Author Topic: Object Relations as a Complex in Jungianism  (Read 3078 times)

Matt Koeske

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Object Relations as a Complex in Jungianism
« on: November 14, 2008, 03:15:06 PM »
Let me first clarify that I am not very knowledgeable about object relations theory.  I won't pretend to understand its intricacies.  I have an intuitive-emotional reaction to what I have seen of it (mostly as used by Jungians) that is distinctly negative, and I wish to meditate on that while also pondering the attraction of some Jungians to object relations ideas.  I am thoroughly unqualified to make a scholarly study of the relationship between Jungianism and object relations at this time.  And although I generally don't like to rely so heavily on gut reaction for my criticism, this is generally based on my sense of propriety (yes, I do have one!) and not on the error rate of my intuitions.  My experience with my intuition is that it is never entirely wrong, but it is also never entirely accurate.  So in the following, I intend to open a can of worms and have no expectation to solve any problems or offer any solutions.  I simply find the relationship of Jungianism to object relations theory very curious, probably suspicious, and maybe indicative of a complex or dysfunction.  There will no doubt be a higher than average margin of error in my assessment of this situation, for which I apologize.  I can only hope to learn more about this from trial and error (this is how I always learn).  Although I don't expect anyone to correct my errors (no one ever does, regrettably), I am certainly not opposed to that.  My goal is to learn and understand, not to declare or control knowledge to my personal benefit.  But, of course, I have an antagonistic method of self-education.  It has generally served me well even if it hasn't won me many friends, so I'll stick with it.

Before I get to the relationship between Jungianism and object relations theory, I'd like to remark upon a particular past experience with psychoanalysis.  Although I have never been a Freudian and was indoctrinated into some of the same anti-Freudian prejudices that other Jungians have been, I have read at least half of Freud's works (although it's been a while).  I had a course in Freud in graduate school taught by a Freudian analyst, and although I was branded as "The Jungian" by her from the first day and told that Jung was a Nazi (and by implication, I was accused of being a Nazi sympathizer for this reason . . . in a class where I was one of only two students that weren't Jewish) and "Freud's disappointing son" . . . I found Freud's writing very interesting.  He was a great writer of literary merit (as was Jung) and a pleasure to read.  I also identified very much with Freud's bravado and desire to turn everything on its head.  Perhaps this was also a shortcoming, such as when he insisted that "we must make an unshakable bulwark of the sexual theory" . . . but I very much sympathize with his innovative urge and ability to voice these innovations from within the intelligence of the shadow.  Of course, I have a similar method of thinking and writing.

For my course on Freud, I wrote my final paper on the Freud/Jung Letters (as my professor requested I do).  The premise of that paper was that both Freud and Jung were stuck in and thought from the position of conflicting complexes.  Freud's complex was paternal (not a "father complex", but a complex in which he over-identified with the persona of the Father), patriarchal, and distinctly Jewish (in his Mosaic way of bringing his psychoanalytic commandments heroically down from Mt. Sinai and roaring ferociously at any who disobeyed them).  Jung's psychology (as he himself essentially admitted, e.g., when he mused about Freud meaning "pleasure" and Jung meaning "youth" and each of their psychologies reflecting this synchronocity) is a psychology of the Son, of the puer aeternus.  It is obsessed with the issues and attitudes of the Son (just as psychoanalysis is obsessed with the issues and attitudes of the Father).  Jungian analytical psychology is distinctly Christian, and Jung's reaction to Freud (that facilitated their split) was the reaction of a Christian or even Christ-identified son to the Pharisaic law of the Fathers.

The "diseases" each man suffered were the diseases of their respective Jewish-Father and Christian-Son complexes (Jung's Answer to Job is an excellent expression of Jung's personal psychology on this matter).  Freud was paranoid about overthrow and very controlling of his disciples, his flock.  He felt that his most precious thing was his authority, and he sought to defend this at all costs.  Which means that he could not very well bend, certainly not if that bending was suggested by others.  Only if the Word of God came out of the burning bush calling for change could Freud manage to change (and he did so on a number of issues throughout his life).  Jung's disease (which I have been calling the "Jungian Disease" in my book in progress, Memoirs of My Jungian Disease: The Anima Work and the Individuant's Inflation) was the Christian disease of inflation and the conflict with the self-deification taboo.  Jung's academic and personal spiritual interests were largely directed at self-transcendence, attainment, becoming.  The devil for Jung is inflation and the model of the hero is not Moses but Christ.  Christ was persecuted and put to death for his inflation, as the story goes.  He declared himself a king (or was accused of such an offense by his enemies) and threatened the power of Rome and the Pharisaic high priests.

