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.


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