We explore Jung’s concepts of narcissism and its appearance in the ‘as-if’ personality who struggles to connect to self and others. Intimacy is compromised, wanted yet feared. Although the person appears enticing and confident, the inner life is marked by perfectionism, emotional distance and dissociation. Through dreams and composite people examples, we explore why these people are in our lives and where in our psyche we are in the throes of narcissism rather than self-love. We will consider unfinished areas of the personality originating from early trauma, emotional neglect, and negative parental complexes adversely affecting confidence. Such areas promote idealization of others and destroy initiative while feeding an internalized cycle of self-hatred, oppression and envy. How can we accept life with its creative as well as aging process and find self-love?
We first explore the make-up of the puella/puer, that archetype of perennial youth prevalent in the Western world. The intense energy and appeal of the puella/puer often masks a more fragile personality, unrealistic, fantasy driven, easily dissembled, immature and untouched. This person lives an ‘as-if’ life, blocked by a persona adaptation from accessing basic instincts. Jungian psychology is founded on the recognition that the splits in the psyche face us with questions of how we relate to otherness both within and without. Looking into the mirror as Narcissus does, we find ourselves, sometimes with pleasure and sometimes with a touch of horror. Could this be me? This mirror holds the shadow that we encounter, as did Narcissus. Will we take his route? Will we ignore the feminine form of Echo? The experience of this myth, as enacted in the classical Jungian style, will take us down personal pathways and collective avenues. Discussion with the myth as template encourages a deepening into what we know and also have yet to discover about ourselves and relationship to others.
1. Describe personality characteristics of a narcissist
2. Identify characteristics of the narcissist in relationship to themselves and others
3. Describe how the personality characteristics of the narcissist prevent them from accepting the life process
4. Identify shadow elements that help expand and limit the personality
5. Recognize the issues of intimacy and fear of the other through the narcissistic personality
6. Recognize Jung’s concepts of dissociation as they pertain to narcissism
In the West, attention to spiritual and mental life originally was subsumed under the Care of Souls, like one full river of religious and psychological currents blended indistinguishably. The soul was tended under care of spiritual mentors within or pushing the boundaries of traditional religions. In the early 20th century, the river forked into two and depth psychology emerged as a separate discipline unfolding since in the proliferating schools of psychoanalysis. We will explore psyche, soul, spirit and the subversive persistence of soul as part of healing. Contra all announced certainties that we have entered a post-religious, even post-spiritual, era, recent decades show instead that soul concerns have infiltrated politics, fundamentalisms of all kinds, and work with the psyche. The soul refuses to be refused. People come to clinicians with an eye to soul as well as psyche because they feel their soul living has been lost. They seek aliveness from a deep place within that radiates outward to shared existence with others and links to something more, however various descriptions of that may be. What became two rivers that seemingly forked into separate directions, now flow towards each other into one again. We will explore this co-existing of psyche and soul currents. We need both facing our unconscious and our soul that dwells in our body, our psyche-soma, and links to collective life and to the meaningful, mysterious aliveness at the heart of life.
In the early 20th century both Freud and Jung noted that projections of our deep emotions of fear and desire, our wishes for nurturance and ambitions for power ceased to be directed to the heavens and the God of various religious traditions. That human striving and loving fell out of the heavens. Where did all that energy go? Freud saw this as liberation from religious tradition and its restrictive thinking. What we need is “secular ministers of the soul” (Bettleheim 1982, 35). Jung referred to himself as “a psychiatrist (“doctor of soul”) (1963, 349). The issue was not to get rid of religion but for people to see the link between sacred images of religions and “equivalent images lying dormant in their own unconscious….to facilitate this inner vision we must first clear the way for the faculty of seeing…making contact with the psyche.”(CW12 12). Both retained the idea of soul, and added the necessity of psyche. Projection is as basic to psyche as breathing is to the body. We will explore in lecture and discussion six meanings of projection, drawing on selected psychoanalytic theorists emphasizing Jung’s distinct contributions to understanding dissolution and integration of projection of personal material, and how projections of archetypal material must find a collective location.
“If people would only take the trouble to turn up the actual writings of the ancient alchemists, they would find a deep treasure-trove of wisdom, much of which is perfectly applicable to the very events which are happening in the world today.” — C.G. Jung (1960)
Alchemical Ecopsychology recognizes the deep, subtle interconnectedness of psyche and matter by combining the sacred, psychological practices of alchemy with the discipline of ecopsychology. Through the union of these two subjects, one ancient the other relatively new, we discover a path to not only understanding how life interacts with the environment, but how life and environment are inherently sacred. A core concept within Alchemical Ecopsychology is that of cycles, in which processes both material and psychological manifest in the form of dynamic patterns. Alchemy is rich in images or patterns that stimulate our Imagination. In this presentation, we explore a number of Earth’s natural cycles as patterns and use alchemical imagery to open us to experiencing these cycles on a deeper level.
“I am interested in the advances of modern physics, which is coming ever closer to the nature of the psyche, as I have seen for a long time. … The strange cases of parallelism in time, which are commonly called coincidences but which I call synchronistic phenomena, are very frequent in observations of the unconscious.”
— C.G. Jung Letters I, 1934, pp. 176-178
Jung had a deep interest in how modern science related to his explorations of psyche. He worked closely with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli to explore how psyche and matter are interconnected, in particular with regard to synchronicity. The discoveries of quantum physics, relativity theory and more recently complex systems theory have radically revised how we see and know our world. Yet, collectively, we still grapple with these revolutionary ways of knowing. In this workshop we will explore the essential dimensions of the ‘new’ sciences and why they are important for how we relate to the world. We will discuss how these concepts are connected to Jung’s view of psyche, in particular how synchronicity arises in our lives. We will also discuss how the unconscious dwells in a realm outside of time and space.
We want a new kind of love in the 21st century. In relationships, we want to be treated as equals and to be seen and known for ourselves. Equal and reciprocal love between adults, in marriage and committed partnerships, is in many ways more problematic and unhappy now than ever, after decades of struggle for gender equality and sexual freedom. Marriage has moved from being a vow of impersonal loyalty (“in sickness and in health, until death do us part”) to a vow of personal desire (“as long as this meets my needs”). 21st century love requires new psychological and spiritual skills that are go beyond secure attachment or “improved communication.”
This presentation introduces you to “personal love” and its unfolding from falling in love into disillusionment and toxic unconscious communication, and finally into the path of true love as a mindfulness practice. Wanting to be respected, cared for, and witnessed by a partner whom you do not control offers both the opportunity for psychological development and the potential for escape into addictions. As we will see, chronic projective identification requires the creation of a “mindful space” in which partners relate as adults who recognize and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings.
The workshop will continue and deepen the themes raised in the Friday Talk, and provide psychological and spiritual skills, insights and opportunities for the exploration of “mindful space” as a pathway to true love.