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Carl Jung's Secret Book
A page from Carl Jung's "Red Book" (1914-1930), to be published next month. (Courtesy of W.W. Norton)

A page from Carl Jung's "Red Book," 1914-1930, to be published next month. (Courtesy of W.W. Norton)

Carl Jung was a giant in the dawn of the age of psychoanalysis. A student of Freud who broke with Freud. Champion of the individual spiritual quest as doorway to the universal.

In midlife, he looked for his own soul and found nothing. Dug deeper, for years, late at night, recording wild visions: gods and demons, winged snakes and crocodiles. Found his soul’s footing, but feared he’d be called insane.

Jung said his “red book,” in which he recorded his visions, was the base of everything else he did. But it was locked away for years in a Swiss vault. Now it’s out. We have it.

This hour, On Point: Carl Jung’s red book.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from Portland, Maine, is Sara Corbett, contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. Her article “The Holy Grail of the Unconscious,” about Carl Jung’s “Red Book,” appears in the September 20 issue of the magazine. The book will be published by W.W. Norton next month.

And with us  in our studio is David Oswald, a licensed Jungian analyst and graduate the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. He is a member of the New England Society of Jungian Analysts and the International Association for Analytical Psychology.

More links:

The New York Times Magazine offers these color photographs of several facing pages from Jung’s “red book.”

We’ve posted some more images of individual pages, courtesy of W.W. Norton.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Mark

    Oh, this is going to be goood..

    • Lelandguthrie

      Awesome discussion!  If anyone would like to carry this discussion into a broader framework,  please visit us online at http://www.redbookroundtable.com 
      after you sign up,  the forum password is “mysterium”   look forward to hearing your comments there.  

  • mark russell

    hi! thank you for this VERY much. i’m very curious to know if jung ever in any way came into contact with rudolf steiner & any of his work…

  • Frank

    did Jung expeiment with ayahuasca?

  • john oleary

    It is a good time to be REFLECTIVE in America ..
    YOUNG certainly did his part for the WORLD…

    nice show …

  • Danyel Brisk

    This reminds me very much of what I have been learning at a Spiritual School called the Center of Light where the experience of the reality and journey towards God and our Soul is real and available to anyone open to it. I recommend anyone interested in learning more about this inner spiritual path to look up Mother Clare’s book ‘Giving Birth to God’ and/or Father Peter’s book ‘The Word Within’ plus lots of other great things by them at CentersofLight.org
    These things are real and have a lot of truth to them.

  • Matthew

    Seriously folks, is Jung really as significant as, say, Karen Horney ?

    Her theory is perhaps the best theory of neurosis we have.

    She was very important in her day, but these days, except in Latin American (for reasons I don’t quite understand) she isn’t much read or studied.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Could someone talk about the unconscious as an instrument for apperception of the OUTER world? Intuition as probably evolved before “reality” had the tight definition we give it now?

  • Janaki Kuruppu

    I have been fascinated with the idea of the collective unconscious since first seeing Joseph Campbell’s series on PBS, and reading about Carl Jung. as a practitioner of meditation and yoga – i have experienced those times when one’s mind has a sensation of “teetering on the edge of sanity”. i think that exploring the deepest parts of the inner world is tremendously challenging, and often frightening….

    i’d never heard of the red book – but the conversation is fascinating.

  • Glenn

    Nothing is more boring than to listen to someone else’s dreams, so I cringe and the thought of several hundred pages of meticulously recorded and illustrated nonsense. I can’t reconcile the seemingly intelligent guests parsing Jung’s pointless jabbering, and looking for “meaning,” which seems to mean everything and nothing. Oh puh-leez, give me a break.

  • Kenny McLemore

    I’m listening on WPLN in Nashville, TN. I just want to applaud this kind of journalism. Both the NYT Magazine article, which I couldn’t put down, and the further illumination on your show. I’m glad that some institutions can keep journalists on this “beat.” It sparks memories of my own undergraduate journey through this work. I now hunger to read and hear more: context and juxtaposition. Who came after Jung? Is there some kind of connection between Jung’s work and contemporaries like, say, William James? Has there been an Americanization of Jungian theory? It is this kind of journalism that allows curious people to keep growing. Thanks, for sharing a great story.

  • Karyn Donahue

    I think a message to people to value their inner life is needed now more than ever, especially with the advent of social networking, and people posting the most mundane as well as the most significant events of their lives on the web for all the world to read.

