November 12 – 13, 2010: Jacqueline West

Lecture: The American psyche has typically been seen as narcissistic. Indeed, we readily identify with the heroic, the good, and the brave. However, these noble portraits cast a long shadow. In this Friday evening lecture, Dr. West will supplement a Jungian exploration of this complex reality with slides and discussion about the works of a contemporary European artist, Anselm Kiefer. In Kiefer’s work, we experience an active engagement with the tension between destruction and creation. The ability to embody a union of opposites emerges from a strong and flexible consciousness that can hold such a paradoxical position. Consciousness that has developed this strength and flexibility is supported as one works through the dynamics of exhibitionism and grandiosity, ultimately forging a healthy narcissism: an embodied self-esteem, a rooted sense of values, and a capacity to tolerate vulnerability and limits. We witness these dynamics and developments within Kiefer’s work. With these developments, an individual – and a community or nation – can work to engage in an effective dialogue with primal forces that carry the potential for both apocalypse and epiphany. With these strengths, we deepen our capacity to confront and suffer the tragic personal and historical realities in which we participate.


Workshop: In the Saturday workshop, we will turn to a more in depth discussion about how individual and collective trauma underlie the development of character structures. Again, with reference to the work of Anselm Kiefer, we will see how these images evoke a shudder, a chilling recognition of the devastation left by the eruption of the primal force of destruction. In this context, Dr. West will clarify how, in terms of the development of character structures, three differentiated sets of archetypal images underlie three distinguishable relational patterns. These archetypal forces are met and mediated by consciousness as it progressively develops. When this development proceeds effectively, three differentiated forms of healthy narcissism emerge. However, when defenses rigidify this process, archetypal forces accrue and eventually erupt. Dr. West will consider how the collusion of these archetypal fields, met by a defensively rigidified and polarizing consciousness, can cast us into repetitive personal crises as well as irresolvable global confrontations.


Jacqueline J. West, Ph.D. is a Jungian Analyst practicing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She is currently coordinator of Community Programs in the New Mexico Society of Jungian Analysts, in which she was past President and past Training Director, and she is a Senior Training Analyst in the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts.  She is co-author, along with Jungian Analyst Nancy Dougherty, of The Matrix and Meaning of Character: An Archetypal and Developmental Perspective – Searching for the Wellsprings of Spirit.  

The Shadows and Gifts of American Narcissism and the Paradoxical Images of Anselm Kiefer