Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida


February 23, 2014

Interview with Richard Tarnas, Ph.D., “Understanding Our Moment in History “

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 11:33 pm

 

The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida is privileged to present an interview with Richard Tarnas, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Cultural History, for his event “Understanding Our Moment in History”on Friday, February 28th & Saturday, March 1st at The Riverside Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.   On Friday evening, Dr. Tarnas will address the topic: “Is Modern Humanity Undergoing a Rite of Passage?” Then during the Saturday workshop, he will give us insights from “An Archetypal Archaeological Perspective.” Before each of our events, the Center requests an interview with the presenter to get the word out about the upcoming opportunity to learn more about Jung’s Analytical Psychology and how it applies to ourselves and our world.

 

Richard Tarnas, Ph.Dis a professor of philosophy and cultural history at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where he founded the graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. He also teaches archetypal studies and depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. A graduate of Harvard and Saybrook Universities, he is the author of The Passion of the Western Mind, a history of the Western world view from the ancient Greek to the postmodern that became both a best seller and a required text in many universities. His most recent book, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, received the Book of the Year Prize from the Scientific and Medical Network in the UK. He frequently lectures abroad as well as at various Jung institutes and societies throughout the U.S. He is on the Board of Governors of the C. J. Jung Institute of San Francisco. 

Our psyche is set up in accord with the structure of the universe, and what happens in the macrocosm likewise happens in the infinitesimal and most subjective reaches of the psyche.”

C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

  CJSSF: Your acclaimed cultural history The Passion of the Western Mind was a bestseller and a textbook. You revisited that history in your 2006 Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. What made you ready to present the perspective of archetypal astrology?

DR. TARNAS: I actually wrote The Passion of the Western Mind as a preparatory foundation for Cosmos and Psyche. My original intention was to describe how the concept of archetypes had evolved from Plato to Jung, and also how our view of the cosmos had evolved from the ancients through the Copernican revolution to our own age, so that my readers would be in a position to appreciate the cosmological and psychological implications of the planetary correlations. What ultimately became Passion I had intended to be just the first few chapters of Cosmos. But books can have a mind of their own and it seems a full history of Western thought from a depth psychology perspective wanted to be written, and that became Passion. Once that was done, I became a professor of philosophy and cultural history, which has been wonderful, though it did prolong the process of completing Cosmos and Psyche.

CJSSF: Joseph Campbell lauded your work and was a mentor of yours at Esalen. How did he influence you?

DR. TARNAS: Joseph influenced me in at least two major ways. In person, he was an inspiring model of how to be a joyful, confident teacher with an original vision, grounded in a tremendous range of knowledge of the world’s religions, myths, and literature. He loved to study, and he loved sharing what he had learned. And second, from his writing as well as his lectures I learned to recognize certain deep archetypal patterns that underlay and unified the wide variety of human cultural manifestations – “the patterns that connect,” as Gregory Bateson would have said.

CJSSF: How did your many years at Esalen shape your work?

DR. TARNAS: For a decade during my twenties and early thirties Esalen was basically my graduate school, as well as a nourishing community, place of work, and counter-cultural experiment. I studied with quite a few teachers there, some of whom like Stan Grof and Gregory Bateson lived there in the community, while others like Joseph Campbell or Huston Smith taught extended seminars there each year. Esalen was an enormous influence in my life. It deepened my study of many perspectives that I had begun at Harvard in the late 1960s – Eastern religions and mysticism, Jungian and trans-personal psychology, the psychedelic revolution, Western esoteric traditions, new paradigm sciences. I began my years there as a student, eventually became program director, in the later years started to lecture and to write. Robert Bly once told me that if I had stayed at Harvard, I could never have written my books as I would have simply been too weighed down by the sheer gravity of the scholarly past surrounding me there.

CJSSF: Jung, Stanislav Grof, and James Hillman you cite as seminal influences. Why were they important to you and archetypal astrology?

DR. TARNAS: Jung, Grof, and Hillman all richly illuminated the complexity and depth of the human psyche, and they all studied serious astrology and recognized the ways it connects the archetypal psyche to the cosmos itself. I’ll certainly draw on all their work during my talks in Florida. CJSSF: Did Jung’s focus on synchronicity open him to astrology?

DR. TARNAS: Actually, the sequence went the other way: It was Jung’s long engagement with astrology, which began as early as 1911, and then later the I Ching, which helped lead him to formulate the idea of synchronicity as a more general principle. Both astrology and the I Ching represented for Jung ancient traditions that studied how events at a given time that were not causally linked could be meaningfully connected, reflecting a deeper patterning of reality. His later interests in parapsychology and quantum-relativistic physics were similarly part of his long-developing thinking about synchronicity, which he finally made public at Eranos in 1951.

CJSSF: Is there another book on the horizon for you? Who is inspiring you most these days?

DR. TARNAS: I have been greatly inspired in the past couple years by Robert Bellah’s magnificent magnum opus Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age. My colleagues and I in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at CIIS, like Brian Swimme, were all very grateful that Bellah lived long enough to complete this extraordinary contribution to our human self-understanding. In our faculty study group, we spent the last year and a half carefully reading and discussing it.

The book I’m working on now involves the idea of “deep history,” and the need to understand our pivotal time in history by integrating the perspectives of depth psychology, the history of world views, and the larger context of Earth and cosmic evolution. All these bring a greater depth dimension – awareness of the archetypal psyche as well as deep time — to our conventional sense of history which has tended to focus on major military and political events and external socioeconomic forces. We need that level of reflection to engage this dramatic turning point in our collective journey.

 

CJSSF Interviewer: Teresa Oster, MS, LCSW, Chair of Treasure Coast Chapter of CJSSF.

For more information, visit our website:www.JungCenterSouthFlorida.org 

November 18, 2013

Interview with Lionel Corbett M.D.

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 3:17 pm

December 6 & 7, 2013

The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida (CJSSF) is honored to present Jungian Anaalyst Lionel Corbet, M.D. on The Personal Experieince of the Sacred on Friday, December 6, 2013 and Depth Psychology as Spiritual Practice on Saturday, December 7 at the Duncan Center in Delray Beach, FL.  This lecture and workshop will focus on the psychological dimsensions of the spiritual and how depth psychotherapy can be viewed as spiritual practice.

Before each of our events, the Center requests an interview with the presenter to get the word out about the upcoming opportunity to learn more about Jung’s Analytical Psychology and how it applies to ourselves and our world.