    Carl Jung has always been my favorite philosopher. This book only solidifies that!

  • http://ninestones.com/adderstone Beth Hall

    Loved the show – will buy the book!
    What was the Peter Gabriel song you played at the end?

    Thanks,
    Beth

  • Kennard L. Thomas

    Excellent Topic – Thanks for the program. I have a long-standing interest in Jung. One point I think that still needs clarity from the program has to do with whether or not the imagery in this Red Book is the same stuff that’s in each of us. After a caller expressed concern about it, there was an attempt to clarify, but I think the clarification fell short. I would say, according to Jung’s ideas at least, the answer is both yes and no. Just as dreams contain imagery and subject matter that is specific to the individual and is different from night to night, the specific imagery in the red book and it’s sequence of presentation is surely unique to Jung, however, there are likely common themes (archetypal images and ideas) throughout it that would mesh with the unconscious of everyone – that is the basic idea of Jung’s collective unconscious – and his differentiation of it from the personal unconscious, as I understand it at least. Also though, whether or not Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious is fact or completely true and not without need of further revision is certainly debatable.

  • Ginger McCarthy

    Hello again,

    As I consider this it occurs to me that Dr. Jung made a conscious decision to summarize the experience described in his personal journal (The Red Book) through the writing and publication of his academic text (Memories, Dreams and Reflections).

    I would disagree with the family member of his whom Ms. Corbett quoted as saying that Jung would merely be amused by their deciding to release his public this private journal to the public in this sensational way — emphasizing its unsavory imagary that some observers have already predicted will “have a life of its own,” regognizing that the pull of our curiosity will ofter prevail over the pull of our self-protection.

    Whether teased by a state of mind intentionally induced by drugs or alcohol (think of Malcolm Lowry’s tale in “Under the Volcano”) or by a willingness to give in to an exptreme desire to ‘dare the Devil,’ those who take the risks to good mental health and peace of mind that Mr. Jung took may — or may not — return from the edge to tell the tale.

    In either case it is very serious business, as Tom Ashbrook has responsibly pointed out here.

    Ginger McCarthy
    Charlottesville, VA

  • Ellen Dibble

    I heard David Oswald saying that though Jung is not known to have used mind-altering substances to help him access the unconscious, that in controlled (therapeutic) settings, various techniques might be used to help an individual safely learn to “open the gates” to his or her unconscious.
    Reading here about the “business” of modern life, the crowdedness of it, people want to turn and value the inner center — echoes of yoga? — and yearn (yawn, someone misspoke, a true stretch into the oxygenation of sleep awareness?) to escape to an other space, the more authentic one.
    I see this yearning as a yearning to “escape” or “advance” WITHOUT drugs, where the easier answer is to “pop” something (through modern psychiatry and its panoply of uppers and downers, or through all the addictive mind-altering substances available illegally).
    Do drugs access the same inner truth, or a warped one? Personally, like the poster who sees this as irrelevant, I don’t see inner echoings of the unconscious as relevant unless they create firmer connections with the world.
    If internet connections are sort of plastic, highly “processed,” then connections that are eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, ancient-religious-spirit-to- oversoul, a spirit opened to the highest powers that be and then conveyed at large, and honored as having their own unique validity — people know to be cautious but listen up. Always have.
    I’d say drugs and alcohol are the cheap, shortcut access to something. (Maybe prescription drugs as well.) And I think a bout with the flu might get you in touch with the “other side,” or other experiences where the usual rational strengths are paused, sidelined.

  • Chip Hoy

    Hi All,
    Thank you for your comment Glenn. I too find nothing insightful or for that matter interesting in the psedo intellectual parsing of someone elses dream content. As “western” human beings we seem to find it necessary to to be able to catagorize everything. I have had similar inner ranting taking place upon the ingestion of some chemical or other and found that to mean precisely the same thing I find Jung’s rantings to mean. Nothing. With practice, it is possible to release all sorts of our brains own natural psychedelics into our systems. You will then experience the same sort of “Visions”. After YEARS of inner and outer “searching” I am inclined to believe along with the fat fellow of eastern persuasion that “what you see is what you got” and if you think you are enlightened you probably aren’t. And I know it ain’t real popular but maybe just maybe after this there just might be Nothing.
    Hell, I really do believe in some kind of divinity, just thought I would be the devils p.r. man for a moment. It felt good. Jung or Freud THAT is the question.
    The big reality show is, it just don’t matter what the hell you believe because whatever REALLY is, is exactly what is, no matter WHAT we believe or discuss with exquisite passion on radio shows.

