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  • Thursday, September 15, 2016 12:44 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    C. G. Jung states in his essay The Psychology of the Child Archetype:

    …we are confronted at every new stage in the differentiation of consciousness to which civilization attains, with the task of finding a new “interpretation” appropriate to this stage, in order to connect the life of the past that still exists in us with the life of the present, which threatens to slip away from it.  If this link-up does not take place, a kind of rootless consciousness comes into being no longer oriented to the past, a consciousness which succumbs helplessly to all manner of suggestions and, in practice, is susceptible to psychic epidemics.  (1959/1977, para. 267)

    Our culture has succumbed to the psychic epidemic of narcissism (an alienation from the self) which simply perpetuates itself as it is handed down from one generation to another.  Where did it all start?  How did we get to this place?  By the use of will,  civilized man’s consciousness has become more and more differentiated, more one-sided. He has lost touch with his roots, both the compensating feminine principle and the experiencing realm of the young child.

    Our Western, masculine-dominated culture, with its emphasis on progress, shuns anything that may resemble a regressive movement.  Innately, we are driven toward the light, toward a differentiated consciousness of the masculine principle.  Jung’s theory of the psyche is based on the idea that consciousness arises out of the unconscious (generally associated with the feminine, the irrational, the undifferentiated, the body, the instinctual, relating to, experiential knowledge,  completion and darkness). This is illustrated in both the phylogenetic and ontogenetic development of the human brain.  In both the historical and individual brain development, the last part to develop is the cortex region — known as the executive center and biased toward the rational, the differentiated, the mind, the spiritual, controlling of, abstract knowledge, perfection and light— all are considered aspects of the masculine principle and associated with the conscious realm.  We as a people needed this developing movement to advance our civilization via the scientific discoveries and new technology. However, our culture’s psyche appears to have a malfunctioning self-regulator which has resulted in an increasingly greater imbalance between the masculine and feminine principles — between the collective consciousness and its compensating unconscious.

    Carl Jung indicated in the above statement that our past still exists inside of us (the unconscious psyche which encompasses our subjective nature of emotions, bodily sensations, perceptions, and images) and that we need to find a way to “connect the life of the past” to “the life of the present”.  Failure to do so will result in a “rootless consciousness” that is “no longer oriented to the past.” This means that we would no longer be grounded in our subjective experiences (in a sense of an embodied, experiencing self as a culture).  I describe this state of rootless consciousness as having no sense of self and would call it a narcissistic disturbance.  Without our embodied/feeling/subjective experiences to ground us in who we are as individuals, we are prey to all sorts of suggestions from outside ourselves as to what we perceive, what we experience, what we feel, how we should respond, what we need, and what we want.

    According to Jung, it appears that the “new interpretation appropriate to this stage of differentiation of consciousness” needs to include the linking of the present state of differentiation (masculine aspects) with the past (aspects of the feminine realm and the state of early childhood). This linking would only come if we can overcome our propensity for the light and soaring heights of consciousness and dare turn inward toward the deep and darkened realm of the unconscious. 

    I suggest that it is the devaluation and depotentiation of the unconscious, irrational feminine realm by our patriarchal culture that has resulted in our current psychic epidemic of narcissism— a culture that breeds emptiness and souless-ness.  We are currently in the midst of a psychic epidemic.  Is the enantiodromia in view?  Can we as a culture meet the task Jung mentions above  of “finding a new interpretation appropriate of this stage in order to connect the past that still exists in us to the life of the present which threatens to slip away from it”?  Can we hold onto both realms — and let them inform each other?

    Cathryn Polonchak is a certified Jungian Analyst and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of West Virginia. She has a private practice in the Shepherdstown and the Charles Town/Harpers Ferry areas of West Virginia. In addition to her membership in JAWA, Cathryn is the Director of Seminar for the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts (PAJA), and a member of IRSJA, IAAP, and NASW. She is particularly interested in the interface between body and mind, particularly at the psyche-soma level of trauma. 

  • Sunday, May 15, 2016 9:20 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    In Memories, Dreams, Reflections in Chapter VI, Confrontation with the Unconscious, Jung writes of the great disorientation he experienced following his break with Freud. He explains that he lost his grounding, his very understanding of who he was and how he might practice. In his efforts to regain his footing he paid close attention to his dreams and fantasies including memories from childhood.  He remembered playing with little building blocks with which he constructed small houses and castles. He was impassioned by this play as a child. As he reflected upon it he experienced a great deal of emotion, which puzzled him. He concluded that these memories were still alive in him; the child was still accessible and had no doubt come to inform Jung, the grown man. Following this and still at loose ends as a result of the break with Freud, he made the decision to return to his childhood building game. He gathered small stones from the lake and every day weather permitting, he would go out after lunch and build; cottages, a church, a whole village. He came to realize that as he did so his thoughts cleared and his grip on the unconscious contents of Psyche became known to him.

    "Naturally, I thought about the significance of what I was doing, and asked myself, ‘Now, really, what are you about?’ You are building a small town, and doing it as if it were a rite!” I had no answer to my question, only the inner certainty that I was on the way to discovering my own myth. For the building game was only a beginning. It released a stream of fantasies which I later carefully wrote down." pp 174-75.

    The question that Jung asked himself that day, “Now, really, what are you about?” has informed my analytic work with my clients for many years.  It is at the very core of my being as an analyst and in my everyday life. There is a synchronicity associated with the quote which I will share to help you appreciate the depth of it’s meaning to me.

