IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS
While writing this paper I had the following dream. I was sitting in an audience at a conference on analysis. An old man with was giving a lecture. His words had great weight for the audience. At the height of his lecture he put down his notes and turned to the audience with an air of one who is about to offer an intimate gift of wisdom. “After all these years of work,” he said, “I have come to the conclusion that success in analysis is most related to friendship. I have been fully successful with 15% of my patients. They are the ones who have added to the world by becoming deeply inspiring friends to others including me.”
I and the audience was surprised by the notion of friendship being the critical variable in success but as I sat and thought about it I became more intrigued and not a little bit convinced…
Analysis is a modern manifestation of an archetypal paradigm, two people coming together at the behest of one to create a profound relationship in order to work in the greatest possible depth at the task of individuation. In this paper I will be talking about the last stages of analysis. The last stages of analysis assumes a familiarity with one’s personal, social and cultural history; extensive knowledge of one’s childhood including the rediscovery, with reflection and consciousness, of the old family relationships and understanding how these relationships are mirrored and shape of the adult personality and arc of life events. It also assumes familiarity with the psychological process of reflection, the experiential notion of containment in a therapeutic situation, and the real as well as the transferential aspects of the analytic relationship.
This may seem like a great deal to cover in analysis—enough perhaps for most of us in a lifetime. Yet I want to argue that all these elements are really the first stages, a prelude to something more, to a larger transformative perspective whose absence in the analysis constricts and limit individuation work from the very beginning.
Most analysts and their patients recognize a time in the work when many of these elements, a reflective container, appreciation of personal and transferential projection systems and their relationship to developmental patterns are largely in place and something else, something very different is incipient and brewing between them. I hasten to add that I am not talking about time in analytic work as finite time but rather recognition of a temporal process underway. The work of the first stages of analysis takes subjective time but it is really a state of mind and relationship. It may be on its way to completion in the first few months or not even potential until well into a many years of therapeutic relationship. Mostly it is a time in analysis when the psychological learning curve of analysis has become what in mathematical language is called asymptotic, that is approaching a flat line but never quite reaching it, while an entirely new function is rapidly changing the slope of the process.
Usually, both the patient and analyst apprehend this reorganization in their work with some reluctance. For the patient, the sense of accomplishment that learning about one’s own psychology brings is balanced with the pain of letting go of two commonplace analytic seductions: the virginal passion of self discovery and the heroic hope of easily turning psychological insights into new life forms. The analyst recognizes a change in the authority structure which is both welcome and difficult. The analyst feels questioned in a different way, not from a challenging or threatened place but more with curiosity about what is happening, what is next, what is still possible. The analyst, particularly the experienced analyst who knows the state and is not threatened by it (as many are) hesitates to interpret these questions, rather hears and ponders them wondering what indeed is next, where will the relationship lead. The patient begins to occupy a different place in his or her schedule, in his or her feelings, in his or her professional psyche. The work is easier more harmonious; the patient may feel more like a good friend or a colleague and yet there are still rules and ethics, still boundaries to be observed and honored. Some patients react with fear and unconsciously or even consciously, work to return to the analytic relationship to a more dependent state. Some analysts do the same by refocusing on regressive transference issues or other stratagems which keep analysis interminable and, if I may be cynical, also keep their pocketbooks well lined.
As analysts see more and more patients arrive at this stage their theory of what analysis is about also may change. So it is that experienced analysts begin to talk and write about the limits of analysis, particularly the limits of the reflective and insightful mode of work. There is a search for a deeper layered model of adult development and of analysis itself . Jung did this in his later work particularly in “The Psychology of the Transference” and the Mysterium Coniunctionis. (Later I will talk about the work of John Haule and Don Sandner as well as my own work in this regard.) For the analysts, this retrospective reworking of earlier theory is often a bitter sweet fueled perhaps by the inevitable “failures” in ones practice, the grudging return of one’s own and one’s colleagues patients and the reevaluations of “successful analyses” which did not lead to an ability to cope with realistic life problems. Inevitably these reevaluations focus on responsibility for failure. It is true that we can and do say to our patient and returning patients, “so you don’t like where you are now. But without our work together , look where you would have been.” But while that may hold some truth it is also self serving and precludes the kind of feedback which might help us transform our methods. There are many other cover stories for failure. We can blame economics and managed care for the decline in the popularity of analysis and ascendance of short term behaviorally oriented therapies yet Western societies are richer than ever; better that we look to our failures and use them to help us develop then allow cynical groups to do these evaluations for us.
In my paper last year I told you a story about four analysts who I called Lancelot, Gueneviere, Gallahad and Merlin. It was a complicated story of corruption and intrigue at a Jungian Institute which could be Every Institute. Briefly summarized Gallahad had learned that Lancelot, one his analytic colleagues, had sexual relation with a patient and institute /candidate Gueneviere. Merlin, analyst to all three, had broken confidentiality by telling Gallahad, Gueneviere’s current lover, of the affair. Inevitably these violations and the ensuing secrets, lies and cover-ups hurt others while threatening the stability of personal and institutional relationships. They provoked painful individuation dilemmas. Noting that secrets held and assimilated can serve inner learning and the creation of a strong personal identity, I argued that a secret can also be held too long with the effect of eroding a sense of integrity and a commitment to a personal truth in the world the very essence of the later stages of individuation. “Holding the secret first provides the chance to learn and grow from inside but may come to serve cowardice and stagnation under the cover story of not hurting anyone including oneself. The benchmark for telling the secret must always be whether it serves the grail of individuation. “
Now in this story it seemed to me that the characters had reached the point where the grail of individuation for each of them was being poorly served by keeping the secrets. They were imprisoned in lies in ways that were at odds with further self development. What was required was a new kind of connection with the collective that included their secrets and lies even at the risk of becoming a scapegoat for that collective. This new connection with the collective through “truth” could be described as finding and valuing a “third thing”. I use the word ‘thing’ in the sense of one of its less well known definitions, “an abstract quality or entity, that which is or may become an object of thought whether material or ideal, animate or inanimate, actual, possible or imaginary.” The third thing transcends ego, crossing to a stage (which Jung describes as the 3rd conjunction) in which individuation culminates in living one’s truth in and through the world, a process in which walking the walk supersedes talking the talk.
And yet when I asked the audience how many would be in favor of telling these secrets only one person raised her hand . This was shocking to me. Obviously I had not convinced most listeners that the imagined and real risk of telling the secret was justified by the potential gain in personal development. (By the end of the weekend many people present claimed to have changed their mind.) The nature of these individuation secrets and their interaction with truth as a third thing development is closely connected to the issues I will talk about tonight, namely the developing individual’s interface with the collective. So I thought I would begin with an evaluation of what did happens in the to and fro of institute politic when truth was told.
But first a necessary proviso to any such evaluation process. For many individuals and spiritual communities, living ones truth is axiomatic to the individuated life. An axiom does not require step by step proof and proof is indeed inimical to the very notion of individuation which is, as every spiritual path, not based on logic but on spiritual faith and personal courage. Individuation is not a bottom line process. We do have the statements of so called spiritual masters and the narratives of lives of people who lived honestly along such a path. Gandhi statement is clearest. “Truth”, he says “should be the very breath of our life. When once this stage in the pilgrim’s progress is reached, all other rules of correct living will come without effort and obedience to them will be instinctive.”
While we may intuitively feel the sacredness of truth doing , most of us, unlike Gandhi, hold back because of its consequences. In the spring of 1997 the Roman Catholic Church asked “God and the Jewish people to forgive its failure to speak out when 76,000 Jews were deported to Nazi death camps from outside of Paris in World War II.” The statement said: “today we confess that our silence was a mistake. ” After imploring forgiveness the collective statement went on to say that the silence” went far beyond traditional obedience, remaining bogged down in a conformist, wait-and-see attitude. Indifference won over indignation and …silence was the rule.” As a Jew I do not forgive the church; their sin is unforgivable. But I understand the fear that underlies conformity and silence. Gandhi spoke out and acted but Gandhi’s sacrifice was life itself for he died a scapegoat’s death at the hands of an assassin. Jesus, another famous truth speaker also died a scapegoats death. We see more than enough evidence around us that truth doing is a dangerous path to take, leading so often to exile, ostracism and isolation. But there is a pervasive life numbing risk of not living ones truth. It is present in depressed faces, bodily illness, dead relationships, and unrealized potential and creativity. We see it in our unlived lives and the regrets uttered on our deathbeds. And we see it in the scapegoat victims of our cowardice, in child abuse, crime, wars, in the mother who ignores her husband’s incest with her daughter because she fears for her security and the husband who sacrifices a family, community or even a national wars rather than tell the truth about his infidelity. I can tell you something about what happened to the Jungian knights and lady in relation to their truth and lies, their outspokenness and their silence in the collective of the professional community. Gallahad, true to his name, did bring his truth into the institute community. So did Gueneviere. Lancelot stonewalled and protected himself as best he could while defaming the characters of those who threatened his silence and reputation. Merlin also stayed in hiding but did not threaten Gallahad or Gueneviere as Lancelot did. The Institute that had to receive such deflating and shadow laden information about respected heroes of the system was hardly sanguine and like Lancelot, also tried to cover-up some of the excesses revealed . Not unexpectedly there was quite an active attempt to scapegoat and silence the newsbreakers and their friends. The bearer of bad tidings is never a popular figure; killing the messenger is routine in such circumstances. The collective loves a scandal but also would much rather keep its heroes and its magicians in their righteous place then face their ordinariness, their sordidness and their humanness.
