Shadow and Healing: The Power of Story

51 minutes



Part of the symposium Conflict and Collision: The Cultural Complex in Public Life. Purchase the full symposium for 30% off individual titles!

Topics: Complexes & Complex Theory, Eco-psychology, Society & Culture.

Shadow and Healing: The Power of Story

This presentation will consider Shadow in Western Culture’s complex relationship with nature and natives; it will use Aeschylus’ Oresteia and Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel, Ceremony, to illustrate aspects of the cultural complexes involved and it will consider how these literary works represent healing.

As a literary scholar and not a clinician, I use stories as case studies to provide insights about psychological dynamics.  I am specifically interested in Eco psychology, or the complex relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world.  Western culture has developed powerful technologies in part by creating a psychological divide between the human and “nature” which allows us to see other forms of life as resources for our use.  As a consequence, I believe, we have evolved what I think of as a relatively impermeable membrane between the unconscious and the ego, with a corresponding over-reliance on the reasoning faculty and a distancing from ways of knowing that are more intuitive or feeling.    In this talk I will look at a classic of Western culture and a recent novel by an American Indian (Pueblo) writer to explore areas of cultural complex and some deep similarities.  If you are interested, you can find some of this material in my book, Out of the Shadow:  Eco psychology, Story, and Encounters with the Land.

PowerPoint: PowerPoint slides are edited into the videos.

Audio: This download includes an audio MP3 of each lecture that can be played on smartphones, tablets, and laptops for listening on the go.


© 2012 Rinda West
℗ 2012 CG Jung Institute of Chicago

Additional information

Audio Format

1 MP3 File: 17MB

Video Format

1 3GP File: 165MB

Video Resolution



West, Rinda

Rinda West, PhD earned her PhD at the University of Leeds (England) in English literature.  She has taught at the University of Chicago, Oakton Community College, and Canterbury Christ Church University in England. Her book, Out of the Shadow, explores paths to healing the rift between humans and nature in Western culture.  She is currently a landscape designer in Chicago, specializing in native plants and family-friendly gardens.



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