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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.
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Although these Jungian concepts have become familiar psychological terminology, they remain difficult to understand. According to Jung, animus and anima are innate psychic structures shaped significantly by the archetypal world, whereas the shadow is predominantly shaped by personal experiences of ego formation. Whereas shadow tends to be rejected, animus and anima fascinate and attract. Although images like sol / luna or yin / yang amplify the a priori nature of these inner opposites, the animus corresponds to the paternal Logos and the anima to the maternal Eros. Parents are the first external experience of this innate predisposition, and a developmental psychic trajectory may be inferred from mythology and individual dream images. Animus and anima represent adaptation and attitude to the inner world; they serve as the bridge to the collective unconscious and are experienced as “other.”  Dream In the first scene, my guy and I are watching each other masturbate over Skype. He's in his house and he ejaculates on his real wood floor. In the second scene, we're in my parents' house; they aren't there but there are children's toys around. He masturbates himself and ejaculates on their laminate wood floor. I'm anxious about this and clear up. In the third scene, I arrive in a cavernous Victorian public restroom below ground level, in London. The first chamber is a men's urinal and lots of men are pleasuring each other, it's a lively scene and they invite me in but I refuse. I move to another chamber, which is a spa, but I don't go in. In between the two chambers is a lecture theatre, and my guy is giving a work presentation to an audience. He doesn't acknowledge my arrival and I sit next to the projector under the raked chairs where the audience is sitting, and watch him present. He won't be able to see me, as he'd be blinded by the projector, but I can see him.  References: Anima and Animus by Emma Jung
Healing a Negative Mother Complex As the mother is the generator of life and usual primary attachment figure, the mother complex is universal. As the image of a “personified affect” fueled by an archetypal core, the mother complex is especially powerful. In its negative aspect, it may arise from a mother who was experienced as uncaring, attacking, possessive, withholding, absent, or wounded. It is likely to show up in relationships with others and in the relationship with oneself. Fairy tales like The Raven and Six Swans teach us that healing a negative mother complex takes time and perseverance—and that we may be aided by an animus prince or an anima princess, images of the autonomous unconscious. By responding to the turmoil of the mother complex one can embrace the task of finding the mother within.                                                                                                                                                                                        Dream "Last night I had a dream I was in a cave that had mosaic designs all over the walls. They were old ancient ruins like from Ancient Greece or Turkey. The first one was of some type of fertility goddess-like Ishtar or Lilith, but I can’t remember the details exactly. But the image frightened me, and I was afraid to go inside. Then above the ruins, there was a church. It was an Eastern Orthodox Church. It sort of reminded me of the Hagia Sofia. A painting of the Black Madonna was hanging on the wall. All the church members were women and the pastor was a woman as well. I don’t recall what we were talking about or what the pastor was saying, but I was transfixed upon that painting. That’s all I can remember." References Book: Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman YouTube: Clay Weiner (“Videos”: Mothers Day) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAxfh8ukosQ  
While psychiatric diagnostic labels often reify the complexities of psychological dynamics, they can also orient us to the essential qualities of a particular emotional and behavioral field. BPD is characterized by difficulty with affect regulation, intense and unstable interpersonal relationships, impulsive behavior, and a tendency toward highly polarized emotions: idealization/elation versus devaluation/despair. BPD is associated with early relational deficits, especially in caretakers’ capacity to maintain connection when their child is angry or aggressive. If intense early emotional states have not been well moderated, they can take on the force of emotional tsunamis, overwhelm the ego, and lead to impetuous and self-harming behaviors. A deep therapeutic and human process can re-inspire the possibility that one can find one’s center in a human relationship.   Dream "A dog-like creature is climbing on my mother’s shoulder, wounding her ribs with its claws. It is trying to hug her shoulder while she is attempting to get rid of it. The brown dog is crying desperately. I am there as well and turn around to avoid seeing the scene. My mother pulls the creature to the floor, violently opens its mouth and pours poison into it. The brown dog is crying desperately. I am there as well and turn around to avoid seeing the scene."   References Blog: Lifeinabind.com Book: Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder; Paul and Randi Kreger Book: Understanding the Borderline Mother; Christine Lawson  