In this paper on the Freud/Jung Letters, I discussed how this Jewish/Christian drama played out between Freud and Jung (and their respective schools) much as it did in the history of the religious conflict between the two faiths.  Both men behaved as if they were thoroughly entrenched in or even possessed by their respective Jewish-Father and Christian-Son complexes.  The Letters read like an archetypal drama.  And even if such complexes or archetypes possessed both Freud and Jung during their relationship, what's at least as interesting is that each psychological "faith" continued very much along the same lines as the complexes of these founders would suggest.  That is, each school has a long and complicated shadow based in the elements of its complex that were never sufficiently reckoned with.  Jung managed to move on from the almost whiny petulance that characterized some of his letters to Freud to exhibit some degree of public respect and decorum when writing about the value of Freud's influence (this respect was of course not reciprocated).  But the shadow of the Child or Son has never been adequately dealt with in Jungian psychology.


This issue seems to have relevance to the topic of this post (thanks to my intuition for steering me through a digression toward meaning).  Primarily because the introduction of object relations theory into contemporary Jungianism most likely came as a result of a gaping hole in Jungian theory where a developmental psychology might be.  I.e., Jungianism had no real psychology of children . . . and this was felt (by many Jungians) to be an Achilles Heel, maybe even a fatal flaw, a shameful wound.  I think it's reasonable to say that Jungians had (and may still have) something like an "inferiority complex" regarding their deficient developmental psychology.  The interest in filling in the developmental gap in Jungian theory seems to have begun with a feeling that "we really should have some kind of credible developmental theory".  [I never got around to reading Michael Fordham, who is probably the original bridge between psychoanalysis and analytical psychology and the father of the movement to introduce a developmental psychology to Jungian thinking.  He's on my list for future reading.]

My concern is that it is very slippery to begin any such gap-filling in a pre-condition of inferiority or shame.  That pre-condition assures that the gap can only be adequately filled with intense and probably painful self-reflection and self-reckoning, with a movement of individuation and a significant amount of shadow work.  Without such analytical efforts, we can be assured that what fills the gap will have neurotic or pathological qualities, that it will be, at least in part, complex-driven and an article of Bad Faith.  I haven't yet come across any writing in the Jungian canon that addresses this problem.  It almost seems as if a group of Jungians gobbled up object relation theory without asking any existential or self-analytical questions about the implications of adopting a theory that is 1.) associated with Freudian psychoanalysis, and 2.) essentially contradictory to the Jungian theory of adult psychology.

There was tribal splintering in the Jungian societies around the time that object relations theory was being incorporated, and although one (like myself) who isn't in the know about the inner goings on might well conclude that the object relations issue might have been one of the divisive factors (whether consciously or unconsciously), I have yet to find any clear indication of this in the literature I've read.  Andrew Samuels (Jung and the Post-Jungians [1985]) proposed that the Jungian splinter tribes could be loosely classified as the Classical school, the Developmental school, and the Archetypal school.  My own Jungian indoctrination (perhaps like that of many others) did not fit neatly into this division.  One could say that I was oriented toward the Classical school, because I put a great deal of emphasis on Jung's own writings (which were significantly more meaningful to me that the writings of other Jungians).  But since the Classical school that Samuels proposes is a Post-Jungian school, and I never had all that much interest or respect for Jung's immediate and closest followers (with occasional exceptions), I suppose I am not really Classical.  In fact, much of my criticism is aimed at the Classical school's ideas of Jungianism.  But in my choice to criticize this school more than the others, I essentially align myself with its specific shadow.  I am in this sense a heretic of the Classical school.

I have also been distinctly influenced by James Hillman, and although I have sympathies with the Archetypal school (e.g., I like Hillman's heretical or anti-Classical forays), I have never been in any way a Hillman groupie and have maintained a clearly equivocal stance on Hillman's ideas.  I like Hillman as a critic of Jungian Classicism but I'm not much influenced by Hillman as an original theorist.