The very nature of individuation requires a break with the collective and also a return to it. It does seems to me that Gallahad and Gueneviere are better off from the perspective of observable personal growth and creativity than Lancelot and even Merlin although they may not be as comfortable in their institute as they once were. It is always difficult to live ones truth in the world but the nature and extent of the sacrifice required by the individual is also determined by the state of the collective. One of the points about individuation of either is that it is never easy or popular, in the short run at least. For an individual to tell his or her truth without mortal risk to body and soul, there must be a receptive vessel and in order for the collective to be a receptive vessel it must hear and assimilate the truths of its members. This would require considerable individuation in both individual and the collective than was overtly present in the institute community.
The collective I am talking here did not behave any differently than many other groups and communities. Their fear based behavior inherent in their silence and deception and scapegoating is hardly unique. What is interesting about this community however is that they are all analysts or analytical candidates—men and women uniquely committed to their own development , all of whom put an enormous amount of time and energy into inner work. They are the ultimate product of a psychological century , the answer to a 100 year experiment begun with Freud and carried on by Jung and many other followers. For the original idea of the analytic profession was not simply the pursuit of inner development; the project was also and primarily about making a difference in the larger collective, in society as a whole. Obviously these analysts are involved in helping society through their role and commitment to the healing profession. And therapy does help individuals in conflict and in crisis and in interpersonal dilemmas. These are noble advances. The world would be a lesser place if there were no therapist to heal where there is psychic pain and suffering.
But that is not all of what our forebears had in mind when they focused on the transformation of society with their analytic method. They were seriously searching for a way to alter society through engaging individuals in the process of analysis. This was a compelling task for our method has been borne and bred in midst of the greatest scapegoating catastrophes in human history—the holocaust in Europe and, with a different cast of characters, related racial and political slaughters in much of the world, not to mention a vast acceleration of ecological damage to the environment, another kind of scapegoating. If we identify scapegoating as the collective analogy to ignoring the shadow in the individual, then it is possible to see the way a society of analysts deals with its own shadow as a powerful and telling social experiment. Such a collective should have at its disposal more developed ways than other groups which might serve to decrease the cycles of fear and denial which fuel the path of scapegoating. The behavior of a small communities of analysts is a test of analysis itself if we include this larger than clinical perspective. It is then no small matter for me to suggest that a community of analysts, men and women who are supposedly focused on personal development and have been fortunate to have years and years of the very best analyses in that service, have, over the years consistently behaved no better in their own society then other groups and communities. I know this is vast generalization and not everyone involved would agree. Still if I am correct in my observations, if we, with all our personal work can do no better than we have, than how can we espouse analysis to others.
In my opinion our analytic Institutes have not proved themselves emulatable models of how to function more humanely and consciously in collective life. The contrary is true. We are bad examples for others and have been accurately labeled that way by society. In that sense, however well analysis has worked as a clinical therapeutic tool it has not lived up to its founders larger (and perhaps inflated) hopes. That does not mean that we don’t have our good aspects. Many analytic communities are extremely effective in taking care of the ill and the lonely in the community, that is we are capable of transferring some of what we do in our offices to our professional community. But that is not matched by our actual ethical standards or our ability to create and maintain honest and creative communities which do not scapegoat. Our profession is definitely under siege; the scandals and sloppy cover-ups in our institutes has not gone unnoticed in the general community and that has nourished cynicism about analysts leading to a great loss of status in both the profession and its method.
At least in the United States this a practical reality. I spend quite a lot of time training young psychiatrist and psychologists, particularly psychiatric residents, and they are hardly sanguine about the role of psychotherapy, or the practice of therapy in their training. They have a lot of different weapons at their disposal, not the least of which are better medicines and motivational tools. Furthermore, the behavior of analyst as individuals and a group has affected their evaluation of how to proceed in their career. Some of us who have spent much of our lives in analytic institutions would say the same. That is not to say that there is not still a proliferation of therapists and analysts who do a great deal of healing and training institutes play a beneficial role in that. But the examples of the four Arthurian analysts in my anecdote is prototypic because of the literally 100’s of years of analysis they represent and what they can and cant do with that work. How can so much denial and repression live in people analyzed so long by the most renown analysts? Even more important how can our professional societies remain so unreflective of all the analysis we have undergone?
I have spent a much of my professional life doing analysis and am struck again and again by the inability of my colleagues to put our inner work into outer practice—to walk the walk rather than simply talk the talk. It is tempting to say this is the human condition, or the ravages of middle age, or an overly utopian view what is possible through healing and I would not disagree with any of these descriptions. For the purposes of learning about rather than defending our profession, I would like to take the social experiment of which I am inadvertently a part, as well as my reading of its results fairly seriously and look to our own method as an important variable.
There are two categories of explanations for the apparent outcome of this social experiment which interest me most. The first relates to our analytic focus on the individual as compared to the group; the second deals with the analytic enterprise itself . I will be brief in discussing the former. Our individual focus has made analysts very problematic group members and leaders—we even applaud ourselves for this individualistic characteristic—and have great difficulty applying what we know to our group psyche. For example in many of the Jungian Institutes I have known and consulted to use scapegoating as a way of dealing with ethical and interpersonal problems; there is little pro-active work on the group process itself. By proactive I mean the need the anticipate the interaction between individual and group issues and their reverberations on each other. It is not enough for the individual or the community to work only on an individual inner life; we must also attend to the groups inner life for both the communities and the individuals integrity. Ironically, my own work on groups has been partly galvanized by what I have witnessed and participated in through my own Institute. Those of you who are more interested in this line of inquiry should read Up From Scapegoating; Awakening Consciousness in Groups
In this weekend however I want to consider the second explanation for the quality of our analytic communities, the quality and vision of analysis itself and of the larger analytic enterprise. I believe as did Jung that we must envision our work as more than a clinical technique designed to help people with their symptoms and complexes. Our vision must include our relationship to society and we must include that vision in our actual practice. That leads us directly to how we envision the last phases of analysis. For analysis to survive we need to offer more depth and breath which is to say more connection between inner and outer growth and development. We need to extend the boundaries of work; depth work is not simply about inner development, it is about depth in both directions, the interface of individual and collective. It is in the last phases of analysis that the boundaries of analytic work needs to extend outward, that the interface between individual and collective takes center stage. There is no successful analysis if what is learned cannot be taken out into the world and lived. That is exactly what is being measured by our institute politic, the very area we lack intent and method and focus. Most analysts would not consider the individual/collective interface in their purview. Yet as any one who knows chess will confirm, the endgame of any process holds the key to the entire process. I think it is this incomplete vision of the analytic process that leads to the fear-based behavior that we see in so many analysts and patients, that my institute anecdotes describes, and that ultimately limits the impact of analysis in general.
What I am arguing here is that we must extend our analytic method by reaffirming its domain as including work on collectively embodied transformations. If this seems utopian, I should remind us that this inclusion is part and parcel of natural transformation and also part and parcel of every spiritual path that moves beyond a narcissistic enterprise. I want to examine what we know of natural human rites of passage and the societal enterprise and containers that surround them with the analytic enterprise. In a sense I want to deconstruct the enterprise of analysis through the lens of more traditional rites of passage to see how we compare to the archetypal transformational process…
In 1908 Van Gennep, a preeminent anthropologist of his time named and classified rites of passage as “a wide degree of similarity among ceremonies of birth, childhood, social puberty, betrothal, marriage, pregnancy, fatherhood, initiation into religious societies and funerals. In this respect, man’s life resembles nature, from which neither the individual nor the society stands independent.”( The Rites of Passage. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1960 pg. 3.) He noted that these special times, mainly birth death, pregnancy and puberty are accompanied by ceremonies because they represent profound passages in space and time which require a “rite of spiritual passage”. The rite of spatial (or temporal) passage has become a rite of spiritual passage. Most importantly he said that persons who entered these states of being were in states discontinuous with their previous lives; they were in profound transitions which made them “sacred” to others who remained in “profane states.”
