The Red Book and Our Unlived Life

1 hour 30 minutes



This lecture is part of the symposium Surviving Turbulent Times: Reflections on Mid-Life and Jung’s Red Book. Purchase the full symposium for 30% off the individual titles!

Topics: Active Imagination, CG Jung, Midlife, Religion & Spirituality.

The Red Book and Our Unlived Life

To live our life fully, including what we have not lived means facing the dead. The dead are what we should have lived and have not, and irreparable losses we have suffered. To live these, because “my life wants itself whole” (339), also means to approach the border between personal and impersonal psyche, to create personal meaning in the impersonal events that happen to us, and to yield personal strivings to the “Well-Being between us and others and in society” (234). Madness and creativity mingle.

Jung worked on The Red Book during his turbulent midlife years and discovered much life he had not lived. In our midlife years we too discover we have not lived life to the full. We may have knowledge of the head, but we know we do not have enough knowledge of the heart.

Early in The Red Book Jung tells us, “You live your life fully if you also live what you have not yet lived.” This is “”knowledge of the heart you can attain…only by living your life to the full.” Surviving turbulent times will require us to explore what living fully includes in this life and in the beyond. What difference does it make? Surprising implications may emerge as we discover the role our problems play in finding our path, in living on the border of impersonal and personal psychic life, in living in relation to the gap chaos introduces that can spur creativity as well as madness.

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© 2011 Ann Ulanov
℗ 2011 CG Jung Institute of Chicago

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Ulanov, Ann Belford

Ann Belford Ulanov, MDiv, LHD, PhD is Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion Emerita at Union Theological Seminary, and an analyst in private practice in New York City. She is a member of the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, the International Association for Analytical Psychology, and the Editorial Advisory Board for The Journal of Analytical Psychology. With her late husband, Barry Ulanov, she co-authored six books, including Religion and the UnconsciousPrimary Speech: A Psychology of PrayerCinderella and Her Sisters: The Envied and the Envying; and Transforming Sexuality: The Archetypal World of Anima and Animus. By herself she is author of sixteen books, among which are The Psychoid, Soul and Psyche: Piercing Space–Time BarriersKnots and Their Untying; Madness & CreativityThe Unshuttered Heart: Opening to Aliveness/Deadness in the Self; and The Functioning Transcendent. She is the recipient of many awards, among which are three honorary doctorate degrees, the Oscar Pfister Award from the American Psychiatric Association for distinguished work in depth psychology and religion, and the Gradiva Award for Finding Space: Winnicott, God, and Psychic Reality.



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