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Author Topic: Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician  (Read 4694 times)

Matt Koeske

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Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician
« on: September 21, 2012, 04:43:11 PM »

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There  are two  points  that  are important. First thereís the, in a sense, was Jung a theorist? Was he primarily a theorist? I donít think that I would characterize Jung principally  as a theoretician of psychology, thatís not to say he didnít have theories, but I donít see that  this was the main drift of his work.  I would actually characterize him more as a psychological  essayist. If Jung was a theorist, you could imagine one 600-page book expounding the theory, but you find the theories are simply, in his work, the basis of endless variations; itís what he does with them thatís important. I donít know if people here listen to Bill Evans,  thereís this track he plays called Nardis. He played it for decades, each time playing it differently. Itís not about the melody, but what he does with it each time. You read through Jungís seminars, youíre hearing the same anecdotes, but retold in a different way. So the weight Iíve put on oneís reading of Jung is not as a theoretician. The theories Ė Iím not  the  first to point out Ė are  massively inconsistent right  throughout. And also theyíre a makeshift, post 1915Ė1916. The theories are not the core of Jungís work; theyíre simply an approximation by which heís attempting to translate his insights into a language for a scientific and medical audience. Itís a compromise. Hence the contradictions. How close can he get to saying something of the type of stuff that heís been articulating in Liber Novus and also in a similar sort of form in his analytic sessions? That, to me, is a question of how one understands Jung. It also pertains  to the theme of the conference: if Jung is not really primarily  a theoretician, is the task then one of looking to make theories out of Jung, or even make his theories consistent,  as many strove heroically and failed to do? The significance of his work lies more, in my view, in what  heís attempting to convey: providing a rich articulation of experience, which is on a different tack. One finds this in Liber Novus, one finds it in many evocative passages in the Collected  Works.

     Sonu Shamdasani, "After Liber Novus", Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2012, 57, p. 375-376
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flowerbells

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Re: Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2012, 11:03:38 PM »

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providing a rich articulation of experience, which is on a different tack.

In my rather limited experience with Jungian Art Therapy as a client, this is what I have experienced, too.  The quote Matt has posted today makes a lot of sense to me.
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2012, 12:14:32 PM »

The issue Shamdasani brings up is one that has been debated a lot in the IAJS (International Association for Jungian Studies) group I belong to.  Nothing came of those debates, but I think the issue is very important to Jungianism today.  It actually has deeper roots than someone not embroiled in Jungian society might guess.

One of the strongest "post-Jungian" movements is what British analyst Andrew Samuels has called the "developmental" school.  It begins mostly with Michael Fordham in the 50s, who was powerfully influenced by post-Freudian psychoanalytic thinkers, especially Melanie Klein.  He emphasized object relations theory, child therapy, and child development models as relevant to adult therapy.  And he staged some fundamental criticisms of Jung and "classical" Jungianism that have since become mantras of the developmental school.

Primary among these is that Jung was not "theoretical" enough, that Jungian psychology needed a more robust and specific diagnostic methodology and an elaborated praxis that could be read more like a set of "laws" or standards, a studiable text book of sorts for training analysts in the (developmental) Jungian tradition.

Also, Fordham emphasized (as psychoanalysts do), the extreme importance of noting and analyzing the transference/countertransference phenomena in analysis.  He felt Jung underemphasized this.  And finally, Fordham faulted Jung for "ignoring" childhood development and having no focus on child therapy.  Developmental psychologists to this day seem to believe that these three (and some other related) criticisms of Jung are like religious truths.  Jung, on these accounts, was simply "wrong", flawed, and the only thing for developmental "post-Jungians" to do was "transcend" the sins of the father.

I see much of this developmentalist attitude as rooted in a kind of "negative father complex".  It's actually quite complicated, and I won't go into it here, but I see various irrational aspects of the developmentalist attitude toward Jung and Jungianism that feel like "acting out" to me, like unconscious, unintentioned behavior that has psycho-logical significance and "means" something other than what it appears to on the most superficial levels.

