Friday, December 17, 2010

Robert Sardello on Suffering and Like Gold Through Fire

Like Gold Through Fire: Understanding the Transforming Power of Suffering
About Like Gold Through Fire: Understanding the Transforming Power of Suffering

a FOREWORD by Robert Sardello

In our age, a false flight from suffering, nurtured by the strictly modern fantasy that medicine, counseling, a support group, or community service can remove it is simultaneously paired with more visible suffering in the world than perhaps has ever been seen before. To convey, as the Harrises have done in this bold work, Like Gold Through Fire, that suffering in fact gives us the most direct means of coming to terms with the mystery of our being, with what makes us human, may seem at the very least, masochistic. Should we not do all in our power to alleviate suffering – our own and that of others? Of course, we not only should, we must. But, there are two ways, two attitudes that can be taken toward alleviating suffering – a mechanical, technical, materialistic way and a soulful and spiritual way.


The modern way responds to pain by using the wonders of modern technology, whether that takes the form of instruments and scientific discovery, or the technology of transporting food, clothing, and medicines to disaster victims within a few hours, or the economic technology of getting money to where it is needed. Indeed, those of us who value soul do so from the perspective of a world having the means and the will to do something about suffering; only the naive would set up technology as an opposition to soul. A soul perspective, however, does try to bring balance by drawing attention to the inescapable fact that suffering is a tremendously important teacher; balance by trying to help us see that technology does not, in fact, remove suffering (at most it makes possible the alleviation of natural suffering, so that, in the Harrises' terms, developmental and transcendent suffering may take place with proper timing); balance in the sense of helping to distinguish between neurotic and transcendent suffering so that suffering is allowed its meaning rather than being repetitious self-indulgence masquerading as agony. The first reality that this book asks us to confront, and to ponder deeply, is that suffering, finally, cannot be denied, displaced, avoided, or projected, nor, ultimately, gotten rid of.

Suffering without consciousness differs enormously from suffering that has found its proper mode of consciousness. In the extreme case, suffering without consciousness is simply denial. Louise Lavelle, a truly great writer on the problem of evil and suffering, said that the worst misery is not to be aware of misery. Then there is suffering that, while strongly felt, still has no psychic element – it simply hurts and all of the psychic element is placed into the fantasy of escape, where it has no value. The many stories, fairy tales, myths, and personal case histories told by the Harrises give us an indication of the direction where suffering does locate its own meaning – the direction is down, into the depths, like the underworld terrain of Inanna, or of Persephone, where the true psychic element of suffering is to be found. This terrain is difficult to speak of other than in imaginal terms.

As soon as the word "imagination" arises there is a tendency to discount it as real. My suffering, that is real; the imaginal, well, that is the making of nice or not-so-nice stories, but they are only stories. The reader might react in this fashion. What these imaginal pictures convey, however, is value. These imaginal pictures, note well, are not saying that there is value in suffering but that suffering is the very source of value. In the absence of recognizing that to suffer means to allow something to happen to us that we cannot control, we have no importance, no merit, value, substance, purpose as human beings. We reach the realm of value only by allying our very being with the reality of suffering. Only imaginal pictures can convey this fact without false sentiment. Concentrating, contemplating, meditating on the many stories in this book, reading them through over and over, making inner pictures, not skimming, looking for answers, Like Gold Through Fire truly does turn into a guide book, a path into the depths that have no bottom.

How does one enter rightly into the realm where suffering shows its true continence as the source of value? This question is also addressed by the Harrises, but I want to bring it out, perhaps letting it sound more clearly. There is a science of suffering, and that science is patience. Indeed, suffering often turns us into a patient. The word patience suggests passivity, a kind of waiting without stirring and without hope; to be still, so that something else can awaken. What awakens is soul life; and it does so in every cell of the body. Even more, what awakens is the deepest and the highest dimension of soul life, the divine within us. Jungians call this the Self, but the term can get in the way of sensing the actual experience of being touched by the presence of the divine. I suspect that people are so belligerently reluctant to relinquish neurotic suffering, because it gives them a sense, albeit a false sense, of the near presence of the divine. The science and art of patience involve developing the capacity to wait in an attitude of expectation while at the same time having relinquished the expectation that something will happen. This mystery, too, we are confronted with in this book.

Suffering, when it does receive a nod of recognition as valuable, receives its acknowledgment from pairing it with transformation. Yes, there is Good Friday and hanging on the cross; but then there is Easter Sunday and the Resurrection. Yes, there is the bitterness of winter, but then that makes possible the spring. Transformation is a most tricky word, almost as tricky as the word "healing," but not as tricky as the word "salvation." So, let us face it head on. Transformation means death. None of us knows, as far as our individual lives are concerned, what is on the other side, discounting of course, the initiates and the true sufferers among the readers. We need others; we need the Buddhist and the Yoga philosophies, the Christian mystics, and the psychic initiates such as Jung to show us pictures, to provide imagination where we have none. Evoking transformation as the reason for human suffering can too easily slide into a kind of egotism – hey, this is worth doing, look where it gets me. Fortunately, the Harrises do not fall into this trap. They are too good of analysts for this; they recognize the difference between theory and what can be validated through one's own experience. They say: "In dealing with suffering, analysts to some extent share the same professional field as psychologists and doctors. However, our approach differs in that we not only study the theories of psychology, but also experience their validity within our own personal lives as we train" (pg. 118). That is to say, only those who suffer have the right to say anything about the mystery of suffering.

The word "transformation" takes on quite a different quality when spoken from having encountered it deeply. If I read of suffering, and unwittingly read only from ego consciousness, there is no other possibility than literalizing the word and taking it to mean that transformation means the way out, even if it is a more complex way than a pain pill. Read from the perspective of the Harrises' life work, transformation is not the way out at all, but the deepening of the way into it. And this deepening consists of transforming into a religious being-not simply one who believes, who has faith, who listens to the preacher – there is nothing religious in that. But, being a religious being, in every fiber of one's body, every feeling of one's soul, every thought, every action, through and through, that is transformation. And, truly, there are no words for this; thus we need pictures and we need these pictures brought by those who live in wisdom.

The purpose of speaking so deeply of suffering, as the authors of this book do, is not only to help us fathom the depths of this mystery in the privacy of our own hearts. Suffering, even if entered into with soul, remains untransformed so long as it remains private. Here, I want to touch upon something not explicitly spoken of in this book. Yet, this book, by its very existence, circulating in the world, is testimony to the fact that suffering finds its true meaning only when it is shared. Following the wonderful exemplar of this book, perhaps a good way to approach this most significant dimension of suffering is through a story. Sophocles gives us such a story, Philoctetes.

Philoctetes, on the way to Troy with Agamemnon and Menelaus, got off the ship at the tiny island of Chryse to sacrifice to the local gods. As he was walking up to the shrine, he was bitten on the foot by a viper, a bite that immediately became infected. Black and festering, it was soon a raging, bleeding sore. Pus and rot attracted maggots to the wound, filling the air with a stench that no man could stomach. His companions, nauseous from the sight and smell of the wound, took him from Chryse and left him on a deserted island, Lemnos. There was nothing on that island – no trees, no plants, no animals – only dry earth and rock crags. Philoctetes would not have survived except for the bow and arrow given to him by Heracles. Heracles had received that bow from Apollo himself and had given it to Philoctetes when he was dying; for Philoctetes had served him by lighting his funeral pyre. It was a remarkable instrument, that bow. It never missed the mark, such was its precision. Though few were the birds flying overhead, he never missed a shot and life was thus barely possible.