I read Van Gennep during my own family’s first pregnancy. At that time I was a professor at the school of Architecture in the University of California at Berkeley. I taught a class on these rites of passages and the sacred and profane spaces that they occupy, an enterprise which lead to the first birth center in the United States, a place where babies could be born with both the support of obstetrical know-how and in a way that was a genuine rite of passage. It was an example of a very unusual experiment, a successful attempt at creating a sacred space for a sacred event.
These rites of passage are clearly times when life is transformed. Puberty and adolescence, pregnancy and birth, marriage, pain, illness and loss and death are also such events. Anthropologists such as Van Gennep have gone to considerable length to describe these states and how they manifest in a variety of different cultures and traditions. Their notion of a dichotomous sacred and profane space and time may be too polarizing for many of us who live in today’s post modern society but it effectively emphasizes the transformative potential of these special events. Today we might say that the collective joins the participants to produce an event in an altered consciousness, what Montero has elsewhere called human altars. These human altars allow for altered states of space, time and consciousness; they support the ecstatic in the sense of being other- worldly which allows these profound events to transform us and our culture.
Does analysis also partake of the archetype of transformation in ways comparable to natural rites of passage? What is unique about the natural rites of passage (as distinct from analyses) their reliance on biological process to energize links of between life cycle events and the rituals and ceremonies that surround these events. In these rites of passage consciousness changes in the individual and group participants as part of the biological urgencies on which these transformational acts are based? The archetype of birth and death and rebirth are evoked . So we stand at the boundary between profane and sacred, cross over into sacred space, and later return impelled, guided, and protected by the collective rituals for each rite of passage.
There is always a suprapersonal element in the transformational archetype. I have called this suprapersonal element “the third thing” for it stands apart from polarities, from the conflicts, encounters and connections that change us even as it empowers these changes in transcendent ways. The third element is neither human, nor human interaction, but something apart and different from both. It occupies a space separate and apart from humanity, something from an “other world” which alters us without being itself changed Its essence stands outside and apart from our consciousness yet when we join with it, it alters our consciousness and our relationships in the most profound of ways. . Music is a quintessant third thing. The “other world” of music is neither human nor a relational element in humans but is nevertheless a medium for the suprapersonal to facilitate our crossings and transformations. Music is beyond our human venue even though we partake of it; its sound, tone, and rhythms, natural or composed exist separate and apart from us, beyond us, in another world from us. Music is available to all of us, yet with the proper intent it is a part of a profound crossing journey that may become a journey of transformation. But when music is used for transformation, when we go to it with that intent, join with it, shape it, play it and sing it then through this interaction with the third thing we can enter the realm of ecstatic transformation. We partake of it and, like some magical catalyst, it is still there after we have been transformed through our connection with it.
Analysis is a form which begins in the world of healing. Healing can partake of many realms—support and education can be healing. Healing occurs in both sacred and pragmatic worlds and analysis and must straddle both if it is to work for individuals at various stages of development and need. But the heart of the enterprise of analysis is individuation and individuation requires transformation. When healing enters the realm of transformation the third thing must be evoked. This transcendent catalyst is needed to engender deep change of personality, profound shifts in life goals and ways of being with oneself and in the world. Remember what it was like to be pregnant and become a parent and cross, to take a psychedelic drug and cross, to become sick and be operated upon and cross , to experience the death of a loved one and cross, to have a profound and numinous experience in analysis and cross. The healing experiences that are transformative feel like these crossing and re-crossings into other worlds and other states of consciousness. Analysis may have haling effects but it is a rite of passage, a transformative process, only if it relates to these kinds of experiences.
We can appreciate the great gap between the most profound transformational processes such as those present in biologically empowered rites of passage and analysis, in the secular contexts analysts use for our work To put it dramatically, we do not meet in an Aztec temple and meditate on sacrifice or on the Serengeti plains watching the a great flow of wild life pursue life, death and play. We do not meet on a a mountain top or in a cave. We do not use the inspiration of the concert hall , the great works of visual art, the sacred drugs or the physical ordeal. Rather we meet, carefully and obsessively with another person in a room in a building shared with other professionals. The space almost always mirrors a secular context and professional intent—we are there to do a job, to effect some kind of change which is healing to the client and to do it most efficiently.
I do not minimize the importance of professionalism in the practice of healing nor do I want to develop a judgmental hierarchy or that much of a boundary between secular and sacred healing. Minimalism and what works are good principles in our profession for we must be arch pragmatists as well as mystical shamans who explore other worlds and third things. Profound personal transformation may not save a life and helping someone stop smoking may. For a long time now when people ask me what I do as a therapist or analyst I answer “what works”.
Thus analysis as a form of healing may not be a priori a transformational technique. I think it can be if it taps the same core energy as biological rites of passage tap—our species evolutionary needs for transformation. Perhaps we could think of analysis as a technique that focuses on the individual’s role in species evolution. Helping individuals know themselves better, to reflect on their own innards and then bring this knowledge into the collective could have a profound impact on the development of our species and its relationship to our evolutionary niche. If analysis created more complex and creative individuals capable of living in a deeper more creative space, then our work would have a most profound significance indeed. We need only think of Einstein, Jesus, Napoleon, or the classic Jews, Greeks and sub-continental Indian subculture to understand how important nurturing individual and group creativity can loom in species evolution. Note, however that while healing can be a very individual affair, transformation in this evolutionary sense is not. The touchstone for transformation is always at the individual/collective interface.
Analysis may be transformational but unlike puberty, birth and death—biological rites of passage which are fueled directly by the evolutionary process and the survival needs of the collective—it transforms through our intent and what follows from that intent. Analysis then can be a transformational rite of passage but only if it taps into the archetype of transformation, death and rebirth, not only through expanding personal consciousness but through the intention to broaden the connection between personal and collective consciousness. Transformational analysis always requires a sacrifice at the collective altar. And while most analysts would surely like to see ourselves as part of this transformational world our actual roles and intent are often at variance with the latter part of that intent. Instead we take the individuals relationship with himself , his inner world, his developmental landmarks as the prime referent and the final product. The collective as it relates to individual development is not excluded, but neither is it a focus, not even a focus when the individual work, what I have called the first phases of analysis, is well along. If we happen to have a patient who goes through a significant rite of passage while in analysis the sacred connection may happen. We passively rely on such Deus ex Machina. We work with someone, we teach them something about themselves, we build a container for them to do psychological work and we wait for the inevitable push from love—that’s usually what we wait for—but the pust may come from other big sacred life events—births, and deaths and illness and loss, even special dreams and visions etc.—and then we help the person learn from these events. One of the great advantages of long term therapy is that it maximizes the chance for major life events to occur while we are working with someone, events then that can be optimally used as a fulcrum for transformation on the path towards individuation.
I do not minimize the import of the reflective container that analysis builds on transformational process. Its importance is well mirrored in the tightness and care with which we monitor the boundaries of time and space and transference as this vessel grows. Early in the work we count on these boundaries to allow the patient to learn something of his or her innards and learn a process for relating what he or she learns to here and now experience. But reflection is not transformation. The addition of the reflective can support transformation by deepening consciousness of the experience. Building the reflective container is a step towards, but not the essence of, the sacred world of collectively embodied transformation. That requires a nonpersonal catalyst, what I have called the third thing. For some of our most psychologically deprived patients, containment itself is the sacred medium and the first phases of analysis can become the third element itself. But that is not the usual case, especially in more developed patients for whom containment and a reflective consciousness is necessary but not sufficient for further growth. How then does the analyst who shares the transformational ethos expand the container and enter directly into the transformational nature of his work? Or put another way, how does the analyst become not only a healing professional who reflects and contains, but also join the ranks of those of us whose work relates directly to the sacred?
In the language of anthropology and also the ecstatic traditions we might call such persons technicians of the sacred. Every society has technicians of the sacred who serve the collective need for transformation, who use the force of life cycle change to transform human consciousness through festival and ritual. . The sacred technician, is someone who works who works with the third thing in the creation and facilitation of experience itself to create the human altar of transformation.