  • Andrew

    Carl Jung, William James (via his father), Blake, Emerson, Thoreau, Helen Keller and others were significantly influenced by Emanual Swedenborg (1688-1782) scientist, mysical visionary, and theologian. Swedenborg kept on of the earliest dream journals, and is the author of Heaven and Hell, Divine Love and Wisdom, and Divine Providence to name just a few. The table of contents of those books are certainly worth looking at.

    The idea of the collective unconscious associated with Jung for instance seems related to concepts found in Swedenborg. Both of them recorded florid visions, some heavenly some hellish. I’m curious to learn more about the nature of Jung’s visions and his perspective on them, as well as any method he had of inducing them, or if they were spontaneous.

  • Scott Abrahamson

    Great show and thank you. The Red Book deserves the attention paid by NPR’s On Point (and Amazon!). However, I offer the following perspective, since the Red Book may distract listeners new to Jung from the real worth of his work. By all accounts, Jung may have treated hundreds of people suffering pain, mental illness, and loss of meaning in their lives. My impression is that Jung was a compassionate man who cared deeply about the well-being of the people he treated. As a result, he left an immense body of knowledge that, in the hands of a competent practitioner (analyst or diligent student), offers tremendous PRACTICAL value. Because it is fantastic and in parts bizarre, the Red Book could discourage people from delving into Jung’s work or seeking professional help from a Jungian analyst. Based on personal experience, I know that Jung’s methods and teachings— used competently — can alleviate the symptoms of emotional and behavioral suffering common in today’s world, not just in the world of the 1920′s and 1930′s, or in the incredible world Jung portrayed in his Red Book. I would encourage anyone wanting professional help with life’s difficulties to seek out someone trained in Jung’s methods. The extra effort is well worth it.

  • david porter

    whatever Jung has to say to the cultural unconcious it could never be as dangerous as the total unconciousness of beck, o’reily,and murdock.

  • Ginger McCarthy

    Ps.

    I should probably add that I have made practical use of Dr. Jung’s theories myself, as a clinician, since I first encountered them in the 1970s in the graduate course ‘Jung, Dreams and Religion,’ taught by Prof. Romney Moseley and Prof. Robert Van de Castle at the University of Virginia. I regularly assist others in the process of individuation, being on the lookout for the powerful images or the patterns of behavior that are capable of undermining one’s best conscious efforts to realize and appreciate one’s individual nature.

    To take the further step of inducing hallucinations or trance states is an activity that has always been – and probably always will be — associated with great risk, and I predict that it won’t be long before we know through the advancement of science just how and why this is so.

    It’s also interesting that In the same afternoon on the same day, on the same radio frequency, we have heard from one scholar – David Oswald, trained in analytical psychology at the CG Jung Institute in Zurich – assuring us that it was the strength of Dr. Jung’s ego that allowed him to survive the catastrophic breakdown of his psyche that is outlined in “The Red Book;” and then shortly thereafter we heard from Karen Armstrong – extraordinary author of a number of texts on the world’s great religions – discussing her newest book “The Case for God” with Terry Gross on ‘Fresh Air’, assuring us that too much ego will surely get in the way of our capacity to live in peace and harmony with one another.

    As Ms. Armstrong carefully points out, each of the world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule: “ Do not treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself” asserting that this is a prime religious duty. When you come to think of it, this is probably the basic rule of civil society as well, and strikes the exact balance between extreme arrogance and extreme humility — which also happen to often describe many symptoms of distress in our communities that characterize the presence of mental illness or – at the very least – the absence of “peace of mind,” that lead us to seek some help to live a life of meaning,

    In our community we are fortunate to have a system that stresses the well-being of the whole person – body, mind and spirit – and that offers many programs at a reasonable cost, enriching ‘one life at a time.’

    Ginger McCarthy
    Charlottesville, VA

  • Peter Fischer

    I am a client and a student of Marc Bregman who has incorporated the spirit of Jung’s work into a practice that he calls Archetypal Dreamwork. There is nothing in this method that does not find affirmation in Marc’s own work with himself and with his clients over the past 40 years. I speak for myself here. It was exciting to follow the discussion on today’s show and I wish I cold have called in. There were some things stated or implied that I feel deserve to be challenged.

