Lecture: In one subtext of the ancient love story of Psyche and Eros, “narcissism” and the “predatory” underline the romantic attitude of Eros, the god of love. His bride Psyche is entrapped within his magical paradise; she is his prey, his plaything to be used then discarded. As the story reveals, the transformation of narcissism in the romantic begins at the moment when Eros is violently burned – suffering a great loss and wound to his inflation. It is from the “burn wound” and separation of the lovers that Psyche – signifying the male’s psyche/soul/anima – develops resilience, maturity and can ultimately be awakened by a form of love, transcendent of narcissism and no longer bound by the mother complex.
Correspondingly in analysis, one can observe the narcissistic skin seared open, and the shattering of omnipotence in the traumatic encounter with an emerging, transcendent Other. This psychological wounding is a necessary process for recovering emotional life and developing the capacity to love in a man living at the surface of life.
Workshop: The Saturday workshop begins with a beautiful slide show and retelling of the Tale of Psyche and Eros. The classic story serves as a template that charts the course of the mother-bound man from romantic, narcissistic, predatory, “so-called” love, to the wounding of that standpoint, an awakening of capacities to love and the emergence of what may be described as the “father principle.” Certain themes from the tale will launch us into discussions of parallel myths, biblical stories, tales of courtly love, literature, film, clinical material and theory, and our own imaginal processes. Some of these themes may include : “mother and son/lover”; “lesser coniunctio,” “split feminine”; “predator beneath the lover”; “emergence of the father”; “awakening the sleeping soul through love.”
Both lecture and workshop provide an understanding of the primitive origins and causes of narcissism in men; its effects upon their capacity for intimacy and relationship; and, the difficult commitment needed to transcend the narcissistic option. Hopefully, the program will also bring a deeper insight to those wives, mothers, lovers, sisters, and daughters who have suffered and loved these men–in spite of it all.
Ken Kimmel, M.A., L.M.H.C., L.M.F.T. is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Seattle, with over thirty years of clinical experience. In recent years he has been working at finding the common threads connecting Classical Jungian Psychology with the Post-Jungian, Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Object Relations, through the study of narcissism, love and mystical traditions.