Who are these people and how is their role different from and similar to ours? Naming them goes a long way in answering this question. They are the “fools” who search for God : the makers of music, art, drama, poetry; they are the healers who are shamans, the Gurus, the prophets, charismatics; they are the medicine men and women whose medicines are the sacred psychedelic drugs Ayuasca, Psilocybin and Mescaline. Great composers are the best of them, in the Western music tradition Brahms and Mozart for example. When playing, singing or listening with transformational intent to Brahms German Requiem or Mozart’s Mass in C for example, some of us will enter sacred space and death and rebirth archetype and emerge transformed. I mention giants of the sacred profession but of course there are endless ordinary folk performing these roles with greater and lesser success. But the analyst as healer is not necessarily one of these transformers because the collective intent for our work is so often absent. And while we might help the seeker work with a Tibetan Buddhist meditation teacher or a traditional Navaho healer or a Hassidic rabbi we are not necessarily one of them, nor are we one of the makers of that tradition though we can certainly help people to integrate those experiences into their psychology. Shaman artists showed us the sacred element of our healing profession when they painted the mythical animal on the cave wall and made the first sacrifices to the gods asking for death and rebirth as an individual and collective act. For analysis to be in the realm of the sacred it must be more than a containing, reflecting and integrating process. If it is to stretch itself beyond boundaries defined by adaptation, it must risk more presence in these sacred realms and intercourse with that third thing—the transformational archetype requires it.
Still, recent directions in analysis have been to limit this purview, in part because of the excesses and boundary violations that have been perpetrated in the name of spiritual experimentation, and in part because the entire enterprise has not effected the kind of societal transformation that the method of analysis promised. The sacred and other techniques that act as a bridge to the collective are still a questionable part of analysis. What I am considering tonight is a series of questions about the nature of this bridge, and the development of a new form which allows psychology to penetrate the spiritual rather than encompass or be encompassed by it.
Let us see if it is possible to begin to design this bridge by opening a trilogue between the critical design elements 1)analyst/healer/guide, 2)the patient/seeker and 3)the technician of the sacred who I will call the shaman:
Let us begins with transference, the unconscious energy field between analyst and patient. Analysis, whatever its stage, rests on the transference. Whatever else is true, if the analysis is to be reframed or otherwise transformed, the transference must be part of that transformation. Transference is built on early childhood experience, on experience with parents and teachers and loved ones, on hopes and expectations of sexual, relational and spiritual needs. It is built from the energy of kinship libido and therefore enmeshed in the world of incest and incest taboo. The personal and archetypal permutations that grow from this chaotic enmeshment become the sinews and ligaments for our developing bond, the weaving of a container in which we enact analysis as a dyadic enterprise. Developing this container is one of the great arts of the analyst. Its length and strength and shape are built with the patient. As much as we are in the vessel we always hold the outer limit of that vessel. Sometimes creating that vessel is easy, sometimes hard. The nature of the patient, the perturbation of the transference, the bases of trust will all be critical.
Analysis is about the container and also what is contained. As the analysis proceeds I look for what is growing inside the container. I call this the medium, a method, a substance, a process growing in the container of the analysis that belongs to the both the patient and his relationship to the collective. The medium in analysis is related to the third element as a poem is related to the poetic literature. The medium can be music, art, dreams, a way of working in relationship, a body discipline, travel, curiosity and fantasy grounded in substance. It grows out of the reflective container but it is not the reflection itself. As it grows it expands beyond the previously defined analytic enterprise and connects the patient to its collective roots in the third thing.
The medium serves primarily as a catalyst for transformation, but transformation linked to the collective as well as the personal. The same elements in the first part of the analysis now operate in a larger dimension. Music, art, dreams, travel, fantasies, vision, relationship, become bridges to and intersections with larger forces rather than merely explicators and explanators of the personal. I consider the development of this kind of medium in the analysis as the beginning a new phase in the work for it is the patient’s ever widening road to transformation that takes part in collective energies.
What develops inside the container, the medium through which works takes place, is a function of the patient’s interests and background and also of the relationship with the analyst. Transference work as interpersonal and intersubjective dialogue plays a critical part in the growth and development of these work, the media can be one in and of itself. But while the medium may have it origins in the analytic work and may needs the nourishment of a trusting connection its importance is not in the personal connection but in its separateness, its uniqueness, its eccentric shapes and boundaries. It thrives best on the analysts curiosity, his or her exploration of the world at large as well as the individual in the consulting room. My own interest’s have always been eclectic and I welcome the chance to learn as much as I can that is new and beyond me from my patient. If this curiosity is fundamental to the analyst’s nature then there is a technical problem of how best to work with what the patient values… Dreams and mathematical equations, interpersonal nuance and writing practice, active imagination making money, are all potential transformational catalytic media in the analysis for a given individual in his collective and the analyst must be intensely interested in all of them and more. This means that the wider the analyst’s interests, knowledge, and therefore the ability to use whatever is of most interest to the patient rather to a particular therapeutic persuasion, the more the medium can develop within the analytic container. Without this fundamental curiosity the analyst will have difficulty helping his or her patient enter into the final stages of analysis which require connecting with the energies of a larger world than the personal. In this regard I now view the most valuable part of my education as an analyst as my basic liberal arts and science education.
The last stages of analysis are less about self consciousness and reflective consciousness and more about the nature of the medium and its catalytic effect on the patient’s relationship to the collective. The early excitement of analysis may have drawn on breathtaking connections between personal developmental and interpersonal and even transference relationship. But later on the more profound transformation requires a collective perspective, a joining of personal to collective experience. The medium emerges as a dominant element in the analysis. It overflows the analytic container into a space which draws more and more energy from “the third thing,” that suprapersonal element that both holds and transforms. This shift is what would be expected in the deepest nonpersonal phases of a rite of passage for however rich and immediate personal history and personal relationships can be to the individual, the matrix for transformation in the later stages of analysis and human life is always in collective space and time. However interesting our own person is to our ego, the potential of our connection to the collective is far richer. To transform we must go beyond the ego’s fascination with its own experience. There is a corresponding decrease in importance of the personal transference which illuminated the early relationship to more fascination with collective systems which include connections to the spiritual and artistic riches of the culture.
And here is one of the places where analysts need to maintain a dialogue with the sacred technician who has learned to create ritual altars which meld personal with collective symbol to transform and be transformed by the community. That is the perspective of the unus mundus, the great feast far transcending one persons slice of the pie no matter how rich and tasty. Relinquishing interest in the personal and even in the humanity is akin to changing the ego’s role in the development process and encouraging the impact of another level of development. That is the sine qua non in all spiritual traditions of development. Why should our transformative analytic art be any different?
As the medium grows in the analysis, it is more and more difficult to conceptualize the inner and outer as separate. We have entered into what Jung talks about in Aion as the superordinate “third.’ The dialogue of analysis becomes a trilogue between the patient, the analyst and the medium What I am describing may sound mysterious but it is not unknowable for the mediums relationship to the third thing is the stuff of beauty, service, spirituality. I and the patient can amplify and embellish the medium but not become the medium except as we join, briefly, through the archetype of transformation. It may be found and lost and found again as the analysis proceeds. But if the analysis proceeds beyond a certain point, psychological work, what we tend to think of as the “inner” work becomes secondary to the union of inner and outer. The transference as a psychological phenomena is subsumed by the new process and that means that if the analyst is to join as a participant technician in facilitating the sacred realms of transformation, he or she must reshape the boundaries of role and relationship. The fundamentals of the analytic process—as it was originally conceptualized—may have to change with all the risks and rewards therein.
Many patients glimpse these connecting moments early in their psychological work; they are often the impetus to beginning analysis or any other creative person enterprise. But they are only the prelude to a master work and much psychological work is needed before moments become a way of life. The analyst’s early task is to create the container in which the necessary and preliminary developmental and reflective work can proceed. Through all of this the medium gradually develops until it merges into the realm of the third element and the whole function of analysis shifts under that awesome influence. When this happens it is no longer a startling glimpse into another world , a flash of light or sudden opening of consciousness, but a gateway to an enlarging, cohering vision. I know this stage of analysis is imminent in my patients when I begin to feel that my psychological repertoire is limiting rather than helping. I find myself wondering if I have anything to provide beyond what the patient already knows As analyst healer I still feel the need to help; and there is still an assumption that I can. But reflection and containment upon which the analytic relationship is built is no longer the central transformative principle On the contrary, containment and reflection too often limits action, and action in the sense of a more embodied connection with the collective is what is required in transformation. So I must resign my former role; I must let other transformational processes and personages take over and find a new perspective if I am to continue to be part of the process.
So I return once more to my dream about the role of friendship in the successful completion of analysis. In my dream the quality of inspiring friendship is a marker of a successful analysis. Sometimes that friendship can even include the analyst; so says my dream at least. This is another description for a change in the transference which befits the importance of the medium, authority relationship must wither like the ego withers for friendship to be mutual and free and this is a rare and difficult outcome. The friend as companion may be an evolution toward that role; or the friend as companion but may be a cover story for mitigating the projections that remain, the inner work unresolved. C. S. Lewis in his book Four Loves talks of friendship as the highest form of human love. The friendship relationship embodies many of the qualities that become more and more important as analytic work continues into its final phases. It may become a third element in itself, a medium which is capable of catalyzing profound transformation in the psyche unlinked to the biological energies of sex, reproduction, and family. At its best it is a creative love freely chosen in a context of reflection, based on needs and requirements borne out of that reflection.
