Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology
by Marie-Louise von Franz
To be sure, this is one of Marie Louise von Franz' most brilliant books: a depth-analysis into the nature of projection and re-collection in Jungian psychology. Von Franz defines projection clearly in chapter one, where she points out that the phenomenon under clinical investigation leads to psychological problems when the archaic identity of a subject doing the projecting leads to disturbances in adaptation, at which point integration of the projected content into the subject is desirable (7). As she points out the archaic identity between subject and object still lives at the very bottom of the psyche and this lower and more "primitive" level contains the real secret of all life-intensity and cultural creativity (8). Her aim is to get to the bottom of the projection-making process, to show through her erudition how the goal of Jungian analysis is to help the patient and presumably the reader not to project anymore. This is also the aim, she says, of Zen Buddhist meditation and although she sees such detached consciousness, at least at times, through an idealizing lens, she says we average human beings will, for the most part, have to continue for the rest of our lives to recognize our projections for what they are: as mistaken judgments about people, situations, and events (199). She posits for analytical psychology five stages in the process of withdrawing projections. This leads her to the following discussion. "One of the oldest ways of symbolizing projection," she says, "is by means of projectiles, especially the magic arrow or shot that harms other people" (20). She develops this idea further: "When one becomes the target of another person's negative projection, one often experiences that hatred almost physically as a projectile" (21). "Ultimately," she adds, "it appears that projections always originate in the archetypes and in unconscious complexes" (24). She applies this idea clearly to the problem of transference and countertransference in psychotherapy (27). She is adept at tracing the notion of projection to the withdrawal of projectiles in religious hermeneutics, in Western philosophy, Gnosticism, early Christianity and the schism in the second millennium. Her discussion increases in insight in the connections she makes between "excited points" in the electromagnetic field (posited by modern physicists) and the archetypal nuclei that emit certain psychoid auras of numinosity, or light. Here she makes it clear that in Jung's hypothesis the archetypes in their quiescent state are not projected: "projection is an essential part of the process by which the archetype assumes a determinable shape" (86). Madness and possession by evil spirits, whether in an individual, a family, an analytical relationship, or in groups, may be cured by a shaman, she says, because the shaman has the power to overcome contaminations by toxic emotions: "during his initiation he has overcome his own states of possession" (99). "The Inner Companion" is a marvelous chapter and "Consciousness and Inner Wholeness" makes it clear that Jung's notion of the Self is meant to be understood as an experience that may put an end to projections (160); experiences of Self may sometimes lead to a metanoia of consciousness where changes in the personality become irreversible (161). This may lead to the inner eye of insight and re-collection, or integration of the Self from projection, where little sparks of light in the unconscious begin to light up and one great inner light of consciousness is presumably illuminated (170). The discussion on individuation and relatedness, where she speaks of "the social function of the Self" and "reciprocal individuation," where one gathers around oneself a "soul family"--a group not created by accident and projection, but by something more objective arranged by the Self (177)--is brilliant. Chapter nine discusses reflection with erudition and the "fourfold" mirroring of psyche and matter (synchronicity). She ends her book with a discussion of synchronistic events as "acts of creation in time" that may be observed objectively through reflexio (reflection). This may happen when we are able to perceive the synchronous ordering of events as part of a psychoid process, where one can integrate "absolute knowledge" in an archetypal nuclei as existing "in a space-time continuum in which space is no longer space, nor time time" (193). Such rare moments of re-collection are the aims of Jungian analysis. Ending her book she points to non-possession by the numinosity of the Self as the aim of individuation, modeling the the pinnacle of Chinese wisdom, as instanced in hexagram 15 of the I Ching, "Modesty."