But the Developmental school, I freely admit, was never on my radar.  It has only been very recently that I have been noticing its ideas and personalities in Jungian thought.  Perhaps this is due in part to my academic interest in Jungian psychology being a fairly recent trend in my life.  For years, my interest in Jungian literature was entirely practical.  If I could apply it to my life and healing, use it as a tool or an aid to help give language to my experience, then I consumed it ravenously.  But the many Jungian books (mostly from the Classical school) that I started reading and found non-plussing were books I merely filed away on my shelf and never returned to.

I would like to think that I am a more or less non-affiliated Jungian, and that my criticism comes from a non-affiliated perspective.  I would suspect that any criticism of one splinter school by another is inherently tainted (although not necessarily invalid).  Probably, each school is a more or less functional critic of the others . . . but not of itself.  And to the degree that aspects of Jungianism are shared across all splinter tribes, each tribe would be relatively unaware of its shadow (the Jungian shadow).  As I am neither a critic nor a follower of Freud. I have not concerned myself with criticizing Freudian or post-Freudian ideas.  But with the strong Freudian influence on the Developmental school of Jungianism, this Freudianism (as it pertains to and affects Jungianism) must be taken into account.

What's more, in Andrew Samuel's revisitation of Jung and the Post-Jungians in an article entitled "Will the Post-Jungians Survive?" (published in Post-Jungians Today: Key Papers in Contemporary Analytical Psychology [1998]), he proposes that the state of the splinter tribes has developed even further and produced a fourth school.

Quote from: Andrew Samuels
As I see it, now, there are four schools of post-Jungian analytical psychology. The classical and the developmental schools have stayed pretty much as they were. The archetypal school has been either integrated or eliminated as a clinical entity - perhaps a bit of both. But there are two new schools to consider, each of which is an extreme version of one of the two hitherto existing schools, classical and developmental. I call these two extreme versions Jungian fundamentalism on the one hand and Jungian merger with psychoanalysis on the other. The four schools could be presented on a spectrum: fundamentalist, classical, developmental, psychoanalytic.

This would imply that my intuition that the re-introduction of Freudianism to Jungianism has come in an un- or under-analyzed manner may be quite valid.  That is, if Jungianism has an increasingly Freudian branch that has polarized with an increasingly fundamentalist classical branch, we could suspect this to be indicative of a dissociation in the collective Jungian psyche.  Why, for instance, has Jungianism polarized (between 1985 and 1998 at least) if it is not in some sense "sick", if it does not have a shadow issue clogging up its ability to integrate and function as a healthy interrelated system?

There are various reasons that a reintroduction of Freudianism would make the Jungian collective body ill or dissociated.  For one, it is like a return to the Father that the Son defined himself by rejecting.  It is the myth of the Prodigal Son, but from the Father's perspective.  "You have strayed and fallen, but now you have returned to the fold.  Now the son has become the father and is ready to live as the father or under the father's wing."  This is not the kind of prodigality that changes the prodigal utterly.  It's a kind of regression.  The Prodigal Son turns into the Good Son.  That transformation would seem to invalidate all the reasons for the Son leaving the Father's tribe in the first place.  Prodigality (from the perspective of the Good Son) is only a mistake, a period of temporary insanity that can be cured only by a complete repentance and return to square one.  In this fantasy of the Good Son (and the Father that urges that Goodness), the Father doesn't have to change.  Father and Son do not mutually move toward a synthesis.  Father assimilates son.  Such assimilation of the Son is extremely Freudian and has no real place in the Jungian mindset (except as pathology).

Another major incompatibility between Freudianism and Jungianism involves (perhaps the most important psychological issue at hand) the focus on infantile psychology vs. the focus on adult psychology respectively.  It may very well be true that Jung's theory did not adequately address developmental psychology, but it can equally be said that Freud's psychology did not adequately address adult psychology.  One gets the impression from the Freud/Jung Letters that Jung wanted to "grow up", even if he didn't yet know how.  He did not want to be a Son assimilated by the Father and forever reduced to an infantile psychology.  Of course, in his petulance and puerism, he (from the Freudian perspective) merely confirmed that he was indeed still immature (perhaps in some sense "infantile").  That is, he did not behave like a man in his correspondence with Freud, but like an adolescent who wanted desperately and vaguely to leave the nest but didn't know how to accomplish this without burning everything around him to the ground.

