he carried a bunch of keys with him. The old wooden door we approached didn't match the rest of the store, which was very modern, friendly and light. As he unlocked the door, my dog tried to get in with us but I told her to wait outside. The room on the other side seemed to have no ceiling or visible end and was more like a dungeon or cave. On the right hand side from the door there was a wooden outdoor rabbit cage with six compartments. It was too dark to see the animals but I could hear some sizzling and strangely humming noises and saw that all of their skins had different patterns in black and white. The man asked me if I wanted to hold one and before I could say anything he opened one of the boxes and gave me a smaller snake. It felt warm and lively in my hands and I enjoyed holding it. I couldn't see its head, so I tried to get a closer look and as I held it closer to my face it started biting my hand a couple of times though it didn't really hurt and even if it did strike before every bite they felt more like it was just nibbling a bit. The man asked me if I was okay and I laughed and told him that I was not afraid of snakes. I handed it back to him and decided that I didn't really need a snake as a pet. As I opened the door to get back, my dog was excited to see me and I petted her for a while at the threshold. Through the open door some bright light fell on the cage and I looked back and finally got a closer look at the snakes. They were all sleeping and still making humming sounds, rolled up as snakes do but their heads looked like those of rabbits with no ears.   References (books available on Amazon)  Newton, Lara. Brothers and Sisters: Discovering the Psychology of Companionship. Fairy Tales: The Children of Lir, Six Swans. Conroy, Pat. The Prince of Tides. Jahren, Hope. Lab Girl.  Film: Winged Migration.   
Partings connote a finality of farewell that signifies completion of a relationship. We may part from a stage of life, depart from home or college, or say farewell to a person, process or project. Partings signify the end of a story that has been told and reached conclusion. The Japanese tale of Princess Moonbeam illustrates the importance of accepting a necessary ending: those who could not do so were turned into statues, fixed in eternal stasis. The refusal to part or devaluing its importance may indicate a lack of the selfhood necessary to suffer a loss and move into a new, even uncertain, future. Conscious parting honors meaning and connection. It allows us to honor the spring and summer of growth, celebrate autumn’s harvest, and accept the quietude of winter. Ideally, we can embrace the depth of feeling in a farewell and fall upon it willingly and with grace.   Dream I was sitting behind a table in a narrow and small room. The placement of the table made it difficult to reach the only door out of the room. In the doorway was a reasonably pleasant African man, dressed in a uniform with various decorations. On the table, however, was a huge, dissected tarantula. Also in my possession I had some sort of file that warned me of the danger of the poisonous spider, apparently it had killed a man. I felt quite disturbed and claustrophobic in the small room, then I woke up.
Dr. Fanny Brewster, Jungian Analyst, colleague and friend, joins This Jungian Life to discuss her forthcoming book, The Racial Complex: A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race. Complexes tend to operate autonomously and unconsciously, have strong feeling-tones, and contain archetypal fuel. The racial complex, a complicated mix of color, class and culture, operates individually and collectively and in multiple ways. Although shadow projection and “othering” are intrinsic to the racial complex, America’s history of slavery further intensifies it. Like other complexes, the racial complex cannot be either denied or defeated—it can, however, be lifted into consciousness. As with any complex, learning, discussion and self-reflection can expand awareness, connection and compassion.    Dream The scene begins with me driving my car to a hotel. I park up in a space near the entrance and go inside. After I have looked around a bit I look out of the large window to see that I have left my dog, a brown Labrador, tied to the car. As it is a grey day the dog is laying down underneath lest it rain. A white woman in her 40s with curly hair appears along with two burly white bald men. The woman squats over the car and urinates onto the dog. I am furious and rush outside to rescue the dog, but the two men get in the way, manhandling me roughly. I know they are bigger than me and that I am outnumbered but I fight for my dog as I suddenly wake up.    References (books available on Amazon)  Brewster, Fanny. The Racial Complex: A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race (as of 11-21-19). Brewster, Fanny. Archetypal Grief: Slavery’s Legacy of Intergenerational Child Loss.  Brewster, Fanny. African Americans and Jungian Psychology: Leaving the Shadows. Adams, Michael. The Multicultural Imagination: “Race”, Color and the Unconscious (Opening Out).  Singer, Tom and Samuel L. Kimbles. The Cultural Complex. DiAngelo, Robin. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism.  Film: Get Out. 