    First, that ‘ordinary people’ should not expect to be able to do what the great Carl Jung did. To this I would reply that although it must take an extraordinary human to do this on their own as Mr. Jung did, many can follow a similar path with help and guidance. I believe this because I have seen it in myself and others. (I am talking here about ordinary neurotics like me.) Every step on this path is miraculous intimates the presence and action of something transpersonal. Call it what you will. The Divine, God, The Animus, Bruce Springsteen…..

    Second, that Carl Jung’s theories and methods define an endpoint beyond which it is not reasonable to explore further. I believe that Jung never wanted his work to be codified into something called Jungianism, but wanted his work to be built upon by others. What remained unresolved in Jung need not remain unresolved.

    I am convinced that Marc Bregman has developed a method for exploration of the unconscious in dreams that goes beyond Jung. In any case, there are no words that can establish for another person the truths that this method reveals for they are only found in the depths of one’s own soul. Although self observation and talking about oneself are part of the process they only lay a groundwork for a leap into the unknown. One does not learn the truth of oneself through intellect. One must become the truth, Otherwise it is merely another layer of sophistication in the same old lie. To become the new, the old must die. It is impossible to overstate the variety, changeability, subtlety and strength of resistance to this dying to self. My guess is that this death of self is avoided in therapy, even Jungian therapy, as it is commonly practiced. In Archetypal Therapy, the death of self is part of the method. Part of the alchemy.

    There are people who believe that dreams can reveal deeper truths of who they really are, and are looking for a method to guide them on this journey. I suggest that they visit northofeden.com. and take a look.

  • John J.

    I totally agree with “Posted by Glenn.” Put it in every-day’s language that makes some sense or paint paintings,
    but please do not obfuscate since nobody is impressed…

  • Mark S.

    Psychoanalysis as a methodology to help people who are hurting from anxiety, depression and other hindrances to happiness and reasonably normal functioning in the real world is utter swill and witch doctory. It is essentially form of psychic masturbation aimed at the enrichment of the practitioners and the mesmerization of the clients with hocus pocus that will keep them dependent for years, without resolution. It was not without a grain of truth the size of a boulder that Woody Allen exclaimed in “Sleeper,” after awakening from 200 years of slumber, that his therapist was a strict Freudian and he might have been cured by then.

    I am sorry, but even though I am a confirmed On Point fan, I could not listen to this program in its entirety. Jung’s bizarro, existential crap interests me as much as the ravings of an aboriginal witch doctor. Dreams are your brain taking a huge, smelly, hairy dump, with about as much relevance as the real thing, only without the need to wash your hands. Ascribing any profound meaning to them is like throwing rodent bones into a pentagram and divining meaning from them.

    The only forms of psychological counseling and therapy that have statistically and experientially proven to be effective with a range of emotional and adjustment issues are the reality-based, cognitive therapies developed by Albert Ellis and advanced today by such practitioners as David Burns and Robert Leahy, the former being a self-confessed apostate of psychoanalysis due to its ineffectiveness and pointless, costly and billable ruminations.

    Freud, Jung and other practitioners of psychoanalytic techniques have probably done more to confuse and prolong the misery of people in pain than anything this side of voodoo. And no, I am not a disgruntled, former psychoanalytic client. I wouldn’t waste any more time on that than I would Scientology. I have studied psychology extensively and am amazed that remnants of psychoanalysis are still practiced in any form in the modern world.

    Jung’s documented fever dreams and self-absorbed, neurotic musings interest me far less than the physics of drying paint. The Afghanistan hour was good, though.

  • Mark S.

    Did I mention that dreams are irrelevant crap? I did? Oh, sorry. Guess I’m repeating myself. I may need 30 years of analysis.

  • Matt

    One thing that perked me up during the program, as an artist of dark themes and a heavy metal obsessive, was the commentator’s notion that extremely dark and chaotic imagery will elicit shock and outrage. The notion is as un-true as it is true, depending on which cross-section of “our” culture one examines. Arguably, more people than ever before in mainstream America want to own something with a skull and dagger and possibly some tears of blood printed on it. Not to ask, “what does it all mean?” necessarily, but clearly to share their identification with this type of imagery in the public dialogue. These widespread modes of expression make me wonder how effectively one might ‘scale’ the model of an individual’s inner journey, and the peculiar artifacts by which we know it, to correspond with the behavioral patterns of a society.