Lionel Corbett, M.D., trained in medicine and psychiatry in England and as a Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. Dr. Corbett is a core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute. His primary dedication has been to the religious function of the psyche, especially the way in which personal religious experience is relevant to individual psychology. He is the author of The Sacred Cauldron: Psychotherapy as Spiritual Practice; Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality Beyond Religion, and The Religious Function of the Psyche. He is co-editor, with Dennis Patrick Slattery, of Depth Psychology: Meditations in the Field and Psychology at the Threshold.

CJSSF: 1. We are delighted to have you presenting to our Jung Center in December.  Some of us see you as one of our more spiritual Jungian analyst/writers. You have a new book, The Sacred Cauldron:  Psychotherapy as Spiritual Practice.  Your often-cited older book The Religious Function of the Psyche has a similar theme of a divine component in suffering.   Why did you want to write another book on the subject?  And would you say a few words about the alchemical metaphor of the cauldron in your title?

DR. LIONEL CORBETT: My previous books, The Religious Function of the Psyche and Psyche and the Sacred, were mostly about theory, explaining Jung’s approach to religion and spirituality and explaining what I believe is his religious approach to the psyche.  I wanted to write something which shows how these ideas can be put into practice in psychotherapy.

When Jung first used the I Ching, the first hexagram he obtained was number 50, The Cauldron. This is the place of transformation, and so it seems like a metaphor for the intensity of the psychotherapeutic process. The title turned out to be a bad idea—Amazon filed the book in the witchcraft section! In spite of several attempts to get them to change this, it’s still there.

CJSSF: 2. Being yourself a student of religious traditions, if you picked a present day or historical spiritual figure to have an extended dinner conversation with,  either real or in your “active imagination”, who might that be?

DR. LIONEL CORBETT: I’m afraid only the obvious historical figures come to mind: Jesus and the Buddha.  In modern times, Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi.

CJSSF: 3.Would you feel comfortable saying something about your personal spiritual life? What religion, if any, were you raised in, and how did it affect the trajectory of your life?  How do you feel about spiritual practice and ritual in your life now? And what kind of home has Pacifica Graduate Institute, in Santa Barbara, been for you, spiritually?

DR. LIONEL CORBETT: My family is ethnically Jewish, but not religious. My father is a Holocaust survivor, and the Holocaust cast a dark cloud over him and the atmosphere in my childhood home. I think that’s why I’m interested in a spirituality that actually has something useful to say about evil and suffering—I don’t think any of our religious traditions are much use in this area, but depth psychology has some good things to contribute. This question has become the central one of my life—in the tradition of parents handing down to their children a problem they were unable to solve.  I think my father’s experience made me interested in why people do what they do, and contributed to my going into psychiatry and then Jungian analysis.

I have two forms of practice. One is working with dreams, complexes, synchronistic events, numinous experiences, and the like. All this kind of work is a spiritual practice for me. I also meditate (erratically) and I read traditional sacred texts; I like the Gita very much. My real commitment is to nondual spirituality, such as that found in Taoism, Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, and so on. It is found in Jung when he says that the Self is the totality of consciousness. The implications of this idea for psychotherapy have not yet been fully worked out. I’m not too interested in ritual—I think it makes me feel self-conscious.

Pacifica has helped me by sponsoring my Psyche and the Sacred seminar series, which I’ve done for some years as a public program, and by allowing me to teach this material to students.

CFSSF: 4. In your latest book, The Sacred Cauldron:  Psychotherapy as Spiritual Practice, you say that “spiritual direction” is an unfortunate phrase.  Would you explain?

DR. LIONEL CORBETT: The phrase has the connotation of telling people what to believe—which is not what happens except among fundamentalists. I think “guide” or “companion” would be better words. I do believe depth psychology is a present-day form of spiritual direction for many people who are not part of an organized tradition.

CJSSF: 5. Some experience what has been called “New Age guilt” when they suffer a crisis.  You offer a more teleological attitude toward suffering. Would you say a few words about that?

DR. LIONEL CORBETT: Suffering is very complicated. For Jung, one has to find its meaning, and find where it is taking one, what its purpose is; for example, this might be initiation, or new consciousness, and so on. I’m currently writing a book on suffering where I’m exploring all its ramifications; there are many.    New Age guilt is ridiculous if it blames the victim, as if one has brought the problem on oneself. This is a perversion of the idea that the unconscious comes at you in the form of events in your life.

CJSSF: 6. What book or books are on your reading table now?

DR. LIONEL CORBETT:  I’m reading Ribi’s book The Search for Roots, which is about Jung and Gnosticism, and a biography of Christiana Morgan, the subject of Jung’s vision seminar.

CJSSF Interview by Teresa Oster, MA, LCSW, Board Member and Chair of the Treasure Coast Chapter

 

Photo by National Geographic Photographer Raymond Gehman.
See www.raymondgehman.com

March 25, 2013

STANTON MARLAN: The Philosopher’s Stone & Signature of the Soul

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 1:18 pm

April 5 & 6, 2013

The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida (CJSSF) is honored to present Dr. Stanton Marlan on “The Philosopher’s Stone: From a Dead Stone to a Living Philosophical One” on Friday, April 5th and “Signatures of the Soul:

The Light of Darkness Itself” on Saturday, April 6th at The Riverside Hotel in Ft.Lauderdale. This lecture and workshop will present how alchemy can describe the psychological process of individuation and how the darkness of depression can lead to transformation.

Before each of our events, the Center requests an interview with the presenter to get the word out about the upcoming opportunity to learn more about Jung’s Analytical Psychology and how it applies to ourselves and our world.

Stanton Marlan, Ph.D., ABPP, LP., is a clinical psychologist and Jungian psychoanalyst in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA and an adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University. He is a training and supervising analyst with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. He is also President of the Pittsburgh Society of Jungian Analysts. He is certified and holds diplomates in both clinical psychology and psychoanalysis from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He has published numerous articles on Jungian psychology and alchemy and is the editor of Archetypal Psychologies: Reflections in Honor of James Hillman (Spring Journal Books, 2008) and other books. He is the author of The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness (Texas A&M Press, 2005) and is currently working on a new book on the Philosophers’ Stone. Dr. Marlan has lectured widely at Jungian and Archetypal conferences in the United States and abroad, including: the First International Conference on Jungian Analysis and Chinese Culture, in Guangzhou, China; the IAAP International Congresses in Cambridge and Barcelona; the first conference for The International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority, in Berlin; and the Guild of Pastoral Psychology, in Oxford, UK. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Zürich and elsewhere. He has a long term interest in Archetypal Psychology, the psychology of dreams, and alchemy.

