Eavesdrop on three Jungian analysts as they engage in lively, sometimes irreverent conversations about a wide range of topics. Join them for discussion of news events, family dynamics, personal issues and more as they share what it’s like to see the world through the depth psychological lens provided by CG Jung. Half of each episode is spent discussing a dream submitted by a listener. Lisa, Joseph and Deb went through their Jungian training together, becoming friends and developing working partnerships. Now they are engaged in a new creative venture with a spirit of adventure and hope you will join them.
Jung discovered the psyche’s dissociative nature through his Word Association Test. Subjects would delay or make nonsensical responses to ordinary words associated with troublesome personal memories or traumas.
The transcendent function comes in all sizes, from “aha” moments to epiphanies. A new orientation to a dilemma arrives unthought, recognized, and right. Perhaps there is a moment where loneliness gives way to solitude, or heartbreak yields to a larger sense of self. Apprehension of a new attitude--sunlight breaking through clouds--has overcome the impasse, bringing freshness, spaciousness and possibility.
James Hollis, noted Jungian scholar, teacher and author, joined us to discuss resilience. His new book, Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times, will be available on Amazon in mid-June.
Racial injustice takes one’s breath away. It reaches back to the psychic asphyxiations of the Middle Passage, slavery, and Jim Crow—cut-offs from home, family, freedom and justice. Racism persists in systemic inequities and ongoing instances of police violence.
Breath as essence, consciousness and soul gives voice to lamentation and outrage. Dr. Fanny Brewster joins us for today’s important discussion.
Many listeners have expressed interest in Jungian analytic training. We welcome those inquiries and outline the prerequisites, practicalities and processes which lead up to and constitute Jungian analytic training--a life path of ongoing growth, challenge and satisfaction.
We encourage all who are interested in becoming a Jungian analyst to consult the major Jungian organizational and training resources below, and to research additional educational and Jungian institutes around the world.
How can we understand the psychological wild fire of rioting? Jung, who lived through two world wars, understood that mass movements had the power to manifest archetypal energy. The urge to unleash destructive chaos is depicted in mythologies around the world.
Oppressed, repressed and regressed, the forced restrictions of the Covid Complex have us in its grip. We may see friends and family more often than ever, but only on a screen. Work, school, home, weekdays, weekends—time and tasks slide around like Jello on a hot plate. Loss of structure, variety, movement and touch are destabilizing. Confined to tight physical and emotional spaces, we may collapse into ourselves or lash out at loved ones. We hear contradictory messages on the news and go outside only if masked and defended. The Covid Complex is both personal and collective—it affects each of us differently and it affects us all. Most of us have been forced inward physically and psychologically; perhaps this time is also an opportunity to rediscover inner resources and experience depth of being. Dream I am viewing media footage filmed from a helicopter looking down onto the forward section of a fast moving 60 foot solo sailed yacht that is heading out to sea. The yacht is hard to the wind, heeled over, plunging through a 1.5 meter sea, with ocean spray sweeping over the bow. The sky is overcast, the sea grey, the wind is blowing over 25 knots and the land is out of sight and astern. A man (solo sailor) of approximately 70 years, dressed in yellow wet weather gear, is steadily making his way aft from the bow of the yacht toward the stern. He is moving in a crouch using a hand for support in an experienced and careful manner. As he moves he is also tending to the headsail that is temporarily impaired by the life lines; he is caring in his attention to the sail. A news commentator is wishing the sailor well as he embarks on a long offshore passage. I am yearning that this will one day be me embarking on such a passage and I am empathizing with the harmony that the sailor is demonstrating toward the yacht by smoothing the sail and his experienced movements in challenging conditions. Suddenly the sailor looks up toward the stern and breaks into a run, toward the stern. However, his foot catches on a fixed piece of rigging and he trips, falling forward, hitting his head hard on the deck. The news commentator is saying that this is the last time the sailor was seen or heard from and is now missing at sea. I am thinking how could it be the last time he was seen as there were people recording the footage and flying the helicopter. I can’t understand how he could be missing. I wake up feeling shaken and bewildered.