    Matthew M. Altieri
    Salem, Massachusetts

  • Matt

    P.S. I’m worried that Karen Armstrong might actually BE my soul. Please advise!

  • Matt S

    Thank you Mark S!! I listened to this show waiting for some criticism of the witchcraft that is psychoanalysis and dream work — and heard nothing. On Point usually presents things with some rationality, but apparently took up with the UFO crowd today. With every comment that came out of the Jungian analyst’s mouth, I could hear brain cells dying across the country.

    You would think, especially in a time when people are discussing the outrageous costs of health care from unnecessary procedures, that they would have had some rational discussion about the similar scam that is psychoanalysis. If you want to dress up and play make believe go ahead, but at least admit that’s what your doing.

    I wish I was exaggerating, but the show was that bad. And, when the Jungian analyst started extolling the insights of alchemy (with no objections) I thought maybe I was listening to “Coast to Coast AM.” Art Bell would have loved this show.

  • 2orville

    Yeah, I was waiting for a balanced look at Jung, but when I heard the guest mention “precognition” I realized there was no hope. If someone wishes to spend $200 on this book, I believe they will have gotten what they deserve.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It’s interesting to read here about the artist who reports that dark and violent images resonate, sell, and asks is this due to a social pattern (collective unconscious). It is interesting to read unchallenged attacks on psychoanalysis.
    I have always thought our culture lacked the equivalent of rites of passage where one is initiated into the secrets of one’s group, and of adulthood. Minus the genital mutilation, there is a point to this. Children can be “sheltered” from so much that they never get the tools to find their own footing. The “elders” never unfold enough of things that cast long shadows but never have names. Maybe the “elders” don’t exist (or didn’t in the 20th century), vanished into propriety, leaving the world with “adults” who never grew up.
    And how exactly was psychoanalysis supposed to help? They could work backwards from those echoes and shadows. They could try. It might be quicker to start with a hypothetical blank slate, posit an unsynthesized person, an unshaped child, and practice psychosynthesis: Go forth and grow yourself a self.

  • Ginger McCarthy

    Because I’ve always worked as a member of a team who provide assistance to those who suffer with mental health and substance use issues, perhaps, our focus is on a wellness recovery model, working with folks to identify obstacles to their pursuit of happiness and to give them access to a wide range of tools to use themselves to enhance the quality of everyday life. No hocus pocus there, I can assure you.

    It’s interesting to see the possible connection between the production, distribution or celebration of excessively dark imagery on the street or in the marketplace as an expression of the power of a single individual to shock or repel — to create a strong emotion — in others. Like violent films, sex as a spectacle sport, and weapons, dark imagery sells — and probably for this reason. It’s a short cut to the effective weilding of personal power. Unfortunately for us all, though, it’s end game is usually more destructive than creative in nature.

    I think the best hope for an interesting, well-balanced life full of joy and humor and meaning, is to practice the kind of compassion with ourselves – first – and with one another.

    I do wish that the Red Book, as it’s called, could have been released simply as an addition to Dr. Jung’s other academic papers, rather than to have been brought out this way. In any event, I can’t help but think of something Th:Jefferson had to say:

    “We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”

    Ginger McCarthy
    Charlottesville, VA

  • Suzanne Browne

    Thank you Peter Fischer for your post….you helped to uncover, describe that which has been ongoing for me, intensly for the last 5 years. Dreams, prophetic first, then leading to a life lesson, expierence persay….the inner psyche going through change, an inner strengthing….and interestingly my outer life crumbled, as if to make me focus, question, go within
    to allow, understand, the process…and then onto the outer to make change. From my own expierence’s I have found that, that which we deem “painful” (I had a dream that said “you must feel your pain”) we avoid, deny, refuse to feel, and then it becomes stronger..and eventually escapes its prison…thereby controlling us, and only when we look within, and Face ourselves, parts of ourselves that we have denied, are ashamed of, have refused to own, and take that part of ourselves back…love it, own it….do we master ourselves.

  • Ginger McCarthy

    Ps.