Jung always strove for the elaboration of an adult psychology in compensation for Freud's infantile emphasis.  But Jung and his followers have never overcome the Core Complex of the Jungian Son psychology.  Jungian psychology never completely rose to the level of an adult psychology, and its pretensions to declare itself a psychology of mid-life are (as I have argued elsewhere) the product of inflation.  More accurately (as I have also written about elsewhere on the forum on various occasions), Jungian psychology is a distinctly adolescent psychology . . . and it flounders at the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.  It is rich in transcendent fantasies, but poor in the realm of more earthy initiation.  It's adoration and emulation of the senex wise man and woman is awkward and fraught with delusions that betray its shadowy puer nature.  But as an adolescent psychology, it does attempt to address a more mature perspective than Freud's infantile psychology.

Yet, the adolescent remains in unconscious conflict with the infantile.  The Infant plagues the adolescent mind, oscillating between the role of ball and chain and the role of comforting retreat under the skirts of the Mother.  The Infant is a problem and a temptation to the adolescent mind that initiation into adulthood is meant to resolve.  As I've written elsewhere (and have been reformulating for my book), the animi work is the archetypal or instinctual process of such an initiation or transition.  And the failure of Jungians (of all schools) to adequately understand and implement the animi work has marked what could be perceived as the victory of the Dark Infant over the Adolescent with an initiation hunger.  This can be perceived from the perspective of the Freudian Father or Good Son disciple as a glorious victory.  It indicates an "I Told You So" moment of sub-conscious gloating.  "You thought you could break away and go learn how to become a man!  Well, look at you now . . . you are still the infant you always were and could never accept because you were too proud!"

To the Father, the Fall of the puer is an indication that the Infant is the destiny and grounding of rebellious, adolescent ambition.  This Father sees adulthood as a failure of adolescence to escape its infantilism followed by a resignation to that infantilism, which is then repressively controlled by strict paternalism.  This is very much the Freudian attitude.  Freud and his followers have always seen the attempts of other people (Jungians included) to transcend their infantilism or infantile appetites as foolish and misguided denials of the Truth.  This is the method that Freud used to remain uncritical of his own sexual theory.  It's a purely emotional and irrational attitude that basically states that any disagreement with the infantilism of Freud's theory is a product of the too-proud individual's refusal to see how lowly his psychic roots really are.  It's a one size fits all response to dissent, and it never requires reflection on the part of Freudians.  It's a dogma, a Law, a Mosaic Law.  It is taboo and to question it.  This is probably the most powerful element of the Freudian shadow.

But when we try to examine this shadow dogma from the perspective of a Son psychology that has failed to transition from adolescence to adulthood, that has failed to "conquer the Infant inside it", the Father dogma of Freudianism is a terrible threat and curse.  It threatens to possess the uninitiated puer with shame.  This shame is easily mistaken for grounding, for "realism", even at times for science or materialism.  A failure of the adolescent to find a real threshold of initiation into adulthood can only be understood in Freudian Father psychology as an indication that the transcendence (or passing through) of initiation is impossible.  Psychologically, and on the level of feeling, this amounts to a succumbing to and assimilation by the Father.  The puer Son tried to ascend, while the Father screamed out, "You stupid runt!  Don't you know you can never get away from the Mother, from the Breast?!  You are nailed to your fate like Oedipus, and you can only become the Father that I am, only repeat the cycle of fate where your failure becomes a dark secret that shames you and keeps your nose to the grindstone.  You can never escape, and any attempt to do so is nothing but a delusion."

The curse of the Demonic Father in this case is torment to the puer so long as the puer remains stuck in the puer complex.  If he accepts the full extent of his puerism, both the light and the dark, he can find his way to the threshold.  At the threshold, he can face the Infant in him and let go of it enough to pass through.  But if he remains terrified and ashamed of his infantilism to an extreme degree, so terrified that he can't even look at it directly, then he will be imprisoned in the puer complex.  In that imprisonment, he will yearn for the fantasy of the senex, the wise and evolved man who has mastered the Infant (and in Jungian language also the anima), and he will construct this fantasy of wisdom, transcendence, and maturity in the way that an adolescent imagines such qualities and states of being.  That is, the adolescent fantasy of the senex lacks the earthiness of real maturity, wisdom, and initiation.  It imagines the senex too perfectly as a conquerer of his "lesser self" (or Infant or anima or Parent), as one who never falters, who doesn't suffer because he "Knows".  In other words, the senex has supposedly overcome the weakness or impotency of the puer.  This is, of course, ridiculous.  It would be much more accurate (although overly simplistic) to say that the initiated adult has accepted his or her impotence rather than conquered it.  Accepted but not made a secret, repressive totem of this impotence, which tends to produce an inflated egoism.  Our impotence can be lived through "heroically" in a way that doesn't involve repressing or conquering it.  It is the conquering egoic fantasy that is sacrificed at the threshold of initiation, not the true, more vegetal potency that comes from a healthy and functional ego/Self relationship, from an acceptance of the necessity of facilitating instinct.

