December 7-8, 2007: Patricia Sohl


The deeper layers of our psyches are constantly communicating with us via symbols. Amid the demands of everyday life we may notice this only in passing, usually first giving it our attention after a dream presents us with particularly enigmatic images and we wonder what it might mean. This program is offered as a small retreat where we will take the opportunity to look at symbolic process, the basis of Jung’s work.

The Friday lecture will start with a profound 28 minute film film in which Yo Yo Ma introduces his friend David Blum, also a professional musician. David explains how, when he left the security of his preferred language of expression, music, and dared to pick up some children’s pastels to draw scenes from his dreams, he unwittingly engaged in conversation with his inner self. We follow him as he shows us his pictures and talks movingly about his own skepticism, shyness, curiosity and wonder, and the unexpected reward of finding a layer of rich meaning in his colorful, naïvely-styled pictures. In our discussion of this moving account, we will review Jung’s ideas about symbolic images, and include some of the newer findings from brain scans, which unite cognition and emotion.


During the Saturday workshop, we will turn directly to the images themselves that arise when the unconscious psyche responds to the crises and concerns of everyday life, and using the amplification of archetypal images, engage in so-called conversational sketches. Conversational sketches are dream storyboards that offer us a dialogue with that part of ourselves that communicates in symbols. The psyche, being wiser than our artistically challenged selves, will respond with the wistful whisperings of dialogue, inviting us to pay attention to our depths. Participants in the workshop will be shown how to use the expressive arts to bring out imagery from their own internal process and experiment with learning to amplify these symbols with the resources available today with online Jungian archives.


PATRICIA SOHL, M.D., is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich and received her advanced degrees at the Harvard University School of Public Health and the Tufts University School of Medicine. Reflecting her twin interests in symbolic expression in healing, she is Curator of the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism at the C.G. Jung Institute in San Francisco and Associate Director of its Clinic. She resided in Denmark for twenty-five years, practicing as physician-psychotherapist at the first clinic in the world dedicated to the rehabilitation of ex-political prisoners who survived torture and live in exile. Her research has centered upon the spiritual aspects of archetypal images in the dreams of individuals, the deeply unconscious nature of somatic symptoms, and the use of "landscapes of childhood" in healing trauma.

Quotidian Conversations: Working with Symbolic Images in Dreams and Everyday Life