    Here’s the bottom line on all of this, from my perspective. It’s an extract from the Wikipedia article on Jung:

    “Jung’s work on himself and his patients convinced him that life has a spiritual purpose beyond material goals.

    Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential, much as the acorn contains the potential to become the oak, or the caterpillar to become the butterfly.

    Based on his study of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Taoism, and other traditions, Jung perceived that this journey of transformation, which he called individuation, is at the mystical heart of all religions.

    It is a journey to meet the self and at the same time to meet the Divine. Unlike Sigmund Freud, Jung thought spiritual experience was essential to our well-being. …”

  • On Point Producer

    To the poster looking for the Peter Gabriel song which played in the middle (not the very end) of the show: The song is called Rhythm of the Heat, and it is based on Jung’s autobiographical account of a nocturnal Sudanese dance, where he felt ‘posessed’ by the music.
    An in-depth examination of the inspiration for Gabriel’s song can be found at:

    http://tinyurl.com/nxhw5z

    Cheers,
    Producers at On Point

  • Ellen Dibble

    Jung and spirituality. Oddly I don’t think of Jung as any particular religion, but Freud we all know was Jewish, on the cusp of the Holocaust, and treating probably non-Jewish clients. Renowned for his book “The Future of an Illusion,” and his collection of African and other art that connected the psyche to its myths, it seems to me that he took the tack that as a Jew, his religion couldn’t be the definitive part of his research and practice. (No kidding.) The Jewish mystical tradition I don’t recall being integrated by either Jung or Freud, actually.
    As a young person, studying philosophy and religion, the symbols of Jung (or William Blake for that matter) seemed dislocated from my reality. I attributed that to historical dissonance.
    But I learned to listen. I dreamed the other night that a small bearlike creature was chasing me, and because of Jung and Freud, I know this might be a message (from my bowels or whatever), or it might not. I think it represents the parts of the economy I have been wrestling with, i.e., health insurers (for one). They follow you everywhere, wanting bigger and bigger bites.

  • Matthew

    I personally can’t wait to see the chronology of his experiences.. It’s always interesting when you can find a detailed record of a series of inner experiences, especially someone so meticulous and brilliant as Jung.

  • Matt

    To Ginger:

    Thanks for responding to my comment. Your point about dark imagery and the wielding of individual power is interesting (especially applied to the determination of value in the art market as a whole). However, consider the item that really initiated this discussion: a book full of crazy pictures that you can buy on Amazon! I’m not trying to say that Carl Jung’s lifework is the same as some banal “dark lifestyle” product, and such products do proliferate. But irrational narratives are now socially permissible to a certain extent, and a considerable portion of the material separated by a few clicks in the browser, is produced with intentions akin to Jung’s. Many people, like Jung in his time of crisis, are using resources available to them to reconcile the laughably, unspeakably, contrary extremes of good and bad that are present in every life. And many people have developed negative, fetishistic behaviors while on a ‘perilous path’ that they never really realized they were walking (lamentably, the documentary-film about Metallica undergoing group therapy is a really good example).

    It’s worth examining the role played by representations of evil, madness and violence in the inner lives of their creators and devotees. I personally have always felt a need to go outside the circles of the socially prescribed in order to hold real, viscerally opposed truths in relation to each other within the same instance of understanding. I don’t really know a thing about psychoanalysis, but I am in a sort of dialogue with incredible dreams, some of them incredibly horrific, meanwhile enjoying a life enriched by family and friends and pounding metal. I’m far from alone in this. Everything Ellen Dibble said about the rites of passage is relevant here.

    What really interests me is the fact that the “content of the dark” in Pop-darkness has been changing constantly ever since dark and irrational art became Popular and commercially viable. I wonder, when you chart the iconography, the types of props wielded by a generation’s “active imaginations,” the kinds of things the devil is saying these days in middle-America, whether the patient is showing signs of progress…

    M. Alighieri
    Salem, MA

  • Ginger McCarthy

    Hello Matt – I know what you mean about Karen Armstrong. I’ve been listening to her reading a CD of her 2006 book, “The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions.” Her voice is melodic and very engaging, and she really holds my attention.

    In an earlier post I mentioned Malcolm Lowry and his autobiographical novel, “Under the Volcano,” in which he converts his desperate plunges through the depths of alcohol-induced toxicity into what some scholars recognize as “towering literary achievements.