Jung was particularly interested in the second half of life, perhaps because after his own midlife crisis he found himself so surprisingly generative. We tend to spend the first half of life oriented to familial values and cultural norms for success. Education, work, partnering and child rearing are some of the mile markers for speed and distance on the road of life—until midlife strikes. We may then discover that worldly successes feel flat, or blame discontent on bad breaks. Although dramatic lifestyle changes at midlife are the stuff of story, malaise at the midpoint is psyche’s signal to attend to unlived inner life. It is time for meaningful encounter between ego and unconscious, worldly rewards and true fulfillment, obligation and freedom. Midlife crisis is a call to deepened feeling and the unique meaning of your life. Dream I am walking with a group of my "clients" (developmentally disabled people). I have to work to keep the group together as some straggle here and there. I'm responsible for their well being so onward we go. I look on the ground/sidewalk and see a small round brown object which looks like a tree nut. I pick it up and upon closer inspection realize that it is of animal nature rather than plant - and alive. As I hold it in the palm of my hand, it morphs into a tiny creature, tinier than my pinky finger. I can't just leave it there so I slip it into my pocket and keep walking, trying to keep my rag-tag group together. After a while I look into my pocket to check on it and it has grown some and looks a bit like a fetal kitten. It looks unwell and I think it might not live. We continue to walk. The third time I look into my pocket, the creature has turned into a baby bird with black, red, and white feathers. The bird is in tremendous suffering with its stomach cut open and a look of horror, pain and grief on it's face. I feel these emotions too and think, "Oh no! It's going to die.” I keep it in my pocket and try to soothe it, but still we keep on walking. Toward the end of our escapade, I look into my pocket a fourth time. This time the bird is fully grown and leaps out, startling me. Now the bird is pure white, luminous with three round feathers on slim stalks atop its head. Among its body feathers are multicolored zinnia flowers sprouting along with the feathers. It hops into a landscape planter along the sidewalk and establishes itself amid the vegetation. I back away in shock, completely amazed. I pull out my cell phone to try to take a picture of it but can't because a survey keeps popping up on the screen of my phone, preventing me from using the camera. I curse and search my bag for another phone and finally do manage to snap a pic, but I still don't know what to make of it.
The Pentagon recently released a film of a UFO made by Navy pilots. Although such credible documentation is new, UFO sightings go back to ancient times and surged after World War II.
In his treatise “Flying Saucers,” Jung took a phenomenological stance, acknowledging experiences of sightings without concretizing them as physical or dismissing them as fictional.
We have moved our lives online. But can we experience authentic human connection through virtual technology? Can we date, mourn, or have psychoanalysis on a screen? If screens offer some surprising intimacies—close-ups of wedding vows and eulogies—they also deprive us of embodied participation. Staying at home has made us newly eager to socialize—separately. Dating means conversation, not cuddling.
Astrology is a 4000-year-old discipline rooted in the mystery of man’s relationship to the universe. It is an archetypal frame for human experience that influenced Jung, depicts our connection to the heavens, and anticipates future trends.
The dictionary defines authority as the power to “influence or command thought, opinion or behavior.” Authority’s Latin roots are master, leader, author—thus it lives next to its tough cousin, power. Families, organizations, and governing bodies influence and command us, whether slightly or mightily. Authority has legitimacy, from a traffic officer’s directives to a mentor’s wisdom.
The alchemical term nigredo means black or blackening, and is associated with decomposition and putrefaction. As a psychological state, nigredo is “the great suffering and grief” which the detached forces of nature inflict on the soul.
We realize in sorrow that what we thought were truths were illusory. Individuals may have taken pride in their virtues, talents or good fortune; societies may have touted their cultural superiority, military prowess, or wealth.
In the Chinese language, the two characters representing crisis are danger and opportunity. Can that possibly be true of these days of pandemic crisis, with physical, economic, and psychological destabilization? Voices of experience and wisdom speak to us about finding potential in desperate situations.
