Author Topic: A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking  (Read 7350 times)

Matswin

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A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking
« on: April 01, 2007, 06:14:03 AM »
"Dependency in the analytic relationship"

                        or

"A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking"


Abstract: Three cases of dependency, in analysands of C.G. Jung, are
investigated. Their dreams, and personal understanding, are examined.
The article addresses difficulties in C.G. Jung's personal convictions,
which, it is argued, hampered his former analysands. These convictions
remain a quandary in the school of Analytical Psychology.

Keywords: dependency, quaternarian, trinitarian, C.G. Jung,
Joseph L. Henderson, Marie-Louise von Franz, Wolfgang Pauli,
Saint John of the Cross, analytical psychology, individuation.

http://home7.swipnet.se/~w-73784/dependency.htm

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mats Winther
 

Matt Koeske

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Re: A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2007, 02:37:12 PM »
Hi Mats,

Thank you for posting your paper.  Although I am personally hesitant to draw too many conclusions from the dreams and dream fragments of the analysands you mention, I agree that there was a significant potential for Jung to "infect" these people with his own paradigm.  It might equally be true that Henderson, von Franz, and Pauli all had similar intellectual orientations to Jung . . . which was why they found Jung's thinking so compelling in the first place.  It seems to me harder to attribute the passing on of a thinking-flaw or limitation to Jung in these circumstances . . . harder not because I think such a transference is impossible (not at all), but simply harder to prove this was indeed what happened.

Another complexity is this blind spot in Jung's thinking that may have "infected" the others.  I also feel Jung had his blind spots (as we all do), but it is more difficult to establish precisely what these are.  I know I often have a hard time sorting out what is a true blind spot in Jung's approach and what is actually a different in perspective . . . and a prejudice that I have to see through before I understand what Jung was talking about.

I would also be concerned about making a presumption about what was or would have been "better" for these analysands.  It may be just as likely that Jung helped them advance in their thinking or individuation in ways they never would have without him.  If then they eventually came to a morass that Jung had also been stalled by, it would be difficult to say whether Jung had really hindered them as much as helped them (or that they had been hindered by the way they saw Jung more than helped by it).

Whatever the case, the issue of transference-management (between analyst and analysand) is definitely a sticky one . . . and extremely interesting.  I don't know enough about the three people you mention to posit a credible guess, but it does seem clear to me that many Jungians are stuck in a transference to Jung (whether positive or negative) that is preventing them from progressing . . . or from best benefiting from Jung's ideas. 

This transference phenomenon seems to have a lot of the guru/disciple dynamic to it.  I'm still uncertain as to how much of this was Jung's fault.  He made a number of statements in writing that seemed to discourage his followers from taking a dogmatic approach to him and his ideas.  He definitely never says, "I'm your guru, Baby!  Kneel before me!"  It may never be known how much pressure he asserted on his followers behind the scenes and sub-consciously.  I suspect there was at least a little, but I also suspect that Jung had some awareness of this and made at least some attempts to break the guru/disciple bond.  My guess is that Jung would have disdained discipleship (even as he may have simultaneously courted it).

But for me, this entire issue breaks down into the conflict within Jungian psychology between science and religion.  Jung juggled both of those balls . . . but did not find a true coniunctio for them.  To this day, many (I would guess most) Jungians come to Jung searching for a religion or a religious alternative.  The audience for Jungian psychology is an audience of "god-hungerers" . . . and this leads to a division between those who see Jung as a guru and those who see him as a charlatan.  My opinion is that neither is valid.

It is interesting that so few people attracted to Jungian thinking see Jung as a scientist (as he so often desired to be seen) who had hypothesized a theory of psyche and human behavior based on a set of data (primarily fantasies, myths, art, dreams, and other psychic phenomena that Jung arranged into a taxonomy).  If seen as a scientist, Jung's ideas would not be "all or nothing" to us.  Instead, we would see what works and what doesn't, revising as needed as we continue to expand the data set.  The fact that this approach to Jung is the least common should tell us all something about our own desires and projections (more than anything else, perhaps).

As for "pulling the plug" on the transference, there is no aspect of Jungian theory left to us by Jung himself that helps us to do this.  Jung merely cautions against us seeing him as a sage or making a dogma of his ideas.  Perhaps if he had been more aware of the ensuing complications, he would have proposed a more structured theory for resolving this transference attachment.  Not that he could have really controlled this, of course.