 

CJSSF: 1. Why was Jung interested in alchemy and how does it relate to Analytical Psychology, specifically, terms like nigredo, albedo, and rubedo? 

Dr. Stanton Marlan: Jung was interested in alchemy because he discovered that the alchemists had developed a deep symbolic understanding of the soul that he felt corresponded with and validated his own discoveries. Words like nigredo, albedo and rubedo described stages of the alchemical work that corresponded to the individuation process and articulated a nuanced description of the transformation process that moved from deep depression, darkness and impasse through an illumination of psyche and on to a deepening fulfillment in the life process.

CJSSF: 2. Why is alchemist Gerhard Dorn of particular interest? 

Dr. Stanton Marlan: Jung valued the work of Gerhard Dorn because his introverted nature led him to articulate alchemy’s inner processes and he engaged them in a way not unlike Jung’s approach to active imagination. Jung follows Dorn’s complex view of the coniunctio toward the end of his Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung’s great summation of his alchemical research.

CJSSF: 3. Who is Mercurius and why is this important to your presentation?

Dr. Stanton Marlan: The complexity of alchemy is well illustrated by Mercurius, who is one, if not the, central symbol of alchemy. Mercurius is the paradoxical spirit of life that must be released if the great work is to be completed and the philosopher’s stone is to be achieved. 

CJSSF: 4. Why did James Hillman call these images “aesthetic signatures of the soul?” 

Dr. Stanton Marlan: James Hillman’s work opens up this spirit in a new way. He stays close to Jung in many ways but his reflections are in step with his own psychological trajectory and vision. Hillman is particularly sensitive to an aesthetic appreciation of color, which he draws from alchemy but also uses to organize his work. For him these colors are not simply subjective phenomena but are actually signatures of the soul in the world that guide us through the labyrinth of alchemy.

 

CJSSF Interviewer: Pamela Heider,Ph.D., Vice President & Program Chair

March 7, 2013

KAITRYN WERTZ: Drawing Upon the Archetypal Feminine for Self-Trust and Authentic Value

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 3:01 pm

March 16, 2013

The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida is pleased to present Kaitryn Wertz, Jungian Analyst, in a workshop Feminine Authority: Drawing on the Archetypal Feminine for Self-Trust and Authentic Value on SATURDAY, March 16, 2013 at the Duncan Center in Delray Beach. Wertz tells us that inner authority is the ability to genuinely value our own thoughts, feelings, perceptions and intuition. This leads to self-trust, agency, and the ability to be the authors of our own lives. It is a quality that emerges during what Jung called individuation, the process of psychological development that leads toward wholeness.

Before each of our events, the Center requests an interview with the presenter to get the word out about the upcoming opportunity to learn more about Jung’s Analytical Psychology and how it applies to ourselves and our world.

Kaitryn Wertz, M.Ed., LMHC, NCPsyA, is a certified Jungian Analyst in private practice in Jupiter, Florida with a thirty-year background as a therapist, consultant, workshop leader and group process facilitator. Her diploma thesis for the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts explored women’s development of inner authority.  For Kate’s full background, visit www.katewertz.com.

 

 

1. CJSSF: What led you to choose your subject of the “Feminine Authority: Drawing Upon the Archetypal Feminine for Self-Trust and Authentic Value”? 

 

KAITRYN WERTZ: My interest in this topic emerged from my own efforts to develop an embodied and authentic sense of inner authority that is congruent with my experience as a woman and from my observation of similar issues in female clients, friends and colleagues. Through my work as an analyst, I also came to understand that this struggle to develop an embodied sense of value can be a challenge for many men.  Many contemporary women have achieved outer accomplishments that would have been unimaginable to our grandmothers, while still struggling inwardly to “find our voices.”  Beneath successful personas, we may lack a felt sense of our own deeper value.

This may be especially particularly true for “father’s daughters,” women who, as children, tended to idealize their fathers and subsequent male authority figures while devaluing their mothers and other female figures of authority. For such women, the unconscious images of value and validity have been “other.”

Without vital access to the feminine principle drawing us into the depths, even success may leave us feeling empty, inferior or fraudulent. Fearing exposure as undeserving of success, we may continue to seek our value through accomplishments, hoping that the next “seal of approval” from an external authority will finally confer what is missing.

Although the mother is usually the first figure of authority in a child’s life, even women who once felt her own authority through the maternal relationship may later lose it during the processes of separation-individuation. In differentiating psychologically from mother, both women and men tend to develop strong defenses against female authority, often causing us, as adults, to experience women’s authority through the negative pole of the mother complex. For both men and women this problem may be managed unconsciously by projecting authority onto male figures or male-dominated institutions such as Church, state or academia. This solution denies both women and men the fuller validation that might emerge from more complete access to positive archetypal feminine images of authority.

2. CJSSF: What is the archetypal feminine?

WERTZ: The archetypal feminine principle refers to archetypally-based capacities for relatedness, receptivity, connecting, containing and valuing and is associated with nature, earth and the body. In myth, fairy tales, art and contemporary dreams, these qualities are often represented by the female form.  Correspondingly, the archetypal masculine principle refers to archetypally-based capacities for differentiating, initiating, reason, logic and meaning and is associated with spirit and intellect. The unconscious often produces images of the male form to personify these qualities. While Jung proposed the theory that these principles exist in both men and women, he sometimes tended to write about women interchangeably with the archetypal feminine principle and men with the archetypal masculine principle. In so doing, he described as archetypal, and therefore universal, qualities that reflected the gender biases of his culture and epoch and possibly aspects of his personal psychology.

While Jung’s descriptions of masculine and feminine behavior in men and women of his time may have been illuminating to his contemporaries, we can see now that this approach was too limited for the archetypal principles he was bringing into consciousness. Thus, his work in this area tends to narrow the possibilities for both men’s and women’s development. I disagree with Jung on this point, viewing the feminine and masculine principles as psychological potentials which are equally available to both men and women.


3. CJSSF: You say that this material pertains to men as much as women.  Would you say more?

WERTZ: Inner authority is a quality that emerges in men and women during what Jung called individuation, the process of psychological differentiation from both social norms and collective psychology that leads toward a more conscious awareness of wholeness. Men as well as women need to develop an embodied, authentic experience of their own value, validity and agency and to become the authors of their own lives. Men can also benefit from meaningful encounters with more complete archetypal feminine images. But because the process itself is archetypal, it is potentially available to both men and women.


