Jung and the Symbolic Journey by Stephen Foster

Not for a moment dare we succumb to the illusion that an archetype can be finally explained and disposed of…..  The most we can do is dream the myth onwards and give it a modern dress.  (Collected Works, Vol. 9, Part I, p. 160)



In a world where most people seem to pay more attention to the latest football score or sale at Nordstrom’s Rack, its hard to fathom why anyone would be interested in the psychological perspective of the Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung.  But I am sure that you have seen a movie or read a book that has had a powerful effect on you.

Movies like Star Wars, or the Lord of the Rings, or Eat, Pray, Love illustrate certain patterns of human behavior that are mythic, or what Jung called archetypal.  If we are willing to spend a little time alone with ourselves in reflection, or enter into Jungian analysis, we are able to identify some of these themes or patterns in our own lives through the movies or books that hook us. It is as if the movie expresses something within us that we cannot articulate. The projection on the screen is also a projection of something within that is important for us to see, and we are drawn back to it like a moth to a flame.

I remember when I was young my teacher in the small two room country schoolhouse would read from a large green illustrated copy of the Greek myths.  These stories were like movies playing in my imagination, and as I heard the adventures of Jason and his crew in the Argos I imagined that adventure was just around the corner.  The characters in these myths were alive to me.  In the same way, if we review our own personal stories we might see how they reflect an underlying mythic structure. The films or books we are drawn to often complete that part of our mythic journey that we are unable to directly see for ourselves until it is presented on the screen.  The trick is to think symbolically about the images on the screen and imagine them as possible symbolic solutions to our current, often restricted situation.

It is not necessary to act out, or concretize, the fantasy. One does not have to sail around the Mediterranean to feel free. Instead, one can convert it to a symbolic event by asking the question, “What am I looking to satisfy in my desire to have a fantasy voyage around the Mediterranean, and how can I symbolically meet the need in this moment?”  It requires a measure of honesty.  But we all have it in us, and it can save us from some very expensive road trips.

Mandalas – Ritual and Psyche by Puddi Kullberg, Diplomate Jungian Analyst

Mandalas – Ritual and Psyche

Kolams are a tradition that originated in rural, village India – a Hindu women’s ritual of painted prayers. Each morning at dawn women make freehand drawings of singular beauty and symmetry in the dirt outside their dwellings. Often they are mandala shaped. They are made of wet and dry rice flour, sometimes colored with dyes, although the very traditional are white only.

Kolams are thought of as either protective, evocative of blessings, or both. Some are dedicated to specific goddesses, often Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, luck and good fortune, or Buhdeva, goddess of soil and earth. For special occasions and feast days they may cover the whole courtyard or street.

Imagine yourself stepping outside and your sidewalk or street is adorned with ephemeral lace-like drawings. You walk on these on your way to work or to jog or to get your morning coffee. Your footfalls and those of many others will wear them away as the day passes. But they will reappear tomorrow morning.

In Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung talks about how he had painted his first mandala after writing Seven Sermons. Then he recounts how from 1918-1919 while on military duty he sketched every morning in a small notebook. He describes what he drew as “a small circular drawing, a mandala, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. …My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which were presented to me anew each day. In them I saw the self – that is, my whole being – actively at work” (1961, p. 195). To Jung “my whole being” meant his consciousness plus the unconscious – “actively at work” – that is, the mandala was being produced from a source other than his conscious will or ego and yet it was showing him how his personality was coming to a new order. Jung began to understand the primacy of the unconscious and the relativity of the ego vis-à-vis the ordering principle of the Self. He said,

I had to abandon the idea of the superordinate position of the ego. …During those years…I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self. … I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate. Perhaps someone else knows more, but not I. (MDR, p. 196) (my italics)

Then eight years later in 1927 Jung had his Liverpool dream which he says crystalized his earlier insights about mandalas. In his dream, although he was with friends, only Jung could see the illuminated, magnificent center in the midst of an otherwise dark and dank cityscape. He said this dream made him realize, “The center is the goal, and everything is directed toward that center. Through this dream I understood that the self is the principle and archetype of orientation and meaning. Therein lies its healing function (MDR, p. 197) (My italics). He went on to make a painting of this dream in abstract mandala form which he called “Window on Eternity.”