For ten years all there was on that island of suffering was Philoctetes, his maggot-ridden, never-healing foot, and a dead bird to eat from time to time. Filled with bitterness and rage, isolated and lonely, Philoctetes gave up on humankind and gods alike: "In all I saw before me nothing but pain; but of that a great abundance." Then one day a ship comes to the shore. Two figures leave and step onto the island. One of them is Odysseus, and the other, a young man, Neoptolemus, son of Achilles. They came to retrieve Philoctetes, for an oracle said that Troy could be conquered only with the help of Philoctetes and his bow. The plan is to trick him into coming with them. When Neoptolemus meets and talks with Philoctetes, he finds he cannot trick him. He admires the courage he sees; he waits with Philoctetes, hears his stories, cares for him. Odysseus, watching from afar, finally enters, and threatens to force Philoctetes to leave. Philoctetes grabs his bow and is about to shoot Odysseus when suddenly Heracles appears in a vision, telling Philoctetes that he must go to Troy. There he will recover health and obtain glory.

On the island, Philoctetes festers in bitterness and rage, turning against the gods and all humans for this bitter injustice. He says to himself: "Necessity has taught me little by little to suffer and be patient." Being patient, paradoxically, means, as I suggested above, forgetting one's connections-with others, with the gods, with hope itself. And, in suffering, one is removed from the community of others; suffering is the only reality. No one is there to say what is happening, why it is happening, what brought it, where it is going. When we are suffering, the explanations, the happy prognoses, the encouragement of those around seem hollow and unreal. The name, Philoctetes, means "love of possessions." I do not know if this individual had many possessions, but now he is not even in possession of himself. He no longer belongs to himself; he belongs to suffering. The bow and arrow, instruments of bare survival, are like a terminal cancer patient connected to life support. Like this magical bow, modern, technical instrumentation does not take suffering away, but it does make survival possible.

Heracles gives Philoctetes the bow. Heracles also appears in the vision and tells Philoctetes to leave the island. Heracles, the hero, brings imagination to suffering. Andre Gide's modern version of this Greek drama illustrates this aspect clearly. Gide's Philoctetes states:
"My images, since I have been alone, so that nothing, not even suffering, disturbs them, have taken a subtle course which sometimes I can hardly follow. I have come to know more of the secrets of life than my masters had ever revealed to me. And I took to telling stories of my sufferings ... I came to understand that words inevitably become more beautiful from the moment they are no longer put together in response to the demands of others."
Here, we see that through suffering imagination comes to prominence. Without imagination, suffering is blind necessity. But imagination has to come to us; it is not something done solely out of our own efforts. And, imagination brings something new to speech. It makes possible moving into the imaginal fabric of words themselves rather than just wing words to convey something to others. Said in another way, truth comes to expression; imagination no longer belongs to the realm of the unconscious.

Heracles is evidently no ordinary hero. He is the only Greek hero who at the moment of his death becomes a god, becomes a figure of the eternal archetypal realm of the soul. Thus, he appears in a vision – and he encourages Philoctetes to return to the human community. But, we have to see that this moment of intervention occurs primarily because of the presence of Neoptolemus. Odysseus remains in the background. Bur Neoptolemus, while he does not seem to do much, certainly nothing heroic, laments, mourns, and cries out with the suffering of this individual. Philoctetes says, "You stayed with me; you had pity, looked after me, bore with the filthy disease." That is all Neoptolemus does. But this consolation creates a new community, lets suffering have a part in the communal imagination.

We mistakenly suppose that the instruments of survival have the power to take away suffering. But those who have suffered deeply know that it does not go away, ever. While, in some quarters of Jungian thought, the hero is identified as our ego consciousness and entering into soul is a necessity and deadly blow to the ego, the true hero was never simply someone with an inflated ego. The true hero, one who suffers, discovers something there that is brought back to the community, for the benefit of the whole community. Like Gold Through Fire is such a Heraclean work. And it is also the consolation of Neoptolemus, making possible a community of suffering.

Something of the ultimate secret of suffering is revealed in an almost passing sentence of this book. The authors say:
"As we go through the individuation process and our suffering transforms from developmental or neurotic into transcendent, we find that more and more it is the divine aspect in us that suffers" (pg. 118). 
A remarkable sentence that brings a flood of thoughts. Can we imagine that God is a suffering God? More, that the very essence of the divine is suffering? But, a contradicting thought says, God is love, not suffering. Ah, but here we can get a glimpse through the veil of the constantly sentimentalized word, love. Everyone knows, whether they dare to speak it or not, that love is suffering. Of course, there is neurotic love, every bit as much as there is neurotic suffering. But, if we have come as far in the contemplation of this book to awaken to the fact of the sacred nature of suffering, then we have to at least say we are brought to the very edge of love itself.

The position that suffering is love is taken by Jung in his most astounding work, Answer to Job. I will not here go into this complex book. It is a guiding model for the process of making suffering meaningful. Suffice it to say that Jung proposes that God needs human beings in order to become conscious, that God is evolving and needs human beings in order to evolve, and the primary way through which God becomes conscious is through human suffering. The individuation process is the human contribution to divine self-realization. What could God possibly be unaware of? He is not conscious of his other half, the feminine being of Sophia. When we have entered so deeply into suffering that there we discover something that is impossible to describe in words – that there in the very center of suffering dwells the divine being of Sophia, we have found the ultimate meaning of suffering as love. For, once Sophia, Wisdom, the Pieta, the Mater Dolorosa, the Soul of the World is encountered, a path is established for reconnection with Her Beloved. Only Jung's psychology gives us the direction, the means, and the courage for treading this sacred path of suffering. The Harrises, in this marvelous book, Like Gold Through Fire, help us to begin this holy work.

–Robert Sardello, Ph.D.

Robert Sardello is co-founder of The School of Spiritual Psychology, which began in 1992. He is author of Facing the World with Soul, Love and the Soul, and several other publications. He is editor of Goldenstone Press. He is also co-founder and faculty member of The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, and author of over 200 articles in scholarly journals and cultural publications.

Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.
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    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Two New Inner City Books


    Now Available: Two new Inner City Books publications.

    Orders can be placed directly with Inner City Books or by phoning Fisher King Press.

    Here's more info on the forthcoming publications from Inner City Books: Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts:

    BEES, HONEY AND THE HIVE: Circumambulating the Centre
    (A Jungian exploration of the symbolism and psychology).
    Frith Luton (Melbourne, Australia) (2011)
    ISBN 978-1-894575-32-7.  Index  Sewn  208 pp. $30 

    The symbolism of bees, honey and the hive intertwine, but at the core is the imagery of the circumambulation of the centre. For bees, this is a dynamic in the service of the queen bee and the preservation of the hive. In depth psychological terms, circumambulation is linked with mandala symbolism or the Self, archetype of inner order. The author brings together her experience as a beekeeper and insights gained in her work in depth psychology, particularly through an appreciation of Jung’s work on the synthesis of opposites in alchemy. She trained in Zurich.