It happens all the time: people and problems split into opposing camps, whether the conflict is internal, between partners, in a family or—as we know all too well—between political parties. When positions become polarized conflict ensues, whether between mind and body, partners and families, or value systems and religious affiliations. What makes it possible to reach across the chasm between entrenched extremes? The Jungian concept of holding the tension of the opposites allows energy, like electricity, to flow between both poles; each can have its full say. Instead of remaining mired in fixity or moral judgment, curiosity may open the way for a new attitude that transcends the polarities. Dream I am going for a holiday to Bali with my husband and best friend. We are running late for our flight. At the airport, I check in my huge suitcase, but then I realise I don't have my passport. A young man with dark hair, whom I know to be a playwright, says, 'Go to the counter. You look young, like a six year old. Act innocent. You should be able to talk your way on to the plane without a passport.' But I don't want to do this. Instead, I get in the car with my husband and friend. They are pissed at me. I know it is impossible to get back home to get my passport and make the flight. Part of me doesn't really care. I don't wan't to go to Bali. I feel busy and overwhelmed in my working life - so I want to stay to attend to things - and I don't like the tourist culture in Bali - it is infantilising. Still, I feel pulled in all directions. I have let down my companions. We stop by the side of the road to talk about it alongside an oil refinery. I say 'They have already boarded our luggage, so they are not going to take off without us.' Still, it is not clear what we should do from there. References Neumann, Eric. Depth Psychology and a New Ethic (Amazon). Woodard, Colin. American Nations: A History of Eleven Rival Regional Cultures (Amazon). Haidt, Jonathan. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (Amazon)
The archetype of the father is associated with gods, kingship, and other images of authority and order. As the image of a “personified affect” fueled by an archetypal core, the father complex is powerful. In its negative aspect it may arise from a father who was experienced as absent, emotionally unavailable, passive, critical or abusive. Jung’s father complex influenced his adult relationship with Freud, to whom he wrote, "Let me enjoy your friendship not as that of equals but as that of father and son." Although the eventual break with Freud caused Jung years of inner turmoil, he later realized that they were also the deep source of all his subsequent work. Similarly, Charlotte Bronte and her sisters were able to use their father wounds for their literary creativity. Although healing the father complex can be difficult, taking on this inner task can provide energy for living more fully, freely, and individually.    Dream I woke up in a large, 3 story wooden house that was inhabited by 3 or 4 other people. One was a film director who was coaching a rather unwilling, melancholy actress. I explored the different areas of the home and came to the conclusion that this building was too old, and was being deconstructed for something new. The floorboards creaked, and the walls were peeling off the way tree bark does. After coming downstairs, back to the first floor, and walking down the main hallway, a knock sounded at the front door. First, I looked through the peephole. A grungy looking middle-aged man with short, grey hair and a week old beard stood, impatiently waiting. I opened the door, and he abrasively brushed past me, he was wearing a long, worn, dark gingerbread colored raincoat. At this moment, the importance of the decaying house vanished behind me, along with the strange director and actress. I was led down a short set of stairs to a jungle sized backyard wet with snow. I stood alone now, gazing at the canopies. In the distance, something caught his eye. An animal, alone amidst the fog & snow. A black panther stood, staring at me. I was afraid, and buried myself in the snow as the black panther came running full speed towards me. As this situation began to fade, I woke up in a hospital where I was being shown that his hip had been injured.   References Lisa's article "Marrying Mr. Rochester: Redeeming the Negative Father Complex" For a PDF copy, please email The Chenoo William Ronald Dodds Fairbairn, Scottish psychoanalyst Von Franz, Marie-Louise. The Cat Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre and other works.  
Episode 084 - Anger