The dream captures something intensely personal for me. As I have grown older, friendship is a medium that catalyzes the transformative in me. That is especially true in my professional life. Thus my interest in this subject of the “final analysis” is inextricably bound up with a profound friendship I have had with Don Sandner, a Jungian analyst who died 9 months ago who I will quote extensively to you in the next part of this talk. He shared my interest in tonight’s subject. We talked at great length about it and his death inspired me to begin to write on this subject. What we inspired in each other was a continuing pursuit of the ecstatic as a route to transformation and a belief that analysis must be pressed beyond its current boundaries if ecstatic transformation is to be realized in our work. We both believed that the later stages of analysis often needs to leave the consulting room, actually or metaphorically and felt that travel to other worlds, bodily and psychically, was critical. The development of techniques to facilitate these journeys would be part of this expansion of analysis and that the shaman’s way might offer some important clues in that direction. I will talk about this in some detail tomorrow.
When I finished writing this section of the paper I returned to the dream I began with and particularly the 85% of the patients who are left out of “fully successful” category that the old man espouses. Of course this is my dream and I had to wonder whether this is a reflection of my own success rate or even my own judgment about my success rate. I also wondered if the fact that it was an old man might be relevant in more ways than being a ‘wise old man.”. I wondered if the figure is an allusion to the failure of the older generation of analysts and their theories. Or putting it another way 15% success is acceptable only if we think of our profession as in its infancy, something like 15% of two year old children can talk in simple sentences. Perhaps the 15% figure is a reflection of how far we have come and how much there is left to know. Would it be overly optimistic to say that we have come 15% of the way toward fulfilling the promise of our analytic way. And that interpretation made me feel better for that it is the way it should be if we are explorers as well as professionals, if we are adventurers in the affairs of the psyche and the human collective if we are always on the lookout for that next crevice in the mountain wall and the next plateau.
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS (II)
In the Mysterium Coniunctionis and in Aion, Jung puts forward a three-tiered system of individuation which speaks in alchemical terms about the psychospiritual crossings that may occur late in the analytic process. I have talked about this model last year and will not detail it further except through some amplifications of his followers notably Don Sandner and John Haule.
In the last of these individuation stages the active process or conjunctio involves the new psychological individual, transformed by his work in the vessel (in analysis for example) entering into a union with the world—the unus mundus—a transcendent experience in which inner and outer, self and other, become inseparable. Here we are dealing that part of our development process which works at integration of ourselves and the world and or with what I am calling the “third thing”. In most Jungian thought this stage of development is treated with the utmost respect , so much respect in fact so that it is usually dealt with as quite out of reach of ordinary folk (like you , me and our patients), better reserved for spiritually advanced superiors, the mythical enlightened personages of the past and distant lands. This leads peculiar consequences for our psychology. For example, several years ago I chaired a symposium on the topic of Service sponsored by the S.F. Jungian Institute. Seven hundred people came to listen to Jungian analysts and religious leaders talk on this subject but the latter had far more to say about Service, about commitment to causes beyond their own souls. Analysts understandably remained focused on the individual and his or her inner growth but were remarkably disassociated both from their role in serving the larger collective through work with an individual and from the concept of service itself.
But service is one of the functional descriptors of that mythical union with the Unus Mundus that Jung postulates in his development schemata, a state where we both recognize and take responsibility for our profound connection with other. My own definition of the pragmatics of this stage is “the integration of the unique and distinct elements of the individual with the collective so that both are served .” Consciousness demands a commitment of self in the world, We might say that the end stage of individuation and therefore the phases of analysis as well (if we define analysis in the largest sense) is grappling with the awesome implications of our inevitable and subjectively ambivalent connection with the world.
Donald Sandner, was one of the few analysts who directly addressed this problem of the third conjunctio and the issue of the third thing in analysis in words that are readily applicable to analysts and therapists. He was one of the most popular analysts in the Bay Area, and one of the most highly esteemed Jungian analysts. Analysis and therapy were his great love. He was addicted to the play of intuition in the healing process. For the past ten years we met once a week for lunch and our conversation was often about how we dealt with the connection between the last stages of analysis and development in ourselves and in our patients. He was working on a book about this when he died which I hope will see the light of print sometimes in the future. Happily he did write a working paper which we discussed and amplified at great length.
Sandner uses Jung’s discussion in Aion to fashion a three tiered system of individuation The first tier is concerned mainly with the shadow. The analytic mode here is usually regressive- or- relationship-centered. The transference is predominantly personal and parental and considerable regression is expected to occur. Here the personal complexes are met and hopefully resolved and so the teminos must be safe and tight. He uses the analogy of a Roman arena in which a wild beast is loose and in which murder, sacrifice, and martyrdom are all possible. The battle with the shadow needs the backing of the analyst and a powerful and containing transference. The goal is not hero or wretch but an ordinariness with a more open consciousness “ready to enter into the flow of image and feeling that carry on along the path of individuation.”
Sandner describes the second tier of individuation as concerned with the syzygy—anima and animus. He believes that shadow issues tend to be more native to youth and early adulthood while anima-animus issues tend to surface more in middle age and that shadow issues may need to be dealt with before the full impact of anima-animus issues come to the fore. Examples of the latter might be the emotional discovery that wife is not anima or husband is not animus—the discovery of the real person you are partnered with and what that means in relation to anima (animus) issues. But for Don, a temperamental introvert, the greatest concern in this phase of individuation is the problem of inner and outer. Where is the psyche—where does anima manifest for each individual? Is it in our inner imagery or outer persons? Are all marital problems really anima problems to be dealt with as projections or are outside relationships at the heart of inner space. The formulaic Jungians focus on the inner life as center. As I’ve suggested in this paper, our techniques deal largely with that perspective. But working at anima/animus issues is all about allowing Self to take up more space in the psyche… This requires an idiosyncratic world view which combines inner and outer meaningfully The ego’s perspective locates self within; developing a relationship with anima and animus guides us to borderlands of our person: they are guides to an expanding awareness which includes the collective wherever it is to be found. The importance of the ego as a directing principle decreases with greater development and prepares us for the next stage where ego consciously functions at the behest of a larger agency, and the development of a more inclusive and less personally centered world view. The relationship with the unus mundus is by definition a relationship with more than oneself…
Sandner talks about the third tier of individuation as one in which the unconscious takes on a reality of its own. This stage for example is a place where active imagination eclipses dreams as the royal road to the unconscious. But even active imagination is no more than personal fantasy unless the inner/outer dichotomy moves toward resolution. Then we may use any imaginative techniques, what I have earlier termed a medium and its connection with the third element to tap the collective, to work on what Sandner calls” mythic imagination, the creation of an intelligible personal myth that enfolds and directs one’s life”. And as this tier develops, active and mythic imagination can become a spiritual path lived fully in the world which is a very large place indeed.
The importance of analysis in this stage is variable but what has been learned analytically in previous work is critical. This third tier is in the broadest sense a spiritual path but one based in psychological reflection—mythmaking open to the “watchful presence of the conscious mind.” The ego’s directing function has decreased but its reflective capacities are a major contribution. As Sandner says, “its critical eye and building skills are important but not preeminent. It doesn’t run the show anymore and that requires a great deal of reflection indeed.”
Now if reflection is a well learned process and personality integration has allowed larger processes to use the ego rather than be used by it then what is left for the analysis in this stage of work. Don and I talked a great deal about our role as analyst at this stage of development with our various patients; it is virgin territory for analysts. Freud said that analysis can be interminable. The analyst without a theory about what his or her role means at this stage of development is part of the reason. For example the acting out interpretation is often reflexive made as the patient expands the boundary of work. How indeed do we recognize when a decrease in inner personal focus is growth rather than flight? How do we guide and reflect without invoking a relationship which fosters dependence? Such questions hinge on transference relationship, one that mirrors the new developments in the analysis, a new transference that the analyst may resist even more than the patient. I believe that in this third tier a new transference can develops, one that is more diffuse, less personal, more like friendship to hearken back to my dream. But our temptation to join with the patient without dropping the authority vested in an earlier analytic role must be resisted as must our wish to keep the patient close when and if their need can no longer be served by us.