    RISKY BUSINESS: A Jungian view of
    Environmental Disasters and the Nature Archetype

    Stephen J. Foster (Boulder, CO) (2011)
    ISBN 978-1-894574-33-4.  Index  Sewn  128 pp.  $25

    What is our relationship with nature and the Nature archetype? Can we deepen our understanding of the implications of environmental disasters through an exploration of myths that illustrate the results of greed and environmental destruction? Is there a way to clean up our act? Stephen Foster is uniquely positioned to address these questions because of his expertise in both environmental cleanup and Jungian psychology. Drawing on Jung’s complex theory and work on archetypes, Foster combines his background working as a scientist on hazardous waste cleanup projects and his training as a Jungian analyst to examine the psychological problems of toxic environmental spills. Specific toxic spill case studies illustrate how the Self can work within a group to resolve conflict.


    Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing  list of alternative titles.
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    • Credit Cards Accepted.
    • Phone Orders Welcomed. 1-800-228-9316 toll free in the US & Canada. International +1-831-238-7799. skype: fisher_king_press

      Wednesday, December 8, 2010

      Music and Soul


      About Music and Psyche

      Paul Ashton and Stephen Bloch are Jungian Psychoanalysts living and working in Cape Town. They both have an abiding interest in music of different sorts and Music and Psyche came together from that interest as well as a fascination and curiosity about how music functions both as an agent of healing and as a medium that touches areas of the psyche that words cannot. Realising that they could not themselves cover such a vast subject in the depth that they wanted to, they invited authors with differing interests and backgrounds to participate in the project by submitting essays on any aspect of music that gripped them at the time of writing.


      The result is a lovely book which has been written by 13 different authors. Two of them are music therapists, one a composer, one a singer and theologian, another a psychoanalyst and the remainder from a Jungian background. All share a love of music. To enhance the experience of what the writers are expressing a CD accompanies the book. About half the chapters in the book are "illustrated" on this CD.

      There are two interviews, both with individuals who may be referred to as "grandfathers" in the tradition of depth-psychology, as well as having been steeped in music. Mario Jacoby was a professional classical violinist before he became a Jungian analyst and author of many books and papers. Michael Eigen is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with a passion for music. He is also a prolific writer with about 18 books to his credit. These interview subjects use music primarily as a metaphor for the analytic process and encourage psychotherapists to listen within theirsessions with a musical ear.

      Although Kevin O'Connell's essay on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring is written from a musician's point of view, it is deeply psychological too, raising ideas that connect as much with "soul" as with compositional techniques. When William Willeford writes about "the blues" he is writing as much about the human condition as he is about the music of that name. His essay is one that has been put with two others that demonstrate the healing power of music in a more communal setting. One of these is Melinda Haas's chapter that describes the Venezuelan-developed idea called El Sistema. This is based on a concept that true democratic principles as well as feelings of self-worth can be developed through orchestral playing and that every child should have that opportunity. Chris Wildman writes about his experience as musician in a "playback" theatre type group that assists individuals and groups deal with difficulties that have affected them as a community. His examples bring us insight into the lives of the people he describes as well as into music itself.

      Recently a journal appeared with a paper describing the usefulness of music in a neuroscience institution in the US. There was no mention of what type of music was being played and when one of the authors was contacted her response was: "Well we just play music." What an undifferentiated reply! There are so many different types of music and so many individuals in the world who reacte differently to the same music. In Stephen Bloch's chapter on the Black Sun he describes music as an "acoustic image" and demonstrates how different compositions evoke different psychological experiences of what has been described in largely visual terms as "The Black Sun". That chapter and his chapter on Mercy deepen one's psychological understanding as well as supplying examples of music from many different sources that are outside our usual ambit.

      In another idiom Paul Ashton writes about the varied effects of sounds generated by different instruments and brings together diverse theories about the different parts of the brain that are implicated in processing the various aspects of which music is composed. These encompass rhythm, tone, tune or melody, and harmony, etc. Music can have an effect on the body and the mind, generating pain relief or aggravating pain, causing excitement or restfulness and giving rise to distinct emotions. How that happens is the subject of his chapter.

      Larry Wetzler has written two chapters that link clinical and theoretical concepts (of Winnicott, Bion and Lacan) with the idea of music as a healing "substance." Something similar is discussed, but in a very different way, by Helen Anderson who explores the nature of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No 31. Both authors' give clinical examples from their practices. It is apparent that one of them chose the music for the patient whereas the other worked with the music brought. In both cases the music, and the process, was healing.

      Two New Yorkers describe musical compositions as products, or at least descriptors, not only of the composer's individual time and place, but of his psychological make-up too. Melinda Haas writes movingly about Mahler and his Ninth Symphony and Laurel Morris about Robert Schumann's life and music. Both writers broaden one's understanding of both music and the psyche.

      Bringing us into the 20th Century by exploring particularly its less formal music, John Beebe develops the idea of the anima as expressed though the voices of popular singers. This soulful chapter deepens our thinking about voices, performers, men, women and human psychology. William Willeford in his chapter about "the blues" expands our understanding of that very human condition and demonstrates how effective "singing the blues" or listening to "the blues" can be in alleviating it. Patricia Skar describes her development as musician and analyst and articulates the idea of music being a bridge to the deepest recesses of one's mind or to the widest reaches of the infinite, whichever way one would like to see that.

      Music and Psyche ends appropriately with a chapter by the Irish singer and theologian Noirin Ni Riain. Through her writing, and her voice on the accompanying CD, the reader/listener is transported, through silence and music, into a new experience of the ineffable beyond.

      Fisher King Press publishes of an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.


      Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing  list of alternative titles.
      • We Ship Worldwide.
      • Credit Cards Accepted.
      • Phone Orders Welcomed. 1-800-228-9316 toll free in the US & Canada. International +1-831-238-7799. skype: fisher_king_press

          Friday, December 3, 2010

          Press Release: A Salty Lake of Tears

          il piccolo editions is pleased to present:


          A Salty Lake of Tears: A Soul Journey
          by Lois Carey
          ISBN 978-1-926715-47-6

          This clever quasi-memoir is steeped in fantasy and soul. Through dreams, fantasy, and active imagination, Lois Carey's Salty Lake of Tears guides readers down the 'rabbit hole' to explore the wounds of childhood, where one can meet long forgotten castaways that are most vital to healing, reclaiming self, and living an authentic life.


          Lois Carey, LCSW, RPT-S is in private practice in Nyack, NY; her specialty is Sandplay Therapy. She is Past-President of the New York Branch of the Association for Play Therapy. Lois is author of Sandplay Therapy for Children and Families; co-editor and contributor of Family Sandplay Therapy and School-Based Play Therapy; editor and contributor of Expressive and Creative Arts Methods for Trauma Survivors.