4. CJSSF: How may this material be helpful clinically? 

 

WERTZ: First, as clinicians, it is helpful to understand our own authority patterns, both conscious and unconscious, and how these patterns may affect our work with clients.

 

Secondly, clinicians may find it helpful to understand more about the archetypal basis for authority issues as well as ways in which inner authority may develop, especially in women clients.  The images we will explore frequently appear in clients’ dreams, and it can be helpful to have a broader understanding of the unconscious and archetypal foundation of these images.

 

5. CJSSF: Is it appropriate for someone not trained in Jungian work?

 

WERTZ: Yes!  Anyone with an interest in further developing their own sense of inner authority is welcome and will hopefully feel at home. There is no prior knowledge needed to benefit.

 

6. CJSSF: Our CJS season theme is James Hillman’s message of “Stick to the Image”.  How might this message apply to your topic?

 

WERTZ: The processes we will explore are archetypal and, therefore, image-driven. Archetypal feminine images that personify authority have been in the background of the western psyche for a very long time. Some have lacked conscious recognition, while others have been conscious mainly in their negative or shadow aspects. Allowing these images to become more visible, complete and embodied can be a transformative experience.  My own work on this topic began with images that appeared in dreams and sometimes through synchronicity. The images came first. My attempt to understand the images psychologically followed. The workshop is designed accordingly, first and foremost as a contemplation of vital images of feminine authority as they appear in art, myth, religion and story, and secondly, as an exploration of their possibilities for psychological meaning.

 

 

7. CJSSF: You used the word “agency” in your description of the event.  What does the word mean in the context of your topic?  

 

WERTZ: Psychological agency is the capacity to exert power, to act in the world. This is a vital aspect of inner authority. In this workshop, we will use the image of the female hands, especially their loss and recovery, to explore forms of inner authority that arise from the developing of agency.  The development of strong ‘psychological hands’ represents creative, productive access to vitality and agency, which can be used to embrace other people and handle the world.

 

8. CJSSF: Does the archetypal feminine have special meaning for our times? 

 

WERTZ: Inner authority develops throughout our lives and is a central part of the individuation process for both women and men. Western consciousness has often understood authority in terms of the masculine principle of word, spirit, reason and father, frequently locating it outside the psyche. A more complete and balanced form of inner authority includes these archetypally masculine qualities, but it must also draw upon the feminine principle, associated with embodiment and relatedness. Here we discover what has been in the background of the Western psyche for a very long time: archetypal images that are clearly feminine and that clearly hold authority. On a collective level, increased attention to these archetypal feminine aspects of authority might help restore balance in a world that has been dominated by a patriarchal version of power. The feminine aspects of authority are grounded in relatedness and attuned to the body and the earth, attitudes which might lead to more balance in meeting the needs of our planet and the people and creatures that inhabit it.

Interview by Teresa Oster, MA, LCSW, CJSSF Board Member

 

October 29, 2012

FR FRED FLEISCHER: Founding Jungian Analyst of the Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 12:24 pm

September 28, 2012

The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida is pleased to present an interview with Fr. Fred Fleischer, Jungian Analyst & Founding Analyst of the Center. On the occasion of celebrating our 25th Season and for our Annual Social, Book Sale and Film by the late James Hillman on Jung and his Red Book on Friday, Sept 28, 2012, at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, we asked Fred to tell us how the Center came into being.   (Fred’s words are in blue and additions are in black.)

Father Fred Fleischer, M.A., is the Founding Jungian Analyst of the Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida.  He is a senior training analyst with the Florida Association of Jungian Analysts and with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. He has a practice in Miami and the Bahamas and serves as the Assistant Pastor and Music Minister and Organist of the Church of the Resurrection at Biscayne Park in Miami.

 

Fred: “What often seems like serendipity is actually a focused movement of the Holy Spirit.”

 

(Fred Fleischer, having grown up in West Palm Beach in a district now known as “Historic Old Northwood,” attended St. Ann’s School and Palm Beach High School. For his last two years of high school and for college, he attended St. Bernard’s, run by the Benedictine Monks in the northern Alabama foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.  In the early ’60′s, in the midst of the 2nd Vatican Council, he tells us:) “I left the monastery in protest to what some ultra-conservative community members did to oust the wonderful forward looking Abbot we were blessed to have as our leader.  In fact, I led a rebellion consisting of quite a few at the time. Doesn’t seem much like the Fred that you know today, does it?  However, I was deeply convinced that the injustices done to this man could not be left unrequited.

 

 As a group, we did not manage to stay together—different ones went in various directions.  However, a handful of monks and I  ended up in South Florida working for the Archbishop here, Coleman Carroll, who was a bit more sensitive to people and their inclinations than he was given credit for.  He placed several of us on the staff of Catholic Welfare, whose head at that time was Dr. Gerd Cryns, who had been to Zurich and both studied, and analyzed with Jung himself.  We became good friends, and he took me on as a protégé.  He orchestrated my going to Zurich to study, as he felt that I had the right mindset.  I honestly went there not so much to become an analyst, but to try to figure myself out.  Becoming an analyst kind of just happened along the way.

 

While at St. Bernard’s, I completed a Master’s in Theology at Conception Abbey in Missouri, and while working in Florida, was invited to join the monastery in the Bahamas where my old college roommate had been elected as Prior.  It was from Nassau that I left to study in Zurich.  As a result of that process, I left the Catholic Church, and became an Anglican, and was married and have a son from this union.

 

As you know, I am a serious introvert, and so I never had any pretensions of founding a Jung Society in South Florida, but after I graduated from the Jung Institute, I was invited to start a practice in Palm Beach by Ted Holt, Episcopal priest at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church. It started as a one day thing, while I remained a resident in the Bahamas with my principal practice there, and with a lot of my life devoted to my other interests as Organist and Choirmaster at the Anglican Cathedral in Nassau.

 

Once I started working in Florida, both Ted Holt and another client told me they were interested in becoming analysts, and would like a training center in our area.  I then began to explore the possibilities, taking trips, meeting with the movers and shakers of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and it took the better part of two years to get something organized that met the requirements of the greater organization. By the time we began, a number of others were interested, and so we had about six people to begin training and learning about Jung’s analytical psychology.

