Category: <span>Stein, Murray</span>

This interview with Murray Stein by Jan Weiner, published in the Journal of Analytical Psychology, is available for streaming on YouTube. This page includes a description of the interview and links to the YouTube videos. From the description:

The JAP has been interviewing senior and distinguished members of the Jungian community for a number of years now. We have in the past interviewed John Beebe, Fred Plaut and James Astor and we are soon to present an interview with Jean Knox; these interviews are available in printed form in the Journal, although the interviews with John Beebe and Fred Plaut were also filmed and are available on YouTube: John Beebe’s interview, discussing homophobia, his book Integrity in Depth, and The Red Book, is available in three parts (click on the highlighted parts of the text).

Here we are very pleased to make available a video of the interview of Murray Stein, conducted by Jan Wiener. The interview took place in Murray’s consulting room in Zurich in October 2018; the text of the interview is printed in the June 2019 edition of the Journal.

The video is in four parts:

In the first part, Murray talks with Jan Wiener about his early life with his family in Saskatchewan, Canada – his father was a pastor. He then discusses how he discovered Jung and was led to becoming a Jungian Analyst. For the video click here.

In the second part, Murray talks about why Jung isn’t more honoured in Zurich, his training in Zurich at the time, his analysts and teachers, including Marie-Louise von Franz, James Hillman, Barbara Hannah, Yolanda and Mario Jacobi, Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig and others; then moving to Houston and starting a family and his work writing and founding the publishing house Chiron. For the video click here.

In the third part, Murray talks about editing and writing, the thread of individuation through his work, and spirituality, Buddhism and dreams. He also talks about new writing projects, a play, his collected works, his time in the IAAP, the Router Programme, the Analytical Psychology community and the painful split in the Zurich trainings. For the video click here.

In the final, brief part of the interview Murray talks about the future of the work, the trainings in Zurich, moving back to Zurich, and his work and life in Zurich now, as well as what he might be remembered for. For the video click here

Murray Stein, PhD is a training analyst at the International School for Analytical Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland. His publications include The Principle of Individuation, Jung’s Map of the Soul, and The Edinburgh International Encyclopaedia of Psychoanalysis (Editor of the Jungian sections, with Ross Skelton as General Editor). He lectures internationally on topics related to Analytical Psychology and its applications in the contemporary world. Dr. Stein is a graduate of Yale University (B.A. and M.Div.), the University of Chicago (Ph.D., in Religion and Psychological Studies), and the C.G. Jung Institut-Zurich. He is a founding member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts. He has been the president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (2001-4), and is presently a member of the Swiss Society for Analytical Psychology and President of the International School of Analytical Psychology, Zurich.


Links: Murray Stein’s Website | Murray Stein’s recorded lectures at the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago | Journal of Analytical Psychology YouTube channel | Subscribe to the JAP

Interviews Stein, Murray Video Wiener, Jan

The midlife period in most advanced countries worldwide today the average life expectancy for males extends to their mid- to late seventies and for women to their early to mid-eighties. Of course, this varies from place to place and depends very much on socio-economic factors that fluctuate broadly with world historical events such as revolutions, wars, economic depressions, and so forth. But on the whole and in average circumstances, the midway point of life for both sexes falls in the period between thirty-five and forty-five years of age. Why is this noteworthy, especially for psychotherapists?

Often midlife is a profoundly transformational period in personal identity for both women and men. Sometimes this takes the form of the famous “crisis,” but often it is not something quite so dramatic. I have come to think of it instead as a potential second birth of adult identity, the first having taken place between late adolescence and the thirtieth year. And birth is sometimes traumatic, and so one speaks of it as a “crisis” with justification. But even if not a fullblown crisis, it may signal a subtle transition in a person’s sense of self and identity.

About the timing of this transformation process, one cannot be quite so precisely mathematical. Some people seem to experience this on the early end of the midlife period, and many others on the other end and in their late forties. The timing is quite variable and depends on a number of factors coalescing that bring it to a point. What happened earlier in the person’s line of development out of childhood through adolescence and into adulthood is of importance in this. Generally speaking, the storms of life catch people by surprise, and the midlife tumult is no exception even if people are somewhat prepared to expect something big nowadays due to the extensive press coverage the midlife crisis has received in the decades of the late twentieth century.