          Here's what others are saying about A Salty Lake of Tears

          A very creative autobiography that weaves early childhood memories and dark underground travels with playful characters, Mother Earth, and the scent of roses. Though the memoir is born out of pain, it clearly reflects a profound psychological transformation that occurs when the deep feminine spirit is invoked.
          —John Allan, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Counseling Psychology, University of British Columbia, Canada

          A unique combination of autobiography, fantasy, and its exploration of the symbolic meaning of life. Lois Carey’s familiarity with Jungian symbolism and Greek mythology permeates her account of complicated family relationships and recreated childhood memories and anxieties. Like no other memoir, this evocative blend of fantasy and reality resonates with compelling appeal and strength.
          —Nancy Boyd Webb, Distinguished Professor of Social Work Emerita, Fordham University

          In her latest book, Lois Carey deftly transmutes her personal biography of pain and joy into a universal tapestry that is the analogue for the human condition. She infuses myth, original poetry, and allegory, and interweaves the story of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland throughout her emotional journey. This is the story of a complex woman, a brilliant scholar, and a devoted, caring mother, wife and daughter. I highly recommend this read for those looking to deepen their personal experiences and connect the dots on their emotional landscape, as Ms. Carey has so done in this wonderful gift to the reader of inner discovery.
          —Eric J. Green, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Texas at Dallas



          Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing  list of alternative titles.
          • We Ship Worldwide.
          • Credit Cards Accepted.
          • Phone Orders Welcomed. 1-800-228-9316 toll free in the US & Canada. International +1-831-238-7799. skype: fisher_king_press
            Copyright © 2010 Fisher King Press. Permission to reprint/repost is granted.

              Becoming: World Cultures

              article by Deldon Anne McNeely

              Interviewed on his 90th birthday, Nelson Mandela, the South African political leader who led the fight against apartheid, was asked if he regretted not having spent more time with his family during his lifetime. He thought for a while and replied, “No, I had to do what was necessary for my soul.” (Interview, British Broadcasting Corporation, June, 2008.)

              C.G. Jung was clear about the fact that he was proposing individuation from the standpoint of a Western European cultural lens, and he did not mean to apply it to other cultures. And even as the world has become smaller, we Jungians recognize that our precise notions about individuation cannot be applied to all cultures without significant reworking. Yet it is possible that, since the concept applies to human consciousness, it might be adapted to describe the expansion of consciousness in whatever form is available in any given culture. This is an aspect of the concept that needs more research.


              In the Western European and American tradition, a commonly desired characteristic of individuation is the capability of persons to leave their parental home and make their way as independent individuals in a home separate from the family of origin. Naturally, geographical distance from the family is not what Jung meant by individuation. We may put miles between us and still stay emotionally dependent on each other. But being true to our values often means changing our profession, religion, politics, or attitudes to something entirely different from what was expected of us in our family.

              In some cultures that kind of independence is discouraged, because one’s first duty is to help preserve the welfare of the family of origin, to stay with the family, clan, or tribe and contribute to the well-being of the group. Survival demands it. This describes the Pakistani woman (mentioned in a section of Becoming) who could not oppose her tribal requirement of arranged marriage. (This is so common in Britain that they have enacted a “Forced Marriage Act” to protect women.) Loyalty is also highly valued in cultures that have experienced genocide, as have Native-Americans, Jews, Kurds, and minority groups in many countries.

              In spite of family prohibitions, some individuals are capable of seeing beyond their environmental restrictions, even when they do not choose to openly oppose them. Some can and do make contact with a wider consciousness and use their dreams, creative abilities, and ambitions to compromise with the conscious situation. They may become prominent as spokespersons, leaders, or advocates for others, or they may express their advanced consciousness as introversion through art, healing, and ways of wisdom. As long as the possibility of thinking for oneself is available, individuation can proceed, as Mandela’s statement illustrates. But it may look different in different cultures, including some parts of the USA and Western Europe.

              Actually, contemporary trends in psychoanalysis have moved more and more toward encouraging community, a generous and open-spirited attitude toward others and toward nature, and a support for flexibility-oriented, rather than goal-oriented, individuation. These values are easier to express in parts of the world that haven’t been entrenched in authoritarian values.

              In general, Native-Americans’ process of individuation appears different from that of European-Americans. Because of their experience of the near extinction of their culture, many Native-Americans expect to adhere closely to the traditions of their nations. They value the continuation of those values and rituals which connect them to their heritage, although they may feel encouraged to leave their culture to experience and learn the ways of the larger society. Often Native-Americans become active politically in order to promote the good of their people and contribute to the development of their nations. This is not to imply that they do not also identify themselves as Americans, as illustrated by their participation in military combat and national politics.

              An intellectual dilemma brought about through the mind-body split, begun with Plato and thoroughly developed by Descartes, had an impact on Western minds through the Enlightenment. This split with the world of nature was not suffered by non-Europeans such as Native American, African, and Asian cultures, and the differences are apparent in attitudes toward matter and nature to this day.

              Jungian psychoanalyst Jerome Bernstein, who has worked for years with the Navajo Native-Americans, believes that the Western ego takes its form and dynamic structure at the price of its separation from nature. Thus, individuation as Jung formulated it has a lot to do with reconnecting to that dimension of the transpersonal, the objective psyche, or Self as nature.

              Says Bernstein:
              As I see it, much of what the individuation process aims at is the starting point for the (traditionally rooted) Navajo. Much of the connection that the Western individuation process aims at is where they begin—albeit with a different ego structure than the Western ego. There is no separation from nature, no differentiation between mind and body, between the ego and the sacred. (Bernstein, private communication.)

              It seems safe to say that an individual can proceed with a strong sense of community and loyalty to the collective without losing one’s individuality. Bernstein has written extensively about the split between humans and nature that is so prevalent in our society and the difficulty encountered by people who are sensitive to that split in his book, Living in the Borderland: The Evolution of Human Consciousness and the Challenge of Healing Trauma.

              In the United States we are expected to ignore a heavy-handed approach to environmental problems, an approach that assumes an attitude of domination and greed instead of conservation and care. Those who feel empathy with nature and distress about the destruction are often dismissed as abnormally sensitive, and they are misunderstood and marginalized. Actually, like canaries in the mine, many are more realistic about consequences than those in denial of the destruction, and they have important information if we could only listen.

              Values that were assumed by our culture to be universal fifty years ago now seem terribly biased. Colonialism viewed culture through the eyes of the colonists and distorted the nature of the colonized, at great cost to the colonized and to humanity itself. European and American countries applied their values to African and Asian cultures with little consideration of history. Corporations saw the value of their commercial goods through their vision, which did not benefit their customers or the environment. Men made laws which did not consider the welfare of women, and women promoted customs which did not fit the needs of men. We are all being shown the possibility of seeing through the eyes of others, seeing from another angle, seeing from a larger vantage point.

              We cannot undo the damage, cannot restore the broken communities and ecosystems, cannot revive the victims of genocide who have had their ways of life annihilated. What we can do is stop imposing and judging, and start to wait, listen, and respect the habits and philosophies of people with different values.