Sandner felt the third tier of work is not necessarily contained in the standard analytic container. “It often involves someone other than the analyst as object of transference and the terms of the transference relationship are often different than those found in analysis proper. ..The analysand here must be the seeker who is no long a patient and must take full responsibility for his own salvation. This has resemblance’s to all the spiritual and Shamanic paths in the world with one crucial difference. It is to be done in the light of greater consciousness.” For example the envelope of transference through which growth is mediated could now be redirected to a spiritual leader, a great artist or political leader, real and imaginary, alive or dead. Philomen was Jung’s wise man, an imaginary figure with wings on his shoulders and keys in his hands; an inner figure but real, real as the objective psyche is real. A new relationship between the analyst and the patient’s transferential figure develops which can be a framework for a new analytic relationship. . The analyst may remain a psychological teacher, mentor (depending on whether he knows something about the path his patient is on), perhaps even a journeying companion if it is a similar path. Or none of the above. There must be new roles and relationships worked out between the two in which nothing is taken for granted between them. Nothing. No formulaic institutional ethical code can find a place here, just the personhood of two individuals struggling to do no harm to each other, to allow reflecting and reflection, to remain connected as amplified and amplifier. And all of this must be done staying true to the central principle of analysis, that is, with as much consciousness as possible.
Sandner’s ideas were based in large part on his own relationship with a Navaho healer which formed the center of the third tier in his own path. He would make yearly trips to the desert each year and the Navaho way became more and more important to him and eventually led him to study other spiritual healing traditions in Bali, India, and Africa. Some of this begun under the aegis of his analysis ; his analyst had a great interest in the Southwest US. For many years after the analysis was “completed.” Don continued to meet with his own analyst at lunch; the relationship was necessarily redefined as some sort of mutual friendship. But the light of consciousness was supported by many others friends and fellow seekers and for Don, that was analytic development as well. He saw himself, we saw ourselves, as changing the limits of analysis as we had previously taught and practiced it , redefining analysis within larger boundaries. The formulation of this last tier of work became more and more proactive as consciousness increased. In fact, the last decade of our friendship was all about this phase of development. The friendship was part of our development; it influenced us greatly in finding a larger boundary in our analytic work, as well as our in work with groups and collective consciousness.
Toward the end of my own analysis I began to develop a method of running and meditating in a number of sacred spaces throughout the world. Travels to Bali and Jerusalem became sites for intense visions. The reflective work I had done in the analysis and my use of writing to enhance it became my way of understanding and amplifying these experiences and visions. Eventually I began a practice of taking 3 or 4 mornings a week to run and meditate in the Marin Headlands, a wilderness area a few miles from my house. So this became my medium and more and more my connection to the third thing. I spend two years of mornings up there and two more years writing about that experience and that spiritual practice and the depth of life it allowed has continued and grown until the present day. All of this took place in parallel with the analysis and while some connections were made—mutual amplifications and resonances—it was the beginning of a spiritual and eventually a collective experience which has grown beyond analysis and the personal and symbolic unit of analyst and analysis. There were many transferential figures in my visions who guided me in different and eventually larger ways than the analytic transference and the increasing connection of these visions to my life relationships, life work and my capacity for creativity and discovery. Many of you will have had similar experiences, ways and paths and practices that grow out of the analytic work and are part of it but are not encompassed by it. I know analysts that want to bind these experiences in the object relations transference and those that want to interpret it and those that want to a amplify it. We don’t talk enough about the meaning of these varied approaches in the countertransferance and the analysis. We must be very careful in our work here—we must understand our own envy, intrusion and inflation into a fragile process; we must know how much influence we have because of remaining dependencies implicit in our role.
Above all, we must know how to value the developing medium in and out of the analytic container an its evolving connection with the third thing. And we must learn to appreciate the changing transference and relationship that the analytic bond engenders.
It is always our own development, personal and as healers, that is being challenged by these changes. Can we walk the therapist’s walk rather than just talk the talk? Talking the talk may mean reflexively clinging to the dependent power of the transference. Walking the walk might be about staying with dependency as a therapeutic stage ( if working with dependency is at the heart of the analysand’s development) or something else, like supporting the telling of a long held secret because of the harm it is doing self and other, like helping someone face a difficult ethical or and moral action which will have potentially transformational (negative and positive) consequences. The ubiquitous requirement for life disrupting sacrifice at this stage of development—connecting inner transformation with collective life is always a sacrifice—is most often the nub of the individuation crises that must be broached and we may find ourselves implicated in our patient’s sacrifices. This is certainly true in an institute setting where the analyst is covertly blamed for developments in his or her candidates. If you remember my Arthurian story, think how you would have dealt analytically with Lancelot or Merlin as they kept their fearful silence with its negative consequences for their colleagues and institute. Our healing practices are full of patients with whom we have taken the conservative road out of our own fear, fear masked as concern for our patients and their/our reputation. This stage of analytic work challenges whether we can cross a sacrificial boundary and move beyond our familiar, well-trod analytic path. To do so requires holding a very large model of our role, larger than is currently accepted in our rule and role bound practice.
The figure of the shaman, a radical heterodox and recondite counterpoint to the politically correct priesthood , is an important mentor here. In traditional societies it is he or she who from the ecstatic and liminal place in the society both symbolizes and enacts radical change within individual and collective. Shamanism precedes and encompasses our healing professions. Its subject is transformation; its stage, the “other world.” Modern medicine emphasizes the most concrete and active parts of Shamanic practice. The other non-traditional “other world” healing arts including the spiritually oriented psychotherapies hold the other part of shamanism. It is not surprising then that there is a great deal of interest in shamanism in analytic psychology. Sandner’s work with the Navajo gave him first hand knowledge with native American healing traditions and he brought together a small group of analysts, therapists, anthropologists, a traditional healer from the Lakota Sioux tribe in North America and other assorted professionals and healers to study the convergence and divergence of analytic psychology and shamanism. We met once a year for 5 days to give papers, talk, drum, work in a variety of active imagination techniques, do sweat lodges and in general plumb the variety of ecstatic traditions in modern and ancient therapy. That group published a book, the Sacred Heritage, : The Influence of Shamanism on Analytical Psychology which summarizes our findings and experience. My most recent book Up from Scapegoating also includes some material on the role of the Shamanic in the consulting process.
Shamanic practice is closely connected to the third tier work, to the third thing and to my earlier discussion of transformation in analysis. The shaman heals in an ecstatic trance through crossing to the other world or non-ordinary reality at the behest of his or her client which is usually the tribe or community. The shaman heals through his own familiarity with the other world garnered through a profound, and usually painful initiation. When the initiated and wounded healer, the fledgling shaman, returns to his community with the mark of that other world on his soul, he has the completed the first steps to becoming an ecstatic and transformational healer. He eschews conventional leadership or success; he usually lives poorly as a marginal but powerful outcast who is called upon when transformation is needed. His strange ways are tolerated only because he can heal in ways that no one else can As healer he may double as a medicine man and learn other ways to help—herbs, medicines, surgical techniques—but always at the heart of his healing is an other world ecstatic journey and a return with information from that world for the purpose of healing and transformation. The shamans belief in the healing potential of that other world; the particulars of his relationship to the patient in this world as well as the patients own relationship to his or her healing in this world are irrelevant. What happens in that other world is all that matters.
Now it doesn’t take too much of a translation to see that how shamanism offers a eccentric model for the analyst and the patient as they enter nonconventional realms, realms in which reflection and personal development are building blocks rather than goals The shaman works with an immensely powerful authorization to enter the largest possible realms to do his job, without strong constraints (or benefit) from the psychodynamic and complex driven personal world, without the imperative (and vast opportunity) for reflection , and, most important and questionable in modern terms, without the assumption (and value) of patient participation.
The shaman’s remarkable authorization comes in no small part from the nature of his initiation. He or she may know nothing about ordinary realities—love, relationship, collegial connection. He is no help with that nor does an unsavory reputation in such matters effect his healing. Contrasting that initiation and social expectation to the analyst’s own helps us to appreciate the limits we face as healers involved in transformative experience that goes beyond our psychological mode. As I have discussed elsewhere, the initiation of the shaman always includes the body—body pain is at its the center whether it is prolonged fasting, confinement, freezing, scarification, drug taking etc. Because of the extremity of the initiation the shaman knows pain in his body and psyche as one and the same. Confrontation with pain on a massive scale also insures confrontation with the other world, first perhaps as ego led disassociative escape and later when there is experienced competence in crossing the boundaries between sacred and profane, psyche and soma, between this reality and other world realities, the essence of the ecstatic route to transformation and healing.
Our initiation as analysts rarely addresses these body boundaries with any power For example, I have found most Jungian analysts to be in a poor relationship to their body in general and to body adventure in particular. Healing the body is done through the psyche or is delegated elsewhere; the physician analyst who has shared something of the shaman’s “body inclusive” initiation through his or her medical training is fortunate; never trust an analyst who denigrates that experience!