    Near the end of my training I was struggling to find a topic for the required diploma thesis. Jungian study, as you know, is so broad and deep; so many compelling topics one might chose. I wanted to find a topic that would seize me. One night in the midst of my heated search, I had the following dream.

    I had gone to see my supervisor. I entered her consulting room and her sand tray miniatures were set out all about on shelves. There was another supervisee with her so while I waited for my appointment I walked about the room selecting a few of the miniatures. One looked like a Russian onion dome church turned upside down. Inside the dome were tiny receptacles for birthday cake sized candles, next to the onion dome was a bowl of tiny braided candles, the kind that are used in the Havdalah service in celebration of the close of the Jewish Sabbath at sundown on Saturdays. It is that moment when the Sabbath ends and we are called to return to the mundane everyday workweek. The candle is braided and has multiple wicks to symbolically represent the need for additional light so that one avoids staying too long in the bliss of the Sabbath. A return to consciousness is required.

    In the dream I took some of the candles and fixed them into the little receptacles.  I was puzzled by what I configured. I didn’t understand. At that moment, a small, old, white haired man appeared in the middle of the room and in a voice that sounded far away he spoke to me. He said, “Sandy, what are you about?”  That was the end of the dream.

    I was left with the mystery---the onion dome, the little braided candles and the haunting voice of the white haired man.  For days I repeated his question to me over and over again. “What are you about?”  Many hours of personal analysis, active imaginations and paintings and then I had it! The braided candles represented my dual training as an art therapist and a Jungian analyst. Two burning as one. How did they stand-alone and yet enhance each other? My thesis would be about how I combine the two disciplines.  Some weeks later, I picked up Memories, Dreams, Reflections for no reason and randomly opened it. It automatically opened to pages 174-75 and there, underlined in several bright colors, was Jung’s description of his return to his childhood game and his haunting question.  I was flabbergasted. I honestly had no memory of having read that passage before and here I was having dreamed Jung’s very words.  “…What are you about?”

    I read on, further Jung wrote, “This sort of thing has been consistent with me, and at any time in my later life when I came up against a blank wall, I painted a picture or hewed stone. Each such experience proved to be a rite d’entrée for the ideas and works that followed hard upon it.”

    The question for me is like a key that opens the door to the archetypal journey of individuation. It is an invitation to enter the work of analysis, to open to the dance between conscious and unconscious. It is the question that creates the framework for the analytic relationship. The guide and the seeker.  The analyst/guide has among other roles, the job of witness. In Jung’s play with the building blocks and in my dream, the question, “What are you about?” evokes a creative response. It makes room for the “other”. One is invited “to wonder.” I see it as a caring question. We all want to be seen and to be met. Here the questioner is pointedly noticing us and taking the time to ask. She is creating a space for us to come to know our self.

    I invite you to spend some time with this question and see what you discover. You will have an experience of Jung.

    Sandy Geller, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, is a Jungian analyst and a Board Certified Licensed Art Therapist.  She is in private practice in Washington, DC where she sees analytic clients and does ongoing Jungian Art Therapy groups.  Sandy lectures and gives workshops about Jungian Art Therapy and Creativity. The workshops always provide an experience of Jung and a deep connection with the symbolic.  She has taught at the CG Jung Institute in Kusnacht, Switzerland, The Philadelphia Jung Institute, The Jung Society of Washington, The George Washington University Art Therapy Program and elsewhere.  She gives workshops in her new office just off of Connecticut Ave on the Red Line.  Some recent classes have focused on Dream Drawing, Personal Myth and Fairytale, Personal Creation Myths and Stories.  Many of her clients are artists, poets and writers stuck in their creative process. Working intensely with dreams, art expressions and the symbolic is helpful in the process of awakening the creative spirit.

  • Friday, April 15, 2016 9:25 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    In the “Psychology of the Transference”, Jung said, “The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus which leads to the goal: that is the goal of a lifetime.  In its attainment “left and right” are united, and conscious and unconscious work in harmony.” (para. 400).

    Life is messy and wonderful. There is no doubt that the first half of life is hectic. Early life is an outer-oriented process in service of learning and adapting to social norms in the family and in the culture, becoming educated, defining oneself, and adding achievements and awards to be able to say, “This is me!” This is my persona. And, this is necessary in order to go out into the world with confidence and be productive.  All those childhood wonderings about what will I do when I grow up, who will I marry, and how many children will I have start to become answered in one’s twenties when one begins a job or career, gets married, buys a house and starts a family. Again, all of these landmarks define me and define who I am.   And, life goes on without skipping a beat. Life becomes busier than ever in one’s thirties and forties. The children are growing up, jobs are more demanding, and there is less time for oneself and one’s significant other.  We are running at a faster pace, working longer, parenting more intensely, and dealing with aging parents.  As stressful as this is, this is “normal” development and process. This is life’s work as a process.