              Becoming: An Introduction to Jung's Concept of IndividuationJung emphasized “uniting the opposites” in becoming a whole person. He meant that we come to see nuances, rather than engaging in black and white thinking. We are less rigid about what is good or bad, or what constitutes masculine or feminine traits, less occupied with separating human and nature. In Native-American pre-colonial philosophy there has been no separation to be overcome between ego and nature, between human life and animal life, between the welfare of the person and the welfare of humankind. Until recent years our government has systematically silenced and tried to eradicate the Native-Americans’ capacity to articulate their philosophy. Now some leaders see that there was wisdom in the attitudes of native peoples toward nature that we would not allow, but which was valuable. This has happened in other parts of the world as well, such as Australia. There the prime minister recently made a sincere and very moving public apology to the indigenous people for the way they had been treated by their colonizing government. Many of the political problems in the Middle East are a result of misunderstanding the values of people whose allegiance has been to their tribal identities for generations. . .

              The previous article is an excerpt from Deldon Anne McNeely's newly published book: Becoming: An Introduction to Jung's Concept of Individuation.


              Fisher King Press publishes of an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.
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                Saturday, November 27, 2010

                The Seed of a Creative Life

                The Seed of a Creative Life

                by Lawrence Staples,
                author of The Creative Soul: Art and the Quest and Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way


                Active imagination is a technique developed by C.G. Jung to help amplify, interpret, and integrate the contents of our dreams. When approached by way of writing, active imagination is like writing a play. One takes, for example, a figure that has appeared in one’s dreams. Usually, these figures express a viewpoint quite the opposite of one’s normal conscious view. Sometimes it is a male or female, shadow figure. At other times, it may be a feminine, anima, or maternal figure.


                The Creative Soul: Art and the Quest for WholenessOne starts to converse with the figure in writing. One challenges the dream figure and lets him/her challenge the dreamer. The dreamer asks the figure why he appeared in the dream. He asks the figure what it wants from him. Then, the ego, like a playwright, puts himself as best he can into the figure’s shoes and tries to express it and defend its viewpoint. There ensues a dialogue between the writer and the opposite figure in his dream or piece of writing. With practice one can become accomplished at expressing both viewpoints, just as a playwright does. One gets better at this the more one does it.


                The technique of active imagination tends to detach the qualities and traits that are first seen in a dream or in a story as belonging to external persons, and coming to see them as belonging to one’s self. Active imagination, then, helps the writer become conscious of his opposite qualities by forcing him to give voice to figures, like shadow figures, that carry qualities opposite those of his ego. These qualities personify the rejected opposites that are present in the unconscious. This technique helps recover them and make them available to the ego and consciousness without necessarily having to act them out.

                Following is an impressive and rich example of the power of this technique to affect and even shape our lives. It’s an active imagination done by Mel Mathews when he was in his late thirties. He was an extremely successful salesman who was, nevertheless, unhappy with his work and life. Despite his high income, work had lost its meaning for him. He had entered Jungian analysis in order to help him out of his suffocating existence and find a new and different way. He had a powerful dream that he took to his analyst. The Chronicles of a Wandering Soul: Book One - LeRoiHis analyst suggested he do active imagination with one of the figures in the dream. His is a beautiful example of active imagination that led to much more than a dialogue. It became the seed of a creative life that grew and flourished into a wholly new career. Out of his active imagination came a novel, LeRoi - Book 1 of The Chronicles of a Wandering Soul series, which was then followed by several other novels, including Menopause Man and SamSara.

                The power of the active imagination is seen in the fact that it unearthed in Mel some deep hidden spring of creativity that suddenly gushed forth. Apparently, he had been living a life of suspended animation that lay there until some psychic prince awoke it. He had the following dream:

                A woman was sitting in a diner, in a booth smoking. “Excuse me, I wonder if you could put your cigarette out?” I asked. She ignored me. A few minutes later she lit up again. I stood up, walked around to her booth, grabbed her pack of smokes and the ashtray and walked out the front door. I dumped the ashtray and stepped on her lit smoke; then, I dropped her pack and stomped them as well. I walked back inside, slammed the empty ashtray down on the coffee counter and sat down. A petite pony-tailed brunette walked up with the iced tea pitcher to refill my glass. “Can I have some more ice please?” “Sure,” she answered, “I’m sure (Flo) the boss-lady will be out in a minute,” the brunette said, as she turned around with my ice. “What does she want?” “You’ll have to ask her yourself.”

                Mel discussed the dream with his analyst who suggested a dialogue with the boss-lady.

                Following is his active imagination with Flo, the name of the boss-lady. This brief dialogue is to his novel what an acorn is to an oak tree. This brief dialogue apparently contained all the genetic codes necessary to make a novel just as an acorn has the genetic codes that lead to an oak tree.

                Flo: Howdy.

                Mel: Hi.

                Flo: Purdy hot day, huh?

                Mel: I can stand the heat. It’s the stray cigarette smoke that sets me off.

                Flo: So that gives you the right to run off one of my regulars.

                Mel: I asked her to put it out.

                Flo: Did you ask her or did you beat around the bush with some rude indirect comment?

                Mel: Lady, I don’t know who you are or what’s on your mind, but I really don’t need any more crap today.

                Flo: Well kid right now you’re in my diner and you’re runnin’ off my patrons.

                Mel: Oh great.

                Flo: I’ve dealt with your kind for years so let’s just cut to the quick.

                Mel: Look, lady, I’m sorry if I offended anybody here, but I’ve got some problems. My MG is broken down across the street.

                Flo: So what?

                Mel: Things just aren’t falling into place today.

                Flo: Would you like some chocolate milk little boy, or how about your ass wiped? In this café, the world doesn’t revolve around you.

                While the creative process is different for each individual, one can sometimes discern similarities. The seed that unleashed Mel’s creative process was a dream and a few sentences associated with the dream. His process bears some resemblance to the process by which Isak Dineson created her work.

                Mel Mathews' development as a person and a writer is a wonderful testimony to the power of creativity to shape our lives and connect us to our souls. His dream and the dialogue that flowed from it to create LeRoi is an incredibly rich and impressive example of active imagination, as I understand it. His experience of active imagination is one of the most powerful examples I have ever witnessed. His dialogue with Flo seemed to unearth for him a huge reservoir of suspended animation that poured forth into the world and continues to flow. Actually, "Flo" and "flow" do seem somehow related. Mel's experience is enough to encourage therapists not only to use active imagination with their clients but also with themselves."

                The Creative Soul and LeRoi on special now from Fisher King Press - $25 for the Pair! - Call to order.

                Fisher King Press publishes of an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.
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                Copyright © 2010 Fisher King Press. Permission to repost or reprint is granted, with a link to: http://www.fisherkingreview.com/2010/11/seed-of-creative-life.html

                  Thursday, November 25, 2010

                  The Promiscuity Papers

                  The Promiscuity PapersFisher King Press to Publish The Promiscuity Papers by Matjaž Regovec


                  Available Feb 2011   Order Now 

                  The Promiscuity Papers
                  by Matjaž Regovec
                  ISBN 9781926715384, 90pp, Index, Bibliography, 2011

                  In The Promiscuity Papers, archetypal roots of promiscuity are explored. In classical Greek and Roman mythology some promiscuous father figures may be found viz. Chronos (Saturn), and Zeus (Jupiter). Another form of Saturnian promiscuous dynamic is explored in the mythological figures of Oedipus and Antigone. This is followed by presentation of a case history.

