Renate Daniel, Dr. med. is program director at the C. G. Jung Institut Zurich and author of Taking the Fear Out of the Night – Coping with Nightmares.
Category: Current Events
The following video is an online presentation by Dennis Merritt, based on his article “Covid-19: Inflection Point in the Anthropocene Era and the Paradigm Shift of Jung’s New Age”., with the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, May 10th, 2020.
Dennis L. Merritt, Ph.D., is a Jungian psychoanalyst and ecopsychologist in private practice in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dr. Merritt is a diplomate of the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich and also holds the following degrees: M.A. Humanistic Psychology-Clinical, Sonoma State University, California, Ph.D. Insect Pathology, University of California-Berkeley, M.S. and B.S. Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over twenty-five years of participation in Lakota Sioux ceremonies have strongly influenced his worldview.
Dr. Merritt is the author of Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology: The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe Volumes 1 – 4.
This is part of a continuing series of posts from conversations with Lisa Maechling Debbeler, JD, MA, LPCC about the nature of being a therapist/analyst in a time of quarantine. We began talking on Saturday March 21, 2020 at the beginning of the shut down and are continuing to talk weekly. We were both continuing to work and trying to see as many of our clients/analysands as possible through Zoom or other virtual methods. We were both finding this both unexpectedly and expectedly difficult and wanted to share our experiences with colleagues and friends that we respect.
Lisa sent me a link to some long-term qualitative research being done by analysts who have been doing Teletherapy prior to the Covid 19 crisis. One of the issues they raised was whether Teletherapy brought an experience of banality into a sacred experience.
What makes our work sacred?
For me it is the times when I and my client or analysand experience the flow of healing that is beyond one ego talking to another ego. It seems that the connection or the field between the two of us opens a channel to something larger than either of us could have brought into the room. We experience the presence of the numinous. In Kabbalah or Jewish mystical tradition, this flow is called Shefa which can be translated as divine emanation or flow. Perhaps a analogous term more familiar in mainstream culture might be Grace.
In general, therapists and even analysts don’t talk a lot about this experience perhaps because it is so beyond our control but also because it is beyond language. By definition it is hard to talk about. At the same time, I would argue that without the presence of the numinous/Shefa/Grace there is no deep healing. With it there is sometimes change that seems miraculous or inexplicable.
Several years ago, I arrived at a building, and I thought it was empty. To my surprise, I ran into a man from another country (Mexico). I asked him if he was by himself. He said, “No.” Then, he added, as a clarification, of who else was with him: “My soul and I.”
I was struck by the beauty and the wisdom of his comment, and I found out, later on, that his response was a cultural and popular phrase from his native land. I believe his comment (“My soul and I”) is an archetypal experience that highlights the primary and fundamental direction that Jungian analysis needs to take during and after the time of Coronavirus.
Coronavirus has forced individuals to ‘stay home’; it has compelled people to distance themselves from others; governments from around the world have implemented “social distancing” measures in public places, and the streets of major cities from around the world are somewhat empty. During this pandemic, people are forced to spend more time alone, at home. Solitude has increased world-wide. Individuals are noticing they are forced to be by themselves, at home, unless they distract themselves with electronic gadgets. Silence is more noticeable as well as the absence of other people. Therefore, Coronavirus is leading us to a spatial, temporal, emotional, and spiritual space of “My soul and I.” It is a space of possibilities and terrors.
I believe the archetypal sentence, “My soul and I”, has laid out the path that Jungian analysis needs to primarily pursue during and after the time of Coronavirus: the exploration, cultivation, and the caring for the Ego-Self Axis or “the soul and I.” In a letter to P.W. Martin, Jung (1945) stated, “…the main interest of my work is…the approach to the numinous…[which] is the real therapy…[and] as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology.” Furthermore, Jung delineated the relationship between images, soul, and the Divine, and emphasized the centrality of the Divine through working with images from dreams, active imagination, and synchronicities. Therefore, in time of Coronavirus, it is important that both analysts and analysands focus, during analysis, on those images (Soul) for ‘releasing’ the individual from pathology.