 

(In the Fall of 1988, we started by meeting at the office of Dr. Santo Tarantino, Clinical Psychologist, in Boca Raton and we also had many of our monthly meetings at Ted Holt’s parsonage and at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church in Palm Beach.  Dr. Ann Lynch was among those founding Board members of the Center.  Julia McAfee, also a Zurich trained Jungian Analyst and an art therapist, from Jacksonville, and Dr. Roger Radloff, Zurich-trained Jungian Analyst and beloved Catholic priest in Miami, assisted Fred in the training.  The Center became incorporated by the state of Florida as a non-profit organization and it became an accepted training group by the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts (IRSJA).  After Dr. Radloff passed away, Gene Qualls, MD, Jungian Analyst from Birmingham and a graduate of the Jung Institute in Zurich, agreed to join Fred as Training Director of the Center and he came on a regular basis for the seminars and planned the monthly training.  Linda van Dyck, also a graduate of C.G. Jung Institute of Zurich, moved to South Florida and joined in the training as well as established a private practice in Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach. In those early years, we had people who had different objectives—some wanted to train to become analysts and some wanted to learn more about Jungian psychology and about themselves.) “Unfortunately, some participants in the seminar applied formally to the IRSJA  to enter training to become analysts before they were ready without getting my (Fred’s) thoughts on their readiness, and were rejected, leaving some bad feelings behind.  Santo, however, did the necessary preparatory work, and when he applied, he was wholeheartedly accepted.

 

Meanwhile, the Center was torn between keeping the events we were offering sufficient to meet Santo’s requirements, and making it interesting to the general public, as we were attracting more people interested in Jung’s psychology. Again, there were some hard feelings about this, but we stuck by Santo to have the training in keeping with the rules of the IRSJA. We expanded our meeting venues to All Saints Episcopal Church in Ft. Lauderdale. 

 

In the meantime, Dr. Sam Swendenborg, Jungian Analyst, who received his diploma as a Jungian Analyst from the San Francisco Institute, and, a Psychiatrist from California, moved to South Florida and agreed to become a part of the training program. Then Dr. Rick Overman, Psychologist, and also on the Board, decided to apply as a candidate to the IRSJA and was accepted.  Unfortunately, Dr. Swendenborg passed away the following year.  The two of them, Santo and Rick, were actually launched by our group, and Santo was able to complete his training under the auspices of the Center, however, Rick needed to go to other training programs to complete his work as we did not have enough Jungian Analysts to satisfy the IRSJA requirements.

 

“Meanwhile, Nancy Daugherty, Jungian Analyst from Chicago, moved to Florida, and was interested in organizing a training seminar.  I had been involved in sharing her mentoring process through the Inter-Regional, and knew what an amazing woman she is.  She brought a group of analysts together to found another organization, the Florida Association of Jungian Analysts (FAJA), which was strictly for training Jungian Analysts.”  (Nancy was joined by Fred and Rick, and for a time by Linda and Santo, as well as by Danila Crespi, Jungian Analyst from Venezuela, who moved to Miami with her principal practice in South Miami, and later by Dr. Judith Moscu, also a Jungian Analyst from Venezuela, who has a practice in Aventura, and others, and most recently, by Kaityrn Wertz, Jungian Analyst in Jupiter, who received her training through FAJA and IRSJA.)

 

(We have included many venues in our offerings around South Florida over these 25 years, including Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church in Palm Beach, All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Ft. Lauderdale, The Riverside Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, the Tower at Florida Atlantic University in Ft. Lauderdale as well as the Boca campus of FAU, Lynn University in Boca Raton, the Duncan Conference Center in Delray Beach, the Women’s Club in Hollywood, the Sunshine Cathedral in Davie, and the Flagler Center in Stuart, among others.  As a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, we serve the wider community by presenting lectures, workshops, and movie discussions to address psychological, social and spiritual issues of our times and provide a forum for personal reflection and growth inspired by C.G. Jung’s Analytical Psychology.  We are supported by memberships and tax-deductible donations.)

 

(Currently, Fred is not married, lives with his partner, Tony, in Miami and is a grandfather.) “So the Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida became really what its name says it is: a public venue for learning more about Jung and his contributions to understanding the human psyche. Over the years, the organization has taken on a life of its own, and has made a major contribution to raising the consciousness of South Floridians about matters of the soul.”

 

 “I am really very proud of what we have accomplished in our twenty five years of service in South Florida. The organization is stronger now and more vibrant than it ever was.  Thanks to Ann Lynch, who deserves much of the credit for holding things together in the midst of tensions and difficulties that have destroyed most organizations like ours and we are very grateful for what she has done and continues to do.  We have so many talented and dedicated people on this volunteer Board and have had over these many years, as well as those who are members and others attending our meetings. I look forward to its continued success as we take on international figures in the field and sponsor workshops of several days. 

 

However, please continue to remember:The most important work that we do is not the work that the group does, but the individual work we do on our own soulsMay we continue to be a major source of enlightenment to our area, and may we continue to move from strength to strength!”

 

August 14, 2011

Dr. JAMES HOLLIS: “What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life”

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 9:57 pm

Workshop & Lecture—November 19 & 20, 2010

The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida is pleased to present James Hollis, Ph.D., Jungian Analyst & Author, for a special Lecture and Workshop on November 19-20, 2010, at the Riverside Hotel, in Fort Lauderdale.  In the evening session on Friday, Dr. James Hollis will introduce the characteristics of a more considered life. During the day-long workshop on Saturday, he will explore the most important aspects of life, that we respect the power of Eros; that we step into largeness; that we accept that our home is our journey, among others.
Before each of our events, the Center, requests an interview with the presenter to get the word out about the upcoming opportunity to learn more about Jung’s Analytical Psychology and how it applies to ourselves and our world.

James Hollis is a Zurich-trained, licensed Jungian analyst in private practice in Houston, TX, where he served as Executive Director of the Jung Educational Center. Dr. Hollis is one of the most widely published Jungian authors with 13 books, including Archetypal Imagination, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, and his most recent work, What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life. 

Interview with James Hollis, Living a More Considered Life

CJSSF: Why the title, “What Matters Most”? And how is it that you came to write this book?

JH: I am getting to be an old guy now, and it is the privilege, and the duty, of this stage of life to step back and reflect a bit on the bigger picture, and what, if anything, one has learned along the way.  Being thoughtful about these matters is important at any stage, but a more considered life will ask of each of us to really sort through and discern what matters most to us.  I do not presume to tell others what ought to matter most to them, but I do wish to provoke them to pause from time to time and radically review what does matter to them, and whether where they are investing their energies serves those values.

CJSSF: The preface of your most recent book, What Matters Most, ends with a thought-provoking excerpt from T. S. Eliot’s “The Dry Salvages”:
Fare forward, travelers! Not escaping from the past

Into indifferent lives, or into any future….

Not to farewell,

But fare forward, voyagers.
How does this poem reflect the main message of your book?