Freudian and Jungian thinking fall into similar traps at the threshold of initiation, but each mindset takes a different attitude toward that initiation failure.  The Jungian clings to identification with the Child/adolescent and harbors a secret inferiority regarding his or her failure to stop loving the Child's position and sense of romantic hope (and illicit Mother-desire).  The Freudian more fully represses the romantic puerism and harbors no real hope for its transcendence or escape from the Mother.  Freudianism essentially denies the adolescent drive to break away from both Mother and Father.  The Freudian sees the inner world in terms of the Infant imagined to have id-like drives that can only be dealt with repressively.  That is, there is no hope in the Freudian paradigm for the Infant's maturation.  The Infant is a fixture of the psyche and cannot be transformed, only bargained with in a parental fashion, fed or starved, rewarded or punished.  The Infant remains like an animal that can at best be domesticated and leashed.  It never grows up, never develops real intelligence or sophistication.

But the failure of initiation in the Jungian mindset and the twilight recognition and fear of the resultant inferiority feelings . . . this whole puer/senex complex provides the Freudian Father with an ace in the hole.  And of course I mean the Jungian shadow fantasy of such a Freudian Father.  This Father can castrate (shame) the Son because of the complex . . . and this metaphor also plays directly into Freud's construct and language, seemingly supporting his theory.  But this mythic or archetypal dynamic cannot be admitted to by Jungians as it would require a confrontation with shame and a sacrifice of pride.  It would melt our wax wings, and we are so desperately dependent on their success.  Yet, without this admission, the adoption of Freudian infantile psychologies monkeys with the puer complex that Jungians have not dealt with, triggers its feelings of inferiority, and opens it up to possession by the archetypal or neurotic forces active in the complex.  I would argue that Jungians are unconsciously seducible by this Freudian infantilism regardless of whether or not it has any psychological value.

This construction of the complex and the predicament would also give an explanation for why the Jungian tribe has been increasingly splintering and dissociating.  Jungianism does not know what it has eaten, and what it has eaten is poisonous.  It is not poisonous of itself or universally, but it is poisonous to Jungianism due to the baggage it carries and the unresolved puer complex the Jungianism suffers from.
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Object Relations as a Complex in Jungianism
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2008, 03:48:08 PM »
It is therefore not all that surprising that the pathologizing language of object relations theory is being increasingly adopted by Jungians.  It tugs on our shame strings, yanks us by the family jewels.  We can't resist the way it punishes us for our puerism.  Our interest in object relations theory is (in some sense) a perversion.  Or at least a sexual fetish, something akin to sexual masochism.  It constitutes an acting out or materialization of an unresolved and dissociated complex in the Jungian psyche.  Even as I use these extreme terms of description, I don't mean to suggest that object relations theory is an absolute crock.  It is a viable (although I think, flawed) attempt to make sense of the foundation of the psyche through the study of infant psychology.  But the construct of the Infant used in object relations is arguably the construct of an adult fantasy of the Infant (and the infantile mind), and this has not been sufficiently debated and analyzed by many of the Jungians adopting the construct.  Do we adults really know the infant psyche or can we know it from observing infant behaviors?

What if the Infant in object relations theory is an adult fantasy and projection?  Could this ever be an acceptable revision in a psychoanalytic psychotherapy, a deconstruction of the adult construction of the Infant?  Or does too much depend upon this construct remaining a totem belief that cannot be questioned?  If we cannot really know the infant mind, can the construct of the Infant used in object relationship theory ever be proved or disproved?  Is it falsifiable?  What assumptions is its hypothesis dependent on?  How much concern is their in psychoanalysis that the construction of the Infant is actually valid and accurate and not a fantasy?  It seems to me that the psychoanalytic Infant is every bit as unknowable and fantastic as the Jungian construction of the collective unconscious.  Are both the psychoanalytic Infant and the Jungian collective unconscious articles of faith?  Can these potential articles of faith be used as paradigms to explain other psychic phenomena?

