“The dream” wrote C. G. Jung in 1933 in “The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man”:
[I]s a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends. For all consciousness is isolated; because it separates and discriminates, it knows only particulars, and it sees only those that can be related to the ego. Its essence is limitation, even though it reach to the furthest nebulae among the stars. All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from all nature and bare of all egohood.[i]
[i] CW10: ¶304.
Carl Jung's Spirituality: Living the Symbolic Life
Unitarian-Universalist Church of Berkeley, in Kensington, California, USA
October 6, 2019. 9:30-10:45 AM in the Fireside Room
Jungian Analysis and Psychotherapy
What is Jungian analysis? Why should I go to see a Jungian psychotherapist? What do Jungian analysts have to offer that other mental health practitioners typically do not provide? What makes analytical psychotherapy unique among the mental health professions—psychiatry, clinical psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, and spiritual, or religious counseling? The difference is the central focus we place upon understanding what dreams mean and how they can function as channels for the Self’s emergence. The Self is Jung’s master concept for the central archetype of unity in the personality and we place a focus on the development of the whole person. One of the primary channels for the Self's manifestations are vocational archetypes. These are goal-directed structures for the instincts to realize themselves through symbolic imagery and human action in service of one's full potential.
Jung began his empirical work in Switzerland analyzing, researching, and writing about feeling-toned complexes. Complexes are formed through developmental traumas that split off bits of the personality and mobilize psychic infections that may proliferate into mental disorders. To be depleted of their negative emotional charges they need to be transformed through reductive and constructive methods of therapy, fantasy-thinking and the symbolic life. Working with affect-complexes at an emotional, relational and imaginal level is a primary task of Jungian psychotherapy and Jungian analysis. Once the complexes that have made the personality sick and dysfunctional patterns of relationship and behavior have been reduced—to their causal origins in adolescence, childhood, and/or early infancy—what emerges in the course of the analysis, if all goes well, is the natural outgrowth of personality through the summons from the inner voice to live out one's life's meanings. Often this comes as a surprise to the patient through a mutual understanding with the psychotherapist.
The Growth of Personality
Nurturing the natural growth of personality from its organic seed in the unconscious is the Jungian psychotherapist’s primary concern. This is not only a therapy. It is a creative incubation that aims towards a new birth of the Self. Jungian psychotherapists and Jungian analysts sometimes help to parent the birth of the Self in the interpersonal relationship. The primary way to this birthing of the Self is through dream analysis, understanding what dreams mean, followed by active imagination, art work, the journal method, or sandplay. The method of dream interpretation and active visioning are not typically taught in mental health institutions, yet, this is a primary way dysfunctional patterns of behavior and interaction may be outgrown through encounter and dialogue. Active visioning leads to an enlargement of the personality, whereby the personal complexes (emotionally-toned, or feeling-toned complexes) can be depleted of their negative charges, lessened in their intensity, and may be outgrown, as an inner authority emerges and begins to make its presence felt in one's fuller maturity.
Vocational dreams are messages from the unconscious that help put a person on their proper path to the realization of a calling which may manifest itself in the form of creative work and social action. These dreams may emerge in childhood, latency, adolescence, or early adulthood and they tend to provide glimpses of future patterns of vocational development in a person’s life and open up a way to discover how to have an impact on the world through professional activities. In order for vocational dreams to emerge during early adulthood or mid-life, a return to childhood memories and a thorough working through of affect-complexes is sometimes needed. By returning to childhood, through Jungian depth psychotherapy, a patient allows personal complexes to surface, along with creative patterns of destiny that may have been neglected or split off from the Self’s normal instinctive functioning. Contained in dreams that emerge from such an exploration process, I have found in my work that they may sometimes provide guidance and meaning in one's life on a path towards healing.
Midlife can be a time of tumultuous transformations with unexpected reversals of fortune, vocational indecision, and new emerging life paths that can make their sudden demands upon the ego to heed the Self’s callings to wholeness. Having a Jungian psychotherapist or Jungian analyst to work with in-depth during this period of personal grief and loss of one's former persona can lead to a recognition and inner acceptance of the destiny one is meant to be living. During this muddled midlife state of affairs, big dreams of destiny may emerge. During this time the inner voice may come forth to do its work of helping to re-connect a person to their greatest life’s meaning and path towards wholeness. Jungian analysis and dream work can help facilitate this process. Heeding vocational dreams and outer synchronistic events during this period of change can help to heal a person from meaninglessness existence and and neurosis and fill one with a new sense of significance. As an archetype of destiny the vocational archetype may lead a patient to experience rapid inspirations and creative renewals. Relief may come at the recognition that one has found a way to stay connected to the Self; by opening up new possibilities of relationships and purposeful channels of sacred work, heeding the call can turn existential crises into spiritual metamorphosis. Transformation at midlife involves a change from a career-orientation to a vocational-orientation, where the aim is no longer placed upon the ego and its limited needs, but upon ever-increasing Self-knowledge, which springs from one’s deepest sense of joy and being. Once the call to wholeness is heard and surrendered to, it may bring with it a sense of renewed energy and lessening of past hurts and traumas. Vocational dreams can provide new insights into the way ahead and help steer the ship of one’s destiny towards newly achieved shores of peace. Neurotic symptoms such as anxiety and depression may begin to dissolve as the ego lets go of disordered emotions and allows the Self to take a lead in the establishment of an ordered symbolic life in accordance with the harmonious plan of Nature. Understanding the relationship between dreams with vocational significance and meaningful chance, or what Jung called synchronicity, can be of great benefit during the passage from disorder to temporary order during midlife’s transformations.
This Video describes the correspondence between vocational dreams and what C. G. Jung called Synchronicity: the principle of acausal coincidence, or meaningful chance.