In my experience, we usually have to break away from our teachers and mentors (like our parents) in a violent fashion, disconnecting ourselves from them umbilically and perhaps eventually reconnecting to them only as human beings later on.  Jung's split with Freud had all of the collateral damage of a "leaving the nest".  It wasn't pretty.  Are these breaks ever pretty?

One thing that I do feel Jung was deceitful about (and contributed somewhat to his guruization) was his own personal approach to individuation.  In my opinion there are a number of indications that Jung was able to progress further in his personal Work than his written theories expressed.  It was almost as if he was a magician who "saved the best tricks for himself."  Some of the stages that his knowledge indicates he experienced were not incorporated fully into his theory of individuation.  I'm not sure if this was a conscious deceit (a seizure of power) or if he just didn't live long enough to incorporate his late Work into theory.

But the effect of this is that Jung the man can sometimes appear to be "more sagely" than Jung the scholar and theorist.  It gives hims a little extra something that his followers can identify intuitively but have no way of understanding (insomuch as they pursue individuation through Jung's written theories).

Beyond this, I suspect a huge portion of the guruization of Jung is the result of the air of secrecy his airs and closest friends have kept around his private life.  What these concealments really contain, I don't know (although I don't suspect them to live up to the mystery surrounding them), but they create an aura or legend around Jung that his fans can project positive significance into while his detractors project negative significance.  The result is that Jung the man becomes a myth, an archetype. 

And so it should not be surprising to us that Jung the man has been treated like an archetype by his supporters and detractors alike.  Ultimately, I feel this is a great loss for psychology.  It almost assures that Jung's ideas die with him . . . but maybe there was nothing more Jung could have done.

-Matt
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Matswin

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Re: A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2008, 02:10:57 AM »
A belated reply. Thanks for your reply. My article addresses the problem of the "Chtonic Trinity" and the "Black Madonna", arguably representing the 'via negationis' of self-denial and 'mortificatio'. It is my argument that the attachment to Jung and Jungian psychology depends on the refusal to accept the 'via negationis' as complementary to the Jungian view. Unlike in Buddhist philosophy, the notion of seeing through the illusions of the world, including the "blandishments" of Jungian thinking, is undeveloped in Western general consciousness. It seems very central in spiritual disciplines, to deliberately "remove all attachments". It seems to me that this concept is brushed aside in Jungian thinking. It could be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Mats

Matt Koeske

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Re: A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2008, 12:43:58 PM »

A belated reply. Thanks for your reply. My article addresses the problem of the "Chtonic Trinity" and the "Black Madonna", arguably representing the 'via negationis' of self-denial and 'mortificatio'. It is my argument that the attachment to Jung and Jungian psychology depends on the refusal to accept the 'via negationis' as complementary to the Jungian view. Unlike in Buddhist philosophy, the notion of seeing through the illusions of the world, including the "blandishments" of Jungian thinking, is undeveloped in Western general consciousness. It seems very central in spiritual disciplines, to deliberately "remove all attachments". It seems to me that this concept is brushed aside in Jungian thinking. It could be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Mats

Hi Mats,

There is a similar brand of "seeing-through" in James Hillman's archetypal psychology.  And in Wolfgang Giegerich's thinking.  In this branch of Jungian thinking such seeing-through is a kind of psychization or non-literalization.  Perhaps this could be seen as the Western version of the Eastern removing of attachments and lifting of the veil of illusion.  It's true, I think, that many Jungians do not see-through very well.  They tend to be more animistic or projective.  They commune with the spiritual through projection . . . and so, belief is of the utmost importance to this type of Jungian.

Hillman and Giegerich are more advocates of non-literalization, but in my opinion they take this so far that they tend to miss the fact that there is a literal world (whether or not our perception can convey it to us with the desired accuracy).  H and G's psychization constructs a very abstract "reality" with few boundaries or structures.  To me, these two epitomize what we might call "puer psychology" . . . because they discard the material and the "real" (the ground) for the infinite space of the imaginative.  They offer some compelling and complex intellectual insights, but like all purely abstract philosophies, the kind of detachment they offer is lacking in Eros, as Eros is a matter of related experiencing.  And most people don't live in a purely abstract universe, but in a material reality with many commonalities and affiliations.  I think we experience Eros through these connections.  The lonely puer floating in his (or her) abstract universe of imagining, filled with its gods and visions and profound thoughts, is detached from Eros, from the social and relational energy of shared experience (even if the stuff of this experience is "illusory").