    In his essay on this subject, entitled “The Paradox of Darkness,” Julius Neelley writes: “These powerful inexplicable forces led Lowry down a path of exotic sea voyages, lost manuscripts, a Mexican prison and the burning of his house. Through his fundamental strength and ability to create Lowry surpassed a mere survival of such catastrophes and achieved a pinnacle of success. Thus he has been called Jung’s visionary artist and Freud’s undeveloped personality.”

    As I noted, the end game through the heart of darkness is usually more destructive than creative in nature. There are exceptions to the rule. Apparently Dr. Jung is one of those and you may be as well.

    I still have concerns about those adventurers who may or may not be fit for the trek and who may or may not have the wherewithall to prevail over the darkness as Malcolm Lowry did — as a “magician gone astray” — and I would caution those who would rush too far and too fast over the deepest of crevices at very excessive elevations with insufficient gear, blinded by the dazzle of the sun glinting off the snow-capped peaks, yet with no essential grounding and no one there to hold the rope at the other end.

    That’s the rough part about one’s going ‘over the edge,’ and for the majority of us, it’s not the kind of journey one ought to set out on as a solo effort, with insufficient preparation and without an experienced guide.

    Ginger McCarthy
    Charlottesville

  • Ellen Dibble

    ?Water off a duck.” The healthy personality sloughs things off, compartmentalizes. Does that ring a bell? The dark side is like a black hole. It’s stewing in your own juice. Snap out of it. Ring a bell? The last thing we need is therapists who themselves are unwilling or unable to slog through the tough stuff. I thought it was common knowledge that sweeping things under the rug or locking things into the closet with the skeletons is the opposite of therapeutic.
    The way to the light is through, right through, the unbelievable middle.
    Sometimes the idea is only the mighty artists have the “right” to venture into the dark imagery. As if somehow vicariously the rest of us, theose not blessed, shouldl worship at the feet of art, without ever being healed.
    This more or less condemns us to go the dark distances alone, since therapylite would be all about avoiding the shoals (and by definition, our culture is not shepherding us through those shoals, or the perilous stretch would not be confronting us alone anyway).
    However strong a therapist, I’d say they are not as capable as a mature contingent of the particular community that understands how to navigate the particular waters and can pass it along.
    Typing the master’s theses for a school for social work, 30 or so a year, gave me to understand that in the 1970s and 1980s, women in the field were beginning to usher the field past the paternalistic mode that Freud exemplified.
    The confidence of therapists of female gender (such as Ginger) always encourages me.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Most therapeutic in my community: the check-out people at the supermarket. Why? Look at their eyes. They’ve seen it all, been through everything, come from all corners of the world, India, Puerto Rico, etc., etc. “Hi, my name is …” the tape I take home reads. They cannot pick and choose customers. They get no benefit from healing or hurting. But in my experience, they all, and always, nourish me. I have my suspicions about which supervisor sets the standard, a petite little woman, friendly but with something total tempered steel about her.
    I go there for my “fix” of humanity, to true myself with the gold standard.
    The post office might be a close second in offering this service.
    Is this on point? On imagery? Well, the imagery was in the service of truing people’s connections, IMHO, and if I can find that in people’s eyes and faces, hey, it’s cheap.

  • G. Bachelard

    These comments — some of them almost enraged in their condemnation — provide a good explanation of why it was prudent to keep the Red Book under wraps for so long. It is odd to see people so angry about something they haven’t even seen for themselves yet.

    I wonder if some of you who dismiss Jung’s record of his dreams and visions as meaningless blather could explain the popularity and persistence of stories throughout all cultures and time. As Jung himself observed, and it’s undeniably true, there is remarkable cohesion in the myths and stories from culture to culture, including the many Christian images and stories borrowed from pagan antecedents.

    The function of these stories is to teach us about the common experiences of humanity. They make meaning out of existence.

    So it is with dreams. It really doesn’t matter whether you regard dreams as some kind of biochemical neurological effect or as messages from the gods. What is important is that in narrativizing the dream images, you make a very clear statement about what’s going on with you psychologically. Sometimes your retelling of the dream will include suggested ways of resolving a conflict.

    It’s the telling, not the dream itself that is important, and that’s why it’s important not to get too lost in symbolic interpretation. Tending a dream is an aesthetic undertaking and can be as revelatory as writing or painting or any other aesthetic pursuit. It is also very satisfying in the way writing a poem or sketching a picture are satisfying.