Transformation: Emergence of the Self
by Murray Stein
In 1998 I had the honor of reviewing Murray Stein's books for "The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal." I had read several of Stein's books before 1998 and was moved particularly by his first book "In Midlife," yet, when I read "Transformation," I was led to say that it spoke more directly to the needs of the soul than any other Jungian text I had come across. Reflecting back on what I wrote then I still believe this today. There is a mystery of transformation contained within this book that speaks directly to the spirit of our times: a need not only for a theoretical post-Jungian analysis of what takes place in psychotherapy, but a clear and practical description of a working method that reveals how transformation may be achieved outside (as well as inside) the consulting room. What are the archetypal structures of thought and feeling through which transformation occurs? What are some methods by which we can put into practice what Stein teaches? What Stein is most adept at describing is perhaps what happens when the scars of childhood have been outgrown during a person's early thirties to early fifties, when "structures" of affect and "feeling" suddenly emerge to color an individual's entire life and oeuvre. Of particular interest to me is the remarkable story he tells of the German national poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, during the periods of inception and writing of the Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus. Here Stein answers my question above about structure and method. Stein shows masterfully how the "poet archetype," or "poet imago" emerged quickly out of structures of affect and feeling from Rilke's early developmental life to transform his consciousness at mid-life utterly. Never before and never again afterwards, Stein writes, was the poet so thoroughly possessed by the Muse as when the text of the Elegies poured forth from his pen, and when he traces this inspiration to its source, what we learn is that "a mood of elegiac nostalgia and mourning dominates Rilke's entire artistic life" (p. 29). Stein traces this characteristic mood beyond mourning over personal losses in his infancy. He describes "a fundamental structure of feeling" that pervades Rilke's entire life as a destiny-pattern and concludes that his "entire poetic oeuvre is, in a sense, a monumental lament" (p. 29). This is a true mythological insight. For we find this to be a fact in ancient Hindu poetry as well as in the songs of our seminal American poet Walt Whitman. Such feelings of profound Grief as Rilke passed through at mid-life inevitably led the poet to unearth memories extending beyond the atmosphere surrounding his infantile trauma, to the "mythic territory and the history of the Laments" (p. 31). Stein postulates that "Lament is the occasion, the necessary condition for transformation" (pp. 28, 29); this proves to be true in the poetry of the Hindu poet Valmiki, as well as in the poetry and prose of Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson. The Land of the Laments is a metaphor for Rilke's transpersonal origins in structures of transpersonal feeling that can be traced to the poet-archetype and to shamanism. Rilke's method for accessing these structures was through free-verse, a technique highly influenced by Whitman. Stein's brilliant analysis confirms to my mind that the Land of the Laments is a mythic metaphor for a place of transformation inside each of us; it can act for readers today as a symbol of creative transformation from which we may each draw deep healing, feeling, and inspiration. For a further discussion of the poet-archetype in relation to American poetry and shamanism see my 2009 book "William Everson: The Shaman's Call."
The Wisdom of the Serpent
by Joseph L. Henderson
Jungian psychotherapy: The Wisdom of the Serpent is one of the classical texts on initiation in the field of analytical psychology. Written in 1963 with the assistance of Maud Oakes, Joseph Henderson examines the myths, poems and epics of many world cultures and reveals a basic pattern of initiation that depicts the annihilation and death of the ego and its ultimate release into transcendence and spiritual liberation. The theme of the first chapter is the fear of death, or the ego's fear of the unknown (3). This fear, so common during the passage through mid-life turns out to be a natural part of the process of individuation, where the individual must undergo an excruciating experience of death to the limited ego, surrender to the Self and death to the larger reality of the unknowable. In chapter five, he points out that the number most commonly associated with initiation, the number seven, is a number connoting the steps or stages of an inner, as opposed to an outer, journey. The word initiation, he explains is derived from the Latin in ire, "to enter into," and therefore it denotes a temporary withdrawal from outer actions, and especially adventures of a heroic sort. Henderson is well-known for his positing of a transit beyond the hero myth. Submission is the central characteristic of initiation, a strong element of the archetypal "trial of strength" that is carried over from the earlier heroic phase of life and exemplified by the symbol of the seven stages, represented as seven rungs of a ladder leading to Heaven (42-43). While Henderson finds the therapeutic powers of the shaman in the Hebrew and Christian traditions, he cautions that we need to be careful not to strain the analogy between shamanism and Christianity. He shows in chapter 6 that the classically archetypal figure from which all other mythic ancestors' spring is the aboriginal shaman, who is a master of his own initiation, and who stays humbly true to the pattern of his or her own vocation (63). Henderson views the shamanic impulse as the root of the culture-patterns. He defines initiation as an archetypal process consisting of the following seven stages: 1) spiritual education and psychic liberation, 2) engagement and disengagement, 3) descent and ascent, 4) death and rebirth, 5) incarnation and release, 6) coniunctio (marriage, union and spiritual illumination), and 7) submission and transcendence. Each of these 7 stages are said to represent an ineffable mystery of human existence. Understood psychologically, Henderson says that 7 connotes the fullest development of the numbers 3 and 4, in which confidence and trust in the pattern of individuation is represented numerically; this is not just as a process, Henderson tells us, it is a way of life. As an eloquent example of the experience of the acceptance of death Henderson cites Walt Whitman's 1868 poem "Darest Thou Now O Soul" to end the book. This book was published four years before Thresholds of Initiation. It shows the progression of his thought between his excellent chapter for Man and His Symbols and what many consider to be his masterpiece in 1967, Thresholds. (See my Amazon Review of Thresholds for further reading).
