When you treat the individual, you treat the culture. -C. G. Jung
Psychotherapy is as much a political and social discourse as it is a private one. If we are destroyed as a species, it will be psychology and spirituality that launches the literal or mythic nukes. If we survive and flourish as a species, it will be a depth, psychologically informed spiritually that generates and narrates that Story of cultural transformation and deepened soul-evolution. And psychotherapy is nothing if it is not simply the witnessing, recording, and transmission of the individual and societal encounters with the living numinal realm of depth human experience [what the Western tradition and Jung has called the imago Dei]. as it involves the numinal, that encounter is always a transpersonal one. there is no secular politics only archetypal/transpersonal politics. we often get so politically lost and ensnarled because we forget this depth background of our societal interactions.
The soul never thinks without an image. – Aristotle
Therefore, psychotherapy, as a political discipline, witnesses, records, and transmits these on-going experiential communiqués from and dialogues with this numinous/ transformative realm of being. In some ancient cultures, every citizen was believed to be a vehicle for this living numinal dimension, for this living will and voice of the gods as mediated through human experience. The public sphere, the common marketplace of political interaction and achievement, was the Polis. This Polis was the living organism of Eros, of numinal energy flowing into the public heart and soul of things.
My work is revelation, not revolution. – William Butler Yeats
Every life had a Destiny that served an aspect of this living, shaping, creating, numinal core of individual and cultural psyche. A well lived life was a life unfolded in a conscious, loving seeking out of this Destiny and, then, serving it with as much thoughtful, loving, and compassionate dedication as possible. Privately, this service would be to loved ones and vocation; publically, this service would be an engaged political interaction with one’s fellow citizens.
All life is bound to carriers who realize it, and it is simply inconceivable without them. But every carrier is charged with an individual destiny and destination, and the realization of these alone makes sense of life. – C. G. Jung
Everyone is politically engaged. Some are simply more aware of and disciplined about that engagement and its attendant social responsibilities. Every act in the public sphere is a political act, an act that builds up more loving and compassionate connection to the living numinous or tears it down. But every act, conscious or unconscious, aware or unaware, is a healing or destructive political act. We are all citizen politicians. We all have a public duty. We all serve the gods in the fervent hopes that the gods will then serve us and our community and lead us to more light and not more darkness.
It may well be prejudice to restrict the psyche to being “inside the body.” Insofar as the psyche is a non-spatial aspect, there may be a psyche “outside-the-body,” a region so utterly different from “my” psychic sphere that no one has to get out of oneself…to get there. – C. G. Jung
This brief seminar sketches some clinical and cultural examples of these profound experiential psycho-political transcripts that emerge within or penetrate into depth therapy. Using frequent illustrative images from, especially, contemporary cinema and art, Friday’s lecture opens up the outlines of the model and Saturday’s seminar fleshes out that outline in more depth and breadth.
The psychological question now is, How do we house this greater subject that takes up residence in us, radically altering the center from which we live? How do we accommodate this “tremendous stranger,” or this “mysterious density of being”? How do we, how can we, live in relation to it?
The theological questions ask, Who has taken up residence within and among us? Who is the One? – Ann Belford Ulanov
Three Guiding exploratory question-themes for this Seminar:
- What is political about depth therapy or any psychotherapy?
- How do you access it, where are the entry portals?
- How do you use political imagery and process found in depth therapy and in awake political interaction for individual and cultural healing and transformation?
Terrill L. Gibson, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst, Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and Approved Supervisor for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Dr. Gibson practices individual and family therapy with Pastoral Therapy Associates in Tacoma, Washington. He lectures and writes widely on the basic theme of the integration of psychotherapy and spirituality. He has been a frequent consultant, faculty, supervisor, and facilitator for a variety of Pacific Northwest universities, social service agencies, corporations, and religious congregations.
Recent Relevant Publications:
“Cin-imago Dei: Jungian Psychology and Images of the Soul in Contemporary Cinema.” Cinema and Psyche: A Journal of Archetype and Culture 73 (Spring 2005).
“Process and Politics in Pastoral Psychology: A Jungian Perspective on the Transformative Imago Dei in Depth Therapy.” Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health. Routledge (Vol. 11, # 1-2, January-June, 2009).