Humans become dissatisfied (and probably neurotic or dissociated) when they are cut off from Eros.  People who want to live in the imaginal, abstract realm can only get their Eros fix through the indoctrination of or into a tribe or cult.  In this act, people can share a single abstract dream or dogma . . . and still manage to relate.  But tribes and cults place many restrictions on membership and on methods of relationship . . . most of which are not conducive to existing in the larger modern world, in the "real".  And of course, these tight knit fundamentalist tribes do not (as you point out with Jungian "blandishments") see-through their own tribal dogmas.  In fact, tribes literalize abstract dogma.  This is the general effect of the Eros of community: ideas become beliefs and dogmas and laws.  Totems.  That's a literalization of an idea (even if the idea remains immaterial).

So, the way I see it, we have a double bind.  We want the puer "purity" and freedom of detachment . . . but also the communalism and connectedness of Eros.  And that's another illusion for the spiritual quester to see-through.  How do we see-through our affiliations and totemic beliefs and still manage to maintain relationality?

I think Jung's original thinking precludes a total commitment to any kind of via negativa, because it owes too much to biology or evolutionary thinking.  The Jungian method is designed (or intended) to aid adaptation to the real, to healthy living, psychic homeostasis.  Thus the dialectic emphasis on uniting Opposites in a Third Thing.  In other words, just one thing or polarity or attitude or it's Opposite is not adequate for adaptive living.  The individual needs to reconcile them.  This is probably why Jung found alchemy's solve et coagula so compelling.  Instill the spirit into matter and the material into the spirit.

I feel this more alchemical approach is not ultimately compatible with the kind of nirvana detachment prescribed by some Eastern spiritualities.  Neither Jungianism nor alchemy can fully leave the "real", the material.  But this isn't, I think a mistake or oversight, it's an intentional (and ethics based) choice.

Hillman and Giegerich, despite some clever ideas, fail to adequately valuate the material.  Giegerich especially is determined to dismiss the material (from psychology).  But (perhaps extending Jung's own intuition) I believe that the most effective way to both see-through our perceptions of the world and ourselves, and not fall into detachment, dissociation, or nihilism, is to hold the spiritual or abstract and the material together.  We come closer to the real by allowing the spiritual (or psychic) and the material to influence and inform one another (without forming a dogma around either one).  Like the alchemists, we can "fix" the spirit by infusing it with materialistic thinking . . . such as we find in science (and perhaps most pertinent to psychology, in evolutionary biology and neuroscience).

This alchemical "fixation" is not a colonization or contamination of spirit with a materialist ideology, but an elemental union of qualities that does not devalue either element.  Likewise, we can take the extracted or "sublimed" spirit (psychization) and feed it back into the matter that had been devalued as a result of the matter/spirit dissociation that has been the inheritance of modern civilization (but dates back at least as far as ancient Greek Neoplatonism).  By which I mean that a "seen-through" understanding of psyche (a withdrawal of the animistic projections that create the illusions of Maya) can actually help us return value to matter and stop treating the material world (and anything we deem Other) as if it was simply "dead stuff" or "lesser stuff" and a free resource that is meant to provide for our every need and desire.

In other words, seeing-through helps us recognize that just because something doesn't have ego (our sense of self) doesn't mean it isn't alive or valuable . . . or that it is then ours for the indiscriminate taking without any attempt to interact with the world and with Others sustainably.

The "ineffable divine" that is imagined into all negative theologies is, I think, not an abstract thing like Bliss or Enlightenment or Nirvana.  This ineffable is natural complexity . . . which is very real, very material.  But our human consciousness (the ego) cannot understand natural complexity.  We have not evolved to be able to have this "mind of God".  All we can do is symbolize it . . . such as in Mandalas.  But these symbols (as we well know) do not accurately describe the thing itself, but rather, reduce the thing to something we can consciously relate to.  Behind the symbol we sense the ineffable or unconstructable . . . which we know is vast, ordered, and complex (and numinous to us).  But we know nothing else about natural complex systems intuitively.