    It is usually at this point, at mid-life, that one comes into the consulting room to deal with life stresses and to sort out one’s life. This is where life becomes an inner-oriented process. One believes that one’s stresses and problems are due to other people and external factors but not oneself.  However, it is the relationship with the analyst and psyche that allows the patient to see that these conflicts and “issues” (complexes) that have haunted him/her since childhood and are now persistent, entrenched, and repetitive. The patient then begins to shift focus and has the dawning awareness that the problems “out there” are really “in here”. There is reluctance and shame in this uncomfortable discovery that one has participated unconsciously in these problems. One chokes at the admittance of it. There is the realization that the adaptive behaviors and coping skills used in childhood that helped the patient adapt and survive have become the behaviors and coping skills that are not helpful in relationships and work in adulthood.  The real question is, “What aspects of me did I have to hide and repress in childhood in order to adapt?”  Let’s look at assertiveness as an example.  Perhaps one was not allowed to be assertive in childhood resulting in behaviors that could be described as demurring, falling back, shutting down, and not speaking up for oneself. In this instance, the patient has become too one-sidedly diffident. And, since assertiveness hides in the shadow, it comes out sideways as overly confident and dictatorial when activated.  It is through the work between the analyst and the analysand that allows for the dialogue with the unconscious that brings consciousness.  This realization creates the “opposites” for consciousness to bear and the opportunity for a shift and change in attitude.  The question now changes from who did I become to what more can I become? The one-sidedness created in the first half of life is met with the unconscious awakening in the second half of life.  This creates the opportunity to “see” one’s shadow for integration resulting in balance and wholeness. This is life’s work as a process.

    But, there is more.  While the first half of life is met with “getting” and achieving, the second half of life is met with loss. Jung stated the task of the second half of life is dealing with one’s death.  My experience in the consulting room has been that at around age 50 patients begin to have the realization of their own death.  These thoughts seem to percolate in the back of the mind and creep quietly into consciousness. Careers come to an end and children grow up and have families of their own. One ends up dealing with end of life questions and issues of oneself and one’s significant other.  Facing one’s death is indeed a daunting task and fraught with unexpected twists and turns in unchartered waters. One is better able to withstand these waters when one continues to unite the “left and right” and when “conscious and unconscious work in harmony”.  It is through this process that allows for the opportunity to engage the outer world with wisdom and generativity. This is life’s work as a process.

    Rosanne Shepler, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Psychoanalyst, received her Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute of New York in 2002. She also holds masters degrees in Health Education and Counseling. She is the past President of JAWA and the past Treasurer of JAWA and NYAAP. She is on the Curriculum Committee and Teaching Faculty of the C.G. Jung Institute of New York. She is a member of JAWA, the New York Association for Analytical Psychology (NYAAP), the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts (IRSJA), and the International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP). 

  • Tuesday, March 15, 2016 10:15 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    Jung said: “A dream that is not understood is a mere occurrence; understood, it becomes living experience.” He also said, “The world hangs by a very thin thread. That is the Psyche. Can you imagine what would occur if something happened to the Psyche?”

    During the current political hotbed of nominating our next U.S. president, we are witnessing not only the personae of the various candidates vying for this coveted position, but also their shadow aspects due to the bright lights of innumerable and instantaneous news reports. So how do dreams figure in this environment?

    Each night, we enter into the darkness of our being through sleep. In fact, based on neurological and sleep research, it has been well-documented that we dream every night—several times a night! Part of the rhythm of our sleep pattern is a state called REM. We cycle in and out of REM phases throughout our nightly sleep. So all of us dream, but we do not often remember our dreams since this state is one of twilight state, meaning semi-conscious. That is, unless we have a nightmare or a dream of highly emotional content that we wake from. These are dreams that are truly wanting our attention! We tend to remember these dreams because of the strong feelings that are attached.

    So we communicate with the larger area of our being through dreams. We then can record these dreams if we are lucky to remember them in the morning. And then what? That is the question of a lifetime! If Jung is correct, and based on my 27 years of working with my dreams as well as those of my clients, we expand our very being through dreamwork. This is what Jung called the Individuation process. And it is one of the best ways to discover those parts of ourselves that we may have cut off for various reasons or have remained undeveloped.

    In “Democracy in America”, Alexis de Tocqueville writes:

    “In times when passions are beginning to take charge of the conduct of human affairs, one should pay less attention to what men of experience and common sense are thinking than to what is preoccupying the imagination of dreamers."

    Are any of our recent presidential candidates listening to their dreams? Would they ever present any in a public forum? Let’s look at a dream of a U.S. president that has had far-reaching effects upon our nation.

    Abraham Lincoln held that every dream had value and meaning, and sought clues from his dreams. He believed that the best dream interpreters were the common people with their collective wisdom, whom he called ‘the children of nature’. In the second week of April, 1865, he told the following dream at a White House dinner to his wife and several guests. He had been waiting anxiously for dispatches from the Front as the Civil War was reaching its bloody ending. He was extremely weary and fell into a deep sleep.

    He says, “I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a deathlike stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms. Every object was familiar to me, but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?

    I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all of this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer. ‘He was killed by an assassin!’ Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awakened me from the dream. I slept no more that night and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.”

    Less than a month later, on April 14, 1865, Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater by a terrorist, John Wilkes Booth who feared the loss of his way of life and that of his confederate separatists. Lincoln died early the following morning surrounded by his wife, family and the ‘people who were grieving as if their hearts would break’. His dream was prophetic but he had no way of knowing how to work with it; to determine how he might redirect his efforts to save his life—that is, if that was possible.

    What our presidential candidates know is that to be president of the U.S. is to hold significant power and influence not only here in the U.S. but throughout the world. At the core of the power problem, fear smolders. The fear of the oppressed becoming the oppressors makes those in power feel justified in brutality, ruthlessness, torture, violence, destruction, and killing. This cruelty is evil.

    The dark side of the American psyche is found in our obsession with bigness, loudness, outlandishness, and self-centeredness, while the bright side of our psyche is generosity, kindness, love, and compassion. It is passion for power that is poisoning politicians. Where is our hope? Is it in reason?