                  Ines, a woman in her early thirties, enters analysis because she would like to solve the recurring problem of her unsuitable partnerships, in which her partners are predominantly promiscuous. The father was psychotically disturbed and the patient was the family member who offered support to him. Psychotherapy started with a stable frequency of two sessions a week. Within the transference, there appear two figures. One of a 'positive father,' and the other as the 'all-knowing.' The latter may be compared with the mythological figure of Oedipus, whose intelligence was exceptional, being demonstrated in his redemption of Thebes from the Sphinx. All the same, Oedipus suffered from a promiscuously incestuous relationship with his mother Iocaste. During old age, when he was expelled, and accompanied by his faithful daughter Antigone, Oedipus was most probably psychotic. In the analysis, Ines has decided, after 200 hours of analysis, to reduce the frequency down to one session a week. The problem of analytic interpretation is described, as well as the effects of interpretation (when it finally takes place) that it had on the analytic relationship and analytic process. The intimate and important link between promiscuity and incest is also explored, promiscuous actualizing the incestuous. Promiscuity is a manifest sexual activity with the unknown other. Promiscuity can also be considered as a defense against paranoia.

                  About the author

                  Matjaž Regovec is a Jungian analyst and analytical psychologist. He undertook his analytic training in Vienna while living and working in Slovenia and is a member of the London based Association of Jungian Analysts (AJA, IAAP), as well as a professional member of the Slovenian Association of Psychotherapists (ZPS).

                  In 1993, Matjaž founded IPAL (Institut za psihološko astrologijo in psihoanalizo Ljubljana) – Ljubljana Institute for Psychological Astrology and Psychoanalysis, of which he is still the managing director. The Institute offers a professional three-year diploma course in counselling, as well as a postgraduate training in psychoanalysis (www.ipal.si). Matjaž has a private practice in Ljubljana and works with Jungian analytic self-experiential groups in Ljubljana, Belgrade and Budapest.



                  Fisher King Press publishes of an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.
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                  Thursday, November 11, 2010

                  The Lost Boys

                  article by Nancy Qualls-Corbett

                  A scene once observed was not volatile or violent, yet it has remained in my memory, long lasting and sad. The event was rather mundane in its circumstance but the effect was that of consciously acknowledging something that would have lasting consequences. This happened in Florence, Italy. I was walking by one of the major museums and saw a group of about twenty teenage students, healthy, good-looking boys and girls, standing outside. They looked to be on a field trip and waiting for their instructor for their tour to begin. About a third of them had cell phones and were talking animatedly on them. The other two thirds, mostly the boys, had their backs against the wall staring blankly out into space. In their young eyes I recognized a deadening of spirit. There is no flirting, no kidding or “good guy” jostling around, no interaction or relating to one another, no face to face communication, as one thinks is rather the norm of this age group. It was only by a mechanical means, the cell phone, any contact with another was happening. I wondered at that time what had wounded that vibrant spirit and engaging energy of these young men. They seemed like lost boys.

                  Since that time and over the past few years I found myself becoming more aware and more concerned about occasional reports in current news media and newspaper editorials regarding new behavioral tendencies or habits of teen age boys and young men. These were not top news items, but inevitably these articles would catch my eye. One report by Maggie Smith, “Shutting Themselves In”, in the New York Times Magazine and another by Michael Zielenziger, “Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created It’s Own Lost Generation”, on a PBS interview. These two presentations described a crisis occurring in the Far East in which a growing number of young men are isolating themselves in their bedroom, usually a very small area, literally for years at a time. One case reported up to fifteen years. They drop out of school; do not have a job, no social interaction except the bare minimum amount with their family, if that. In their private little refuge the world at large is kept at a safe distance while they live a life of fantasy in TV, and radio music and video games. It is estimated by one research psychiatrist that over one million young Japanese men or 1% of the population is affected.[1] It was reported that the longer these boys continue in their self-imposed exile, the likelihood of their returning to the outer world is diminished. The cultural ramifications for the future management in government, economic or community leadership are considerable, not to mention the implications for a life of psychological well-being. When reading these news items, I wondered, where was the sense of the spirit of the hero, a direction in life, the élan of life—where had it gone? They seemed to me to be lost boys.

                  The Japanese and other Eastern countries have named this psychological condition as hikikomori [2] which roughly translates into “withdrawal.” This type of “withdrawal” is not to be confused with that which we would classify as a schizoid personality or other pathological conditions such as autism or Asperger’s syndrome. It is not related to alcohol or non-prescribed drugs. Although the behavior of hikikomori share several symptomatic traits with the above mentioned psychological conditions such as reclusiveness or absence of social interaction there is not the prevailing lack of eye contact or lack of affect, i.e. non-emotional facial or verbal expressions, or lack of verbally ability or motor skills. The onset is generally later in teenage years than one would see in the other pervasive developmental disorders.

                  Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
                  Although seemingly not as extreme symptomatically, but perhaps as pervasive, we are experiencing the same psychological phenomena in our Western culture—that of young men delaying adulthood. Dr. Leonard Sax’s recent book, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men lists those five factors as: 1) feminization of education; 2) video games; 3) increased prescription of psychotropic drugs that affect the motivational systems of the brain;[4] 4) exposure to endocrine disrupters;[5] and 5) lack of heroic role models.

                  In the January 2008 edition of the Newsweek magazine’s cover story, “The Boy Crisis,” described boys in every demographic are falling behind according to almost every key societal and academic metric. About one half of the male college population fails to complete their college career in four years.

                  David Brooks, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, entitled his column, “The Odyssey Years.” He reports about the delaying of adulthood or at least those certain accomplishments by which we once define adulthood: finishing one’s education or learning a trade, moving away from the parental home, becoming financially independent, getting married and starting a family. He writes that “in 1960 roughly 70 percent of 30 year olds had achieved these things. By 2000, fewer than 40 percent of 30 year olds had done the same.”[6] There is apparently less motivation to embark on a career, less drive to actively engage in community, fewer inspirations to look toward the future, and a near to non existent relationship to the feminine. Seemingly the hero is experienced only vicariously through films or video games. Grand Theft Auto IV, the fast paced new video game released April, 2008 is reported to have grossed $500 million in the first week of sales.[7] Certainly that dollar figure reflects the investment of not only money but the psychological investment, in “playing the hero.” The same is true of motion pictures. Top money grossing films carry titles like The Dark Knight, The Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, or Hellboy. All these films are about larger than life, super- duper heroes, and for a few hours in the dark seclusion of a movie theater the young man can project his identification with the strength, the risk-taking, even a suave romantic assuredness onto the masculine image depicted on big screen. Not unlike the Atlas or Hercules of ancient Greece these images of archetypal heroes reverberate in the dark subterranean stream of the unconscious. Paradoxically, we see a very select well-disciplined and focused group of young men and women compete in Olympic Games or other types of strong, forceful, vigorous sports. On worldwide TV screens and perhaps in our mind’s eye this is the image we wish to retain of the beautiful image of youth, but this type of championship is a world away from these lost secluded boys.