In 1930 Jung gave a seminar which included his mandalas and in 1933 he first published “A Study in the Process of Individuation.” This work followed the art work drawn spontaneously as active imagination from the unconscious of a woman patient. Twenty-three out of her twenty-four paintings are mandalas. Jung’s writing narrates how the paintings show a progression from a chaotic to an ordered psychic state, a reorganization of the woman’s psychic being. Indeed, mandalas were significant enough for Jung to take the time twenty years later in 1950 to write up and publish his 1930 seminar and edit and revise his essay of 1933.

We sometimes experience interminable times of seemingly impossible conflict. If mandalas appear then in your dreams, active imaginations, or otherwise in your “regular” life, they let you know that there is an organizing principle at work amid what feels like chaos. Psychic reorientation is at hand. Your whole attitude and outlook upon life is changing.

In his essay “Concerning Mandala Symbolism” Jung writes:

The Sanskrit word mandala means ‘circle.’ It is the Indian term for the circles drawn in religious ritual. In the great temple of Madura, in southern India, I saw how a picture of this kind was made. It was drawn by a woman on the floor of the mandapam (porch), in colored chalks, and measured about ten feet across. A pandit who accompanied me said in reply to my questions that he could give me no information about it. Only the women who drew such pictures knew what they meant. The woman herself was non-committal; she evidently did not want to be disturbed in her work.  (CW 9i, para 629, pp 355-356)


Overview of Psychoanalysis by Deborah Bryon and Mark Winborn

Psychoanalysis was conceived by the mind of one individual – Sigmund Freud.  The publication of Studies in Hysteria in 1895, in collaboration with Josef Breuer, ushered in a new perspective on the human condition, introduced a novel method of treating emotional disturbance, and added a significant element to the intellectual discourse of the world.  Freud’s seminal work initiated a new era in understanding the human psyche.  A flurry of original ideas emerged out of the ongoing theoretical discussions that were taking place among the pioneering psychoanalytic minds of the early twentieth century.  The passion for exploring unconscious material, arising out of the new field of psychoanalysis, carried over into the collective, feeding the creativity of the avant-garde and influencing prominent artists and writers of the time.

Unfortunately, the birth of this new field of inquiry was soon marked by an insistence on orthodoxy within the emerging discipline.  Loyal lieutenants were recruited, oaths of allegiance sworn, a secret committee formed, and rings of fidelity issued. Despite the efforts of Freud and his loyal supporters, the orthodoxy they so carefully protected began to fray just sixteen years after the public debut of psychoanalysis.  In 1911, Alfred Adler resigned as president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, followed shortly by Wilhelm Stekel.  Their departures were followed by Carl Jung’s resignation in 1914 and Otto Rank’s theoretical challenge to the orthodoxy in 1924.

Exile, whether forced or self-imposed, became commonplace for the individuals and ideas that ran counter to Freud’s rigorously held vision for psychoanalysis.  Even after Freud’s death in 1939, the tension between orthodoxy and innovation continued with the now famous debates, held in London from 1941 through 1945, between supporters of the orthodox Freudian position and the supporters of Melanie Klein.

Issues of orthodoxy again became central when Jacques Lacan and the Société Française de Psychanalyse were denied admission to the International Psychoanalytic Association in the 1950’s.  Similar tensions arose in the United States when Heinz Kohut began to introduce his ideas for a psychology of the self in the 1960’s.  Evolution, innovation, and differentiation have continued to this day within the field of psychoanalysis, along with the controversies and disagreements among the ever-expanding schools of thought associated with psychoanalysis.

We maintain the importance of identifying and embracing “the common ground of psychoanalysis” (Wallerstein, 1996), whereby we are reminded that all practitioners of psychoanalysis have much more in common with each other than we do differences.  After all, we are all Freud’s offspring – or at least close relations – who may have grown up in different houses but continue to share the same lineage. We largely agree on the existence and importance of unconscious experience, the need for a deep therapeutic alliance to facilitate change, and on the possibility of transformation via a combination of insight and embodied experience.  Ultimately, we come to psychoanalysis with a shared belief in “the talking cure” as a vehicle for deepening and enriching life.

As Robert Wallerstein (1996) and others have pointed out, it is most often in the discussion of clinical experience that we are likely to identify areas of common ground, where we can see and appreciate similarities with what we each do in our individual consulting rooms – even if the approach, wording, or style is somewhat different than we might choose.