    The prominent Italian Jungian analyst, Aldo Carotenuto wrote: “That the world can be dealt with in an exclusively rational manner is an illusion because, as we know, emotions, sensations and intuitions are more determinant than rational thought.

    There is an entire area of psychic life that escapes the detached and rigid control of reason. We are immersed in the unconscious, and it determines our life. The great revolutionary contributions made by psychoanalyses is that it annexed that vast area and, even more importantly, provided the instruments necessary to carry on a dialogue with it.”

    Here lies the necessity of dreams. Dream narratives can serve as corrective psychic lenses to sharpen our perception of moral and ethical issues. If one cannot tolerate uncertainty, self-questioning, and the opposite point of view, then dreams and dreamers are useless. They are, as Jung stated, ‘mere occurrences’. What would happen, I wonder, if one of the questions posed to our politicians was “Do you work with your dreams?”! What if our criteria for choosing a candidate included this vital question?

    Jung identified two types of dreams. He described Big dreams as those that had an impact on the Collective or Outer world. He borrowed this idea from Native American tribes whose members shared their Big dreams with the entire tribe as they were considered to hold importance collectively. Small dreams were those that belonged solely to the dreamers and consisted of material that would help them compensate or correct some aspects of their lives.

    Dreams are found to be transformative, healing, corrective, prophetic and initiative—those that may occur during life transitions such as birth, adolescence, marriage, mid-life, and death. Initiative dreams indicate the present situation of the dreamer and can point towards a solution to help the dreamer move into the next phase of life.

    Becoming aware of unknown aspects of our being and re-membering them can lead to a deeper sense meaning and ultimately greater fulfillment. And they can serve to aid our leaders in effective leadership of moral conscience. Let us hope that the candidate we do choose is a dreamer. But more importantly, let us hope that he or she is aware of their dreams and knows how to work with them in order to provide not only corrective personal healing, but also to enable them to bring more effective guidance and constructive engagement to the problems of our nation and to the world.

    As Shakespeare wrote: “To sleep; perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub.”

    Dr. Janice Quinn received her diplomate and PhD equivalency in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. Her thesis topic was: “Feminine Self-Worth”. She has several masters degrees – an M.S.W. in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, an M.P.A. in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and an M.A. in musicology from the Eastman School of Music at Rochester University. Dr. Quinn’s worked for 8 years in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as well as the U.S. State Department. She also worked in Washington, D.C. for Community Connections serving extremely mentally ill and dual-diagnosis clients for 4 years.

    Dr. Janice Quinn served two successive terms as President of the Jungian Analysts of Washington Association (JAWA) of which she has been a member since 1999. Her areas of specialty include self-esteem issues, depressive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, mid-life crises and creativity blocks. Dr. Quinn has conducted research on the nexus between spirituality, creativity and depression. She is a member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP), and serves as a senior faculty member for the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysis (IRSJA). She works with individuals, couples and families. She has a private practice in Arlington, Virginia serving the Washington metropolitan area.

    Dr. Quinn is a well-known lecturer in the Washington area, holding lectures, seminars and workshops for the Jungian Society of Washington, the Smithsonian Institution, Johns Hopkins University, and American University. Lectures include: C.G. Jung’s Red Book and the Individuation Process, Music and Jung, Feminine Self-Worth, Baghdad Café and the Individuation Process. She also enjoys interpreting films from a Jungian perspective such as “American Beauty” and film noir. Dr. Quinn has made guest appearances on local TV news shows and provided consultative services for the Library of Congress.

    She has participated in national as well as international conferences. Under her leadership, JAWA hosted the Conference of National Association of Societies for Jungian Analysts (or CNASJA) held in Washington, DC in October 2009. Also under her leadership, JAWA was a co-sponsor for the Library of Congress’s Red Book exhibit in the summer of 2010.

    Dr. Quinn enjoys a diversity of musical genres from Keith Jarrett to Charles Ives. She is a musicologist and participates in musical groups in the Washington, DC area as well as the national American Musicological Society (AMS). 

  • Monday, February 15, 2016 9:24 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    Jung states: "Our intellect has achieved the most tremendous things, but in the meantime our spiritual dwelling has fallen into disrepair.”  And, again, Jung reminds us, that, “When great symbols lose their content and their meaning for us, we are in great danger of losing our souls.”
    - Carl Jung, CW91

    I realize the magnitude of the issues facing us in the coming years concerning our very survival on the planet are great, yet my personal scale tilts towards the side of hope and a few glimmers of light in what appears to be a very dark situation.  What is “alive” for me is the reality of the “inner life” and the sense of kinship the journey offers the individual within the ongoingness of human history.

    Evident in our society is the sense that the center is not holding, a theme that I have observed in the dreams of young adults in my practice.  Though their lives may not be outwardly traumatic enough to occasion dreams of an apocalyptic nature, some are struggling with bigger than life themes without adequate life experience or ego strength with which to cope. It is as if they are coming into adulthood with a life task that requires a bigger world- view than the typical collective identification that the first half of life affords.  Born at a time when the culture is unstable and traditional religious values have failed them, living the “norm” is not an option. Perhaps they are seeking a new vision. Joseph Campbell has observed that it is as if “science has cleaned house of our old beliefs – now the individual must live with the myth of one’s own life.”

    So how does one bridge the world of nature and myth, to the world of science and intellect and everyday life? How do we move from the generalized question of, to quote Edinger, “What is the meaning of life, to what is the meaning of MY life?”  Edinger, Ego and Archetype.