But on a less diagnostic level, these developmentalist "truths" are highly debatable.  It isn't as if Jung had no reasons for taking the stances he did on theory-making, child development, and transference phenomena.  The implication that he was simply ignorant or plainly wrong about these issues is a self-suthing ideology for the developmentalists, not a reasoned argument.

In fact, Fordham and the developmental Jungians merely adopt these ideas unprocessed from their post-Freudian psychoanalytic influences.  So, they are merely tribal ideologies and identity constructions (in this instance) . . . beliefs, not actual theories.  That's not to say they are wholly or even partially "wrong", only that for developmental Jungians they are not reasoned arguments as much as ways of trying to distinguish themselves from the problematic "father", Jung.  And of course we should remember that Jung was hated and ridiculed by many Freudians and seen as the foolish prodigal son and even a deranged psychotic by some.  Even today, that prejudice against Jung still predominates in many psychoanalytic schools (especially those with the most classically Freudian orientations).

The developmental Jungians have absorbed some of this psychoanalytic prejudice and seek (like the "good sons" they want to be) to magically heal the wound between Jung and Freud by converting Jung into a kind of "good son" that would not have offended or ever broke with Freud.  But, to my mind (as it is to classical Jungians, even though I have numerous disagreements with them), what most defines Jung as a thinker and makes his ideas relevant are those things he specifically and intentionally differentiated from Freud's psychoanalysis.  Jungian thought is in many ways an anti-psychoanalysis, a critique of psychoanalytic theories and assumptions.  Which is not to say that Jung was right and Freud wrong.  I mean to say that Jungianism is a compliment of psychoanalysis and neither needs to be conformed to the other.

Jung himself said as much (perhaps somewhat over-generously).  In my opinion, developmental Jungianism does not really seek some kind of new and improved synthesis of Jungianism and Freudianism.  It seeks to conform certain aspects of Jungianism to Freudianism, because these conformities make developmental Jungians feel more secure in their appeasement of the "father", make them feel less radical, less prodigal, less potentially disappointing and disruptive to the "father's" sense of intellectual (and "superegoic") order.

It's a huge and complex topic, and an area of particular interest and research for me personally, as I've been trying to investigate what we could poetically call the "Jungian soul" . . . the Jungian tribal identity and how it influences Jungian thought in its largely unconscious efforts to preserve itself.

But to return to the issue of theory-making, Jung often spoke out about the limitations of such an orientation, but he never adequately explained himself.  And as in other areas where he never adequately explained himself, this fogginess has created a rift and polarization in contemporary Jungian thought.  Classical Jungians (like those who were direct colleagues, pupils, and often analysands of Jung himself) often take Jung's statements to mean that analysis is a magical creative enterprise with no real structure or consistency.  But that is very naive, and it allows some classical Jungians to lose consciousness of their own theoretical and diagnostic assumptions about how the mind works and how mental diseases should be treated.  My point is that these classical Jungians still have "theories" that shape (and sometimes limit) the way they act as analysts, but they are not conscious enough of these working theories.  And because they are not conscious enough, they can not clearly see how these theories operate and how their underlying assumptions might be wrong or could be modified.  This ignorance of theory contributes to the inability of classical Jungianism to grow or to be functionally self-critical.  It is ultimately an ethical more than an intellectual failing, since this lack of self-criticality might have negative effects on the patients these analysts treat.

The developmentalist "theory-mongering" is the opposite side of the coin, though.  Each side sees the flaws in the other, but neither seems to imagine a functional synthesis.  And in my opinion, neither really grasps what Jung was trying (albeit rather convolutedly) to get at.