Episode 084 - Anger


Anger is a core human emotion. Newborns express instinctual cries of protest, and many a mythological god has wreaked archetypal havoc. Cultural norms around anger range from keeping a stiff upper lip to highly extraverted forms of expression. There are overall differences in how men and women tend to express anger; differences in temperament as well as situational stressors contribute to the intensity and frequency of angry feelings. Anger, like other emotions, is a source of information: it tells us when we feel violated in some way, and is linked to self-preservation. If fiery feelings can be understood first as a call to containment and self-reflection rather than reaction, it can fuel strategic thinking, emotional maturation and productive action.   Dream I was in a national forest alone, wandering around. I spotted a giant bird lying face down in a clearing. It had dark purple feathers on its back, and I knew I should try to collect some, since that is what my sister would do. I reached over and quickly pulled a handful out. I got three purple feathers. The bird turned out to actually be alive. It jumped up and I jumped back in fear, dropping the feathers on the ground. There were three people in the distance, that I couldn’t visually see but I understood them to be my classmates. They exclaimed, “she is so crazy to do that.” I wanted to get the feathers back, but I was too afraid and ashamed to get them.    References Lerner, Harriet. The Dance of Anger (Amazon).  Winnicott, Donald Hate in the Counter-Transference. › pmc › articles › PMC3330380
People have reported experiences with ghosts from antiquity; Jung documented his encounters with mysterious sensed presences. How do we make meaning of such experiences? Are they visitations from external beings? Could they be related to unconscious reactions to toxic substances, auditory subtleties, or erratic electromagnetic fields? Neurological evidence links the stimulation of specific brain regions to feeling a ghostly presence. Stress, extreme hunger, physical hardship, loss, isolation, sleep deprivation, and mental illness also correlate to ghostly experiences, perhaps related to a lowered threshold of consciousness. Although there is no scientific proof of ghosts, age-old belief in soul survival extends credibility to the existence of ghosts. Jung offered no definitive answer to this question but felt that since the unconscious possesses subtle powers of perception it could project a visionary picture of a psychic situation. Ultimately, experiences of ghosts are, like dreams, psychic facts.   Dream "I'm at my aunt's house. I'm sleeping there, and my daughter is having a sleepover with her friend in a different room. When she wakes, she comes over for a good morning hug and a kiss. I think about how nice that is. I'm drawing something on a piece of paper - two treasure chests, and some other things. I'm very intent on showing her the two treasure chests. I draw lines around one to show it's glowing. I think she'll be interested in them."   References Seven Sermons to the Dead: Jung’s visionary material published in an appendix to his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Wolfgang Pauli: theoretical physicist and pioneer of quantum physics with whom Jung met and worked. Henri Corbin: a French philosopher, theologian, and professor of Islamic Studies; the mundus imaginalis refers to an imaginal level of reality that animates all life. 
The question of whether, when, and what psychoactive medications may be helpful is both big and ambiguous. Mental distress has always been strongly influenced by cultural filters and subjective perceptions. Whereas a person might once have sought to placate a god, sufferers today may turn to medical management rather than mining their psychological symptoms for meaning. In his autobiography Jung describes his years of mental turmoil—and that they became “the prima materia for a lifetime’s work”; his Red Book documents his encounters with the unconscious in compelling and artistic detail. There is much evidence of the potential suffering holds for self-awareness and psychological depth – and it is also important to acknowledge that judicious use of today’s medications can relieve unnecessary or pointless suffering. No matter where on the spectrum of severity emotional illness may lie, psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle, and relationships can all play a role in recovery and growth. Dream “I am walking toward a large concrete structure with an unbelievably fit, handsome and powerful man. He appears to be my friend although I am envious of his physical attributes. We climb into a small passage that leads to a clearing in which undulating hills descend into a body of fast-moving water. I am immediately struck that there is a goal or intention to swim across this water and scale a flat concrete wall which is about 100 feet up, facing us across the body of water. My companion says, “I've got this,” and “I do things like this all the time.” He jumps in the water at the exact moment I become aware of holes in the wall which then begin to fire cannonballs. I rush back to where we began to avoid the cannon barrage, but also (it seems) to “watch” the negotiation of the obstacle. I am now with another man who is soft and slightly overweight. I ask him where the best place to watch this endeavor is and he leads me up a stairwell to a room that contains two old CR TVs. One is large and a smaller one is on top of the larger. The room has a greenish-yellow carpet and it looks very much like the late ’70s or early ’80s. I feel sorry for the man because in that moment I realize this is all he can afford. Next, I am struck with an awareness that the fit man has successfully completed his endeavor – although I did not see it happen. I then become aware that the room adjacent to the one I am in is filled with two groups of women. The first group are sitting at a table conducting what appears to be an executive meeting. The second group are on the floor engaging in a yoga class. My wife is among the women doing yoga and her cousin is among the executives. I suddenly am struck by the realization that I am only wearing a t-shirt and I’m naked from the waist down, and I fear they will discover this.”   References Hillman, James. The Myth of Analysis (Amazon). Whitaker, Robert. Anatomy of an Epidemic (Amazon). Perry, John. The Far Side of Madness Lingiardi & McWilliams. Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, Second Edition Jung, C.G. The Red Book.
Episode 081 - Empathy