    For example, a young woman comes into analysis with the following dream:  She is observing / participating in a process of dragging large animals into a tar pit and watching them sink to their death in the gooey muck.

    The dream is stark and her very life will depend upon her willingness to descend into the depths of her own soul to retrieve the lost libido of her life in order to live authentically. Her outer world of superficial persona, “fitting-in” will no longer be an option for her. She is disconnected from her instinctual side and has attempted to be rid of the big feelings and affects. They fall into the unconscious – the tar pit, holding ancient, archetypal energies. She now, however, has a symbol, an image to begin her process of understanding the vague feelings of deadness in her life. She must make a descent into the depths of her own psyche in order to release the losses and grief that led her to bury the ancient instinctual energies of her life.

    This descent is the opposite from the spiritual tradition which emphasizes the ascent – the climb to the heights.  However the psychological journey, the experience of the psyche rather than a dogma, nearly always begins with a descent.

    The notion that “spirit” comes from above and everything that is worthless comes from below is a comfortable position for the conscious mind.  However the unconscious has a different ordering.  When this second attitude comes into conflict with the first, one may experience a depression, a sense of disorientation, anxiety, or on the outer level some relational crisis may develop.  While it may be possible to avoid this confrontation with the unconscious by projecting everything negative into the environment, one is left with a “half-life” and the fullness of the psyche will never be experienced.  One has the feeling that something is missing in relationships, dreams may present disturbing images, or feelings of deadness may hover over the unlived life of the individual.

    For those who risk the descent and the process of “Individuation” there is hope.  The experience of great loss has sometimes been called the “infinite desert of pain” and as Jung teaches, when the ego is able to preserve and endure the ensuing ordeal in the search for meaning, there is a rewarding insight into the transpersonal psyche. The poet Rumi assures those who are crushed that the time will come when such pain has spent its force. “At the end of pain// a quiet white exhaustion. Your ghost sits down// to take my head in its hands.”  The burning away has transpired and we become aware of the stillness within and without.  The ashes of loss flicker back into fire and the realization that as Rumi says, “In the end a person tires of everything except heart’s desiring soul’s journeying.”

    Anne Pickup is a licensed psychotherapist in D.C. and Maryland with a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She received her Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles.  She is a founding member of the C.G. Jung Study Center of California, past president of the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts, and current president of the Jungian Analysts of the Washington Area.  She is a member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and is secretary of the Kairos film project; preserving Jung.

    Anne has lectured and taught in N.Y. Calif., and D.C. on themes of separation and loss.   She lives in V.A. and has a private practice in D.C.

  • Friday, January 15, 2016 9:13 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy…these are undoubtedly great virtues… But what if I should discover that the poorest of beggar and the most impudent of offenders are all within me, and that I stand in need of my own kindness; that I myself am the enemy who must be loved? What then?
    - Carl G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

    Both shadow and persona are archetypes conceptualized by Jung that affect behavior towards others and ourselves which can result in betrayal, shame, guilt and remorse. In other words, can cause suffering.

    First a brief definition of shadow: It includes all the repressed content that is in the personal unconscious as well as unconscious material from the collective unconscious. It includes unacceptable components of psyche whether those be dark affects like envy and anger and fear or lighter aspects that were not available to us as we developed.

    Here’s a quick example from classical literature: Oedipus, besotted with his own bravery, intelligence and rationality who has solved the riddle of the sphinx and become king of Thebes, after unknowingly killing his father, the former king, and marrying the queen, his own mother, reigns over the kingdom with wisdom until plagues start to besiege the city. Oedipus refuses advise from the shadow of the blind soothsayer Tiresias who told him to cease searching for explanations for the plagues. Consequently, Oedipus learns that he, himself, is the cause of the plagues—that his unconscious act of killing his father and marrying his mother has created chaos in his world. This causes Oedipus great shame and guilt; he has betrayed his beloved city and himself.  Consequently, he blinds himself making literal his unconscious blindness.

    Persona is the second archetype that can give rise to betrayals, particularly of ourselves. In simplest language, persona is like a social mask. When it is working in concert with our authentic selves, it is a presentation of that authentic self in ways that are appropriate to the situation one is in. When it is not the presentation of authenticity, it comes closest to the psychoanalytic concept of the false self, developed by D.W. Winnecott.  It develops primarily because of others’ expectations especially when the infant’s or small child’s needs and feelings are encroached on by the adult caregiver’s needs. As Thomas Merton said, “ The false self is the self that is fabricated because of social compulsions.”

    A perfect example comes from Tolstoy’s novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, a perfectly beautiful and soulful example of the redemption of a man who has lived his entire life in the persona of a pompous bureaucrat. It is only on his deathbed that he re-discovers his spontaneous child self, capable of love and creative being through interaction with his innocent and loving servant.

    Whether from shadow, persona or some other personality flaw we have betrayed our own moral sense and committed some transgression against another or ourselves and we become conscious of the transgression, guilt or shame result.

    Guilt is a cognitive or emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes, whether accurately or not that he or she has compromised his or her own standard of behavior and bears significant responsibility for that violation.  In The Oresteia, revenge murder abounds.  Clytemnestra kills her husband Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter, Iphigenia, in order to start the war with Troy. Consequently, her son Orestes must kill his mother.  Orestes loves his mother and really does not want to avenge his father’s death, but exhortation from his sister, Electra, finally convinces him to do it.  This deeply offends Orestes’ moral code that differs from the social code, which condones the killing.  The third play in the trilogy, The Eumenides, finds Orestes pursued unceasingly and ferociously by the furies, an embodiment of the self-cursing that is the result of guilt.  As Tara Brach, a teacher if Insight Meditation and the teach of a popular podcast says: Guilt’s strength lies not in the failure of others to grant forgiveness, but in our failure to forgive ourselves.”