I think Jung's hesitancy about strict theory-making was not some kind of touchy-feely New Agey anti-science, do what'chya wanna declaration.  Quite the opposite.  I think Jung was imagining a new, and more functional kind of scientific approach for psychology, that was more sophisticatedly "empirical" or phenomenological.  That is, he wanted to emphasize that psychic phenomena needed to be carefully and devoutly observed and investigated and not merely "explained" or reduced to a neat and tidy theory that comforted and bolstered the theoretician, making her or him feel clever and in control, capable of intellectual conquest of seemingly "chaotic" data.

That is what Jung criticized Freud for doing (and rightly so, in my opinion).  Jung DID NOT reject the systematic and careful observation of psychic phenomena, nor their classification or collation.  He merely felt this approach to psychology should supersede the making of explanatory theories or what are now sometimes called "grand narratives".  Jung advised that the psychologist needed to be extremely vigilant about his or her desire to make the psyche make perfect sense.  He recognized how complex and diverse the psyche was and also how no one was going to come along with a "stroke of genius" that turned this complex dynamic system into a set of "Mosaic" laws that would stand for all time.

Despite Freud's posturing about a "scientific psychology", Jung's approach is more in line with contemporary scientific practices and methodologies.  Most science today is about collecting data and making small, stepping stone theories.  The more classic "modernist" position of the 19th and early 20th centuries sought to heroically discover the grand theories of everything.  It saw all phenomena as superficially chaotic but inwardly simplistic . . . one merely needed to find the secret code that unlocked the simple, ordered core of the phenomena.  Today, we understand (as Jung seemed to intuitively) that most natural phenomena are incredible complex and do not reduce to simple cores but are instead higher order "emergent" phenomena that can only be made full sense of in relation to the other phenomena they are systemically associated with.  Modern science has come to recognize that theories are always relative and limited.  This understanding is part of contemporary science, but for Jung's era, it was not fully compatible with (19th century) science . . . and as a result Jung felt he had to differentiate himself and his approach from that science (which he did with the tools he had at hand, namely, romanticism).

In my opinion, today that 19th century romantic differentiation from "science" is no longer necessary.  On this issue, Jung was more forward-thinking in a scientific sense than Freud.  But today, Jungians have established their ideologies and identities as decidedly anti-science.  Jungians don't realize that the science they are rebelling against and demonizing no longer really exists.  So they are still rebellion against and demonizing it.  This is one of the problems of living in a monotribal "cave" for decades.  And as much as I have tried to argue this point to the IAJS Jungians, I feel like they just don't get it.  They are deaf to it and hell bent of demonizing "science".  It is more important to them to preserve this arch "enemy" than to be either correct or honest with themselves . . . which I see as yet another sign of a "complex", an irrational behavior that protects static identity constructions at the expense of longer-term survivability and adaptiveness, an act of "Bad Faith".


So, I agree with Shamdasani that Jung was not a theoretician.  But the opposite of theoretician isn't "mystic" or "prophet" or even "artist".  Jung's hesitancy about theory-making was part of his entirely scientific empirical and phenomenological approach to data (psychic phenomena).  That's not to say that Jung was purely or even largely "scientific".  But as Shamdasani wrote elsewhere, Jung pursued a "dream of a [new] science".  He was not at all "anti-science", he was merely critical of the way science was practiced and ideologically conceived in his day.  But his criticism was fundamentally "scientific" in that it sought to improve and refine science, not dispose of it.  Science has a built in mechanism for self-correction (unlike religion), and Jung was intuitively serving that mechanism in a preliminary and experimental way.

That trend has never been pursued in Jungianism . . . except perhaps in my own little "blogosphere" of outsider Jungian thought.  Although I am more of a sermonizer than a scientist, more of a circus barker trying to get people to pay a buck and go inside the mysterious tent.  I, too, remain outside that tent for this reason (and because I see myself as more suited to circus barking than performing whatever acts need to be performed inside the tent).