It is also the case that some people do not undergo a midlife transformation at any time, any more than that everyone achieves a solid and meaningful adult identity. This is not a given. Some people show serious developmental arrest in early childhood attitudes or in adolescence, for example, and for such people there is no midlife transformation to speak of, but rather a continuous and prolonged identity as a partially adult person with striking childish or adolescent features remaining in place to the end of their lives. For these people, aging is real only in a physical sense but not psychologically, and even at the physical level it can staved off quite well and for a lengthy period of time given enough money for cosmetic surgery and other forms of anti-aging treatment. For people who make the transitions from childhood into adulthood successfully and more or less fully, however, aging is a psychological as well as a physical process. Psychologically, as one gets older one also becomes more complex and – dare we say it? – more mature and perhaps even attains to a level of wisdom in later years. Most importantly, one achieves a defined identity that extends beyond the early one of late adolescence and early adulthood. This later form of adult identity I call the personality’s “imago.” It takes form as the result of one or more transformations in and around the midlife period.

The Two Halves of Life – Achievement of Conventionality, Development of Individuality

The midlife phase of the lifelong psychological developmental process, which in Jungian circles we refer to as individuation, marks the turning point from the first half of life into the second. The lifespan as a whole can be divided into two more or less equal (in duration) parts, a first and a second half. This is an important image to keep in mind when considering the meaning of the midlife transition. Each half of life has its own proper projects, tasks, and challenges, and they are different. The tasks of the first half have to do with growing up physically and mentally and with attaining the social stature of an adult member of one’s community, willing and able to take responsibility for the tasks of adulthood – working, raising a family, paying taxes, preparing to take care of one’s aging parents and able to care for one’s growing children, and so forth. From the psychological perspective, this calls for personal (i.e., ego) development out of a primal state of attachment to mother and parentlike caretakers and and for growing out of a sense of dependency on them in order to gain a felt degree of independence, autonomous functioning, and the ability to contribute to others rather than only to absorb and consume. This has profound moral as well as psychological features.

Blog Posts Essays Individuation Life Cycle Stein, Murray Transformation

Lucille (“Lucy”) Klein, Jungian psychoanalyst, born on August 31, 1921 in Tupelo, Mississippi, passed away on April 24, 2021, just a few months short of her 100th birthday. A daughter of the South, she retained her charming Southern accent throughout her life, which included: serving as a Navy nurse during WWII; a long marriage to Frank Klein, with whom she had 3 sons; adulthood spent largely in the region of rough-and-tumble Chicago where she held the position of CFO in the successful architectural engineering firm her husband created; and some 50 years of involvement in the Jungian circle, first as gathered around June Singer, then as housed in the building that she and Frank bought and converted into what became the C.G. Jung Center on Callan Avenue in Evanston, and since 1990 as an analyst member of the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago (CSJA). A long and active and rich life, indeed!

The archetypal essence of Lucy’s personality was symbolized in the choice of her thesis topic for completion of training at the CSJA: the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion, Guanyin. Lucy not only wrote about Guanyin, she embodied the core value of the bodhisattva. For many who knew her even if only at a distance this was true, and the closer into her psychic aura one came, the more convincing and genuine her loving energy was on display. This did not mean she could not show anger and a fighting spirit when necessary – on the contrary! But above all, love permeated her being and radiated constantly from her readily smiling face. For her patients, she was both a loving Guanyin and a challenging inspiration for further individuation no matter what the stage of life they might have been in at the time.

Lucy considerably expanded the concept of lifelong learning and development for many of us: she graduated from the Chicago Institute as a Jungian psychoanalyst at the age of 70! Thereafter, she took her place in the Institute community as an active member into her 9th decade, serving on committees, functioning as a training and supervising analyst for candidates-in-training, and offering energetic leadership and support for the Institute’s educational and training mission. In her late 70’s, she managed to fight off a bout of breast cancer and went on to continue working as an analyst after her recovery. Her enthusiasm for Jungian psychology never waned, and her depth of understanding its intricacies and applying them in her clinical practice continued to evolve until her retirement in her late 80’s.