    Shame, on the other hand, is a painful emotion that can, like guilt, result from a comparison with one’s standards and one’s behavior, but the more damaging shame comes from the feeling that one is so bad and so damaged that one really has no real right to existence.  This latter type of shame, called by some, primary shame, is the result of early childhood injury either from abandonment. parental disengagement, or childhood abuse, either sexual, physical or emotional. Healing from this type of shame requires an understanding that responsibility for the transgression lies outside one’s self.  Self-understanding and self-forgiveness are required.

    A Jewish teaching tells the following story: The son of a rabbi went to worship on the Sabbath in a nearby town.  On his return his family asked,” Well, did you learn anything different from what we do here?”  “Yes”, replied the son, “I learned to love the enemy as I love myself.”  The parents responded, “That’s the same as we do here.  So how is that you learned something new?”  He replied, “They taught me to love the enemy within myself.”  This teaching story tells the same thing that Jung tells us in the above quote from Memories, Dreams and Reflections: “ that I am the enemy who must be loved.”  According to Jung, the acceptance of oneself is the solution to the whole moral problem and the culminating point of an entire outlook on life.  Religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh agree that our capacity to make peace with others and the world requires that first we make peace with ourselves.

    From a psychological point of view our mistakes, our pathologies can contribute to the individuation process.  As Jung says in Volume 13, Alchemical Studies, “The king constantly needs the renewal that begins with a descent into his own darkness.”  Consequently, an examination of our own dark sides, our own mistakes, our guilts and shame, our betrayals of self and others can lead us on a path to self-forgiveness and ultimately transformation.   Brene Brown, the social psychologist made famous by her TED talks on vulnerability and listening to our own selves, points out that owning our own story, our whole selves, the dark and the light, and loving that inner rascal as well as that inner angel is a brave and consequential act which leads to inner peace.

    Attending to our own mistakes and transgressions is not a pleasant task, however, these, like our acts of generosity and kindness, of creativity and love, shape us and ultimately, create who we are today. Self-forgiveness is based on acceptance of responsibility for an objective transgression directed at oneself or another may require a conscious effort to accept oneself.  That effort can result in self-love and self respect in the face of a wrong and, ultimately, recognition of one’s essential self worth.

    Not wallowing in our mistakes, but creatively dealing with them are resources for a vital life - the prima materia of the alchemists.  We arrive not at a shallow self acceptance, but with a profound love of soul with its rich mixture of the good and the bad are the starting point of a creative life.
    - Thomas Moore

    Julie Bondanza, Ph.D. is a Jungian analyst practicing in Takoma Park, MD. She trained at the CG Jung Institute in New York where for many years she was on the teaching faculty. She has been the director of training for both the New York Institute and in Philadelphia. Currently she is the program director for the C.G. Jung Foundation of New York whose goal is to bring Jungian ideas to the public. Dr. Bondanza has taught in many Jungian venues across the country both to the public and to analysts-in-training. Currently she has focused on teaching many semesters on the archetype of tragedy. She is also teaching about the connection between attachment theory and Jungian psychology. For the public she teaches courses that have an archetypal basis to everyday issues.
  • Tuesday, December 15, 2015 10:00 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    Several years ago, when browsing in the library of the Jung Center of Houston I met a gentleman who was a merchant mariner, living in Prague at the time, but who has since retired to the Houston area, near his home port of Galveston.    The man, Donald GaNung, has corresponded with me since and often included stories of his travels to places like Montevideo and Bangkok. Recently, when exchanging e mails I mentioned that I had been thinking of him with the news that the American CarrierEl Farohad disappeared, and is now lost with 33 aboard. Here is Donald's response describing in vivid detail what it is like in a serious storm at sea, printed with his permission, for which we thank him.
    - James Hollis, Ph.D.

    The Sinking of the MV El Faro

    Yes, I have looked many times at the water as I would be on deck walking daily. 40 years at sea and I know. One time I threw over a whole side of a full grown pig. I didn't want to deal with it in the shipyard and didn't need it. I was by myself and before the month we'd be there the meat would be too old. It had already been in the freezer walkin a long time even before I got there. I threw it over in the dark of the early morning hour (0400 or thereabouts). I'd gotten up earlier to do this. I watched it in the dim light hit the water and quickly sink out of sight, the light bare flesh and long length as the legs were still frozen straight out, that it looked so human. How quickly it slipped out of sight and how final the act was. I'd been aboard ships where there were men who committed suicide. The Captain usually called the Chief Steward in such instances for some reason believing us closer to the hearth of the matter in some way. But to tell the truth walking on deck at night for some time afterward was simply not comfortable, I would be thoroughly spooked.  I didn't even like to stand close to big drops fearing somehow that hypnotic aspect of the drop would overtake me. I had to make that fear a friend and learn to test the rails for rust (break-throughs happened easily) and so on before I got over that sense of vertigo. Later in my life at sea it didn't bother me as I always checked the strength of the railing before depending upon it. I never challenged the sea with bravado and yet when I was younger I often worked out on a big cargo hatch cover doing karate, jumping, kicking, etc.