I support a healthy resistance to theory-making and explanations of everything.  But I also support a continued and increasingly structured observation of the psyche as an ordered (if extremely complex and dynamic) phenomenon.  Theories are not truths, nor should they pretend to be.  They are reasonable experiments to be supported or falsified by the results of the subsequent experiments they enable.  Jungianism doesn't need Freudian-like grand narratives to progress, but it does need to understand the usefulness of a more scientific, empirical approach that utilizes working theories and testable assumptions.

Jungianism today still maintains its various sets of "religious" assumptions and beliefs that remain unquestioned and unquestionable (taboo).  Jung was advocating neither a scientific nor a religious faith.  He was a universal critic of grand assumptions and ideological laws.  I think he would have been deeply saddened to see that this fundamental tenet of his approach to the psyche has been abandoned by all sects of contemporary Jungianism.  More importantly, I think it is a great loss to Jungian thought to abandon this kind of experimental empiricism.  The alternative is entirely self-serving, fundamentalist, and regressive.
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flowerbells

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Re: Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2012, 01:16:24 PM »

I am certainly not fluent in Jungianism writing.  However, my professional background is in Developmental Education, for childhood learning, adult learning, and music.  It would seem to my small experience with Art Therapy and what I have read about Jung's self analysis or self healing is that his work is process oriented in a developmental way or path.
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2012, 09:37:28 PM »

I am certainly not fluent in Jungianism writing.  However, my professional background is in Developmental Education, for childhood learning, adult learning, and music.  It would seem to my small experience with Art Therapy and what I have read about Jung's self analysis or self healing is that his work is process oriented in a developmental way or path.

Yes, I think you are right if we take "developmental" to mean adult developments like the development of complexity, sophistication, wisdom, compassion, humility, etc.  But the "development" that developmental Jungianism is concerned with is the development of a child and a child's ego from birth (or even in utero) through the first few years of life.  This development is seen in the context of a mother/infant relationship. 

Various schools of psychoanalysis and developmental Jungianism map these first years of life in the mother/infant environment onto the adult development of a healthy ego.  So, for instance, where a classical Jungian adult patient (probably at midlife) might be seen as engaging in a healing based "individuation" process, becoming more functional, more enriched, more flexible, etc., a developmental Jungian patient would be treated with a kind of intentional "re-mothering".  The developmental Jungian patient might be seen as sick because s/he has not formed a fully functional ego (or small-s self) in the first years of life . . . perhaps due to maternal neglect or to some sort of childhood trauma that prevented "normal" ego development.

The developmental analyst sees the process of analysis as "regressing" the patient back to some kind of infantile consciousness and then "re-mothering" her/him so that a functional, more or less "normal" ego can be reformed.  The idea is that the only way a "normal" ego/self can be formed is in a "good enough" mother/infant relationship (a la Donald Winnicott) . . . so that has to be recreated.

Where the patient might resist this form of treatment, that can be pathologized by the developmental analyst as "resistance to analysis", which is seen as a common obstacle to almost any analysis at some (especially preliminary) point.  But the goal of the analyst is to create a kind of nurturing or "holding" environment where the patient can resist and/or act out (like a child throwing a tantrum, perhaps).  After all, the acceptance of both resistance and acting out is what a "good enough" mother would do for her infant child.

But this attitude also means that developmental analysis can take many, many years.  It doesn't have to "go somewhere" at least for quite a while.  That long term analysis is coupled with analytical sessions three times a week or more.  That duration and repetition is part of the "regressing" process developmental analysis depends on.

Of course any developmentalist would not be happy with my brief (perhaps biased) descriptions here.  I am not a true believer.  In fact, I find the developmental method significantly flawed.  It CAN work for some people, but I am not sure it works for the reasons developmental analysts think it works. 

I remain unconvinced that regression and remothering are in some scientific sense legitimate.  I suspect it is more of a theater and that it depends on a very strong transference relationship.  If the transference relationship is powerful enough, the patient accepts the theater of regression to infantilism just as, say, a Christian convert might accept baptism as a transformative ritual.  But in both cases, it seems to me the "convert" has to believe in the religion in order to be "saved".  Can there be salvation for non-believers, though?  That is where I am yet to be convinced.

