Category: <span>Jung’s Life</span>

This episode I want to try something new. We see statistics that show how many people listen to this podcast, but that doesn’t show us who our listeners are. I’m curious about who listens to this podcast and I think some of you might be interested in what kind of community of listeners you’re a part of. I want to know where you are on your journey, how you found this podcast, and what you are looking for in life. If you’d like to share a little bit of that with us, click this link, and I’ll read your submission on the podcast! No need to share any identifying information. This information will not be used for any other purpose.

In this episode, Patricia Martins interviews Jungian Analyst Dan Ross, RN, PMHNP, about conscious individuation throughout life stages and why it makes for a better death.

Daniel Ross, RN, PMHNP, MSN, MBA has been a nurse for 40 years. He has worked extensively as Director of Clinical Services in the field of home health care and hospice. As a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, he brings both a medical and psychiatric experience to his work. He currently works part time in the field of Palliative Care and Hospice as a Nurse Practitioner, visiting patients in their home or nursing facility helping them in their transition to hospice. He is also a Jungian Analyst in private practice in downtown Chicago.

Patricia Martin is a noted cultural analyst, author, and consultant. She has published three books on cultural trends. As a consultant, Patricia has helped some of the world’s most respected organizations interpret social signals that have the power to shape the collective. She’s worked with teams at Discovery Communications, Dannon, Microsoft, Unisys, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the New York Philharmonic. Her work has been featured in the New York TimesHarvard Business ReviewUSA Today, and Advertising Age. She holds an M. A. in literature and cultural studies at the University College, Dublin (honors) and a B.A. in English from Michigan State University. In 2018, she completed the Jungian Studies Program at the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago, where she is a Professional Affiliate. A scholar in residence at the Chicago Public Library, Patricia has devoted nearly a decade to studying the digital culture and its impact on individuation. She lectures around the world on topics related to the psyche and the digital age, the future of the collective, and the changing nature of individuation, all concepts discussed in her forthcoming book: Will the Future Like You?

Links
Dan Ross’s page on the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago Website
Dan Ross on Jungianthology
Dan Ross’s website
Support this podcast
Join our mailing list


This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You may share it, but please do not change it, sell it, or transcribe it.
Executive Producer: Ben Law
Producer: Patricia Martin
Music: Michael Chapman


Thank you to our 2020 donors who gave at the Contributing Member level and above: Barbara Annan, Usha and Ashok Bedi, Jackie Cabe Bryan, Eric Cooper and Judith Cooper, Kevin Davis, George J. Didier, James Fidelibus, John Korolewski, Marty Manning, Dyane Sherwood, Deborah P. Stutsman, Debra Tobin, Alexander Wayne and Lynne Copp, Gerald Weiner, Karen West and James Taylor, and Ellen Young. If you would like to support this podcast, click here to join our community of supporters.

Individuation Interviews Jung's Life Jungianthology Podcast Life Cycle Martin, Patricia Ross, Dan Shadow Society & Culture

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

with Jennifer Leigh Selig, PhD

In continuation of our COVID-19 response, we are sharing another full seminar. You can support our ongoing efforts to provide free and low-cost educational resources during this pandemic by making a donation on our website or a purchase in our audio and video store. We have extended our Stay Connected Sale through May 31st, so you can still get 40% everything in our store (use the coupon code CONNECT on the cart page before checkout).

Jung initially rejected the invitation to write Man and His Symbols, whose intention was to make Jungian psychology understandable to a general audience, but a dream convinced him otherwise. In his dream, he speaks to a multitude of enthralled people who understand everything he says. In this presentation on Chapter 1 of Man and His Symbols, “Approaching the Unconscious,” we’ll explore how two years after Jung completed both his chapter and his life, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to a multitude of enthralled people and translated many Jungian concepts into everyday language in his “I Have a Dream” speech. Jung’s chapter is concerned with four major areas—the unconscious, dreams, archetypes, and symbols—all four of which we find illustrated and translated to a general audience in King’s dream speech. We’ll dream the dream forward into the 2020 election and see how leading presidential candidates are working with archetypes and symbols as well, on behalf of the psychological health of the body politic.

A PDF of the PowerPoint shown during the seminar, which includes links to the videos on YouTube, is available HERE . It was recorded on October 4, 2019.

Jennifer Leigh Selig, PhD is the founder and former chair of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies doctoral degree at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has spent almost two decades researching, writing about, and presenting on Martin Luther King, Jr., including her 2005 title, Integration: The Psychology and Mythology of Martin Luther King, Jr. and His (Unfinished) Therapy With the Soul of America. Her latest books include Everyday Reverence: A Hundred Ways to Kneel , Kiss the Ground, and a co-authored volume titled Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spiritjenniferleighselig.com

Support Us: Visit Our StoreMake a Donation

Thank you to our 2019 Supporter level donors: Bill Alexy, Usha and Ashok Bedi, Circle Center Yoga, Arlo and Rena Compaan, Eric Cooper and Judith Cooper, Lorna Crowl, D. Scott Dayton, George J. Didier, the Kuhl Family Foundation, Ramaa Krishnan & Full Bloomed Lotus, Suzanne G. Rosenthal, Deborah Stutsman, Debra Tobin, Alexander Wayne and Lynne Copp, Gerald Weiner.


© 2019 Jennifer Leigh Selig. This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You may share it, but please do not change it, sell it, or transcribe it.
Music by Michael Chapman
Edited and produced by Benjamin Law

Archetypes Dreams Jung's Life Jungianthology Podcast Selig, Jennifer Leigh Seminars Society & Culture The Collective Unconscious

Fanny Brewster, PhD, MFA, LP , was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Founders’ Day Symposium on March 21st. The event has since been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fanny Brewster is a Jungian analyst, and a professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is a writer of nonfiction including African Americans and Jungian Psychology: Leaving the Shadows (Routledge, 2017), Archetypal Grief: Slavery’s Legacy of Intergenerational Child Loss (Routledge, 2018) and The Racial Complex: A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race (Routledge, 2019). Her poems have been published in Psychological Perspectives Journal where she was the Featured Poet. Dr. Brewster is an international lecturer and workshop presenter on Jungian related topics that address Culture, Diversity, and Creativity. She is a faculty member at the New York C. G. Jung Foundation and the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts.  

She is interviewed by Adina Davidson, PhD. Dr. Davidson is a Jungian Analyst in Cleveland, Ohio, member of the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts, and recent graduate of our Analyst Training Program.


For more information about our Founders’ Day Symposium, click here.


This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You may share it, but please do not change it, sell it, or transcribe it.
Music by Michael Chapman
Edited by Ben Law


Thank you to our 2019 Supporter level donors: Bill Alexy, Usha and Ashok Bedi, Circle Center Yoga, Arlo and Rena Compaan, Eric Cooper and Judith Cooper, Lorna Crowl, D. Scott Dayton, George J. Didier, The Kuhl Family Foundation, Ramaa Krishnan & Full Bloomed Lotus, Suzanne G. Rosenthal, Deborah Stutsman, Debra Tobin, Alexander Wayne and Lynne Copp, Gerald Weiner. If you would like to support this podcast, click here to donate.

Brewster, Fanny Complexes Davidson, Adina Dreams Interviews Jung's Life Jungianthology Podcast