Author Topic: 1 - Context and Woundedness of Jungian Identity  (Read 2533 times)

Matt Koeske

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1 - Context and Woundedness of Jungian Identity
« on: June 26, 2011, 11:00:59 AM »
The Context and Woundedness of Jungian Identity

This section on "Tribe and Identity" was created to house various topics and investigations that have become of increasing interest to me, especially in my study of Jungian culture.  Nothing has been more frustrating for me than trying to talk about Jungian identity and culture with other Jungians.  It often seems as though Jungians don't believe they have a culture or a fixed range of cultural identities.  Almost every Jungian and quasi-Jungian I've conversed with has unequivocally stated to me that they are not really "Jungian".  At the same time, I have continued to call myself a Jungian.  The obvious fact that I am much less conventional and ideological in my Jungianism than these other Jungian deniers appears to be entirely lost on them.

I have come to see it as a strange pathology of Jungian identity and culture that Jungianness is so typically denied.  In fact, it can almost be said that denial of one's Jungianness is a signature trait of Jungianism.  To be fair(er), the Jungian imagination where culture and identity are concerned is extremely stunted and unsophisticated.  Jungian thinking about culture and society has always been deficient and Jungian emphasis has always been introverted and focused on the individual.  So in addition to an overt prejudice against community or tribe, there is an extreme amount of naivete where consciousness of Jungian identity and sociality is concerned.

This situation has worsened (become more pathological) with the advent of "post-Jungianism" and the tribal splintering of Jungian culture and thought into (as Andrew Samuels put it in Jung and the Post-Jungians, 1986) classical/fundamentalist, developmental/psychoanalytic, and archetypal Jungian schools or affiliations.  These schools are not utterly isolated from one another by any means.  But despite the interpenetration, each school has tendencies (or perhaps individuals) that continue to push away from the others.  This is especially evident in the developmental school, which has been arguably the most critical of Jung the man as well as Jung the thinker.  Although the developmentalists are in part reacting to a static, stuck, fundamentalist trend in classical Jungianism, they have unfortunately adopted the criticism of classical Jungianism directly from their growing psychoanalytic affiliations.

This is regrettable, because it makes the criticism of Jungian fundamentalism inorganic and more complexed and dysfunctional.  I believe this is so largely because classical Jungianism extensively defined itself (i.e., Jung defined it) by its deviations from and critiques of Freudianism.  It is in many ways a compensation for Freudian inadequacies.  At the same time, Freud and his followers have a long and rather sordid history of defaming Jung and misrepresenting analytical psychology.  Although Jung made a number of serious errors, especially regarding a lack of sufficient criticism of National Socialism during the rise of Hitler, a thorough investigation (see Jung and the Shadow of Anti-Semitism, ed. Aryeh Maidenbaum (2002), which is the most thorough and balanced account) of Jung's alleged (by Freudians) anti-Semitism is inconclusive, but doesn't suggest anything more egregious than a fairly ignorant racial prejudice regarding Judaism that is more characterized by misunderstanding of the other than it is by anything like hate or aggression toward that other.

Still, many Jungians (mostly of the developmental school) have felt it is an ethical obligation to declare that Jung was anti-Semitic and that other Jungians would do well to come forward and confess this.  Andrew Samuels (The Political Psyche, 1997) has been the strongest and most articulate voice behind this opinion.  But Samuels is a little more righteous than he is fair, and unfortunately his righteousness compounds a very serious problem of Jungian identity that revolves around the enshadowed portrayal of Jung the man.  Jung the man is the "genetic" source of Jungian identity, and where he is enshadowed, Jungians are forced into an identity crisis.

I respect Samuels' opinion and his righteousness.  I believe he is doing and saying what he thinks is right.  And if Jungianism had a healthy identity, his opinion would be important without being destructive.  But Jungianism does not have a healthy identity.  Reactions to Jung the man's shadow and failings in Jungianism is still complexed, and there is very little functional reflection on this shadow.  I.e., Jungians react, but do not reflect and analyze.  Nor do they make concerted efforts to reckon with the Jungian shadow.

It is within this psychodynamic context, that the gravitation (defection?) of Jungians to psychoanalytic ideas and attitudes (even toward Jungianism) is not merely rational but crosses over into irrational and unconscious pathology.  Psychoanalysis is a handy enemy in the Jungian quest to beat back affiliation (or appearance of affiliation) with Jungian shadow and Jungian identity in general.  Psychoanalysis is the classic "arch-enemy" of Jungianism.  It is the wounder and abuser of Jungianism . . . or in my own terminology, it is Jungianism's Demon.

This is not to say that psychoanalysis is bad or wrong.  I am not making a value judgment about psychoanalysis itself.  But in the realm of Jungian identity, in the "tribal psyche" of Jungianism, psychoanalysis is Demonic.  And what this means is that relationships with psychoanalysis as its own entity, as other, are not going to be easy to disentangle from the association of psychoanalysis with the Demon in Jungian identity.  This is all ignored because there is no real Jungian reflection on Jungian identity or culture.  There is not even really a theory of identity and its relationship to group in Jungian thought.  Perhaps it could be intuitively comprehended, but currently there are no Jungian theoretical tools to make sense of what is happening with Jungian identity.  There is, however, a kind of reactive recoiling from anything to do with Jungian identity among almost all Jungians.  So trying to encourage consciousness of Jungian identity and culture is bound to bring a great deal of disappointment.

It is conventional where ego relationship with the Demon is concerned to feel powerfully tempted to give over the personal shadow to the Demon, who will abuse and dominate it.  The ego typically "thinks" (it is often largely unconscious) that giving the shadow over to the thing that is most likely to torture it will result in the purging of the shadow and the "cleansing" of the ego from this unwanted pollutant.  But there is a moral failure implicit in this selling of the shadow to the Demon.  It allows the Demon to act out the "evil" the ego doesn't want to be saddled with or believe it could be responsible for.  At the same time, the Demon will never actually destroy the shadow, because the Demon derives all of its power over the personality from its domination of the shadow.  The shadow will always be there, but sold to the Demon, it will seem as though the ego is taking decisive action about it.  The result, though, is increased unconsciousness of both Demon and shadow, and that means a much higher likelihood that both Demon and shadow are inspiring (and perhaps even dictating) egoic attitudes and behaviors in ways the ego is entirely unaware of.

I have always focused on the Jungian shadow and called for a deep but sympathetic reckoning with it.  The approach to the Jungian shadow in Jungian culture is pathological and dysfunctional and consists of a combination of denial and Demonic scouring.  I would like to see that change, and I believe the best first step is the devoted and fair-minded study of Jungian culture.
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