JH: As young persons, we all believed there were definitive answers to life’s puzzles and challenges.  The older we get the more we realize there are no final answers, although there may be personal discoveries which make sense to us, and that our life is more a journey toward larger and larger questions.  Lived thusly, we are living a developmental, enlarging life and not one in which we have died before we died.   Any certainties we do acquire are for now only, and may be replaced by ever more challenging experiences.

CJSSF: In your first chapter, “Shock and Awe: That Life Not Be Governed by Fear,” you note, “But in every moment of certainty, every privileging of fractal consciousness, every necessary hubris, we also know something else!” What is it that we also know?

JH: We all know, intuitively, that we are meant to step into the full package, the full investment in our journeys.   It is not wrong to be fearful for fear, after all, is a by-product of our fragility and dependency as children, and fortunately we are creatures of infinite adaptation in service to survival.   But we may also grow imprisoned by those adaptations, the patterns of avoidance or compliance that, once protective, now are constrictive.   We all know, intuitively, that we are asked to “show up” in our lives, and serve the vocation it asks of us.

CJSSF: Chapter four of you book focuses on our need to respect Eros. Some people may interpret this to mean that we must respect the power of Love or Relationship. What do you mean when you refer to Eros, and how is Eros associated with what matters most?  

JH: Eros is the life force. One of its many forms is sexuality, but it is also expressed through creativity, and the will to push through what oppresses us; and while it may take delight in beauty, relationship, and the transcendent, it also is the tough force which refuses to quit, refuses to relinquish this opportunity for fuller expression.

CJSSF: In your eighth chapter you discuss our need to follow our creative urgencies and to find joy in our “foolish passions.” Could you talk about the role of creativity and passion in the pursuit of what matters most?

JH: Joy, and happiness, are not goals in themselves, but they are the by-product of those moments when we are doing what is really right for us.  We may will ourselves to many necessary things, thank goodness, but in the end, the autonomy of our psyche will weigh in with its own judgment.   Thus the feeling function and the energy systems are continuous, autonomous evaluative processes.    Passion comes from the Latin passio, which means suffering.   Much of our most meaningful experience will come out of suffering, the suffering of birthing a baby, the suffering of creativity, the suffering of finding our path, whatever its cost.

CJSSF: In you chapter on writing our own stories, you note that, “Personhood is not a gift; it is a continuing struggle….” I can imagine that some people might think of “personhood” as an exceptionally abstract concept while others might regard it as more of a trait or someone’s static character. What do you mean by the term “personhood” in this book, and how does it relate to the theme of what is most important in life?

JH: In his essay on personality, by which he meant, personhood, Jung noted that it has a claim on us equal to a divine summons.  It means subordinating the ego’s fantasy of control, sovereignty, and comfort to embody what divinity, or nature, wishes to bring into this world through us.  When we see our being here on this planet as a form of service to such transcendent energies, we may not have a comfortable life, but we will have found our myth.

CJSSF: In your concluding paragraph, you include what I know is one of your favorite phrases from Rilke: “To have been here, to have wrestled with such things, to have lived such questions, to have kept the mystery before us, to have joyfully accepted being ‘defeated by ever-larger things’….is, finally, what matters most.” What comes to your mind when you read your own last paragraph and particularly Rilke’s admonition to experience defeat in the presence of ever-larger things?

JH: This is the path of growth, not in service to material comfort or ego satisfaction, but to  have stepped into a larger engagement with mystery.   The historic function of tribal myth and institutional religion was to induct a person into these mysteries.   If these forms still achieve this outcome, then the person is well-served; if not, he or she will be obliged to undertake a personal path of discovery. We are most fully alive when most fully swimming in the unknown.

CJSSF: I will often have a client who complains that someone else who they know, someone else who appears identified with social image, making money, their professions, raising children, or any of a number of other activities, does not suffer as he or she, my patient, does. The client will bemoan the fact that these friends, relatives or spouses appear much more confident in their ability to ascertain what is most important to them and even appear to be happy. What does one say as a therapist, or even as a friend or confidant, to such an individual that is consonant with the points you make in your book? 

JH:
 We can never know from outside a person’s life whether the journey they are living is the one intended for them by divinity or nature or not.   A friend once said that she wished she could just be a “happy carrot.”   She wasn’t given that option by the gods.   Our task is to be accountable for our own journeys, and the thousand choices we make daily.  That is enough good work to keep us busy, and perhaps to make us less annoying to our neighbors.


Interview by Constance-Avery Clark, Ph.D., CJSSF Board Member

August 13, 2011

DR. STEPHEN AIZENSTAT: “Dream Tending”

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 9:51 pm


CJSSF: Speaking of the differences between Dream Tending and classical Jungian dream interpretation, Jeanne asked the following questions:

 

Jeanne: When I watch you dream tending, what fascinates me most is how you shape-shift: the manner in which you physically change your physical being as you listen to the dream. I have witnessed you seeing the image, sometimes when it is not even in the narrative of the dream. So, if you could speak to that magical ability, I think it would serve anyone attempting to work with dreams.

Steve:   Not magical, but imaginal.  When I develop an image-centered relationship with the figures, by that I mean entering their world on their terms, images come to life, present themselves, say “Here we are.”  On the other hand, when or if we meet the dream for the purposes of interpreting or analyzing, then we’re going to bring our conscious mind into relationship with the material or content of the dream. At that moment, the visitation is lost, the actuality of its presence disappears.   To witness the activity of a living image is a very different mode of perceiving and a quality of relationship is needed. The “trick” is to meet the dream in the way of the dream. When I bring a dream-like consciousness to the dream then one thing happens; and if I bring a rational, active mind for the purposes of interpreting the dream, then something else altogether takes place. It’s not that interpretation or analysis is bad, it’s just that my preference is to first let the dream come forward to show itself as its Self, as an embodied enactment; then, secondly, to bring my capacity for insight or analysis. I think that is what you are most likely noticing. It really is a different mode all together. It’s a mode of perception that is anchored in an imaginal consciousness rather than an active, rational mind.

 

Jeanne: How do you teach that or suggest that people wishing to get there begin the process?