Not only did Lucy’s passion for learning and analytic practice remain constant even into deep age, her determination and will to live her personal life to the fullest continued unabated every bit as well. Love in Lucy’s life conquered aging and all the body’s challenges that come with it. In the elder communities of Olympia Fields, Illinois, where she spent her last years, she distributed the joy of life liberally and was loved by residents and staff alike. In the archetypal realm of Eros, Lucy shines as a bright star.

Remembering our dear friend of so many years, I couldn’t help thinking of the Beetles’ famous song of the 60’s, and this sentence spontaneously came to me: Lucy’s in the sky, now, a diamond. We who remain here salute you, Lucy, and will always continue to remember you with steadfast love, which, as the poet Dante testifies at the conclusion of The Divine Comedy, “moves the Sun and all the other stars.”

Murray Stein
Goldiwil, Switzerland
May 15, 2021

Blog Posts Community News Klein, Lucille Stein, Murray

My personal physician in Thun recently complained about the many patients he sees who are perfectly healthy but come to him doubled up in pain and complaining about their symptoms. “They are crazy,” he said throwing up his hands in frustration. “Perfectly healthy people, but not able to live with their health! On the other side I have patients who feel as healthy as can be, and I have to tell them they have six months to live because of a recently discovered lymphoma. I’d like to send the healthy ones to the moon! They’re nuts!”

His complaint reminded me of the opening pages in Jung’s 1936 Terry Lectures at Yale University entitled “Psychology and Religion.” There he is telling the audience about the power that a neurosis can have over patients’ lives. For instance, he says, a man imagines he has cancer, but there is no physical evidence of cancer in his body. He then feels at a complete loss and becomes convinced that he is crazy. So he consults Jung, a psychiatrist. “Help me, doctor. I think I’m dying from cancer but this is nonsense, yet I can’t stop it!” What does the psychiatrist Jung do with this imaginary cancer? “I told him that it would be better to take his obsession seriously instead of reviling it as pathological nonsense. But to take it seriously would mean acknowledging it as a sort of diagnostic statement of the fact that, in a psyche which really existed, trouble had arisen in the form of a cancerous growth. ‘But,’ he will surely ask, ‘what could that growth be?’ And I shall answer: ‘I do not know,’ as indeed I do not. Although… it is surely a compensatory or complementary unconscious formation, nothing is yet known about its specific nature or about its content. It is a spontaneous manifestation of the unconscious, based on contents which are not to be found in consciousness… I then inform him… that his dreams will provide us with all the necessary information. We will take them as if they issued from an intelligent, purposive, and, as it were, personal source…. The symptom is like the shoot above ground, yet the main plant is an extended rhizome underground. The rhizome represents the content of a neurosis; it is the matrix of complexes, of symptoms, and of dreams. We have every reason to believe that dreams mirror exactly the underground processes of the psyche. And if we get there, we literally get at the ‘roots’ of the disease.”

The delusional idea of a cancerous growth in a healthy body, then, is a symbol, which can provide a point of entry into the unconscious realm of complexes, processes, and hidden conflicts. And just as a physical cancer will suck the life out of a living organism if it is allowed to grow and remains unchecked, a psychic cancer too will drain a person’s life of psychic energy and produce a state of hopeless stagnation and eventually even psychic death. Symbols have the power to do just that. They collect, hold, and channel psychic energy, for good or ill.

In one sense, this psychic symptom is a metaphor, in that it is borrowing the language of physicality (cancer, illness) and applying it to the psychic domain. This transfer of language from one domain to another is what poets do when they employ metaphors. The psyche is involuntarily acting in a poetic fashion by stating, “I am sick with cancer,” when the person, were he more conscious of his psychic suffering, would say, “I am in profound despair,” or “I have no energy,” or “I am in hopeless conflict and it’s eating me alive!” But this patient cannot say that. He can only say: “I am convinced I have cancer, and I can’t get this irrational idea out of my head!” He is an unwilling poet. He has not chosen this symbol consciously or voluntarily; it has chosen him. He is unfree to dismiss it and unable to interpret it. So he goes to the analyst, and he confesses that he is possessed by a symbol and doesn’t know what it means. Understandably, he is humiliated by the stupid symptom and its unyielding grip on him. Jung says that such morbidity is usually shameful, and the patient is embarrassed to admit this weakness. He is in the grip of a complex, and this psychic factor – powerful, autonomous, and unconscious – is symbolized as a cancer. It must be analyzed and made conscious so that the very real suffering caused by the symptom-symbol can be transformed into psychic suffering. Perhaps other psychic resources can thus also be constellated, which will assist in bringing about the free flow of energy (libido) into more life enhancing tasks and goals.