The archetype of origins is in resurgence since the advent of ancestry-mapping programs. What are the psychological and symbolic meanings of ancestry? Identity is often strongly linked to ancestry in its ethnic and cultural aspects, and as the carrier of personal traits.
Should an analyst share personal information with clients? Freud believed that the analyst should be devoid of personal presence, so he sat unseen behind his famous couch. Jung realized that regardless of theory, psychotherapy entailed two people in a room interacting.
The word plague derives from the Latin plangere, “to strike the breast as if in lamentation.” The novel coronavirus has visited loss, fear and hardship on many. Nature in her destructive mode can radically disrupt cultural creations and norms and show us how fragile they – and we -- are.
Questions about fate and destiny have existed for millennia. Fate often refers to unalterable realities, from genes to future events, whereas destiny points to future potential.
An acorn’s likely fate is to die on the forest floor, but its destiny is to become an oak tree. Jung understood that “…when an inner situation is not make conscious, it happens outside, as Fate.”
“Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be.” For Eeyore, only perverse possibilities lie ahead, even if they are unknowable. Do gloomy expectations create self-fulfilling prophecies? Or are pessimists more realistic than naive optimists like Winnie the Pooh? Pessimism can be associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and more. It may also motivate preparation and striving, especially if the pessimist believes he or she can overcome significant obstacles and succeed.
We can all cite examples of behaviors that defy reason and meaning. How can we understand X shouting those things at a party, or the bizarre thing Y filmed himself doing on YouTube? There is a great array of psychological labels for such behaviors, as if pronouncing them “histrionic,” “manic” or even “drunk” explains radical actions and cascades of feelings.
The power of projections to hit psychic targets serves both defensive and integrative functions. Projections are a natural aspect of psychic functioning, as we know from watching children at play: we first see inner images “out there” in order to experience them internally.
Recent severe environmental events have made facing climate change urgent. We talk with Jeffrey Kiehl, PhD, climate scientist, Jungian analyst, and author, about bringing a psychological perspective to our present situation and the process of change.
As we grow, unconscious unity becomes differentiated into feeling, ego, personality and desire. As we grow, we will have initiatory encounters with shadow, demanding the sacrifice of innocence and identification with ego.
The story of Adam and Eve conceives this archetypal experience as the fall. The stories of Job, Faust and even the children’s tale, The Velveteen Rabbit, tell us how we may achieve redemption from a fall.
Polyamory, a current phenomenon, endorses open relationships with multiple lovers. The term means many loves, and polyamory strives to legitimize the benefits of non-monogamous romance and sexuality among adults.
When we speak of being triggered, what exactly is it that sends us into a familiar arc of feeling and behavior we may later regret? That mysterious force seems external and can elude our ability to locate it within. Jung called these autonomous and unconscious incursions complexes, and he discovered them through his Word Association Test.
Although there have been a number of recent destructive environmental events, the duration and devastation of the fires in Australia have made a powerful impact on the collective psyche. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, although disastrous to humans, seem acausal aspects of Nature.
A new year often symbolizes a new beginning, with resolutions to make specific lifestyle changes related to self-improvement. Research indicates, however, that up to 88% of these resolutions fail. If changes—no matter how worthy--are imposed by ego alone, the unconscious is likely to have its say by rebelling.
The archetype of the trickster shows up in ambiguity, duplicity, contradiction and paradox. Usually depicted as masculine, trickster has been featured in tales worldwide through history. We see him as a boundary crosser, shape-shifting imitator, versatile adapter, and disrupter of norms whose deceptions often backfire on him.
Although a secret is usually considered information deliberately kept from others, we also keep secrets from ourselves. Internal secrets consist of emotionally laden knowledge that consciousness represses; the price of such secrets may be a complex or neurosis.
Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, vividly portrays the journey to healing and transcendence. It was written in a fever, released on December 19, 1843, and sold out before Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge’s visitations by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come are vivid depictions of the path from trauma to transformation. As in psychotherapy, Scrooge revisits his past; by reclaiming the feelings he exiled as a child, Scrooge discovers compassion and connection.
Siblings are embedded in the human psyche as they are in life. Even if one lacks siblings, there is ready access to them through friends, fairy tales, myths, and scripture. All feature multiple experiences and examples of sibling solidarity and siblings as shadow carriers.
Partings connote a finality of farewell that signifies completion of a relationship. We may part from a stage of life, depart from home or college, or say farewell to a person, process or project. Partings signify the end of a story that has been told and reached conclusion. The Japanese tale of Princess Moonbeam illustrates the importance of accepting a necessary ending: those who could not do so were turned into statues, fixed in eternal stasis.
Dr. Fanny Brewster, Jungian Analyst, colleague and friend, joins This Jungian Life to discuss her forthcoming book, The Racial Complex: A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race. Complexes tend to operate autonomously and unconsciously, have strong feeling-tones, and contain archetypal fuel. The racial complex, a complicated mix of color, class and culture, operates individually and collectively and in multiple ways.
It happens all the time: people and problems split into opposing camps, whether the conflict is internal, between partners, in a family or—as we know all too well—between political parties. When positions become polarized conflict ensues, whether between mind and body, partners and families, or value systems and religious affiliations. What makes it possible to reach across the chasm between entrenched extremes?
The archetype of the father is associated with gods, kingship, and other images of authority and order. As the image of a “personified affect” fueled by an archetypal core, the father complex is powerful. In its negative aspect it may arise from a father who was experienced as absent, emotionally unavailable, passive, critical or abusive.
Anger is a core human emotion. Newborns express instinctual cries of protest, and many a mythological god has wreaked archetypal havoc. Cultural norms around anger range from keeping a stiff upper lip to highly extraverted forms of expression. There are overall differences in how men and women tend to express anger; differences in temperament as well as situational stressors contribute to the intensity and frequency of angry feelings.
eople have reported experiences with ghosts from antiquity; Jung documented his encounters with mysterious sensed presences. How do we make meaning of such experiences? Are they visitations from external beings? Could they be related to unconscious reactions to toxic substances, auditory subtleties, or erratic electromagnetic fields? Neurological evidence links the stimulation of specific brain regions to feeling a ghostly presence.
The question of whether, when, and what psychoactive medications may be helpful is both big and ambiguous. Mental distress has always been strongly influenced by cultural filters and subjective perceptions. Whereas a person might once have sought to placate a god, sufferers today may turn to medical management rather than mining their psychological symptoms for meaning.
Empathy, the ability to feel into the suffering of another, is an intrinsic part of being human. We have such a capacity to imagine others’ experience that we react physiologically and emotionally to painful situations even in film. We are surprised, sometimes shocked, when the empathy we expect in a given situation is not forthcoming.
A planned, collaborative termination is the ideal way to bring a depth-oriented therapeutic process to a close. The client may have resolved a problematic life issue and/or have achieved an abiding sense of wholeness. When both partners feel the client’s sense of completion and readiness for a new phase of life, this kind of termination can feel like a graduation, albeit with the poignancy farewells also entail.
The death of a loved one is a loss that is part of the human condition and is universal. The Stranger -- mortality -- confronts us with a new need to accept the reality of our loss and pain, a process that can include ambivalent feelings. Relief and anger can be mixed with love and grief.
Altogether, we must adjust to an absence where once there was presence, relearn how to experience the world of relationship, and perhaps take on new life responsibilities at a time of emotional turmoil.
Medical technology has given the problem of fertility a scientific veneer. Our Promethean ability to manipulate gestational mysteries has wrested power from what was once the domain of the gods. Fulfillment of the promise of pregnancy seems to lie within reach, although it may entail incurring financial debt and enduring intense emotional cycles of desire, hope and disappointment.