The Inner World of Trauma
by Donald Kalsched
Donald Kalsched has arrived at a thought provoking hypothesis on how the psyche of the child responds archetypally and affectively to overwhelming life events with "miraculous life-sustaining defenses" that are designed to ensure the survival of the human personality, or "personal spirit," from total annihilation. By "trauma" Kalsched means "any experience that causes the child unbearable psychic pain or anxiety" (7, 1). Kalsched is the first investigator in the field of depth psychology to provide us with a comprehensive theory of the "archetypal daimonic images... that arise in response to outer trauma" (2), and with his notion of a paradoxical "self-care system" in mind, he attempts to resolve some of the most fundamental questions about how the psyche responds archetypally to the shocks of early trauma at the beginning of ego-Self development. Using the data of unconscious fantasy images, Kalsched develops a new line of interpretation of dreams, myths, and fairy tales and arrives at the connection that "trauma-linked dream imagery represents the psyche's self-portrait of its own archaic defensive operations" (2). Using the clinical material of dreams and unconscious fantasy images, he demonstrates how, "at certain critical times in the working through of trauma, dreams give us a spontaneous picture of the psyche's `second line of defenses' against the annihilation of the personal spirit" (2). In the later sections of his book, Kalsched presents a revision of the traditionally accepted Jungian formula that the Self is an organizing and integrating agency in the psyche alone, and not also a disorganizing and disintegrating agency of self-destruction. In other words, he supports the idea that the Self is a paradox for a specific reason: the Self is an organizing and integrating agency only when the psyche has not been exposed to the shocks of severe trauma, but when severe trauma is present, the psyche of the child self-destructs, and the ambivalent Self is constellated. What Kalsched has done for analytic theory and practice is to provide us with a model, which enables us to see how Jung's theory of the Self can be viewed as both a benign and malevolent being and as a whole Being that integrates and transcends the opposites. Nevertheless, how trauma turns the psyche of a child from a system of self-care into a system of self-destruction needs to be more fully illuminated with research on children's dreams. What needs to be more fully elaborated, I feel, is how the benevolent side of the self-care system compensates for the malevolent side with symbols of wholeness even in severely traumatized children. This is something Kalsched does superbly in his analysis of myths and fairy tales, but he neglects for the most part to demonstrate how healing images emerge in the presentation of his clinical data. Kalsched's book is certainly one of the classics in the field of analytical psychology. In this work he broke new ground. A very readable and engaging book.
Review of Being Called: Scientific, Secular, and Sacred Perspectives, David Bryce Yaden, Theo D. McCall, and J Harold Ellens, Editors. Praeger: Santa Barbara, CA., 2015. © Steven Herrmann, Ph.D., MFT
Book Review of Changing Course: Navigating Life After Fifty,” William Sadler, Ph.D., and James Krefft, Ph.D., Colorado: The Center for Third Age Leadership Press Centennial, 2007.
Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation Practice, Boston: Shambhala, 1970.