Even if the Infant could be proved a viable hypothesis, this does not in any way indicate that adult psychology can best be understood through the language and assumptions of that hypothesis.  Although it doesn't stop Jungians of the developmental and psychoanalytic schools from indulging in the appropriation of complexity theory, it seems to me that the construction of the psyche based on the Infant cannot accord with our understanding of the behavior of complex, dynamic, and adaptive systems.  That is, in a complex system that functions as a whole, that is more (and different) than the sum of its parts, should we dissemble those parts, there will be no more emergent whole.  If we, therefore, break down the functions of the psyche to infantile drives and object relations, are we really talking about the same emergent whole (i.e., the adult psyche)?  Perhaps the adult psyche is what it is because of its complexity, its complexly interrelated organization, it dynamism, its constantly fluctuating homeostatic self-regulating, and its ability to adapt to extreme change by reorganizing itself.  If we were to talk about such complex systems as constructed of their quantum elements, would this ever really or satisfactorily explain the behavior of the whole system?  Complexity theory seems to state very clearly that such an understanding by deconstruction is not possible.

To put it another way, perhaps we can isolate or construct the isolation of a quantum component in the adult psyche . . . say an infantile desire for the "Good Breast" or an infantile rage against the "Bad Breast".  But as that quantum component is interrelated with neighboring components that together (in a subsystem) produce our experience of a specific psychic phenomenon, can we truly describe and understand that phenomenon as a logical and linear product of its quantum components?  Is "meaning" only in the emergent interrelationality of these quantum components and subsystems?  In postmodern literary criticism (which has been influence by Freud through Lacan), language can be deconstructed until all meaning disappears, and meaning is therefore thought to not be innate but to be constructed by linguistic and cultural agreements.  Although I have various gripes with postmodern literary theories, it seems to me that the psychoanalytic paradigm attempts to explain the whole as equivalent to the sum of its parts . . . and the psyche, like the brain, like so many complex, natural systems, like life is not comprehendible in these terms.

One thing we know with certainty is that memory is complex.  When memory was thought of as a kind of computer hard drive that stores or files away encoded data, perhaps the psychoanalytic idea of psyche could appear viable.  The pieces of the psyche could seem to be called up from the static place where they lie dormant until needed.  But contemporary neuroscience and cognitive sciences have moved distinctly away from this database construction of memory.  Memory cannot me reduced to its elements, even as it demonstrates some elementalism or quantum nature, because memory is dynamic, fluctuating, constantly organizing and reorganizing.  It is the product of its interrelationality.  Our experience of memory (and what neuroscientists now call memory has taken on the same connotations as what depth psychologists call psyche) is not a quantum or elementally differentiated one but an emergent one.

I don't mean to advocate a conventional Jungian model of psyche over a conventional Freudian model.  But I do feel that the psychoanalytic construction of psyche is too simplistic . . . and that object relations is too simplistic a language with which to functionally understand adult psychology.

Samuels writes:
Quote
The analytical relationship is understood mainly in terms of the mother-infant dyad - what I call mammocentrism - in which nutrition, and the relationship of mouth and breast, or mouth and nipple, is regarded as the paradigm for understanding what is going on between the analysing pair.

He advocates a "whole-of-life psychology - not just a psychology of the nursery, the first three years, the first six months, pre-birth, birth, whatever".  This is not only a reasonable thing to advocate it should be expected from any scientifically-inclined psychology.  The reason for psychoanalytic reductionism is not a scientific but a religious one.  Even if it can be scientifically substantiated that infant/mother or early object relations are important (even all-important) factors in the formation of neural networks in the brain and the foundation of any future personality, it does not scientifically follow that the subsequent neural organization and reorganization of the brain and personality is absolutely or even significantly restricted or largely determined by those early object relations.  The infantilism of object relations psychology is similar to a kind of creationism where everything is preordained and established in whole (perhaps even including fake dinosaur fossils!) before "life" begins.  Life itself (or, more scientifically, evolution) is not imbued with creative force in this creationist view.  Only God can create life, can wind up the clockwork universe and let it rip.  In object relations, God is the Mother (or merely the Breast) and the instinctual Infant as pair.  This pair winds up the clockwork psyche that continues to run more or less according to its initial design, or at least within its initial parameters.

This does away with emergence, complexity, accumulative iteration, the conjunction and interrelation of various systems.  Dynamic life in general is neutered of its ability to make and affect.  Matter takes a seat decidedly behind Law.

