Category: <span>Transformation</span>

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

I want to personally introduce our new producer, Patricia Martin. She is a cultural analyst, author, consultant, Professional Affiliate (graduate of our Jungian Studies Program), and member of our Program Committee. This is the first interview she’s doing for us and we are developing plans to do more. I’m grateful that she’s willing to give her own time to help us bring interesting discussions to this podcast. -Ben Law

In this episode, Patricia Martin interviews Boris Matthews, current Director of the Analyst Training Program at the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago, about his own life journey, his perspective on analysis, education, and individuation, and the program itself.

Note: There was some mysterious background hum that we did our best to remove, but the audio quality is affected somewhat. We will continue to work on improving the audio quality for these interviews.

Boris Matthews, PhD, LCSW, NCPsyA graduated from the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago, is a member of the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts, and maintains a practice of analytical psychology in the Milwaukee and Madison, WI, areas. He is particularly interested in working with persons who recognize need to develop a balanced adaptation to the “outside” and to the “inside” worlds, work that involves awareness of the individual’s psychological typology. Dreams, active imagination, and spiritual concerns are integral elements in the analytic work, the ultimate goal of which is to develop a functioning dialog with the non-ego center, the Self. He serves as the Director of Training of the Analyst Training Program, regularly teaches classes for analytic candidates, and conducts study groups.

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: The Analyst Training Program | Lectures by Boris Matthews in our Online Store | Boris Matthews on the Jungianthology Podcast & Blog


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Music by Michael Chapman
Edited and produced by Benjamin Law


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Individuation Interviews Jungianthology Podcast Martin, Patricia Matthews, Boris Training Transformation

with Robert Moore, PhD

This lecture is the first part of the series Structural Psychoanalysis and Integrative Psychotherapy: Introduction to a Neo-Jungian Paradigm, which contains the following lectures:

  • Lecture 1 – Breaking the Code of the Archetypal Self:  An Introductory Overview of the Research Discoveries Leading to Neo-Jungian Structural Psychoanalysis
  • Lecture 2 – Deep Structures and the War of the Psychological Systems
  • Lecture 3 – Structural Diagnosis: A Neo-Jungian Approach to Understanding Psychopathology
  • Lecture 4 – Toward a “Structural Cure” in Integrative Psychotherapy: Foundations
  • Lecture 5 – The Necessary Partnership between Integrative Psychotherapy and Integrative Spirituality: Fundamentals of a Neo-Jungian Postmodern Vision

Robert Moore, PhD was Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Spirituality in the Graduate Center of the Chicago Theological Seminary where he was the Founding Director of the new Institute for Advanced Studies in Spirituality and Wellness. An internationally recognized psychoanalyst and consultant in private practice in Chicago, he served as a Training Analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and was Director of Research for the Institute for Integrative Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and the Chicago Center for Integrative Psychotherapy. Author and editor of numerous books in psychology and spirituality, he lectured internationally on his formulation of a neo-Jungian  psychoanalysis and integrative psychotherapy.  His publications include THE ARCHETYPE OF INITIATION: Sacred Space, Ritual Process and Personal TransformationTHE MAGICIAN AND THE ANALYST: The Archetype of the Magus in Occult Spirituality and Jungian Psychology; and FACING THE DRAGON: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity.

For the complete series, CLICK HERE.
For all of Dr. Moore’s lectures, CLICK HERE.

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© 2006 Robert Moore. 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 Complexes Jungianthology Podcast Moore, Robert Self and Self-Psychology Seminars The Collective Unconscious Transformation

with Ken James, PhD

This episode is the first part of the series The Way of the Sly One: The Psychology of Our Possible Evolution in the Writings of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, & Jung.

Most depth psychological theories look backward into the personal history of the individual in order to find the causes for neurotic symptoms, gain insight into their persistence in the present, and diminish their effects in the future. A key feature of Jungian psychology is the addition of a forward focus, a constructive, teleological emphasis on the meaning of symptoms, and the need to discover what the symptom is calling the sufferer to notice and change. This places Jung in a category of psychological practitioners who seek to promote the possible evolution of the person from present status to future transcendence.

Russian spiritual teacher G.I. Gurdjieff sought to bring his students to a place of consciousness that went far beyond what was generally thought of as “being awake”. The core of his teaching, that humankind was unfinished and did not possess a soul but was capable of creating one through intense inner work, created discomfort in his followers and stimulated them to find ways to break through to new levels of awareness – a method he called “the way of the sly one”. P.D. Ouspensky, Gurdjieff’s foremost disciple, also taught about the possible evolution of human consciousness and provided a more systematized interpretation of Gurdjieff’s teachings.

Ken James, PhD maintains a private practice in Chicago, Illinois.  His areas of expertise include dream work and psychoanalysis, archetypal dimensions of analytic practice, divination and synchronicity, and ways to sustain the vital relationship between body, mind and spirit.  He has done post-doctoral work in music therapy, the Kabbalah, spirituality and theology, and uses these disciplines to inform his work as a Jungian analyst. For more information visit soulworkcenter.org

For the complete series, click here
For all seminars by Ken James, click here


© 1997 Ken James. 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

Individuation James, Ken Jungianthology Podcast Mind-Body Religion & Spirituality Self and Self-Psychology Seminars Transformation

with Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD

This episode is the first part of the series Women’s Mysteries: Sources of Creativity, Religion & Spirituality, & Solace.

Jungian analyst and author Jean Shinoda Bolen leads a workshop for women “who seek to nurture their own creative and spiritual yearnings and find ways of expressing, articulating, and valuing what grows out of their inner life and the life they have lived so far. In the company of other women who know that suffering and joy and life are linked, personas drop away and soul comes forth.” Bolen weaves stories of psyche and goddess that have the power to touch themes and sacred places in the soul, and she leads listeners through a guided meditation, allowing the opportunity for personal symbols and myths to emerge. This tape set is also intended to serve as a model for women interested in forming their own spiritual groups. It was recorded in 1994.

bolen-jean-shinodaJean Shinoda Bolen, MD is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst and an internationally known author and speaker. She is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, a past board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women and of the International Transpersonal Association. She was a recipient of the Institute for Health and Healing’s “Pioneers in Art, Science, and the Soul of Healing Award” and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She is the author of The Tao of Psychology, Goddesses in Everywoman, Gods in Everyman, Ring of Power, Crossing to Avalon, Close to the Bone, The Millionth Circle, Goddesses in Older Women, Crones Don’t Whine, Urgent Message from Mother, and Like a Tree with over eighty foreign translations.


Links
The Complete Series

All Lectures by Jean Shinoda Bolen 


© 1994 Jean Shinoda Bolen. 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

Active Imagination Bolen, Jean Shinoda Gender & Sexuality Individuation Jungianthology Podcast Myth/Fairytale Religion & Spirituality Ritual & Initiation Seminars Transformation