    So when I heard the El Faro went down and I'd been on her sister ship, the MV El Morro, I knew exactly how it would feel if I were there. I called my seaman friend Andy who is here my best bud. He was telling his wife the ship probably got caught by the eye of the hurrican pulling it in closer rather than able to get away. In rolling seas of that magnitude if something in the engine room was ready to break then you have the reason for the loss of power. I've hit a rough wave 60' high outside of Rio even after a major storm at sea. The storm was nothing compared that 60' wave. How big are the waves in a #4 class hurricane; I've been in full gales and water washed over the ship so much so that even on the stern the portholes looked a Bendix Washing machine with the disturbed water washing the glass outside. 

    How did those men die, miserably is my guess and not even able to string themselves together or hope in the least. They knew they were goners. All modern ships have EPIRBS, these things stay afloat even if a ship goes down and emit a signal picked up by satellites telling of the location. Why didn't EPIRBS work and allow search and rescue to find the area? It wasn't the ship or the Coast Guard's fault as these are checked regularly and maintained religiously. What happened?

    As I've often noted at sea, the sea rules. Nature is far bigger than our modern technology and I've seen it time and again. We have fire and boat drills weekly and they are real. But in a storm like that, the ship listing and bouncing, rocking side to side and pitching forward and aft just getting a few people into wildly swinging boats would be impossible. The lifeboats on a Puerto Rico run from Jax on such an old ship would have probably been open boats, therefore boats that would be useless in such a storm. 

    The men died, they died like that pig sank, officers and crew alike, Captain and deck hand. And each man would have struggled mightily or succumbed quickly in accord with his mood. And what mood would have that been considering my fears resulting in vertigo. I can only imagine the horror. Sad is too kind a word to bestow upon their demise. The uncaring whipped up seas, the brutal wind, the shear noise of it all along with the sense it was unjustified as just hours before they were safe on board, the preciousness of life, the realization there would only be minutes left, hard cruel minutes at that. 

    You know Jim that was a run, Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, that people would set themselves up for months ahead so as to be at the top when the job came into the Union Hall for relief, or rotary (meaning the other guy's time was up and he had to get off). Yes, they knew exactly when the time was up. People were ready, good paying jobs too, warm climate, easy run (only a few days at sea between ports - 3). 

    Since the courses are mostly set by the company who was it who didn't have them go around that hurricane. Or was it coming on so quickly, huge of an extended, that the best they could do was put to sea, probably the latter. And yes, even the Chief Steward died along with all the others. Each had relatives, a luck portion would have had family...none of them lucky in the end. A bitter watery death without recompense of any kind, not even a burial. It may not have been as brutal as a war time death on the field but by no means was it an easy death.

    I read the latest news and my guess is pretty much correct. At least the Coast Guard is continuing the search as someone may be still there in a survival suit (one in each room, enormously effective and buoyant suits). I can only hope a few make it. The Coast Guard is keeping the search up stating we, the merchant mariners, are highly trained. That's correct. We know what to do and probably many did it. But as many maybe didn't because the ship lost power and everything gets so pounded at that point that it's hard to walk from a desk to a bunk let alone put on a survival suit and waddle to the railing (the ship was listing 15 degrees on the last communication but without power they would soon be overpowered by the seas and possibly listing more. We would practice and anticipate walking up and down narrow stairways in oversize survival suits and down the passageways (very long in such circumstances) to get to a door going outside, hopefully not already submerged OR then up another level, back and forth to the stairwells midships. You can see also no one can just jump overboard and no one will until the Captain says to. Did the communication system break down somewhere along the way, probably did. It would have been a mess then for never is it at sea every man for himself. We have loud signals to abandon ship but did they work in those conditions. I can only imagine the confusion, complete darkness inside a big house without power. It's just a horror. We go through dark houses in our training having to find our way out using the buddy system in those instances. Did that happen in this or were people isolated mostly from the fact of having to go to the cabins to get into the survival suit. And delays, each would disobey and dig out his money and passport; so you see, they were blind.

    It's a chilling story, imagine trying to get to a door not submerged, uphill using the railing as your pull (only one side of the passage has a railing) with a thick foam-like covering your hands leaving only three fingers and thickly insulated thumb. The bottom of the survival suit has oversize extensions for the feet (one size fits most). The railing has not sufficient space between itself and the bulkhead (wall) for the insulated hand unless firmly pressed between. Each grip, and step carefully managed as the ship is being turned and tossed still while the seaman is panicked about leaving, concerned about his family, and no doubt just plain scared of what is to immediately follow. The boat deck, if he reached it would have been a mess of tangled cables by then and the boat itself likely topsy-turvy. If he managed in this clumsy suit to find a way into the boat in the process of launching it with the waves and wind beating on the hull from various directions and the ship swinging widely in response these gravity davits would have a difficult time finding a clear space in the water to drop and more likely would be crashing and smashing up the lifeboat against the davits themselves or the ship as the cable was played out. Now if the seaman survives this he must get out from this swinging wreckage held together by a pieces and parts in the cable and fiberglass boat construction. Escaping this he must find the courage to just jump before the ship goes under. And if he waits too long, took too long, or just was scared out of his mind the ship will pull him under as it goes down relieving him of his responsibility to kill himself by jumping overboard.

    Parts of him may be found in some state of decomposition once he floats back up to the surface (if he ever got free of that mess around him or even out on deck at all).

