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

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

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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.

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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.

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Stefano Carpani, Jungian Psychoanalyst CGJI-Z, interviews Murray Stein, PhD, about how the COVID-19 pandemic is influencing our personal, professional, and political lives. Stein is a training analyst at the International School for Analytical Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland. His most recent publications include The Principle of Individuation, Jung’s Map of the Soul and Jungian Psychoanalysis (editor).

Links: Stefano’s YouTube Channel | Stefano’s Website | Murray’s Website | Murray’s recorded lectures at the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago | All COVID-19 related posts

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with Murray Stein, PhD

This lecture, “Origins: The Ego Once- and Twice-Born”, is part one of the series A Psychological Approach to the Bible I. It was recorded in 1989.

Jungian analyst Murray Stein leads a study of the Bible for its insight into psychological questions about the ego’s proper relation to the self, the ultimate aim of individuation in coniunctio, and encounters with the shadow. The set includes the following lectures:

    1.  Origins: The Ego Once- and Twice-Born
    1.  Bondage vs. Freedom: Ego in Complex, Ego in Self
    1.  Good and Evil: The Problem of Shadow
  1.  Individuation: The Journey of Faith

stein_murrayMurray Stein, PhD is a training analyst at the International School for Analytical Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland. His most recent 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
The Complete Series

All Lectures by Murray Stein 


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