Steve: There are about four core skills that I suggest experimenting with. One is curiosity. When we get curious, we get interested.  Rather than jumping so quickly to what we think the dream means, we get curious and follow the activity of the images and the figures of the dream.  Curiosity takes us to a very different place all together. The second, along with curiosity, is a way of listening. One way of listening is to listen for the purposes of offering an answer. So, we’re already rehearsing what the answer or the response will be before we have even listening fully to what is being presented. It’s a question of taking a deep breath, getting anchored, and becoming receptive and responsive: listening first and allowing the conversation to emerge out of the silence, rather than using our mind to fill the space. Responsive listening is the second skill. The third is to really pay attention to detail or the particularity. Rather than seeing each image is the same—for example, the elephant, or even the house—noticing how each image comes with its particular distinction.  When we view every house or creature or elephant or animal as the same, one thing happens: we go into a kind of explanatory system and begin to categorize these images. On the other hand, if we notice that each house is different in its own details and that each animal or creature has its own particularity or uniqueness or oddity, then we slow down, take the time to watch and look and carefully notice its activity; we become part of the dreamscape, part of the presentation that psyche has in mind.  The fourth core skill is patience.  In order for images to reveal who they are, we must slow down and be patient.  With patience, images will reveal what they offer from the inside out.

 

Jeanne: One phrase that has resonated with me for a long time that you often say is that “the body is always dreaming.”

Steve: I have a couple of ideas about that. I don’t think dreams originate in our rational mind. They originate from a deeper source. On one dimension, when there’s something going on in our body—upset stomach, maybe a place in our back where we’re feeling tight, or at the onset of a cold or flu, or more seriously, something like a cancerous growth. The body is always going to have its symptoms and the psyche is going to pick up those symptoms and most likely will be presented in the imagery of dreams. On that level, the body is always dreaming because what’s going on in the body is represented imaginatively or symbolically in the dreamtime. So, when we listen to dreams, we are always listening to the body talk about itself in one way or the next. On another dimension, images themselves come with body. They are alive and active and they walk about; and they breathe and have pulse. They certainly are not incarnate like our bodies, but in an imaginal context–in the world of dream—they’re very interactive and very embodied. So, in that context images come with body—will have emotion or feeling. It’s not only we who have emotions in response to the image. Images will come with emotions to begin with and then in turn create an affect inside of us. It’s simply a different way of appreciating dream and it’s not esoteric. It’s very ‘just so.’ When we take the time to listen to dream or to watch the actuality of the dream presentation, we see images walking about affecting one another, one figure impacting another figure. The same thing happens when we walk through a dreaming landscape.  The very spirit of place has an affective presence.  So, I think that images are filled with emotions and feelings; and they tend to evoke us or our response, as well. As embodied images ourselves, we then can allow our bodies to move with gesture or even with dance to greet the image. Then, in a curious way, we are interpreting the dream—not through words or through our mind-—but through our bodies. We’re meeting the image body of the dream with our bodies. That kind of interaction I find quite important and useful. 


Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D. is the founding president of Pacifica Graduate Institute, a private graduate school offering masters and doctoral programs in psychology, mythological studies, and the humanities. Dr. Aizenstat is a Clinical Psychologist, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and the creator of Dream Tending, which is a method of working with the figures and landscapes of dreams as “living images.”

 

The interviewer, Jeanne M. Schul, M.A., first met Dr. Aizenstat at a DreamTending introductory workshop in Atlanta, GA. It was so inspiring that she immediately signed up for his six-month professional training program in Santa Barbara, CA. That began her cross-country travel that continued for three and a half years, while she pursued her doctoral coursework in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is currently working on her dissertation, which focuses on Creating Dances from Dreams. Jeanne gave permission for the Center to take excerpts from her entire interview for this presentation.

August 12, 2011

DR. LINDA VAN DYCK: “Active Imagination: Pathway to the Soul”

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 9:53 pm


CJSSF: What is Active Imagination and where did the term originate?

LvD: Perhaps the simplest definition of Active Imagination is to say that it gives us the opportunity to open negotiations with forces or figures within the unconscious. In my understanding, Active Imagination is when we consciously focus on contents within the unconscious and how they relate to ourselves, our inner life and our outer life.  In 1913 Dr. Jung had some dreams he did not understand. Then he conceived of symbolic thinking, beginning two years of what he later called Active Imagination. It was in the atmosphere during these years, as there were others who were also working with images and allowing them to appear. We can see Dr. Jung’s process in his Liber Novus, or The Red Book, that was published this past October.

 

CJSSF: What distinguishes Active Imagination from Passive Imagination?

LvD: With Active Imagination, we consciously allow images to spontaneously connect with us from the depths of our psyche. We recognize them and allow them to connect with our life in a conscious, creative, healing way. We participate with them. These images can come from dreams, deep emotion, fantasy, or even come forth from a painful place in our body. Passive Imagination would be more connected with daydreaming.

 

CJSSF: Why is it important to give the Imagination physical form, such as painting, sculpture, dance, dramatic encasements or through creation of ritual?

LvD: There are various ways to be with the image. It varies from individual to individual. By giving the image physical form we allow it to come closer to consciousness. The goal is learning to let things happen. When we give an image from our unconscious physical form, it impresses it on our memory, and, it helps us to be more aware of synchronistic phenomena in our life.

 

CJSSF: Would you share with us some of your first experiences with Active Imagination?

LvD: After I was asked to speak on this topic, I first asked my Soul if it was the “right” thing to do. It was said to me in a dream, “It is important to speak and to tell your experiences”. Since I must listen to the dream, on March 20, I will be sharing some of the stories from throughout my life pertaining to listening, and to living the image.

 


Linda van Dyck, M.Div. Ph.Dearned a degree in Analytical Psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute. She studied and worked in Switzerland for ten years after completing a Masters of Divinity, in psychology and counseling from Yale University Divinity School. A member of International Association of Analytical Psychology, The Association of Graduate Analytical Psychology and a senior training analyst with the IRS-JA, she is in private practice in Palm Beach, FL. She presents retreats, workshops and speaks on various topics of Jungian Psychology. 

 

Center Interviewer:  Ann Q. Lynch, Board Member

August 11, 2011

DR. MICHAEL GELLERT: “The Way of the Small”

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 9:39 pm


Way of the Small1. CJSSF:
 In your book The Way of the Small, you include a charming little box after each chapter with the title “Potent Quotes.” They present, in a small font, the quotes that you have chosen to accompany the chapters. These two quotes by Jung, above, although not in the boxes, seem very powerful in regards to the content of your book. Could you explore them and share your thoughts with us?