What is a symbol?

As Jung understands and employs the term symbol, it is different from a metaphor in that what it is communicating or presenting to consciousness is utterly untranslatable into any other terms, at least for the time being. Symbols are opaque and often bring thinking to a standstill. Metaphors are transparent and must be so if they are to do their job. They help us think in creative ways “outside the box.” If a poet writes, for instance, that a bridge leaps (“vaulting the sea”) and addresses it as a “harp” and an “altar,” as the American poet Hart Crane does in his famous poem, “To Brooklyn Bridge,” the reader can with diligence puzzle out a sense of what the poet means to communicate. We know what a bridge is, and we know what “vaulting” signifies and what “altars” and “harps” are, and we can think along with the poet and appreciate what he is getting at with these metaphors. The image all refer to sense data in the material world, and reflection will yield interesting ideas about how they belong together and what this unique concatenation signifies. But if a patient says, “I am convinced that that I have a cancerous tumor in my body but there is no evidence, what does this mean?” the psychotherapist must confess, with Jung, “I have no idea what it means, but we can explore the image. By looking at your life, your history, your dreams and fantasies, we may be able to discover something that at this moment is locked out of consciousness and is analogous to a cancer.” It is an important difference. The link between signifier and signified is totally opaque in the case of symbols; with metaphors, on the contrary, this link is evident even if often very complicated and at first glance puzzling.

Blog Posts Essays Jung's Life Stein, Murray Transformation

In a letter to P.W. Martin (20 August 1945), the founder of the International Study Center of Applied Psychology in Oxted, England, C.G. Jung confirmed the centrality of numinous experience in his life and work: “It always seemed to me as if the real milestones were certain symbolic events characterized by a strong emotional tone. You are quite right, the main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neuroses but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact is that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology. Even the very disease takes on a numinous character” (Jung 1973, 1: 377). If one holds the classical Jungian view that the only genuine cure for neurosis is to grow out of it through pursuing individuation, then treatment based on this model would seem necessarily to include “the approach to the numinous,” as Jung states so firmly in this letter. The individuation process, as proposed by Jung and his followers, typically includes experiences of a numinous nature.

The question is: How are such momentous experiences related to and used within the context of analysis and the individuation journey, and how do they contribute to the overall process of individuation? On the answer to this complex question rests the difference between psychological individuation and the development of spirituality. While the psychological hero(ine) of the individuation journey is by no means identical to the spiritual hero(ine) of the journey to God (however this term may be defined), it is not always easy to tell where their paths diverge, precisely because Jung placed such central importance on numinous experience for individuation. And yet they do diverge, and decisively.

On Healing and Numinous Experience

We can begin by investigating how attaining to numinous experiences releases a person from the curse of pathology, as Jung claims in his letter to P.W. Martin. Generally speaking, an “approach to the numinous” is considered a religious undertaking, a pilgrimage. The “attainment to the numinous experiences” that Jung speaks of refers to religious experiences of a quasi-mystical nature. By itself, this attainment might well persuade a person that life is meaningful. Numinous experience creates a convincing link to the transcendent, and this may well lead to the feeling that character flaws like addictions or behavioral disorders are trivial by comparison with the grand visions imparted in the mystical state. The pathological symptom can be interpreted as an incitement to go on the spiritual quest, or even as a paradoxical doorway into transcendence, and this can donate meaning to the malady itself. Perhaps some degree of pathology is needed, in fact, in order for a person to feel strongly enough motivated to set out on a spiritual quest to begin with. In this case, attainment to numinous experiences would bring about a change in the feeling that pathology is a curse, even if it did not result in curing the pathology itself, although it might lead to this as well.

Blog Posts Essays Individuation Jung's Life Religion & Spirituality Stein, Murray