Modern research and theorization of complexity is helping us improve the language with which we construct complexity . . . and although this is still a fledgling science (perhaps still something of a pseudoscience at times), it has already helped us increase our valuation of complexity . . . which is essentially a valuation of matter.  But this increase in the valuation of matter runs smack up against the old religious symbols and totems that many of us have literalized.  And that places the literalizers in and among us into conflict with the "new language of the divine", i.e.,  natural complexity.  Many of us are now fighting for our old spiritualistic constructions of the divine against the new constructions . . . but to even wage such a war, one has to be mired in the illusion of one's animistic or projective belief.  The valuation of the idea or signifier of a thing over the thing itself.

That brand of illusion is the core human illusion to see-through.  But what we can learn is that it is not "enlightenment" that allows us to see-through the illusions or constructions of ego, but developments in language.  It is, in essence, fiction that allows us to see more truth.  Just as the fiction of complexity theory (among other modern fictions) helps us better envision the connection between the material and the spiritual.

I don't think that the form of enlightenment-detachment that most enlightenment seekers seek is really allowing them to see-through egoic illusion.  I suspect that what these individuals have found is the numinousness of the experience of that which dwarfs their ego (and its perceptions).  I.e., the feeling of existing as something belonging to a vast complex system . . . as opposed to existing outside it or perceiving it in the conventional, reductive, egoic fashion.  But this feeling or valuation, though profound, is not the same thing as knowing what it is we perceive or feel (nor is it any kind of indication that we can give up our individual willfulness or agency and let the system provide for and direct us . . . as the complex system depends on the willfulness and agency of all of its components).  And to choose feeling of a thing alone over other forms of experiencing it (even the experiencing of things through Maya) is a prejudicial or limited stance . . . and no kind of enlightenment, wholeness, or truth.

The numen-worshiper still fails to experience and relate to the vastness of the real . . . and chooses to valuate certain things at the expense of undervaluing other things (which are equally valuable to the Whole).

Self-denial is a slippery slope.  Even if a self-denier manages this immense task fairly well, s/he will eventually run up against the problem of the very drive s/he possesses (or is possessed by) to self-deny or see-through or detach.  But to detach from that drive is to no longer valuate or seek self-denial.  I would thus propose that the pursuits of enlightenment and self-denial are not apt to lead to any kind of completed spiritual journey.  Rather, they serve as tools that teach us the value of valuation itself . . . and of connectedness, or Eros.  They do this by demonstrating that such spiritual goals do not lead to viable solutions, and that we do not "attain enlightenment" by removing all of our projections and attachments, but by infusing our projections and attachments with consciousness and the valuation of things and Others.  A living in the world through knowing fictions.  This involves the acceptance of imperfection . . . and the accompanying recognition that perfection is not required to live a complete experience.  Imperfection is not a limitation.  The idea that it is, is itself an illusion of Maya, of egoic thinking.

This is, I think, subtly recognized in Jungian thinking (at least in Jung's thinking), and therefore, the incorporation of more severe self-denial into Jungian theory is unlikely (in my opinion) to benefit the theory.  Many Jungians, on the other hand, have never taken their spiritual journeys far enough, or seen-through enough of their precious illusions to understand the limitations of spiritual perfectionism.  That perfectionism still haunts and seduces them as an abstract, imaginal goal.  Many who lack the discipline and drive of the spiritual hero choose (instead of bearing the torment of striving and striving but winning nothing except a greater recognition of emptiness) to totemize the goal and worship what they project into it, but from a very safe distance.

Regrettably, this is commonplace (possibly epidemic) in Jungianism today.  The Jungian Holy Grail, nirvana, or Philosophers' Stone is called "Individuation", and the Jungians tend to admire it safely and abstractly instead of actually doing it.  Therefore, they never even come close to seeing through the Jungian "blandishments" you mention.
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Sealchan

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Re: A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2008, 01:43:27 PM »
Quote
A belated reply. Thanks for your reply. My article addresses the problem of the "Chtonic Trinity" and the "Black Madonna", arguably representing the 'via negationis' of self-denial and 'mortificatio'. It is my argument that the attachment to Jung and Jungian psychology depends on the refusal to accept the 'via negationis' as complementary to the Jungian view. Unlike in Buddhist philosophy, the notion of seeing through the illusions of the world, including the "blandishments" of Jungian thinking, is undeveloped in Western general consciousness. It seems very central in spiritual disciplines, to deliberately "remove all attachments". It seems to me that this concept is brushed aside in Jungian thinking. It could be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

This is why I like Joseph Campbell.  He does not forget about the value of meaninglessness and of emptiness.

from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1510/is_n59/ai_6558182/pg_5

Quote
Right of the Wild Gander, 1969, $7.50 ($8.75 postpaid) from Kampmann & Co., 9 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016; 212/685-2928.