Complaining is universal, perhaps, like gossiping, one of the first uses to which developed language was put. Overall, a complaint can refer to a perceived legal injustice, medical symptom, or other personally painful matter. The chronic complainer feels a lack of agency, and implicitly pleads for emotional support and/or effective action from another. A complaint may therefore range from a request for empathic engagement to an effort to assign responsibility to others.
Although these Jungian concepts have become familiar psychological terminology, they remain difficult to understand. According to Jung, animus and anima are innate psychic structures shaped significantly by the archetypal world, whereas the shadow is predominantly shaped by personal experiences of ego formation. Whereas shadow tends to be rejected, animus and anima fascinate and attract.
As the mother is the generator of life and usual primary attachment figure, the mother complex is universal. As the image of a “personified affect” fueled by an archetypal core, the mother complex is especially powerful. In its negative aspect it may arise from a mother who was experienced as uncaring, attacking, possessive, withholding, absent, or wounded.
While psychiatric diagnostic labels often reify the complexities of psychological dynamics, they can also orient us to the essential qualities of a particular emotional and behavioral field. BPD is characterized by difficulty with affect regulation, intense and unstable interpersonal relationships, impulsive behavior, and a tendency toward highly polarized emotions: idealization / elation versus devaluation / despair.
We all procrastinate. Tasks from making a doctor’s appointment to preparing taxes to doing the laundry invite us to put off until tomorrow what we can postpone today. We may distract ourselves by going online, doing errands, or minimizing the time a job will take.
Although procrastination signals that a given task is hard and emotionally charged, it buys only temporary escape from anxiety.
If the passage into fullsome adulthood is avoided, a person can be trapped in the world of childhood. This protected realm is a nexus of potential, defined by avoiding the rigors of the real for the pleasures of possibility. Peter Pan, who chose to remain in never-never-land, is a well-known image for the flighty ingenuousness of the puer or puella.
What stops libido from becoming more grounded in order to engage in more purposeful, ego-strengthening commitments?
Although only some of us talk aloud to ourselves, all of us have inner voices, even if we are not aware of them. These autonomous parts of ourselves provide running commentary on how and what we are doing. Are our inner commentators friendly and supportive, or critical and attacking? We turn to fairy tales, stories that arise from the collective unconscious, for wisdom about our relationship with those parts of ourselves that tend to operate autonomously.
We define dating as the quest for serious partnership or ongoing companionship. Today’s dating world is radically different from that of even a generation ago, and is light years away from previous generations. Dating apps and social media expedite and expand the range the search for a suitable other - and often turns dating into an exercise in personal marketing.
The life transition we call retirement mandates a major readjustment in how time, energy and money are spent, whether retirement means becoming a “snowbird” or having a stepped-down lifestyle. Work has structured the rhythm of life and time; most have found aspects of identity, status, and socialization at work, regardless of how fulfilling, arduous or well paid it may have been.
Chronic illnesses affect many, creating diminishment of physical ability and energy for life activities. Deb, Lisa and Joseph discuss emotional factors in the loss of the healthy, autonomous self –and the possibility of a profound shift in inner life.
Experiences of physical abandonment are depicted in stories old and new as ways of out-picturing traumas of early relational abandonment. Jung articulated the archetypal foundation of what later psychologists came to call attachment theory. In an infant’s primal state of identification with a mothering other, lack of caregiver availability and attunement constitutes psychic abandonment.
Cults tap into universal human feelings and desires, such as the need to belong and resonance to parental influence. Although as adults we are no longer dependent on family and tribe for physical survival, our psychological needs for safety and attachment remain powerful.
Deb, Lisa, and Joseph consider today’s polarized political divisions, the power of a rock concert or Fourth of July parade, and other ways in which the tension between the opposites of belonging and individuation manifests.
Burnout is a relatively new term for job-related distress or an ongoing life situation that is unsatisfying, defeating, and creates a sense of despair. Burnout robs us of our sense of control and agency—we feel unable to change the troubling situation. Burnout can also be related to our internalized parents, moral convictions, and sense of duty. We can count on fairy tales, our psychic skeletons, to provide wisdom on resolving age-old human situations, even if they are couched in new terminology.