We all procrastinate. Tasks from making a doctor’s appointment to preparing taxes to doing the laundry invite us to put off until tomorrow what we can postpone today. We may distract ourselves by going online, doing errands, or minimizing the time a job will take. Although procrastination signals that a given task is hard and emotionally charged, it buys only temporary escape from anxiety. Furthermore, procrastination can lead to disappointment in oneself that can undermine the self-confidence needed to face subsequent challenges. We are called to the hero’s journey in confronting the dragon of deficiency that inhabits our inner world as procrastination. If we dare to begin, we can find the help we need, and may discover that the task itself is not as onerous as we imagined--and that we are more.   Dream I'm in what looks like a large garage. There is a band playing for maybe 15 people. A man with the mic asked me who I wanted to hear play. I automatically said “Anthony Green” who is an artist I haven't listened to since college. He happened to be in the audience and he got up on stage. The band started playing “Dear Child.” It's a joyous-sounding song with a lot of energy. A line that repeats is “I've been trying to reach you, but my extension cord wouldn't reach that far." As the band was playing, a bunch of little fires started on the floor and the walls. Everyone including me was running around putting out the fires with our bare hands and by stomping. The band kept playing this whole time. The mood was still light and joyous despite the "emergency." Most of the fires were out. I saw through a vent in the wall that there was a raging fire in the basement. I looked back up and the entire room had transformed into a much more industrial and bigger building. It was some kind of modern factory. A woman who worked in this building took me to the stairs to get into the basement so we could put out the fire. She was around my age. We started going down the stairs and at the bottom of the stairs was a big dark tunnel. I started flipping random switches to try and turn the lights on so I could get to the fire. After maybe 10 seconds of failing, the woman ran into the dark toward the fire without saying anything. I woke up. While awake I listened to the song again and read along with the lyrics. I was in shock when I heard "Dear sleeper, you could have had the better bed. I loved to watch the way you grew." I felt like my psyche was saying that directly to me.   References Prochasa, James. Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward.   New York Times article on procrastination
If the passage into fullsome adulthood is avoided, a person can be trapped in the world of childhood. This protected realm is a nexus of potential, defined by avoiding the rigors of the real for the pleasures of possibility. Peter Pan, who chose to remain in never-never-land, is a well-known image for the flighty ingenuousness of the puer or puella. What stops libido from becoming more grounded in order to engage in more purposeful, ego-strengthening commitments? Charles Dickens’ Bleak House portrays a protagonist who felt that dedication and discipline were intolerably confining. Rapunzel, however, broke out of her elevated tower when a prince kindled her desire to bond in a more earthly way. If an initiatory experience does not activate libido, and the protected world of childhood is not sacrificed, entrapment in a marginal life may ensue.   Dream I was in a dark forest at night with my youngest son (he's 10). We were standing at the top of an exterior staircase attached to a house, which was situated at the edge of a large clearing in the forest. The house had bright spotlights shining onto the clearing, and I could see small animals all wandering through it. I felt like I wanted to go into the forest, but had to wait for something. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. A mountain lion had appeared on the edge of the clearing. As soon as it stepped into the clearing, it changed into a very large snake. It began slowly making it's way through the clearing, killing the small animals. It was killing them, but not eating them. I saw it begin to "devour" a smaller poisonous snake. The large snake had it's head tipped back in such a way that I could see it had a hole in the underside of it's throat. So it was clamping the smaller snake with its teeth, swallowing, and pulling it through its mouth, but the smaller snake was falling out through the hole in it's neck back onto the ground. My son and I began to run down the stairs and skirt around the edges of the clearing. I needed to get into the forest at a certain location and it was on the far side from the house. I stopped briefly when I noticed a dead kitten right at the edge of the forest. It had been ripped in half by the snake. Another kitten was there. It was so young it's eyes were not open. It was trying to crawl into the forest for safety. I felt...like I was rooting for it. Hoping for it to survive. But I had no urge to pick it up and help it. The large snake noticed us running. It changed back into the mountain lion and began after us before we could get to the far end of the clearing. I noticed a hunter's tree stand just inside the forest at the side of the clearing we had made it to. We ran for it. I kept checking to make sure my son was still with me. I began running up the stairs to the tree stand, and when I reached the top, noticed he was no longer with me. I panicked, began looking around. I noticed a black panther was now in the trees below the stand, jumping from branch to branch. The mountain lion was staying back because of it. The panther jumped up into the tree stand beside me, and changed into my son. "I keep forgetting I do not need to be afraid for you" I said to him. And then I woke.
Episode 071 - Self Talk