I see it as part of the Freudian tradition to make fallacious claims to scientific credibility.  Even though Freud talked about instinct, sex, materiality, and advocated a reductionism that resembled scientific reductionism (especially Darwinian reductionism [more accurately, elegance] in the theory of evolution by natural selection), these things were given more religious than truly scientific use in Freudian theory.  Outside of psychoanalysis, in neuroscience and evolutionary biology for instance, the psychoanalytic use of science (scientism) is not employed or considered functional.  One is forced to wonder if the psychoanalytic tendency to wear the many-colored coat of scientism is not some kind of compensation for an attitude that is too religious to be deemed tolerant by Freudian dogmas.  We (Jungians) should not be taken in by the way science is often used and postured in writing influenced by the psychoanalytic school.  The use of scientific data must still be evaluated, weighed, deemed logically pertinent.  We still have to think like scientists in order to be scientific.  The citation of data does not inherently make us so.  And as obvious as this is when phrased this way, we should take a closer look at the way psychoanalysis has classically used scientific claims fallaciously to bolster its supposed rationalism and reputation.  Have the psychoanalytic psychotherapies that employ object relations theories definitely outgrown this pathological habit?  The Jungians should not be kowtowed by scientistic posturing.  This bowing down before the use of scientific or scientific-sounding data without actually analyzing and assessing that data and the way it is being employed merely demonstrates a sense of inferiority on the part of many Jungians.

We cannot continue to either blindly accept or blindly reject scientific data and theories in Jungian psychology.  We must actually think about how these scientific employments are being used in our thinking.  It is not the data that makes us scientific, but the method of approaching that data.  And these two things must be differentiated.  To be "scientifically-minded" is a much greater challenge to the human individual than merely using scientific data.  The use of scientific data without such scientific-mindedness is a likely indication that some complex or pathology is afoot.


I'll conclude by briefly bringing up the issue of what we (as Jungians) can or "should" do.  In the event that my theory that our adoption of object relations theory is complex-driven and has contributed to a poisonous dissociation in our collective psyche is at least somewhat valid, what could we really do at this point?  Those who have embraced psychoanalytic ideas the most (and without understanding the kinds of psychological implications of doing so that I have mentioned above) are unlikely to see these adoptions as poisonous or want to take a step back from them to do some shadow work.  I don't expect anything that I write from my tiny pulpit in the shadows to matter or even be heard by the Jungian community.  But I do think this subject should be more openly and widely discussed.  We should at least be able to admit that it is incongruous and somewhat suspicious that we have been silently adopting Freudian or post-Freudian ideas without significant reflection on or discussion of the ramification of such adoptions.  Even if we ultimately decide that the adoption of psychoanalytic ides into a Jungian psychological system is fine and harmless as long as it works (and we feel and can demonstrate that is does in fact work), more discussion would still be beneficial

Due to the powerful archetypal conflict between the founders of psychoanalysis and analytical psychology (one even wonders if the choice of the English translators of Jung's psychology to use the psychoanalysis-resembling "analytical psychology" over Jung's intended "complex psychology" is not inferiority-influenced), any movement by one to adopt elements of the other should not be euphemized and simplified as a "healthy synthesis".  If we know anything as Jungians, it's that the conflict of Opposites is never resolved in synthesis by rational means.  The union of Opposites is always (as the alchemists demonstrated so well) a process of complex convolution.  The conscious mind cannot wrap itself around such a Coniunctio, as there are numerous unconscious elements also at play in such synthesis.  We Jungians can no more copy and paste psychoanalytic ideas into Jungian theory without convolution and ethical/psychological processing than the alchemists could have thrown mercury, sulfur, and salt into a pot, cooked it for half an hour and produced the Philosopher's Stone.  The fact that many Jungians naively believe that Freudian psychologies can be so nonchalantly used in conjunction with Jungian ones demonstrates in itself a massive failing of Jungian intelligence.  Shouldn't we know better?  Aren't we equipped to better understand the complexities of such synthetic projects than our behavior has demonstrated?

It seems to me that in order to be this naive and to latch on to Freudianism so casually and unthinkingly, we would have to first forget our Jungianism, forget what we have learned, what our tradition has taught us.  Is that not a castration of the Son by the Father . . . or even a self-castration of the Son on behalf of the fantasy of the Father?  I think Jungians should be much more concerned with their temptation to embrace Freudianism than with what (if anything) such Freudianism really has to offer Jungian thought.  Our first question should be: "Why do we want this?"