Classical Jungian analysis has similar problems, and I don't mean to hold it up as a better model than developmentalism.  In classical Jungianism the theater the patient is supposed to participate in is a theater of a certain heroism, the partaking in a spiritual journey or quest of discovery, of death and rebirth.  Actually, many of the motifs are similar in that myth to those in the infant development one . . . which is why there can be a development Jungianism.  But if a classical Jungian patient doesn't believe they are on some kind of "individuation quest", the analysis might not be that effective for her/him.  Or at least it doesn't necessarily distinguish itself from any other form of counseling psychotherapy that address the correction of self-destructive behaviors and attitudes.

I am not opposed to these transference fantasies as therapy.  I think these adopted myths and the sense of deep participation in them is the key to "healing".  But there are repercussions and side effects that neither form of Jungianism deals well with.  For example, most Jungians of whatever stripe believe deeply in their particular mythos and don't see it as arbitrary.  They might not be able to understand or effectively treat a patient who is less enamored of that mythos.  Equally, they might mistreat a patient that is very eager to believe in that mythos, but isn't participating in it in a healing way.  These fantasies, any fantasy, can be a place to hide and stagnate in.  The fantasies are not inherently constructive and helpful.  With any fantasy, one has to make the right choices and find the right attitudes to really benefit and "transform".  It can be all too easy to find a "safe haven" away from ourselves when what we really need is a deeper, more difficult confrontation with ourselves.

This is something I don't feel Jungianism of any school does particularly well, because Jungianism can be too much of a belief and tribal identity system or monotribe.  Like any dysfunctional monotribe, it doesn't know how to deal with others, with outsiders, outcasts, heretics, scapegoats, and aliens.  It has its magical totems of identity-making, but not very much criticality regarding those totems.  And perhaps more importantly, Jungianism tends to be a bit "soft" and touristy, preferring a "safe" and fairly distant tour of the deep psyche to something closer to "initiation" into it.  This lends it to New Agism and a lot of self-indulgence . . . which in my view is not therapeutic (although it does pay the analyst's bills, I suppose).
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flowerbells

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Re: Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2012, 10:09:17 PM »



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I remain unconvinced that regression and remothering are in some scientific sense legitimate.  I suspect it is more of a theater and that it depends on a very strong transference relationship.

Do you mean by transference that the client really believes the therapist is the mother, or simply that the client experiences infant and child therapy, beginning again as an adult?  In my experience with both "talk therapy" and Jungian Art Therapy, I chose to be remothered, and was for many months, because of deficiencies in my own childhood upbringing.


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if a classical Jungian patient doesn't believe they are on some kind of "individuation quest", the analysis might not be that effective for her/him.  Or at least it doesn't necessarily distinguish itself from any other form of counseling psychotherapy that address the correction of self-destructive behaviors and attitudes.

Interesting comment, Matt.  Again in my experience, my goal was healing from self-destructive behaviors and attitudes, and I have been successful in this, although it took many years.
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Shamdasani on Jung as Theoretician
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2012, 10:24:44 AM »

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I remain unconvinced that regression and remothering are in some scientific sense legitimate.  I suspect it is more of a theater and that it depends on a very strong transference relationship.

Do you mean by transference that the client really believes the therapist is the mother, or simply that the client experiences infant and child therapy, beginning again as an adult?  In my experience with both "talk therapy" and Jungian Art Therapy, I chose to be remothered, and was for many months, because of deficiencies in my own childhood upbringing.

Much attention is conventionally given to transference between patient and analyst in developmental Jungianism and psychoanalysis.  Often, this transference is thought to be a "personalistic" phenomena, i.e., that one "transfers" to a person (specifically the patient transfers to the analyst an image of the healer or nurturer, perhaps the positive mother or "good breast").  There are logical reasons to believe transference is a personalistic phenomenon, but I suspect it is more accurately a narrative or storying phenomena.  In other words, one does not transfer to a person but to a story . . . and always these stories are the foundation of selfhood.  They are stories of self.  It is not The Healer or The Mother that makes transference-based healing work (when it does), but the story of selfhood that incorporates the healer and the healed in a narrative of healing . . . or incorporates the mother and the mothered "infant" in a narrative of remothering.