In our shaman study group we used trance drumming and sweat lodges as experiential aids to understand the way shaman’s work. The notion of physical discomfort such as one experiences in sweat lodges as part of sacred crossings was new to many of us. It certainly wasn’t part of the certifying process in any of our institutes. Many analysts were not eager to experience or interested in participating in anything painful; some had to be coaxed to enter. I must admit to judging these people; I still find myself unwilling to refer people frightened to participate in bodily discomfort as one of the altars to crossing experience. There is something about physical pain that really tests us psychically;. We can be far less clear about the effects of psychic pain, particularly on the body. That is why technicians of the sacred always deal with experience grounded in the universal bodily reaction to pain and why I believe we need to add the body and the collective body to our initiatory experience if we are to be useful in the transformations in the third tier of work.
The shaman lives at the outer edge of his or her community relatively unconcerned with the niceties of social intercourse. This limits his role in the pragmatics of living and frees him to devote himself to otherworld issues. Analysts, despite our occasional romantic flights of fancy, are very centered in the middle class social etiquette. Our relationships and conventional persona development is central to our initiation as healers. This adds to our ability to identify and advise in the problems of pragmatics of living that is all of our patient’s concern and in which they require help and healing. It also imposes constraints. For example one of these is the ethical boundary which mirror societal values regulating the healing professions. Another related difference is the different way both modes treat the phenomena of transference. Transference is central to analytic healing, the alpha and omega as Jung and Freud agreed. Yet the shaman does not consciously deal with this aspect of healing at all—at least not in real world relationships. Among man indigenous shamans and medicine men and women violation of ethical boundaries, particularly sexual boundaries, are not uncommon. We would see this as a violation of the therapeutic boundary stemming in part from a poor appreciation of the transference dynamics in their relationship to their client. But that is using our frame of reference. The boundaries of the shaman’s role in his or her healing ceremonies have little to do with our notion of here and now relationship let alone transference. Healing in the Shamanic tradition does not take place in a reflective and interactive dyadic container. In fact, the patient’s direct participation in his or her own healing, at least in this world, is not required; it is certainly not exalted as it is in our analytic tradition. The shaman journeys for the patient and although his journey in the other world may indeed involve the patient that does not require anything of the patient here. Who among us believes that we heal our patients without their conscious participation? Our emphasis on the primacy of individual consciousness requires each person to take responsibility in his or her own healing. The shaman’s view is a far more radical way than ours depending as it does on a proto-religious conception of a reciprocal and reciprocating web of being mulch like our own radical theories of deep ecology.
Unlike analysts, the shaman is always a technician of the sacred because his or her interventions are always about transformation through ecstatic intervention in nonordinary realms of being. The shaman knows how to constellate himself in the other world and move within it with intent. In a way most of the spiritual paths, paths that acquire powerful spiritual meaning for us, require the help of such technicians, the help of the shamans, gurus, composers and artists and teachers whose realms are other than ordinary. But it is just these realms that are the third thing, the medium within and beyond the analytic container. Shamans are not reflectors or insight givers. They are not particularly interested, if aware, in the transference or countertransferance as we define it; they do not have the same boundary issues and ethical issues as we do. They have their own boundaries and their metaphysic, the utter belief in other world healing brook no deviation. But neither do they need to relate to the licensing agencies that regulate us. They may be Saint or sinner in this world; their license to practice comes from their spiritual beliefs and the other world where they work.
Because the Shamanic tradition has had a recent vogue in therapeutic circles it is particularly important to understand this basic premise. Shamanism requires a world view that antedates and transcends the enlightenment’s singular investment in the development of individual consciousness as a supreme goal, a goal that analysts and therapists now serve so well. It also involves a truly radical view of human transformation, one that is securely anchored in the shamans travel to an unseen world where he or she, not the person needing help, is the mediator of change, one that is independent of reflection, of personal and interpersonal involvement, and of transference. The other world may not be of great interest to modern analysts but it is all that really counts for the Shaman. The shaman, preeminent exemplar of a technician of the sacred, a healer who specializes in rites of transformation and transcendent crossings challenges us to cross the taboo boundaries of analysis and alter our own world view if we want to deal with third tier transformation.
Analysts, particularly Jungian analysts, have wanted to swim in these waters since the spiritual and social revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s have spawned a large group of potential clients drawn to spiritual growth opportunities. Therapy and particularly Jungian therapy and analysis was at the vanguard of this movement and benefited from its cultural pressure. To be a Jungian analyst was almost enough to inspire a spiritual transference and spiritual work. No longer. We have had too many scandals, too much bad press from these scandals and too much denial of these scandals within our own institutions . Perhaps we still are too inflated to do the real spiritual work or, as I am suggesting, are not ready to integrate what is implied in this work. Or do not know how. Certainly we have worked far harder on institutionalizing our training centers than developing real capacity for spiritual initiations and growth. Institutes have become advanced psychotherapy training centers which integrate a variety of therapeutic disciplines and theoretical persuasions. The technical world of object relations competes for time with training in spiritual traditions and the excitement among candidates is in this integration, in this return to the mainstream rather than to the risky and liminal realm of spiritual adventure. We join together to hear lectures and ask questions as the prescribed mode of experiencing our bodies and our collective psyche.
At the last international symposium at Zurich in 1995 I was struck by the pace with which this integration of psychological schools had taken place. It often felt that if I had not know the venue was Jungian, I would have had no way to recognize difference from a conference of any other analytic perspective. Probably I was not alone in this . In a paper entitled “There are no Jungians—or do they Exist After All” Guggenbuhl-Craig, a well known Swiss analyst recently addressed some of this potential for the loss of Jungian identity . He pointed out that Jungian has become a catch-all term for a spectrum of ideas: Christian spirituality, Hegelian world soul, o reincarnation, incestuous trauma; and a similar spectrum as the basis for healing practices: rebirthing, dream interpretation, transference analysis, suggestion and intellectual amplification. He suggested that the Archetype of the Shaman is the dominant in triad of archetypes that most influenced Jung—the others being priest and theologian. He points to the shaman’s contact with another world and a healing mode that sets “suffering into relationship with other dimensions of the soul.” as our most uniting heritage.
Guggenbuhl goes on to describe the shaman’s role in a way that underlines the ambivalence that we have in expanding our own therapeutic model to include the world as a shaman knows it. He says “it is above all the archetype of the shaman which leads us, the shaman who establishes a relationship to another world, to other dimensions, but does not do more than that.” And he goes on to equate this to our role “We can as shamans only show the patient that there are other dimensions, for example on account of dreams, on account of the unconscious, but the patient has to figure out what to do about that.”
Actually the shamans belief in the other world effaces any modern therapeutic ethos concerned the patient’s understanding or participating in his or her own healing in this world. The shaman’s “other world” is the place of healing , with its own laws, locations, characters. and we are connected to it with or without our conscious knowledge. We are part of it but without special initiation or ceremony we may get only vague glimpses of this world and our presence there. We occasionally watch it through the chemical haze of a psychedelic, a transcendent religious or aesthetic experience. We might know about it through dreams or write about it through our formulation of the unconscious or collective unconscious. For the shaman transformation begins in that world and it is his job to both effect that change (often under the direction of an “other world” guide) and also make sure that some talisman from that transformative experience is given to the patient—again with or without his or her conscious participation.
I imagine that some of us would agree in theory at least with such “other world healing.” It is not too different than committing ourselves to Jung’s notion of the reality of the psyche. But it is important to understand how such beliefs do not mesh easily with the cornerstone of our modern therapeutic ethos, the notion that our patients must be a conscious part of the healing process and that patients must , eventually, standing on their own and take responsibility for their own healing. That is a central premise of modern medicine and modern analysis. The traditional shaman knows no such intellectual boundary. The shaman has suffered the ecstatic trials of the other world, the pain, the wounding, the deprivation in order to gain knowledge of that world. From that experience and the social freedom to not cater to the realities of this world healing methods are found through methods appropriate to that other world reality—soul retrieval for example. The patient cannot do that for himself; he has no such initiation. He is fortunate in that regard. There is no privilege in facing the shaman’s ordeal. The shaman does not journey to have another euphoric drug trip or interesting trance experience. He is called to a profession that like Jeremiah and so many of the other world prophets is not personally desirable. So against his will he learns and from his hut on the wrong side of the village tracks, he heals. He is the envoy, the traveler into the other world, where he encounters, alters, effects that world in ways that will heal with or without the . sufferer’s involvement; the patient may be totally passive participants or totally engaged. That is our ego’s concern, ” figuring out what to do about it” but the shamanic healing is not about the ego
Guggenbuhl is interested in capturing the way in which the ubiquity of the shaman’s transcendent principle illuminates all Jungian work and might provide a focus for our increasingly diffuse identity. But like so many children of the enlightenment and so many post moderns he as we do not want to be left out of the picture. In fact we want to be in the very center of the picture. We hesitate to accept the stark, concrete reality of the shaman therapeutic landscape and its implications for our healing practices even as in the spirit of our post modern age we try to integrate the shaman’s way into our own. A simple integration of such a radical perspective is not possible; we have come to far as individuals and learned too much about the transference. All spices do not a good stew make.