    Those who have actually studied Jung and post-Jungian psychology know that it is not nearly as reductive as many of its critics here are presenting it.

  • michael shiferaw

    I am a reader of Jung from Ethiopia.who expects a reader of jung form Africa but its so.
    Ihave been reading Jung for years during my period of inner crisis. i have discovered meaning in his works like Its in this book where Jung described his confrontation with the Unconcous.his effort to understand his dreams and integrate the uncouncous elements to his consious mind. It was in only a chapter that he tried to relate this period on that book. Now we are going to read this confrontation. its a blessing.
    First i would like to thank the Jung Familly for leting this treasure of human concousness get published. Second I would like to express my greatitude for Sonu shamdasani for the difficult task of dealing with a mind like Jungs to translate and interprate his dreams and reflections , to the world at the risk of getting lost in the depth of that great mind. a depth as deep as human history and human mistery. I belive that this Shamdasani must be an other giant given the task of opening this measterious seal by providence.and i Suppose
    This book will be a proof that in the history of psychology there is no one who could dive deep in to the human psych and gave meaning to timeless symbols and images that remained sealed for centuries.
    I belive that this book will never be a book of entertainment or as simple and enjoyable as reading a classical novel. This book will be dangerous as much as its dangreous to encounter devine light.it either enlightens or blinds the reader depending on the readiness of the reader.The other option is that the book remains sealed and hence meaningless to most of its readers.
    one cant understand materials from the uncoucious without some sense of understanding of symbolic language and Jungs orignal concepts like the collective unconcious,the Architype, the relationship between the deream of modernman with classic mythology and alchemy and the rest. in which case it remains sealed as some of our paintings of modern time.
    this book also got an other wonder that its also a book of modern paintings with interpretations by the painter. every thing is wondrful.
    so be it.
    it would be a blessing if on line acess is available to read the book. could you do that?
    mike

  • Ginger McCarthy

    Hello Michael – You have made some very good points here, and I found it interesting to read the background information provided by the editorial team (Dr. Sonu Shamdasani and Dr. Steven Martin and others) at the website related to the publication of The Red Book found at:

    http://philemonfoundation.org/philemon

    Today I’m told that an interestd reader in our community has already completed a request form online to petition our regional library purchase a copy of The Red Book – for general circulation or for reference.

    I believe it would be very appropriate for the Philemon Foundation to make the full text available online, as you suggest, once they have recovered their costs to edit it.

    Ginger McCarthy
    Charlottesville

  • http://www.jungutah.com Machiel Klerk

    The Jung Society of Utah http://www.jungutah.com just had a lecture on the Red Book, which stressed the importance and reality of fantasy and dreams. It was a fascinating topic and lecture, and re-emphasized how a great thinker and visionar made a roadmap for us of his personal journey through the depths and heights of the psyche.

    Machiel

  • Peter Fischer

    I just caught up again with this conversation. I was touched by Suzanne’s personal response to what I had written, especially since I felt what I had written was more objective.. more “about” working with dreams.. than immediate and personal on my part. I also have to agree with Ginger that it is not something most of us should take on as a solo effort.

    People like to talk. There’s some tidbit that we get from ‘helping someone see the light’, or ‘busting someone’s balloon’. In my own personal work I have discovered how I do this and hope to avoid it in myself. This is part of my ‘therapy’, but only a sideshow, really, The healing work that I have experienced is much as you have described, Suzanne.

    However, I would not say that I am seeking to ‘master myself’. It is more about learning what it is to truly be in relationship: open, vulnerable, trusting, uncertain. With other humans this is tricky. You also have to be very discerning. With the Divine it is rediscovering unconditional love and realizing who we truly are and are meant to be. Again, from my experience, I cannot understate how much stands in the way of this, how arduous and long the process of return is, and how useless it is to merely talk about it.

    But since talking is part of what we do for good or ill, it seems impossible to me to avoid talking about God and spirituality in referring to the meaning and purpose of dreams. Maybe for Jung it was always about the frightening and self-obliterating experience of facing God and not about gaining personal power by learning better how to adjust to ‘the world’.

    Those who seek therapy should be encouraged to question the end point and purpose of that therapy.

  • Benjamin Newhouse

    Let us not forget that opiaitets were involved in the observation into the human condition and, or behavior.

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