Psychoanalysis tends to have a heavily analysis-centric perspective on psychological phenomena.  It assumes that transference is an analytic phenomena, but I disagree.  Transference is merely a natural way we construct identity.  We "mystically participate" in the totemic environment of people, places, things, ideas, attitudes, etc. around us, and we participate (psychologically speaking, which is to say, unconsciously) so as to construct identity, to formulate a functional story of selfhood.  Analytic transference is a very specific and often highly concentrated form of this conventional mystical participation in the name of identity construction.  We enter into an analysis by accepting the story of the broken personality that needs to be repaired (or, perhaps, a person with an inadequate or damaging childhood that needs to be "re-experienced" adequately).  Through participation in that story, we (ideally) hope to have our selves re-storied.

Of course, at times this means that we get stuck in the story of brokenness and repair and become creatures of the analytic environment . . . perhaps not really understanding how to leave that environment with useful "lessons" in tow for regular life.  This is part of why the termination of analysis is often difficult to orchestrate (for both patient and analyst) . . . and that difficulty is accentuated in psychoanalytic "remothering" analyses.  The letting go of the mother by the child and the child by the mother is not as clearly defined in traditional narratives as say, the motif of violent untethering from the mother (as in various heroic epics of monster slaying and "nature conquering").

This is one of the well-understood dangers of analytic transference (and is the reason classical Freudians choose to sit behind their patients who must lie down and monologue while the analyst says very little).  Namely, that it will ensnare an individual (or a relationship) in a "repetition compulsion" that never progresses and eventually comes to function as a kind of prison or reinforcement of some variation of the initial disease of self the analysis was meant to repair.

Individuation is a work of continual revolution, not a process of settling into a "niche" that's comfortable and "meaningful".  When the individuant outgrows the paradigm or story s/he was for a time so deeply engaged with, s/he must figure out how to leave that story or revise it or escape its potential repetition compulsion.  Most patients and individuants find this secondary escape substantially more difficult and confounding than the initial transference-based movement of healing.  In my experience, this pattern continues in cycles indefinitely, like the circling of an inward or outward spiral.  It goes somewhere new (unlike a fixed circle), but there are many recurring parallels and retreads of old ground.  As the Jungians like to say, it can be a kind of "circumambulation" that keeps providing new and enriching perspectives on the same "content".


As for "remothering", I primarily mean this as a metaphor, and therefore that one might chose to believe in the value of that metaphor.  The belief in the metaphor is what heals, not the "remothering" itself.  My feeling is that the success of psychoanalytic remothering is largely dependent on the patient's ability to accept/believe in the stories of childhood developmental inadequacy and then that the analyst is directly treating that inadequacy by essentially doing what the parents failed to do and thereby redeeming the "archetype" of the Good Mother/Father in the patient . . . which in turn activates the Good/Loved/Divine Child who flourishes in the loving environment of the Good Mother (or matrix).

I have mixed feelings about this story.  It's not the path I was drawn to take . . . although I could have.  I could have seen my parenting as inadequate, even traumatizing.  And I was in certain ways traumatically wounded and did develop many of the conventional PTSD symptoms that childhood trauma sufferers develop.  Yet, something in me always resisted the "blame the parents" vein of psychotherapy, even as I recognized that many of my symptoms and pathological attitudes were directly linked to the way I was parented.

I ultimately found more meaning and grounding in the embrace of the kind of re-storying I've described above.  The Wound that problematized my being was not something I "suffered" and needed to repair (in this re-storying).  Rather, it was a catalyst that complexly allowed me to start becoming what I was capable of becoming.  I don't mean something like fate or destiny or any specific "thing".  I mean genuineness.  Without the Wound and my engagement with it, I would not have found a way to become genuine.  The untreated Wound often leads to various complexes or states of "inauthenticity".  But the Wound is also a wellspring of authenticity, THE wellspring.

