Monday, August 31, 2015

The Orphan as Symbol

A review of Audrey Punnett’s The Orphan: A Journey to Wholeness

Review by Dyane Sherwood

Audrey Punnett has brought this powerful topic to our attention in a thoughtful and multifaceted book that is engaging, carefully researched, and clearly written.  As a Jungian analyst, she concerns herself with the effects on individuals of losing a parent in childhood and with the universal questions of the Orphan in each of us—that is, the underdeveloped aspects of our personalities that have lacked the nurturing, structure, and sense of security that they have needed to grow.

In her opening chapters, Dr. Punnett recounts the way the theme of the orphan seemed to find her, rather than her consciously seeking it out, after she had moved alone to Zurich to enter analytic training.  Throughout, one can sense her deep empathy with the loneliness of the parentless child.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Life of Buddha and Individuation


"The life of Buddha is an example of individuation. He was privileged and enjoyed every possible means of comfort and pleasure, sheltered from want. What moved him to want to experience the world beyond his palace? He went into the world of ordinary people and found sickness, poverty, and suffering. It seemed he felt his life was not complete until he had experienced the dark and sordid side of life. Only then could he fulfill his destiny as a spiritual sage. His life illustrates the idea that we are not completed by being good or by having what seems like perfection. Individuation as completion means filling out all of our possible conscious experiences and being aware of our potential, the pleasant and unpleasant, good and bad." Deldon Anne McNeely, Becoming: An Introduction to Jung's Concept of Individuation
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Letting Go of the Way We Wish Things Ideally Would Be

There are many worthy arguments for the existence of ideals. These include the role of ideals as an organizing principle around which people with similar values can gather. Like goals, ideals motivate us.

The need to be Jesus can lead to guilt, disillusionment, and dissatisfaction. The need to avoid the painful guilt of failing to achieve ideals often interferes in very practical ways with career development because they can never be satisfied with ordinary jobs. The shortfall from this ideal is predictable. This unconscious need to be great is often expressed by patients as dissatisfaction with their jobs, or as feelings that their work is meaningless or soulless. Sometimes the complaint is stronger; they feel that they are prostituting themselves. They may feel the same about their colleagues and bosses, who think only of profit. They say they want to do something that helps people or helps the environment or helps bring social justice. They often believe there is a job out there that will permit them to use their talents for some greater good or noble purpose.


Letting go of the way we wish things ideally would be can lead to more human development than the ideals themselves.
Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way

article by Lawrence H. Staples

We would have to be blind, however, not to acknowledge their danger. By definition, when ideals are our guide, we strive for perfection that does not exist in the real world. We strive for something that in the long run will frustrate us and depress us because we will fall short. We will experience failure. Goals are different. Having realistically attainable goals can serve us well.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Good Guilt. . . WHAT IS GOOD GUILT?

Good Guilt is the guilt we incur for the sins we need to commit, if we are to grow and fulfill ourselves. This paradoxical “twist” to the conventional meaning of guilt is the seminal idea behind Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way.

In common parlance, the words “good” and “guilt” don’t belong together. They appear to be contradictory. Personal and clinical experience, however, has repeatedly confirmed for me the useful role of sin and guilt in personal and psychological development. I began to notice that there are times in our lives when the experience of guilt actually was a signal of having done something good, even essential to nurture us. While the guilt probably did not feel like “Good Guilt” at the time of transgression, the “sin” that caused the guilt is sometimes viewed in retrospect as having brought something valuable to our life. Examples might include divorces, separations from partners and friends, giving up family-approved or family-dictated careers, or even marriages that are opposed by one’s family on the grounds of race, religion, gender, or social status. It might also include the expression of qualities previously rejected as unacceptable, like selfishness or the contra-sexual sides of ourselves. Later in life we may look at guilt thus incurred in a different light.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Guilt’s Unacknowledged Role in Mental Health

(Masaccio Fresco image from the 
Cappella Brancacci, Santa Maria 
del Carmine,  Firenze, Italia
provided via Wikimedia Commons  
[Public domain].)
Guilt’s negative aspects go beyond its deterrence to psychological growth and development. It also affects our mental health and wellbeing. It can make us sick. Guilt is a major cause of depression, anxiety, paranoia and suicide. It is also a significant factor in less common ailments such as hypochondriasis, and other somatoform disorders. This view is not widely held among medical and mental health professionals, despite the fact that they encounter and deal with guilt daily in their practices. In the case of depression, biological and chemical imbalances or psychological factors like loss, grief and failure are emphasized. In our experience, however, these conventional viewpoints both overlook and underestimate guilt’s causal role in these serious disturbances. We have become increasingly conscious not only of the important causal role of guilt in these major psychological disorders but also of the damage it generally inflicts on our mental health and wellbeing.&nbsp

Long before The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders had been conceived, Lady Macbeth’s guilt-induced decline into mental disorder and suicide dramatically and accurately portrayed at the extreme the psychological damage that guilt can inflict on the human psyche. Despite Shakespeare’s vivid and accurate portrayal of the dangerous consequences of guilt, and despite commonsensical grounds for belief that the bard got it right, standard and conventional diagnostic criteria often overlook and underestimate the role of guilt in some of our most frequently encountered psychological difficulties. We can see this blind spot in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This important manual, used worldwide by psychiatrists and psychologists to help them diagnose psychological problems, mentions guilt as a diagnostic criterion only in major depressive episodes, depressive personality disorders, and dysthymia, the latter of which being only recently added to the manual. The insignificance of guilt in the manual’s diagnostic scheme is also suggested by the fact that the word guilt is not even in the index. Nor is it listed as a contributing factor to anxiety. Guilt is certainly not generally perceived as a cause of any mental disorder. However, as therapists we can’t avoid the truth that the mere fact of diagnosing someone with a mental disorder induces guilt. Even the need to come to therapy is itself a source of guilt.