Although the word voyage connotes a sea journey, this episode considers a voyage to be an intentional trip of any kind. A voyage can range from a vacation in Vegas to a pilgrimage to a sacred site. Such journeys may be solitary, or, like the famed pilgrimage in The Canterbury Tales, in the company of fellow travelers. We tell our stories to others and to ourselves, companioned by our own inner images and/or others.
We all shed tears. We cry when we are sad, but also when we are glad, surprised by beauty, love, or touched by other deeply felt and uniquely human experiences. Tears, and our access to them, are part of what makes us human, and when we cannot find our tears we have lost a vital link to feeling, whether for another or a part of ourselves. In their negative aspect, tears can signify the falseness of crocodile tears or affective hardening and bitterness; teardrop tattoos represent experiences of violence.
We can experience powerful feelings of empathy for those who are victims of trauma in all its heartbreaking dimensions. It is difficult even to consider a shadow side to this already dark aspect of human experience. Nevertheless, it is important also to consider the difference between lived experiences of victimization and meaning-making narratives that not only can become calcified, but self-reinforcing. If entrenched, narratives of victimization can become part of one’s identity and suppress life energy
Individuation, the central concept of Jung’s psychology, is the foundational image and aspiration of Jungian psychoanalysis – and life. In this episode Joseph, Lisa and Deb circumambulate and amplify the concept of individuation and images of the Self.
Images of physical dismemberment are often used in fairy tales, dreams and art to depict psychological fragmentation, numbing and other forms of disconnection. Such cut-offs, dissociations, and splits may be related to earlier relational trauma, and constitute defenses against experiences perceived as too overwhelming for consciousness to absorb or even acknowledge.
We all take offense, from feeling miffed at a thoughtless but cutting comment to being suffused with righteous rage. Others may fail to meet our expectations, agree with deep values, or hold us in positive regard. These experiences can spark effective and defensive reactions, since what offends us often lies in our shadow and is incompatible with how we wish to be perceived.
In this episode, the archetype of the bitch is explored using fairy tales, mythology, and popular culture to shed light on this colloquial, pejorative term. The term is applied most frequently to assertive women - and to men acting in a way deemed "feminine" - who are either not sufficiently in touch with their own authentic power or seem overly invested in power dynamics. What is the secret of authentic feminine power?
Deb, Joseph, and Lisa consider various facets of ambivalence: anxiety around foreclosing options and missing out fear of regret over a possible wrong choice, or inability to raise complexes and shadow elements into consciousness.
This episode, inspired by the new album by the Korean band BTS, explains and amplifies the Jungian concept of the persona. Altogether the persona is the social archetype and represents a compromise between adaption to social realities and individuality.
Joseph, Lisa and Deb discuss stages of marriage / partnership, from romantic to parenting to empty nest, and the ongoing need for evolving relational awareness, especially in discerning the difference between individual complexes and relational problems.
Listeners contributed examples of precognitive dreams for this episode. Lisa, Joseph, and Deb discuss theoretical concepts and listener dreams from various vantage points: the intuitive capacity of the unconscious, the synchronous intersection of matter and psyche, and activation of an archetype.
Lisa, Joseph, and Deb explore and explain what the analytic process is like for them as they work with clients. Deb describes her interactions with clients using a rectangular diagram - this represents the multi-directional flow of energy in the session between the conscious and unconscious contents of both people. The analytic process is also likened to a chemical reaction in which both people are changed.
Everyone shops—we have access to an astonishing choice of products. What are we seeking for our inner selves as we shop for outer objects? For some, utilitarian objects carry libido, whereas for others shopping is an aesthetic, adventurous, relational, or aspirational experience. Joseph, Deb and Lisa explore the possible personal meanings of shopping.