For me, blaming my pathological symptoms and suffering on my parents or on my childhood had the side effect of devaluing the Wound as a creative engine and eternal source of being and selfhood.  Coming to accept the Wound as creative source did not mean transforming the Wound into a de-problematized, romanticized, divine object.  It meant that whatever was going to be genuine in me was also going to be, in other ways, diseased, problematic, afflicted.  But the genuine life for me was the engagement in a continual struggle with these dual aspects of the Wound.  The Wound is the source of the Self and also the domain of the Demon.  And this conflict needs to be mediated very carefully, very vigilantly, and very ethically.  It is in that mediation that I forge and am forged by a personality, a small-s self.

That is a very condensed and generalized snapshot of the story of my selfhood, the one that has so far worked best for me, allowed me to be most authentic and most self-aware.  But it is my self-story, and not necessarily prescribable to others.  It is not "better" than a remothering narrative just because that remothering narrative was not adequate for me.  As a tangent from remothering, I will say that I did find I needed something deeply essentially from my mother as an adult.  But it wasn't mothering per se.  It's hard to describe, but it was something like an experience of "the Call".  My mother (who died in 2009) was a deeply spiritual person who functioned as a kind of ad hoc psychotherapist in her small tribe-like community for many of the students she taught (as a psychology professor).  She was not clinically-trained, but was clinically self-educated.

I came to recognize after her death and after having the chance to see the many (adult) students who described her lovingly as a kind of healer and "earth mother" (something she had not really been in our family) that she was, in fact, a kind of "shaman" in her "tribe".  The problem of her life was a "spiritual" problem, a problem of her relationship to God/Self and what that meant to her Calling and her sense of obligation to serve the treatment and healing her tribe, to serve the "soul".

Much of the suffering I faced growing up came as a result of her struggle with this Calling (which I believe also grew out of her Wound).  I never agreed with many of the ways she interpreted and pursued that Calling, but she was genuine and devout in that pursuit.  She also had a strongly developmentalist perspective and placed enormous blame on her own mother as wounder while almost entirely failing to see how she herself, as a mother, had wounded her own children.  I think her gift to me was twofold.  On one hand, I seemed to inherit from her what she (and other more religious people) might call a kind of "intimacy with God/Self", a powerful orientation toward the relationship with this Other.  On the Other hand, her at times injurious behavior toward me allowed me to see how the "vicious circle" might be broken.  Namely, by not continuing to blame the mother or yearn for "good enough" remothering.  By learning how to re-story the Wound as a source of being, however problematic that being might also be as a result of that source.  of course, it's more complicated than this, but that's the gist of it.

One could say that I had a poor model for the story of remothering and was able to see how that story can go wrong and remain dysfunctional in particular situations.  It enabled me to recognize that the Wound is not merely something struck by a wounder upon an innocent victim and serves eternally as a hindrance.   It is also initiatory.  It is a tap driven into a tree from which the generative sap can pour forth.  The challenge we face is in figuring out how to understand and treat this tap so that we pour forth as genuinely as possible and do not simply "bleed out" and dry up.


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if a classical Jungian patient doesn't believe they are on some kind of "individuation quest", the analysis might not be that effective for her/him.  Or at least it doesn't necessarily distinguish itself from any other form of counseling psychotherapy that address the correction of self-destructive behaviors and attitudes.

Interesting comment, Matt.  Again in my experience, my goal was healing from self-destructive behaviors and attitudes, and I have been successful in this, although it took many years.