                  For these young men dating or social interaction with a young woman is reduced to Facebook or on-line chat rooms. Sexual feelings or expression gives way to easily available on-line pornography sites, and a growing addiction to cyber-sex. Working towards building a career is replaced with non-challenging, uncreative, less than permanent employment, if in fact they are employed. David Brooks writes “Their world [is] characterized by uncertainty, diversity, and tinkering. Old success recipes don’t apply, new norms have not been established and everything seems to give way to a less permanent version of itself”[8] Again I wonder. A less permanent version of one’s self? A less permanent vision of one’s self? And the image of the lost boy re-emerges in my mine’s eye once again.

                  Perhaps we are most familiar with the term, “the lost boys”, from J.M. Barrie’s children’s classic, Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. It is an appealing story of an eternal youth who was the leader of a tribe of lost boys in Never-Never land, a fantasy land, along with a cast of fairies, pirates and mermaids whom the lost boys encountered. In the story Peter Pan explains to Wendy, the young daughter of the Darling family, how the lost boys came to Neverland: they fell out of their prams when they were very young and no-one bothered to go to find them; it was too much trouble.

                  J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Real Story Behind Peter Pan
                  Actually James Barrie’s own life reflects this psyche wound. When he was six years of age his older brother died in a tragic accident and his mother became very depressed and remained bed-ridden. Wistfully hoping he could cheer her, he learned to whistle like the now deceased brother once did and wear his clothes in the same way or imitate the brother’s lively little dance. Try as he might, young James could not gain his mother’s love or attention. Possibly this is the reason that one of the original titles for Peter Pan was Boys Who Hated Mothers.[9]

                  “I don’t want to grow up,” is the phrase associated with Peter Pan and the lost boys—an expression we frequently use when describing the puer aeternus, the young man whose normal adolescent psychology continues far into later life. Although there are many parallels we find with the hikikomori or the young men in their Odyssey Years, it is not all so inclusive. I find there are some basic differences.

                  Dr. von Franz describes the puer aeternus as:
                  In general, the positive quality of such youths is a certain kind of spirituality which comes from a relatively close contact with the unconscious…They usually have interesting things to talk about and have an invigorating effect upon one.[10]
                  No. This is not the case of the lost boys of whom I’m speaking. They are withdrawn within themselves. There is no engagement, no sparkle, no relating to another.

                  Von Franz also portrays the puer as having “to a smaller or greater extent, a savior complex, or a Messiah complex, with the secret thought that one day one will be able to save the world, the last word in philosophy, or religion, or politics or art, or something else will be found.”[11] Hillman saw in the puer a vision of “our own first natures, our primordial golden shadow…our angelic essence as messenger of the divine.” From the puer, he concludes, we are given our sense of destiny and meaning.[12] Jung saw the puer aeternus as referring to the child archetype and speculated that its recurring fascination springs from man’s projection of his inability to renew himself. To be in a perpetually evolving state, to redeem by innocence, to visualize new beginnings are all attributes of this nascent savior.”[13]

                  Again, no, this seemingly is not the case…the archetypal puer does not readily correspond to what we are viewing today as the lost boys. There is no forward searching of what the world is about, no look into the future, or a desire to so. There is no provisional life we frequently see in puers, rather it is a stasis if not regression, a hunkering down, pulling the covers over their heads, a disallowing of life to touch one. There are no risk-takers, no daredevil aviators as von Franz describes in her classic interpretation of “The Little Prince.” The only risk at all is perhaps pushing the button or mouse so that the video hero is activated and this is done in a private place where no one else will see one’s failures.

                  The psychological factors which lend themselves to the imminent situation of masculine development of these lost boys are three: 1) a negative mother complex. 2) lack of masculine hero models. 3) the stress factor imposed by our culture, our collective conscious, onto young men.

                  With the archetype of the puer aeternus we find a strong positive mother complex, i.e. no other woman can quite compete with the love and attention of mother. With the lost boys, however, there is the strong negative mother complex, as Barrie so succinctly stated: Boys who hated mothers…they fell out of their prams and no one bothered to find them. Nonetheless the strong connection that continues to exist to the mother or the mother imago is the need to be mothered much the same as Barrie relates in the story of Peter Pan. Peter convinces Wendy to fly with him to Neverland so that she could darn the clothes of the lost boys, tuck them in bed and tell them bedtime stories. The lost boys were in need of nurturing, of acceptance, love, in need of seeing delight in the mother’s eye. A similar dynamic exists in the lost boys to whom I’m referring.

                  We are aware of the psychological experiments from some time ago when baby chimpanzees immediately after birth were fed by a modeled mother chimpanzee fashioned from wire and covered with the same type of hide, molded arms that held the baby, had the same smell and given the real mother’s milk to nurse through a fashioned breast and nipple. But these baby chimps failed to develop at a normal rate and many died. More recent studies in neuro-psychology show how the mother’s loving touch is absolutely necessary in the development of the neurological pathways of the limbic brain. The limbic lobe of the brain, which is located in the hollow space between the two cerebral lobes of the brain, is the seat of our emotions. Three psychiatrists, Lewis, Amini and Lannon who authored the book, A General Theory of Love, explain, “Emotions allow human beings to receive the contents of each other’s minds. It is the messenger of love…It is the receptive component [that] allows people to acquire complex knowledge about the internal state of another person. For human beings, feeling deeply is synonymous with being alive.”[14] Even babies who are blind at birth smile when held by their loving mother. These are the mothers who offer loving care in the formative years and bid a loving farewell in their young manhood years. As we well know there is the other kind of mothers.

                  I am reminded of the myth of Cybele and Attis. Cybele was the Phrygian great mother goddess. Her chariot was pulled by lions. She was strong and fearless and ruled over all. She was possessive of all her domain and this also included her beautiful, youthful son, Attis. When he fell in love with a beautiful maiden, Cybele’s jealously knew no ends. She drove Attis to madness. We are told in the myth that Attis castrated himself and threw his male members at her. And most certainly we find this same lost of “manliness” in the lost boys. They are psychologically castrated.

                  But this problem is not only created by possessive mothers whose son/lovers exist only for the edification of the mother—the absence of male hero models, as Dr. Sax listed, is also prevalent in our culture. As the father or surrogate father is usually the first male figure the young male infant encounters, the physical and emotional presence plays a major role in the development of the young man’s ego, a sense of identification with his maleness, a sense of self confidence and a sense of self. It is the nature of the strong, well developed ego, that the archetype of the hero is realized. Here we must ask ourselves the question: does a boy without boyhood grow to be a man without manhood?

                  Dr. Jung says of the image of the hero embodies man’s most powerful aspirations and reveals the manner in which they are ideally realized. “It is the being who symbolizes ideas, forms and forces that mold or grip the soul.”[15] Yet in a young man’s development, it needs to be realized, to be integrated by ego.

                  Dr. Jung continues:
                  In myths the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it. And yet both have to deal with the same dragon. Also, he is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if he once saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the treasure hard to attain.[16]
                  I don’t believe that Dr. Jung was referring to the dragons on Dungeons and Dragons video games, a fantasy place no less than Neverland. These are real life adventures, concerted risks, in love or daring deeds that one must undertake. “There is no birth of consciousness without pain,”[17] as Jung explains

                  Joseph Campbell describes those who refuse the hero’s call:
                  Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, or “culture,” the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless…”[18]
                  A wasteland of dry stones and a meaningless life precisely portrays and reveals this image of lost boys.