Episode 071 - Self Talk

2019-08-0801:07:171

Although only some of us talk aloud to ourselves, all of us have inner voices, even if we are not aware of them. These autonomous parts of ourselves provide running commentary on how and what we are doing. Are our inner commentators friendly and supportive, or critical and attacking? We turn to fairy tales, stories that arise from the collective unconscious, for wisdom about our relationship with those parts of ourselves that tend to operate autonomously. The Ill-Fated Princess must climb a mountain to confront and befriend her “bad Fate,” after which her destructive unconscious complex befriends her. In Vasalisa the Beautiful, a loving mother gives her daughter a doll that provides good advice in difficult situations. The bad Fate and Vasalisa’s doll illustrate the process of noticing how we relate to other parts of ourselves—and by changing a negative inner dynamic we become more whole.   Dream I am alone in Aunt Gloria’s house and I know I’m there because I am house- and pet-sitting for her. There are several cats I’m taking care of but suddenly a bird flies in the window and all the cats are chasing it. Then a stray cat gets in and all are hissing and bristling. I run down the stairs and there are two mice on an armrest, but one appears almost dead. When I look closer, it is dead and there is a note by it that says something like “Satan, I know you could’ve done this deal yourself.” I look up and a bedraggled and skinny old man is standing at the top of the stairs and I know then his name is brandy-mouthed Bob. I’m frightened of him. He comes down the stairs toward me aggressively and said, “ Should we throw some punches?” I didn’t know what to do so I grabbed his skinny wrists and tried to hold his arms back, afraid he would bite me.
Episode 070 - Dating

Episode 070 - Dating

2019-08-0101:12:441

We define dating as the quest for serious partnership or ongoing companionship. Today’s dating world is radically different from that of even a generation ago, and is light years away from previous generations. Dating apps and social media expedite and expand the range the search for a suitable other - and often turns dating into an exercise in personal marketing. Dating also now spans an age range from teens to older - even elderly - divorced or widowed adults. If today’s dating culture provides individuals with autonomy and choice, it also denies them the safeguards provided by family, religious, and cultural norms. The online persona may be very different  from the actual person, from age and appearance to character misrepresentation. Lacking social context and mutually understood social norms, individuals are required to be more aware of what they seek in another. They also need to be more aware of the projections and relational complexes to which they are susceptible.   Dream I was in a big Catholic cathedral; maybe in Spain or Italy. A mass was about to start. A usually generous friend of mine pushed passed me and took the last seat with a good view, one-in from the end of a row. Then I was standing near what seemed to be the tower of an Anglican church, which stood inside the Catholic cathedral. The doors of the tower flew open and a 2 metre tall black plinth on wheels was pushed out. On the plinth was a devilish/trickster character in a black Renaissance costume, making a scary face like Hannibal Lecter. I felt some fear but also the thrill of the theatrical spectacle.
Episode 069 - Retirement