    I watched the news wondering about the “satellite pings” as the news put it. Only one news representative questioned the US Coast Guard as to what happened concerning this. In return I heard they knew of no pings and “everything” was being investigated about this tragic loss. That’s government-speak for they too didn’t know what happened. All systems failed. The rescue planes had panels turn off upon their return from the 100+ mph winds. They couldn’t get any lower than 100’ but that sounds like a one-time try for at that low level they really were in too much danger themselves. As many times I noted in my forty years at sea, Nature rules.

  • Sunday, November 15, 2015 12:04 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    It is important to have a secret, a premonition of things unknown. It fills life with something impersonal, a numinosum. A man who has never experienced that has missed something important. He must sense that he lives in a world in which in some respects is mysterious; that things happen and can be experienced which remain inexplicable; that not everything which happens can be anticipated. The unexpected and the incredible belong in this world. Only then is life whole. For me the world has from the beginning been infinite and ungraspable.
    - Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 356.

    In this passage, taken from Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung lays open a life spent in active engagement with underlying, transpersonal streams of mystery.  A Jungian analysis aims to deepen our awareness of those transpersonal currents that fashion our life-course, most often outside our awareness.  We engage this mystery through “the symbolic function”—our natural inclination for image-making, symbolization, and the enactment of ritual patterns that stem from the unconscious psyche.

    More generally, the term “spirituality” describes our intentional participation in mystery.  Spirituality keeps us in conversation with the transcendent but ever present Other within and without. We may promote this dialogue through dream-work, writing or reflection; through relating to the natural world as a subject rather than an object; through creative works; through attending to our emotions and the images that spring up out of the depths; through meaningful conversation, storytelling, prayer and ritual practices within or outside of a faith community. The symbolic function, a uniquely human capacity, makes this engagement possible.

    Like the seasonal cycles and the planetary courses, the symbolic function belongs to nature. The symbolic life thus represents life lived in a way that is naturally human. Our receptivity to symbolic expressions of meaning “illumines the self” in Jung’s sense by connecting us with the web of life. We attain a more comprehensive self by surrendering the illusion that self and world can be fully known or understood in a purely rational way. Jung’s psychological theory gave place to our religious and symbolic inclinations outside the category of pathology. Still today, Jungian psychology not only respects the irrational dimensions of the psyche, it observes the invaluable role played by the symbolic function in the journey toward wholeness.

    Melanie Starr Costello, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, historian, and graduate of the C.G. Jung Institut-Zurich, holds a private practice off Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. She earned her doctorate in the History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University. A former Assistant Professor of History at St. Mary's College of Maryland, Dr. Costello has taught and published on the topics of psychology and religion, medieval spirituality, and clinical practice. Her study of the link between illness and insight entitled, Imagination, Illness and Injury: Jungian Psychology and the Somatic Dimensions of Perception, is published by Routledge press. Currently her work explores archetypal currents running through the collective psyche in our times—a topic she takes up in her workshops on the Stranger, Aging and Spirituality, and on Dream Cosmologies.

  • Thursday, October 15, 2015 11:57 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    Jung writes from his deepest personal encounter with his soul in The Red Book, “The knowledge of death came to me that night…I went into the inner death and saw that outer dying is better than inner death. And, I decided to die outside and live within…I turned away and sought the place of the inner life.”

    Everyone experiences loss, grieves, and goes through transitions and dark passages. It is a fact of life and is an inevitable occurrence. Sometimes the experience is more than what the ego is prepared to handle. We wonder how we can go on, if help will ever come, what we have done wrong, it’s too late to change and why bother – the worst has already happened. We are learning from neuroscience that the brain registers trauma in the same way it does torture and that acceptance and healing require us to create new neuropathways. Jung’s wisdom has a psychology to get us there when he teaches that the psyche has a Religious function. He says that there are times when it is necessary to let go of the intellect in favor of the heart. How else could we endure the pain and envision a new world within and the potential to reconcile opposites that at times break our hearts?

    Separation, loss, and death are the sine qua non for new and expanding life and are major themes in the analytical process. The troublesome complexities of separation, loss, and letting-go, require that we endure the suffering that inevitably follows. The intertwining of life and death was a fundamental concern for primitive peoples, whether in burial rites, fertility sacrifices, or just keeping on the good side of the Gods and Goddesses. The profound crucifixions of Inanna, Christ, Odin, are major mythological reflections of this intertwining. Just as a plant must die for the seed to initiate new life, so must worn-out patterns of behavior be discarded in order that new patterns have room to unfold.

    Honoring our personal destiny asks that we enter the wilderness of our being to attend the demands of our soul. As Jung states, “When you are in the darkness you take the next thing, and that is the dream. When a man is in the wilderness, the darkness brings the dream…and you can be sure the dream is your nearest friend.” C.G. Jung, Vol. 18

    The shattering experience of death whether outer or inner brings us to our knees. And, the grief that accompanies death is a responsibility owed to the psyche. If unacknowledged it can be passed onto others for generations to come. It lasts as long as it lasts and has its own rhythm. The poet Rumi’s words capture the nature of grief drunk to the last drop.

    “All theologies are straws
    His Sun burns to dust
    Knowing takes you to the threshold
    But not knowing through the door
    Nothing can teach you if you don’t unlearn everything.
    How learned I was, before Revelation made me dumb.”

    Anne Pickup is a licensed psychotherapist in DC and Maryland with a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She received her Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles in 1995.

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"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." – C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Welcome to the Jung Society of Washington's blog. Here you'll find posts by our speakers on topics ranging from interpretations of Jung's works to comments on events from a Jungian perspective, and so much more.

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