Episode 081 - Empathy


Empathy, the ability to feel into the suffering of another, is an intrinsic part of being human. We have such a capacity to imagine others’ experience that we react physiologically and emotionally to painful situations even in film. We are surprised, sometimes shocked, when the empathy we expect in a given situation is not forthcoming. Although empathic deficits create wounding, an overly empathic stance can also be problematic, fostering psychic stasis. Jung related empathy to the causal, or “mechanistic” aspect of analysis, in which painful past experiences are traced to their origin in order to more fully integrate feelings, expand consciousness, and depotentiate a complex. However, Jung also emphasized the “abstract,” or “final-energic” direction of traumatic experience, which is more objective and relates to achieving a state of equilibrium. We are thus asked to hold the tension between empathy for feelings—our own or another’s—and a more objective stance toward meaning, choice, and action. Dream I'm standing somewhere that is slightly above the level of the ground, and looking down on an alley that has water below. I know I have come to get into the water, but while looking at the way to get to the water is very steep and harsh. So I think of jumping. The water is very, very clear, and I see that after a few meters on the side of the wall that I'm standing on, it gets very deep and blue. So I think it might be very dangerous, if I throw myself in, and can't swim. I don't believe anyone will be able to either find me or help me get out of the water. So I don't jump. But for the rest of the dream I continue carrying a secret with myself that I should have jumped, but I haven't. It feels like having to do something, but not doing it.
Comments (8)

Moira M

Totally disagree with Deb's take on alcoholism. Wow. Just wow.

Feb 3rd

Moira M

I love this podcast. It's so good listening to three intelligent and compassionate people. Thank you so much.

Jan 13th
Reply (1)

Ursula Bronicki

hello, I'm having issues playing episode #86; it seems to have cut off half way. Now I get a message saying it cant be played due to a broken source (unknown error)? the other episodes play fine...any recommendations?

Nov 22nd

Love Life

one assumption made that being a slob is low functioning. is it?

Apr 22nd

Daniel Taylor

This episode reminded me of the concept that God, as an architype, is possibly being replaced with other types or images. For example, the idea that sacredness as being applied to many nonreligious ideas, like food or politics or even morality, like do no harm is, maybe, a reflection of our secular society and the idea that God, whether consious or unconscious, is an important part of being human. By that I mean, that the idea of God or God himself is a need or a manifestation of our need for a God.

Mar 11th

Daniel Taylor

ok, the only issue I have with this discussion, is that maybe it's possible that the only power a person may have is to cut off ones family of origin. If a parent or any individual in any relationship refuses to modify their perceptually abusive behavior the person repetitively abused may have no other choice, but to remove themselves from that behavior.

Mar 5th

Vanessa Hannah Bright, LAc, LP

What an incredible podcast, thank you for taking the time to produce it. It is immensely inspiring and enriching.

Aug 27th
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