I would think that almost any psychotherapy is going to address self-destructive attitudes and behaviors.  But when we take more of a macro perspective, we see that there are many different methods of psychotherapy and that they all tend to be more or less equally effective (and ineffective).  Yet, many of the individual methods and theories are not compatible with one another.  Taking this perspective, we might also ask how particular methods of psychotherapy seek to treat or correct self-destructiveness.  Some emphasize behavioral modification through discipline and repetition.  Others (like psychodynamic psychotherapies) incorporate narratives of transformation in which the patient must have a kind of faith in or strong transference to the narrative.  That is, they heal through faith, like religion (which includes the joining of a modern monotribe in some capacity).

As these more psychodynamic approaches are my particular fascination, I am concerned with the "quality" of the faith they use to heal patients and the "quality", adaptiveness, and survivability of the monotribes they indoctrinate patients into.  Sometimes the real functionality of the healing a psychodynamic patient undergoes in analysis is determined by the functionality of the monotribe and its faith or ideology.  Does this faith allow the individual to live in a fully functional way in the modern world, or does it only provide functionality so long as the individual remains mostly in the monotribal world and adheres unquestioningly to the faith of the tribe?  If the individual leaves the tribe or becomes disenfranchised with its totems and society, will the self-destructive behaviors/attitudes return?  (This is often what happens.)

These are complicated and in many ways arcane questions.  Many patients of these psychotherapies never touch upon these concerns and may feel well-served and well-loved by their tribes.  Many others are dissatisfied but aren't really introspective or analytical enough to figure out why.  They might go from one form of re-storying to another looking for a solution, looking for a sense of "Home".  Jung does something like this in the Red Book narrative.  And eventually he stopped working on the Red Book, abandoned it mid-sentence, moved on to the next meaningful story of self: alchemy.  I don't think he had it in him to be a truly contented tribe member.  His reformer spirit was too strong.

To return to your comment about successfully healing, although many would probably find my attitude overly cynical, I wonder if there is ever such a thing a truly successful healing.  I mean psychological healing that is the equivalent of the removal of some kind of physiological malignancy or the elimination of a virus/parasite.  My feeling is that psychological healing is contingent on various conditions and dependent on the good-enough rewriting of the narrative of self.  We commonly call this "healing" and maintain a story of that healing, but in my experience (speaking for myself, that is, and not meaning to "diagnose" anyone else) such healing is a state of being or state of mind held in place by the acceptance of certain beliefs and attitudes.  These beliefs and attitudes are the building blocks of a story of selfhood with a chapter titled "Healed".

My experience (again) is that our primal wounds (perhaps childhood traumas) never really "heal" in some kind of absolute way.  The thorn cannot be removed; the best we can do is to grow healthy skin around the thorn.  Psychological healing involves a re-storying that does not change the fundamental material (e.g., childhood trauma), but re-contextualizes it in a new narrative in which that trauma does not necessitate self-destructive behavior and thought.  I have come to feel that in any real, deep Wound, there is so much valid selfhood that it cannot simply be excised or returned to a totally whole, pristine state.  Our wounds continually define and redefine us.  In frustration we can take the attitude that we are condemned, that these wounds are like curses that determine our fate.  But we can also take the attitude that they are gravitational fields that define a fixed orbit in which we develop a meaningful (and related) sense of self.

We are not "freeform" beings that can endlessly self-determine.  We exist within the gravitational fields of various "massive dynamic bodies": people, events, beliefs, wounds, labors, genes, etc.  All these things provide formal constrictions like the formal constrictions of traditional poetry.  But a poem written in a specific form isn't fated to be like every other poem in that form.  There is still an infinity within constriction . . . just not a chaotic one.

What I have found (as Jung and Jungians also often note) is that Self is in the wound.  There is not some kind of perfectly well "true self" latent or imprisoned within a cage of disease and suffering.  The "trick" is to re-story that disease and suffering so that it is not a cage at all, but a universe in motion, expanding, complexifying, continuously becoming.  Which is to say, gradually and often very mysteriously "self-organizing".

I am speaking of my own journey, but I suspect the general pattern is quite universal.
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