                  Our culture has also added to this growing burden for young men of “shutting out the sun,” the light of consciousness, the hallmark of Apollo. David Miller contends in his article, “Why Men are Mad.”:
                  ...men’s bodies tell them that here has all along been something awry in the very patriarchy whose chauvinism should have served their interest. Men themselves have been unwittingly wounded by the same male perspective which has wounded women”[19] He explains that Freud’s theory of penis envy does not explain what would be the corresponding envy men. If according to Freud, the little girl sees a boy’s penis and is envious of this “something”, then as Miller hypothesizes, the little boy sees nothing which results in “nothing” envy. He makes the distinction that women are not envious of penises, but of phallus (and Freud should have named it phallus envy), the symbolic power of male dominance in a patriarchal culture. “The very patriarchy which has connected dominance, power aggression, initiative, rational meaning, thinking and commitment to maleness, that perspective which has deprived women of a phallus, has also loaded more on men than they wish to bear. What a relief it would be to be rid of this thing, to have nothing.”[20]
                  Our news media are giving us a cultural readout: an EKG, as it is: the beat and rhythm of heart, the nuance and intonation of our collective heart. The lost of the true essence of the feminine, not necessarily only the “mothering” but the soulful meaning, the quintessence of principle of relatedness, the acknowledgment of emotions. This is coupled with the dominance or posturing or inflated societal expectations of male “power” without the basic building blocks for masculine ego development. Is this the explosion without containment in our world’s crisis from which our lost boys are retreating?

                  I hear and feel the deep grief of an analysand whose son returned from the war in Iraq and who very soon after left home for his self-exiled place in the deserts out west. He, no doubt, is suffering Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome…as the mounting numbers depict returning soldiers are experiencing. He certainly exemplified a heroic spirit in going to war, but it could not be sustained. Not unlike the lost boys, he has retreated from the world to the deserts of Arizona all alone with only a few e-mails from time to time to family. He retreated far from the toxic atmosphere of a world gone mad. Perhaps it is not so unrealistic as to view this scenario from the psychological realm of the lost boys. Retreating, opting out of the collective conscious values and manifestations can and may be a way to reach beyond the presenting attitudes, a protection sort to speak, all the demands or images we project on these young men.

                  There are therapy groups established for the treatment of these young men that attempt to socialize and to bring some normalization (as we define it.) Korea and other places have institutionized programs in which youth who are addicted to video games are sent to a rigorous camp, an outward bounds type of setting. There are TV spots in which a well-known athlete, a sports hero says to the viewing audience—and directed to young people: “Come out and play.” Inner cities are establishing a “buddy-system” where men in all walks of life are spending quality time with disadvantaged youths. These are helpful perhaps in behavioral modification sort of way. The problem is recognized but is it addressing the deeper issue?

                  Jung wrote, “If there is anything that we wish to change in our children, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”[21] I am reminded of Jung’s writing of the Rainmaker myth as it was told to him by Rickard Wilhelm.
                  There was a great drought where Wilhelm lived; for months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic. The Catholics made processions; the Protestants made prayers and the Chinese burned joss sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result. Finally the Chinese said, “We will fetch the rain-maker.” And from another province a dried up old man appeared. The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow-storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rain-maker that Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it. In true European fashion he said: “They call you the rain-maker, will you tell me how you made the snow? And the little old Chinese man said: “I did not make the snow. I am not responsible.” “But what have you done these three days?” [asked Wilhelm] “Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came.[22]
                  Are we, not unlike the Rainmaker? The issue here is to address the fact that our collective psyche, the world’s soul, the anima monde is not in Tao. We are not in the right order of the “ordinance of heaven.” Our lost boys are sending us a clear signal. They are symptomatic of this sickness of our time—searching for the heroic spirit and the warmth of humankind as they retreat into their isolated space and fed only by mechanical gadgets. Are they not a reflection of the hollowness of our collective spirit, the mirroring of our collective neurosis? And yet, as we know, our neurosis, when acknowledged, can also be a place of healing. In our world of crisis we are standing on a thin ledged precipice. “The descent into the depths always seems to precede the ascent,”[23] as Dr. Jung wrote. Hopefully we may kindle the light of consciousness to light the way through this explosive maze. Also as Jung wrote, “The world hangs on a thin thread, and that thread is the psyche of man.”[24] In our individual containment, we become a filament of that thread.

                  Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Ph.D. is a diplomat of the C. G. Jung Institute, Zurich and is a practicing analyst in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a senior training analyst affiliated with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. The author of The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine and Awakening Woman, she has lectured in the States and Europe on this topic. 


                  Resurrecting the Unicorn: Masculinity in the 21st CenturySuggested reading: Resurrecting the Unicorn: Masculinity in the 21st Century by Bud Harris

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                  [1] Maggie Jones, “Shutting Themselves In.” New York Times Magazine, January 15, 2006. Page 2. (Also Michael Zielenziger, author of Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation, interviewed on NPB “All Things Considered”, Nov. 6, 2006.)
                  [2] Ibid, page 2
                  [4] Ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, for instance.
                  [5] Bisphenol A is an endocrine disrupter and is found in some plastic water and baby bottles, plastic food containers, dental materials, and the linings of metal food cans. It is a known endocrine disruptor, and "hundreds of studies published in the decade" have found that laboratory animals exposed to low levels of it have elevated rates diabetes, mammary and prostate cancers, decreased sperm count, reproductive problems, early puberty, obesity, and neurological problems. Other types of endocrine disrupters are found in soft toys, flooring, cosmetics, air fresheners, or flame retardants. See Wikipedia, “Endocrine disrupters.”
                  [6] David Brooks. “The Odyssey Years.” New York Times. October 9, 2007.
                  [7] Machinist, “Grand Theft Auto IV" sales top $500 million in a week.” May 8, 2008. Internet.
                  [8] David Brooks, ibid.
                  [9] Andrew Birkin. J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys. Yale University Press, New Haven. 1986 p. iii
                  [10] Maria Louise von Franz. The Problem of the Puer Aeternus. Inner-City Books, Toronto. 2000 p.9
                  [11] Ibid. p. 8
                  [12] James Hillman. The Dream and the Underworld. Harper and Row, New York.
                  [13] Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter, Fred Plaut. A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. P. 125
                  [14] Lewis, Thomas, Amini, Fari, Lannon, Richard. A General Theory of Love. Vintage Books, New York. P.40
                  [15] C. G. Jung CW5 para. 259
                  [16] C.G. Jung, CW
                  [17] Jung, CW 17, para. 331
                  [18] Joseph Campbell. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Bollingen Series XVII, Princeton University Press, Princeton. P. 59
                  [19] Miller, “Why Men are Mad” Spring 91 p. 71
                  [20] ibid. p. 73
                  [21] ("The Development of Personality," 1934)
                  [22] C.G. Jung CW vol. 14. para. 604n
                  [23] C.G Jung, CW vol. 9 (1)
                  [24] Quoted in Tom Dozier, Houston Post, 16 September 1957)


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