About Jungian Psychoanalysis by Kaitryn Wertz, Diplomate Jungian Analyst

Most people associate the word “psychoanalysis” with image of a gray-bearded man smoking a pipe and saying, “Tell me about your mother”. Today this image of psychoanalysis seems outdated and pretentious.  Although psychoanalysts may have practiced this way in the past, times have changed. The original theories of Freud and Jung have evolved continuously and creatively over the rich, hundred year history of psychoanalytic treatment. Despite our “quick fix” culture, psychoanalysis is still widely practiced in the United States. It remains the most in-depth form of therapy, with an unmatched understanding of the human psyche and the most rigorously and thoroughly trained therapists in the field of mental health.

Jungian Analysis is a specialized form of psychoanalysis based on the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. It aims at activating the individual’s innate healing capabilities.  Our symptoms, our struggles, our suffering and our dreams are all regarded as messages about unknown or neglected parts of ourselves which need attention. By listening to these messages, we gain new perspective on our difficulties, a deeper connection to ourselves and others and the strength to change old patterns.  Along with relief from pain, Jungian analysis works toward developing access to our own inner wisdom, self-acceptance, authenticity and renewed energy for life. It is as much a form of “inner work” as it is psychological treatment.

This approach is well-suited for people who want to understand themselves at a deeper level and to discover greater meaning, purpose and creative fulfillment in their lives. It’s recommended for those seeking to transform destructive or limiting patterns, especially when those patterns are long-standing and repetitive. It’s also helpful for people seeking to heal the effects of painful or traumatic past experiences and when previous, less intensive therapy or counseling has not been helpful enough.

Like other therapies, Jungian analysis is concerned with easing emotional suffering.  But while it may include solving problems or coping with crisis, analysis aims at more lasting change by facilitating deeper psychological growth. This involves transforming problematic patterns, both in relationships with others and in relationship to ourselves, as well as uncovering blocks that prevent us from living our full creative potential.

Other Key Features of Jungian Analysis

  •  Analysis is a highly individualized process that relies on the individual’s innate potential for growth. The setting is specifically designed to encourage deep exploration. Continuity in sessions is essential for developing the analytic relationship required for this kind of exploration and so the client and analyst may meet more frequently and      consistently, sometimes in two or more sessions per week. However, this is individual. It is not necessary to meet more than once per week in order to work analytically
  • Because it takes time to heal, change and grow, analysis can be a long-term process.  This may seem out of place in today’s quick fix world. It is a big commitment, but it may be one thing a person can do to make real and lasting improvements in his or her quality of life.
  • Contrary to popular impression, analysis is not preoccupied with the past. Memories from earlier life are only used to understand and change our patterns of reacting in the present moment. This integration of the past with the present is part of the holistic growth associated with analysis.
  • The relationship between client and analyst is an important part of the process. This takes place in an atmosphere of emerging trust, in which difficult, painful experiences can be safely explored and understood.

Contemporary Relational Analysis and Jungian Psychology by Kaitryn Wertz, Diplomate Jungian Analyst

Many Jungian analysts practicing today have been influenced by the contemporary relational model, an approach that is gaining increasing support by neuroscience research. Relational analysis explores the impact of current and past relationships on the individual’s well-being and uses the interaction between the client and therapist to build understanding of the client’s relationship patterns.  This process supports clients to transform destructive patterns, to emerge from the negative imprinting of early experiences and to develop healthier, more deeply satisfying relationships.

In his later writings, C.G. Jung (1875-1961) anticipated the current relational movement, through his understanding of the counter-transference as “an organ of information” and through his exploration of the analytic relationship as a chemical combination involving and influencing both partners in “The Psychology of the Transference.”   This late work of Jung’s reflects an understanding of what today’s relational analysts call “two person psychology.”

While relationally-oriented analysts agree that the capacity for relatedness is fundamental to psychological health, Jung’s contribution emphasized that psychological development (individuation) requires relatedness both with the inner world and with others. Each development supports the other.  The way we relate to other people is often indicative of how we relate to the more challenging aspects of our inner lives.  We grow by finding and relating to the missing parts of ourselves. When we are in relationship with another person, parts of ourselves that we have lost touch with are met again.

Jungian Analyst Barbara Stevens Sullivan writes,Relatedness is the basis of health but it also exposes us to interpersonal wounding. We protect ourselves from being hurt by calling up anti-related energies, by denigrating the other in our minds, by erasing him through not-seeing his need,
by forgetting his wishes when those wishes would cause us distress. All the pathological tendencies in the psyche push us toward an anti-related approach…. Anti-related energy is narcissistic energy where narcissism carries the …meaning of an ego-centric over-valuation of the self. Relatedness and narcissism are two poles between which human beings are inherently torn. ” (The Mystery of Analytic Work, Routledge, 2010)