Episode 069 - Retirement

2019-07-2501:01:13

The life transition we call retirement mandates a major readjustment in how time, energy and money are spent, whether retirement means becoming a “snowbird” or having a stepped-down lifestyle. Work has structured the rhythm of life and time; most have found aspects of identity, status, and socialization at work, regardless of how fulfilling, arduous or well paid it may have been. Shakespeare’s King Lear and the Greek myth of Baucis and Philemon illustrate contrasting inner attitudes and their outcomes. Jung believed that the second half of life had a prospective and healing function in the psyche. If retirement can be considered redirection, these years hold promise: life can now be oriented to internal life and meaning, especially awareness of the ego’s secondary place in relation to the Self.   Dream I am in a McDonald’s, waiting for my younger sister to collect her meal. Her order is called and we pick it up, the meal is excessive – a huge portion of chips and lots of nuggets, so I steal a chip. As she is eating I look around; the McDonald’s is filthy and disgusting. There are graffitied yellow plastic chairs, dim lighting and a bare concrete floor covered in litter. It smells disgusting - like stale chip fat and smoke. People are smoking inside and everyone looks mean/dodgy/scary dirty. I do my best to avoid eye contact with them all. As we leave a smelly and dirty older man holds out the door and asks where I am sleeping tonight. I feel disgusted and rush away. As I turn a corner I am in a dark alleyway. My sister has gone. I check my pockets and my bus pass, phone and keys have also gone. I have no money or way to get home but I know I need to get to the bus stop to get away from this place. I glance over my shoulder and a hooded man is following me. I walk faster and then turn to look again, this time he starts running towards me. As he gets closer I realize he has no face. As he approaches me at fast pace his outstretched arm strikes me very hard in the throat. The pain felt so real I jolted awake - heart racing and panting.   References Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning, Beacon Press, 1959 (and subsequent editions).  http://a.co/g0wAOJk
Chronic illnesses affect many, creating diminishment of physical ability and energy for life activities. There can be loss of agency, loss of one’s expected future, and a sharpened awareness of loss of life. There is a new need for conscious intention and reality-based decisions in order to avoid denial while adjusting to limitations and managing self-care. Deb, Lisa and Joseph discuss emotional factors in the loss of the healthy, autonomous self –and the possibility of a profound shift in inner life. The blindness of mythological figures like Tiresias and Oedipus symbolized the development of inner vision; Jungian Harry Wilmer used active imagination to personify his tuberculosis bacteria. And Jung believed that chronic illness could serve the process of individuation.   Dream In this latest dream it was a massive, hard, dry poo that wouldn’t come out so I had to get my fingers in and stretch my skin around it to help it pass, thinking as I did about how it must be like giving birth and I understood why doctors cut the skin. The scene was back in the home I grew up in with my parents and brother who is 18 months older than me. In the dream the toilet looked straight into the kitchen. Mum was in the kitchen the whole time encouraging me but not directly helping. Dad was in and out of the room aware of what I was dealing with but not getting involved. I think to myself, for a man who has always been so embarrassed by his own bodily functions, even that is an impressive level of involvement. Our neighbors over the fence - a house full of boys - could partially see and hear what was going on as well. When the poo finally passed my brother and Dad both came in to inspect it with me. It was the size and weight of a house brick and my brother was fascinated by it. He picked it up and took a photo of it and laughed a little bit with me about it. I didn’t otherwise find the situation funny but went along with him. Then there was still a small bit in there so I had to repeat the ordeal again to get rid of that too.   References Edinger, Edward. Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy. Wilmer, Harry. Huber the Tuber: A Story of Tuberculosis  Berger, Peter L. A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural.
Experiences of physical abandonment are depicted in stories old and new as ways of out-picturing traumas of early relational abandonment. Jung articulated the archetypal foundation of what later psychologists came to call attachment theory. In an infant’s primal state of identification with a mothering other, lack of caregiver availability and attunement constitutes psychic abandonment. This is depicted in fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel and the more recent film, Pan’s Labyrinth. Both image of the inner world of the emotionally abandoned child: the archetypal world first comes forward to protect the abandoned child, only to become persecutory, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. Abandonment may become internalized, manifesting as denial of one’s own feelings and needs. Getting in touch with one’s longing for a loving other, and grieving early loss is often the road to redemption.   Here’s the dream we discuss: I'm in a house by the sea, to see and somehow help a woman. I first meet her outside - a dark, handsome man is a few paces behind her and I take him to be her lover. She appears to be in her 30s.   Later we are inside with her family - her father has invited me there. Her husband (older, pudgier and more domesticated than her lover, but seemingly intelligent and relatively attractive) and father are talking about a sailing trip. She, sitting off to the side, interjects that she's always wanted to do a long solo voyage. Clearly this is a conversation that has happened before. Her father says it wouldn't be safe, and her husband agrees. Either she or I (I'm unsure) comment that they are more worried about her being dangerous than they are something happening to her. At this point I/we are thinking of the lover, who the family are unaware of.   The father calmly comments that there's a large wave rising on the sea. He's standing at a window watching it. I come to take a look - it's huge; more tidal wave than wave. It breaks on the house and starts to wash it away. I'm holding on and realise that I'm in an untenable situation. I go back in time slightly, and this time as the wave hits I climb into a wooden box.   After the water has receded I get out and try to find the family. I find the father and husband, but cannot see the woman. I'm unsure if that's because she was swept away, or because now I am the woman.   References Kalsched, Donald. The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit.
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Comments (5)

Sarah Hanka

Wow. I just loved this one. The dream was quite something too...

Aug 18th
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Love Life

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

Apr 22nd
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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
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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
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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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