Preoccupation and obsession with food–orthorexia-can take the form of the quest for health and purity, with rigid rules about food categories, such as the need for all-organic ingredients or omitting food groups such as dairy, sugar, and gluten in the absence of identified physiological intolerances. This overall effort to banish anxiety can take the form of an implicit bargain, a strong need for ego control, elitism, specific community values, and banishing shadow by projecting it onto “bad” foods.
Estrangement involves psychologically cutting-off, repressing, and defending against connection with another who has come to be experienced as “all bad.” People may move away geographically, refuse to talk to a certain person, or simply give someone the “cold shoulder.” Joseph, Lisa and Deb discuss the importance of setting appropriate boundaries with others and understanding that estrangement is also an internal phenomenon.
Eros – love – is an essential part of the analytic process. In Vol. 16 of his Collected Works Jung used alchemical images of a king and queen to illustrate the various ways in which erotic feeling can enter the consulting room. The safety of a time-limited, fee-based relationship is important to allowing a full range of feelings and fantasies to be admitted into consciousness without being enacted. Idealizing and erotic feelings for another can pave the way to finding one’s center in oneself.
Hiding can be a conscious decision, whether for fun, as in the game of hide and seek, or out of necessity, as Anne Frank’s family’s had to do. Hiding can also be an unconscious phenomenon, particularly if there has been trauma, in order to protect the inviolable life of the soul. How, then, does an individual come out of hiding to discover him- or herself?
Football is a uniquely American sport with millions of fans, heroic teams, and stadiums reminiscent of colosseums. As the Super Bowl approaches – television’s most-watched show – Lisa, Joseph and Deb consider the archetypal underpinnings that contribute to making football America’s most watched sport.
Our hearts can break over the death of a dearly loved other, including a pet…and our hearts can break over the death of a relationship and the death of our hopes and dreams, and our innocence, idealizations, and the psychic needs we believe another can fulfill. Heartbreak is mythological and fairy tale theme, which illustrates its central place in the human psyche, and in them we find clues to how one heals from this devastating experience.
What is “I’m sorry” as a habitual response really about? There’s the preemptive apology that is offered to forestall possible criticism, the apology that evokes reassurance from others, the apology for falling short of perfection…and more. This episode explores developmental, interpersonal, and intrapsychic dynamics of various kinds of habitual apologizing. We’ll be sorry if it falls short of your expectations.
How is Jungian analysis different from other psychotherapies? What are its major components and distinguishing features? And what makes it effective? Lisa, Deb, and Joseph discuss Jungian analysis as a nonlinear process that is not limited to problem-solving or reducing symptoms.
As the holiday season approaches, we examine the tidal pull of the ancient, archetypal power of the solstice season. Because of this underpinning, together with the power of family narratives, roles, and complexes, the holidays can be fraught with intense feeling, from hope to regression to disappointment. We discuss ways to manage feelings, intention, and behavior.
The myth of Narcissus constitutes the archetypal root of the character structure of narcissism. Aspects of narcissism run from the healthy developmental narcissism of a child to the toxic narcissism of the psychopath, but all have in common a lack of empathy, whether momentary or chronic. We offer some thoughts on how to tell if you are in a relationship with a narcissist and what to do about it.
What does it mean to separate from one’s parents and parental complexes—the attitudes and values that have been deeply instilled since infancy? How do we discern when we are in a parental complex, whether we are aligned with it or rebelling against it? What can we do to resolve the hold these complexes can have over us and become more of our unique, individuated selves?
Loneliness is a deeply human and universal experience. Lisa, Joseph and Deb examine it from multiple perspectives: as it may be experienced in young adulthood versus older years; as reflective of the need for attachment and relational security; as comparable to the alchemical metaphors of calcinatio and solutio; as a call to activation in outer and inner worlds; and as a psychologically toxic phenomenon.
The archetype of the scapegoat goes back to the ancient Hebrew ritual of using two goats to expiate the sins of the tribe. Sin, blame, and wrongness are also often attributed to others, and this practice – scapegoating – is addressed as it occurs in current culture, in families, and in individual psychology.