A collection of essays. In one, "Symbol without Meaning," Campbell confronts the modern condition. He contrasts the role of the shaman, "one who, as a consequence of a personal psychological crisis, has gained a certain power of his own," with that of the priest, "the socially initiated, ceremonially inducted member of a recognized religious organization . . ." Commenting on today he writes:

Within the time of our lives, it is highly improbable that any solid rock will be found to which Prometheus can again be durably shackled, or against which those who are not titans will be able to lean with confidence. The creative researches and wonderful daring of our scientists today partake far more of the lion spirit of shamanism than of the piety of priest and peasant. They have shed all fear of the bounding serpent king. And if we are to match their courage, and thus participate joyfully in their world without meaning, we must allow our own spirits to become, like theirs, wild ganders, and fly in timeless, spaceless flight - like the body of the Virgin Mary - not into any fixed heaven beyond the firmament (for there is no heaven out there), but to that seat of experience, simultaneously without and within, where Prometheus and Zeus, I and the Father, the meaninglessness of the sense of existence and the meaninglessness of the meanings of the world, are one.

Although Joseph Campbell has been often quoted as declaring and bemoaning the lack of myth and ritual in modern culture, the above quote seems to suggest that he finds great virtue in our current "predicament" as well.  It is just so hard in the West to give sufficient value to the great meaninglessness and emptiness of the world and its forms.  I don't think we suffer so much from an apparent alienation from the archetypal as we suffer from the confusion of having too many options.  It is as if we have to first elect a mythic form to put on because so many of us are not indoctrinated into a specific myth and then work with it until we understand how it can transform us.  We should not complain that we have to do this because it is the result of all of this cultural work to contain diversity and a democratic multiculturalism. 

But by relating to the emptiness and meaninglessness (perhaps in the west this is accessed via our sense of the existential?) and valuing that we can then create the space and time needed to patiently "grow our own" personal myth and do so in a context that will largely undermine the tribalism (as Matt might say) and all of its vices that have repeated themselves ad nauseum since the formation of tribes and groups and social power systems. 

Its a great case of enantiodromia that the West always seeking to discover the heaven of a great and meaningful method or social system has ended up with the openended and decentralized social system of Democracy where apathy is growing, politicians are shot down for changing their minds (not obeying some consistent philosophy or goal) and many suffer from a sense of the loss of the greatest meaning in the spiritual even as they attend their churches on Sundays.  It is as if ironically the West has trapped itself in a Zen rock garden where we see ourselves and each other as mere physical bodies in endless profusion without individual significance.  In the gray wash of meaningless stone after stone we fail to see the outlines of a quiet, subtle beauty because we are stuck on a spiritual asthetic akin to a Victorian drawing room.


Matt Koeske

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Re: A Blind Spot in Jungian Thinking
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2008, 03:18:57 PM »
Quote
The creative researches and wonderful daring of our scientists today partake far more of the lion spirit of shamanism than of the piety of priest and peasant. They have shed all fear of the bounding serpent king.

Just to keep riding my "Being Difficult Train", I have to red-flag this comment from Campbell.  This characterization of modern scientists is patently absurd.  The sciences bog down in narrow-mindedness and conformity just like any other fields of thought.  Campbell's sentiment, though romantic, is fine . . . but a simple glance at the way government and large corporations have directed modern science can show us that science is not free to research creatively.

Many "discoveries" of great importance made in scientific research are accidental side-effects of the real intentions of the researchers.  And aside from the hindrances of funding, scientists have just as many dogmas and totems as psychologists and poets and everyone else.  They are, after all, human . . . and science doesn't free the from that.  Nor does science tend to lend itself to the kind of innovative creativity that, say, an art field should.  Big Picture, intuitive thinkers are rare in the sciences . . . where studied, painstaking, conservative thought is generally more valuable.

OK, grumbling over.


You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

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