In Western Thought, the hero, the mythic expression of ego-development, expands consciousness by subduing the dragon , i.e. the "chaos" sensed by ego-consciousness in the categories of nature, instinct, mother. In this program we will explore the idea that while Jung initially abided by this traditional fantasy of ego-development, there is a persistent dimension in his work that recognized the implications of consciousness becoming encapsulated in the ego-complex; this obliged Jung to accentuate the actions in the psyche that strive toward a post-ego mythology.
Though nowadays consumed as a fashionable expression of a classic hero myth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings , exposes the perplexing failure of the hero to effect psychic transformation in the contemporary ‘postmodern’ psyche. This incapacity, ironically present as the hero’s triumph, or, in psychological terms the pinnacle of ego-development, signifies, in Tolkien, a threat to "middle earth", an unprecedented waning of the mythopoeic factor of the psyche. The claim is that the hero, through this deconstruction, presently, leads not, as it once had, into progressive states of originality, but into regressive states of compliance. This is manifest politically as globalization, and in current psychopathology as an "empty" depression, both of which are instinctively felt as a distance from "mother". I take these to be the abiding concern of Jung’s analytical psychology, and Tolkein’s Trilogy; taken together they inform a radical rereading of the developmental psychology and heroic mythology that dominantly impose upon the current practice of psychotherapy.
In this workshop we will expose the residency of these themes in the tedium of daily life. Participants will bring stuff that seems the least psychologically deep. These contents are those most under the aegis of the hero, and live, in what Tolkien calls "Mordor". In Jung’s theorization, they would thus attract the most empathy from the psyche. Foreshadowed in this empathic process, is the post-heroic figure needed in each psyche now to live past the ego’s encapsulation of consciousness and in so doing effect the transformations in consciousness necessitated by our postmodern condition.
Mark Kuras, Ph.D., is a Jungian Analyst and Clinical Psychologist. He is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute of New York, and is on the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University . He is Director of Training at the Jungian Psychology Association in New York , review editor at the Journal of Analytical Psychology and a former associate editor of the Jungian Journal of Theory and Practice. His papers have appeared in both journals, as well as in Quadrant. He maintains a private practice in New York City.