Of course, this needed to be asked decades ago.  I'm sure it was contemplated in perhaps vaguer terms (if not precisely how I have defined it).  I'm sure, also, that it kind of sneaked up on us.  Time and again I find myself writing essays and rants at Useless Science in which the basic theme is: we haven't done our shadow work . . . or, we need to do some shadow work.  The theme is not merely my own personal obsession (though I don't deny it is also this).  This is the primary theme of our collective personality as Jungians.  We have not done enough shadow work, and we are starting to break down, decohere, dissociate, go extinct.  We have not lived in a survivable manner, and we are reaping the rewards of our laziness or flightiness.  I don't know what to say or write to help Jungians realize that they have not done enough of their share of shadow work.  But I feel that the valuation of shadow work in general is an important and extensive part of our psychological theory.  We are perfectly well-equipped to do this shadow work.  Our minds are good enough, and we are suffering the anxiety of dissociation significantly enough to be ass-kicked by the Self in shadow garb to start moving toward change.  I do not see Jungians as inherently hypocritical or stupid.

But something has darted out of the grass and poisoned us.  The little fangs of the serpent.  And we are the eternal partner of that serpent, the puer aeternus, the little boy.  It seems to me that the Jungian vice that has prevented us from doing our due shadow work is puer petulance.  Not exactly laziness.  There's a pride issue involved as well . . . and an unwillingness to sacrifice our puer wings or perhaps the Mother's Breast.  We are like the child who won't eat his vegetables.  We love our candy (spiritualism, fantasy, Eastern philosophies, mandalas, synchronicity, etc.), but we are not fond of anything nutritious.

Certainly the acceptance of the shadow work I'm proposing was and is every bit as challenging for me as it is for any Jungian.  It didn't come to me without a great deal of my resistance and refusal.  And what I have done has noticeably darkened me, made me heretical, offensive, and annoying to the Jungian ear.  The way I write and cast out my opinions seems to act out the very petulance I am accusing other Jungians of concealing.  It is easy, therefore, to say: he is merely talking about himself, not about me.  This is one of those inevitable imperfections we acquire from actually doing that shadow work.  To do this shadow work is not equivalent to killing the puer.  It is much closer to finding him a job, something to do to contribute to a family, cause, or tribe.  I am not suggesting that we hunt our shadow puers down and force them to grow up until they turn into senexes.  I think what we need to realize, and will realize when we do this shadow work, is that the conscious employment of the dark puer and trickster is not going to destroy our ability to function.  It will actually revitalize us.  Our puerism employed may end up provoking us to do or say things we regret or are ashamed of or wish to repent for, that's true.  But if we keep these puers chained in our dungeons they will continue to work their voodoo without our knowing or understanding why.  They will serve up our family jewels to those who do not have our survivability in mind.  By imprisoning the Child, we are cutting off our genetic input, throwing away our procreative powers.  Instead of merely having our petulance and puer flights annoy us, we are assuring that they will destroy us.

We have stumbled upon the ultimate puer philosophy: the idea that death is the answer to life.  We are not behaving like people whose lives and livelihood are in their own hands.  We are not behaving as people who feel a social responsibility to maintain the welfare of their tribe.  We love the romantic idea of ourselves as shamans, but we will not allow any functional shamanism within our own tribe.  By functional shamanism, I mean attitudes that are collectively healing or treating and oriented toward the survivability of the group.  The shamanic influence in the tribe encourages it to reorganize itself rather than splinter, and when that shamanic influence is too indistinct and impotent, tribal splintering will result where integrative reorganization could have worked.  If we do continue to break into four (or more) splinter tribes (as Samuels says), each one will be a frail shard of something that was once whole and strong.  It is unlikely that they will all survive . . . or that whatever essential soul has thus far defined Jungianism will survive.

Perhaps reintegration at this stage is too romantic a hope to hold on to . . . but I for one am interested in a reintegrative momentum, the imagining of a revised Jungianism that can be integrated and survivable without relinquishing its uniquely Jungian soul.  I think this kind of revisioning and reorganization is possible . . . if highly improbable.  It seems to me, at the very least, something worth aspiring to, a Goal worth fantasizing, a worthy Philosophers Stone to pursue and not mere charcoal burning and lead-gilding.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]