MG: There is a tendency, particularly from the influence of Eastern religion and its occasional misinterpretation by Westerners, to believe that the ego needs to be transcended, that one should be beyond or without ego. That is not only erroneous, but dangerous. You need a strong ego to survive and find fulfillment in life. That is why so much of analysis is concerned with building a strong ego and ego skills. Without a strong ego, one cannot confront the unconscious; one will be overwhelmed by it. Merely, one should have a strong but small ego, meaning that the ego’s ambitions, attachments, and inflation (“ego tripping”) should be kept to a minimum so that the ego does not get in its own way and obstruct a healthy relationship with the unconscious and the world. That is the way of the small and addresses the first quote.
The second quote speaks to how when the ego is made to feel small, often by some diminishing ordeal such as failure, depression, a health crisis, or loss of a loved one, it gets out of its own way so as to have an encounter with the unconscious that leads to some new insight or deepening awareness. The Self—that higher intelligence within the psyche that sends us our most illuminating dreams and guides us to realize our hidden capacities—can then emerge unobstructed. And reversely, when the Self emerges, it is itself a diminishing experience for the ego. The ego recognizes that it doesn’t really run the show, that its deepest wisdom is not its own, that it is all too human and frail. Religious experience, which comes from the Self, liberates the ego by defeating it through a realization that it is not the center of the universe, but, like the earth, just a small planet revolving around a much greater source of energy and light (namely, the Self). The realization of the Self always defeats our ego-centricity. Embracing this realization with its defeat is also the way of the small.

2. CJSSF: You mention and quote musicians, among them, Bob Dylan: “I make a song as small or as narrow as possible rather than make it a big, broad, grand thing. By keeping it so narrow, emotion plays a great part.” One classic of the Japanese literature is The Narrow Road to the Interior, by Matsua Basho, the story of a man pursuing simple life. Also, in Matthew 7:13 we read: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” What would be your comments about the way of the “narrow” connected to the way of the “small”?

MG: The way of the narrow is the way of the small. They’re synonymous. “Narrow” alludes to what this path or way looks like when you’re facing or traveling it; “small” alludes to the attitude and behavior on one’s part when facing and traveling it.

3. CJSSF: Would you recommend any additional reading material to those attending the lecture on February 13th and interested in the topics that your book approaches?

MG: There is a comprehensive list of books in the Notes at the back of The Way of the Small. Mystics such as Meister Eckhart and the Zen masters all trumpet the way of the small, as do American masters such as Henry David Thoreau and Abraham Lincoln. One book that nicely “says it all” is the Tao Te Ching; Stephen Mitchell’s recent translation is very inspiring.


Michael Gellert, M.A., LCSW, is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Los Angeles andPasadena. Former Director of Training at the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, he taught atVanier College and Hunter College. A Zen practitioner for 30 years, he is the author of Modern Mysticism, The Fate of America, and The Way of the Small

 

CJSSF Interview conducted by Lucia Leao, Board Member.

August 10, 2011

KAITRYN WERTZ: “Healing through Meeting in Stranger than Fiction”

Category: Interview – KR@Jungcenter 9:55 pm

PaintingCJSSF: In his book, On This Journey We Call Our Life, James Hollis says that, “Our personal myth is our implicit value system, those internalized authorities and controlling ideas that govern our life, whether we know them or not, chose them or not….We are, inescapably, mythological beings. The only questions are: what myth and whose, ours or someone else?

How could this quote illuminate the narrative aspect of the movie “Stranger than Fiction”? And how would it relate to Jung’s idea of a “personal myth”?

KW:  Following his break with Freud, Jung lost a sense of his own footing and became very disoriented and distressed.  He had written about mythology but now he began to wonder what myth was governing his own life. His “confrontation with the unconscious,” documented in the Red Book, was Jung’s effort to uncover the myth by which he was living.  Jung’s genius was the ability to delve into his own psyche and access the myth-making images and energies that reside deep within us all. But we cannot simply adopt Jung’s personal myth; instead we need to discover our own.  This film can be viewed as a metaphor for one person’s attempt at that.

By viewing this film psychologically, that is, by regarding the characters and developments as if they were occurring within the psyche of the protagonist (Harold), then we might view this as Harold’s own personal “confrontation with the unconscious.” Midway through his life, Harold is living as if he were asleep, governed by rules and routines, by clock and calendar and unrelated to others or to himself. Then a mysterious voice breaks through into awareness, requiring him to question the basic assumptions, values and premises under which he has been living and offering the opportunity to develop unlived aspects of himself, in this case greater capacities for relatedness and joy. He realizes he has not been functioning as the author of his own life and begins to actively write a new story.

CJSSF: How would you connect this relatedness, in the movie, to Jung’s concept of individuation? 

KW:  Most psychoanalysts would 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. In fact, the way we relate to other people is often indicative of how we relate to the more challenging aspects of our inner lives.  In the film, as Harold begins to relate to his inner life, represented by listening to the mysterious voice, his attitudes change.  He begins to break out of his isolated existence to create relationships. He becomes more loving and lovable. He begins to play.  He is more alive, more real and more multi-dimensional. These are signs that he is individuating.

CJSSF: The American psyche has been often associated to narcissism. It seems that the current crisis in the country is demanding a more thorough exam of it. Would you explain the meaning of “a central organizing complex” in the sentence that you use to talk about the movie?  “A central organizing complex of the contemporary American psyche is the struggle between relatedness and narcissism in which narcissism is understood as arrogance, selfishness and the inability to love.”

KW:  This statement was informed by a recent book by Jungian analyst Barbara Stevens Sullivan, The Mystery of Analytical Work (Routledge, 2010). I was deeply struck by Stevens’ definition of narcissism as the inability to relate, leading to the kinds of arrogant, grandiose or self-involved attitudes popularly associated with narcissism. Stevens suggests that the underlying psychological organization or complex which most typically structures our thoughts, feelings and actions, is a split between the opposing poles of relatedness (to oneself and others) and selfishness, defined as the inability to love. I think this correlates well with Jung’s observation that power (and not hate) is the opposite of love.  I see this film as a kind of parable about this split and how it moves toward healing.

CJSSF: Would you say a few words about why you chose this movie for the movie discussion?

KW:  Because it addresses such core and challenging questions in a playful, humorous and imaginative way. The film is great fun to watch and you can sense the actors having great fun with it too.  I love the idea that we can explore and learn as well through play, humor and delight as we can through hard and serious “work.”


Kaitryn (Kate) Wertz, M.Ed., LMHC, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Jupiter, FL, and is currently in the final stage of training as a Jungian analyst. Ms. Wertz draws upon a 30-year background as a therapist, consultant, workshop leader and group process facilitator. Her diploma thesis for the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts explored women’s development of inner authority.


Interview by Lucia Leao, CJSSF Board Member