What happens when one is held captive by the mud of messiness? We try to understand sloppiness as a defense against overwhelming emotions, ongoing enmeshment in the primal maternal matrix, a regression to a younger and less differentiated self, and a tendency to overvalue objects as compensation for an inadequate ability to symbolize.
Compulsive eating is a complicated psychological and biological problem. Food addiction can be a way of defending against unmet needs by displacing emotional hunger onto food. We discuss how infant experiences with eating and soothing can shape one’s relationship to food in adulthood. Two fairy tales tell of parents with insatiably devouring babies and illustrate the consequences of failure to develop affect regulation and how that can lead to various vulnerabilities to addiction.
We consider literalism as a normal state in childhood; children’s literalism can be funny and charming. We grow first into the ability to understand metaphor and conceptualize symbols and levels of meaning. Literalism can then serve as a defense against uncertainty, as ego’s resistance to any threat to its power, and as a refusal to confront unwelcome truths from the unconscious. A symbolic attitude, however, opens the inner world to adventure, mystery and creativity.
This podcast relates envy and jealousy to early developmental dynamics, with envy related to the dyad of mother-and-baby and jealousy arriving a bit later, when the child realizes that sometimes he is left out of his parent’s relationship with one another.
Boredom is not depression or dissociation, sadness or loneliness…but what is it? We consider boredom from various perspectives: lack of access to one’s inner world, a relational deficit, a defense against unwanted feelings, a byproduct of reliance on technology to command attention, and lack of access to enlivening transpersonal energies. We surmise that the antidote to boredom lies in the ability to pay attention, as this can generate connection and meaning.
In this podcast, we focus on animals as symbols of instincts that have often been repressed in order to conform to cultural norms. Because animals have objectively known characteristics, dream creatures can provide specific clues about lost aspects of ourselves that we may need to reclaim. Finding the right relationship to our inner animals can contribute to our wholeness.
The experience of betrayal is painful, confusing, and damaging to one’s basic sense of self and reality. The betrayer is often seized by feelings that demand gratification and involve self-deceit, abandonment of responsibility and empathy for the other. Are there ever times when betrayal is necessary for growth, either as the betrayed or the betrayer? Can betrayal be used as a call to deepened feeling, increased consciousness and more creative self-expression?
Divinatory systems have been used for thousands of years as a source of help and direction to people wishing to resolve situations of personal uncertainty. Jung used the I Ching for 30 years before he met Richard Wilhelm and found confirmation of its usefulness in Wilhelm’s translation of The Secret of the Golden Flower. We explore the value of divination through the I Ching and the Tarot, and link this to the concept of a unified field that can facilitate a healing relationship with the Self.
The experience of motherhood evokes powerful feelings, ranging from joy and bonding to anger and rejection. If we can develop a conscious relationship with these feelings, we meet both denied aspects of ourselves—our shadows—and experience the pleasures and enrichment of mothering that serve the individuation process.
Many people have difficulty making decisions, whether large or small. Among other factors, the psychology behind fear of making a decision can be related to fear of making a mistake, lack of motivation, suppressed anger and aggression, and difficulty accepting the limitations and ordinariness of adulthood.
The pressure to conform to familial and cultural values provides guidelines for each new generation – and can also stifle the uniqueness necessary not only to the individual but to family and cultural health. How can we discern when differentiation from established norms is in the service of meaningful growth and soul versus avoidance of necessary developmental challenge? This podcast engages this issue as both interpersonal and intrapsychic conflict.
Living with a parent who is seriously impaired can be traumatic and have lasting consequences. Fortunately, resources for healing and resilience are also available, and premature encounters with shadow can be a call to consciousness and yield gifts of effective and creative depth.
The mother-in-law is not only the subject of many a joke but the subject of fairy tale and myth. Conflict between the older and younger woman lies in the archetypal realm, as both struggle to come to terms with differences, age, and the power of both youth and age.