Let me provide some examples of what I mean. In an article called Taking Direction from the Spirit in Shamanism and Psychotherapy in Shamanic Applications Review volume 3, John Haule, a Jungian analyst discusses a book by Sandra Ingerman, called Soul Retrieval: Mending The Fragmented Self . Ingerman is a psychotherapist and self professed shaman who uses what she and others in this field call soul retrieval in her work. The case whose treatment she narrates is that of an adult woman, Diana, who is raped as a teenager by her cousin. The effects of that assault are still with her; she feels depressed, powerless, with “no sense” of self which makers her a perfect candidate, according to Ingerman, for soul retrieval. What Ingerman does in the traditional shaman’s way is to go on a journey for her client not with her client. Ingerman uses her journeying powers to go to the lower world under the direction of her Guardian spirit. She is taken across a Styx like river where she reaches the land of the dead. She has to assumes the characteristic of the dead and floats in that realm lifeless as the souls that she sees milling all around her. with the help of her own Guardian spirit, acquired in her initiation, Ingerman finds the adolescent soul of her patient. She leads her out of the gates of death. Half dead from the effort, Ingerman’s ever watchful Guardian throws her into the cold river to revive her. The Guardian also explains to Ingerman that Diana’s cousin had raped her in order to compensate for his own feelings of powerlessness due to the sexual abuse he has suffered as a child.
Then Ingerman asks the soul—who looks like Diana as an adolescent—if she is ready to return, takes her by the hand, and leads her back to this realm. She signals yes and Ingerman crosses the other world boundary and returns to her own office where Diana is lying on the floor in a trance. Ingerman blows the soul into the chest and head of her patient. Revived, Diana sits up feeling new power: “I feel so strong” she says. ” I feel my body. I have sensations.”
So ends the Shamanic part of the healing although Ingerman as here and now psychologist in this world will using her psychotherapy skills to help Diana integrate her reclaimed soul and refund energy into her daily life.
In the Shamanic part of the healing Diana’s conscious participation is irrelevant. What counts is the work of the shaman in the other world. It is the shaman who does the journey but even she is courier and messenger for the Guardian spirit who is the overriding watchful, healing presence in this journey. The guardian helps Ingerman enter and leave the realm of the dead and knows about the souls history and even the history of the cousin. Journeying into the other world, Ingerman does find the wounded soul and at considerable risk to herself carries the soul back to her patient. We are not dealing with metaphor here but a different world view. Ingerman breathes the soul back into the heart and head of the patient and that heals. The patient feels the change before she is given any knowledge of what happens in Ingerman’s journey although presumably she will be told more in subsequent work.
I hope this example how radical a perspective the Shamanic healing venture really requires is and how great a theoretical and technical leap the analyst must make in order to work with the patient in that third realm. The rules are different; the boundary of analysis is different; the feedback of information from those realms different. Reflection changes, transference changes, our actual role changes, all of it in ways different than we might expect.
One eminently sensible suggestion is for the analyst to stay in the role he or she knows best while another helper is found who can be less bounded by the therapists premises and therefore more appropriate to the next tier of work. Still Jungian and many depth therapists do go beyond Freud’s revolutionary early 20th century dictum that, in the service of adaptation, where id is shall ego be. How do we make an appropriate synthesis without giving up what we have learned. I mentioned Ingerman’s work to a colleague interested in Shamanic healing and she said that it smacked too much of orthodox Catholicism than was comfortable. Certainly those priests who work outside of a rote and ritualized code of penance are shaman like in their interventionist flights into an other world healing site. Ingerman’s example is similar. The patient lies unconscious on the floor as the work of soul retrieval, connecting her with the other world is done. Ingerman’s work takes place within an other world with which she is familiar. The guardian spirit is the other world intervener much like Jesus as the son of God is an intervener at the behest of a priest of the Church in an other world reality for healing and redemption . Jungians honor, in theory at least, the existence of an “objective psyche” and much of our spiritual work tries to create a vital dialogue with the psyche of our dreams, our imagination, and our connection to a collective psyche. But our premise focuses on the primacy of the individual, his or her consciousness embodied in a separate individuating psyche. in the world. As Guggenbuhl’s interpretative lens makes amply clear, in the final analysis we insist on being in the dialogue in this reality. We believe that our life’s meaning is enhanced by such a dialogue we do not take our egos out of that dialogue. To reiterate, the other world is not enough for us but it is all that really counts for the Shaman. Shamanic work fits my original definition of healing and transformation as occurring in ecstatic space but it does not include the kind of personal consciousness which therapy cherishes.
Haule examines the paradox implicit in any attempt to integrate the Shamanic way into the rubric of psychotherapy by tracing the development Jung’s psychology from 1903 to 1946 from this perspective. He begins with Jung’s discovery of “feeling toned complexes” (the analogue of the word-association test) resulting for example, from trauma such as Diana’s rape. Jung felt that the power of this unconscious complex to take over the ego with its own world view of pessimism and fear could be pathological, as was the case in Diana, and could be counteracted by demonstrating the nature of this complex to her. Unfortunately Jung discovered, as Freud before him, that information alone, however compelling, seldom freed patients from their complex induced restrictions. So Jung turned next to the notion that one complex needed to be replaced by another, perhaps one that is latent so that another, more powerful world view could be held and used in the world. Diana would undergo a strong enough mastery experience to structurally replace her rape complex. This perspective is implicit in Jungian psychology and was rapidly transformed through the nature of Jung’s investigations of how such replacing complexes might be activated. It was this that led him to the archetypes and their compelling emotions and affect-images which could draw patients into new realms of experience and meaning and ultimately healing. Most of what we take now as Jung’s healing method begins here: helping the patient to find his or her means of access to the archetypes—dreams and painting and active imagination for example—and a profound immersion there to transform trauma induced pathological complex into an expanded healthier psyche.
It is only in the last development that we recognize the beginning elements of the traditional Shamanic. The domain of the unconscious is objective, impersonal and collective; it has healing powers in relation to an individual but beyond the individual’s personal experience. The therapist should know more about this realm than the patient—Jung’s dictum that the patient can only go as far as the therapists own development. The therapist can be of some help in the patient’s journey but it is the patient who must learn how to negotiate this realm and bring it back into the therapeutic space for continuing analytic dialogue.
The other world is not enough; that is our credo and it was Jung’s credo for a long time perhaps until his heart attack. But the question remains for us, as it did for Jung, whether we really take that other world seriously if it is not enough? Is there a critical dialogue that the patient needs to have in the other world that must be honored above all else. In his last years, Jung struggled finally to find a way to place the crossing world at the center while trusting the rest of development would find its proper role.
Late in his work as healer, Jung developed a therapeutic method which helped resolve this crossing point. The Psychology of the Transference can be seen as a kind of manual for this new phase in Jung’s healing program. This remarkable book is my favorite in all of Jung’s’ writings precisely because it takes up the problem of the third thing in development, for the patient and therapist are portrayed as sharing a soul together, separate and apart from any particular aspect of each of their personality. This shared non-personal relationship creates a new set of roles and relationship within the healing system. I will no go into the entire sequence of pictures that Jung uses to illustrate the process through which development proceeds. His metaphor is alchemy and the images of that discipline are not everyone’s favorite. For some it is timeless and clarifying; for others it is out of date. It seems to me that The Psychology of the Transference like other guides of this kind—the Tibetan Book of the Dead is one of the best—is most rewardingly read in an altered or ecstatic state unless the language and imagery is deeply and personally felt. I was lucky enough to first read The Psychology of the Transference when I lay in bed with a very high fever and in that state it made perfect sense; the transformative blueprint posed by the series of pictures and Jung’s commentary has informed me in my own spiritual work to this day.
Haule wondered whether Jung himself had found a way to implement the kind of process promised in the Psychology of the Transference in his own therapy work. To answer this question, he collected 20 different accounts of individuals who met with Jung late in his life. Some of these are in the Jungian folklore and may be familiar to you. Many came from older members of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco from people who I knew and worked with. I trust most of what they reported although almost all were smitten by Jung in ways which smacked of hero worship. Here is a compilation of what was described:
At the beginning of the session after listening a bit (or sometimes not at all), Jung wandered off into a soliloquy loosely based on a hunch or some inner image or story. He seemed to proceed in an ambiguous stream of consciousness, with some rhyme and little reason, sometimes annotating his stories or descriptions with psychological comments, sometimes with esoteric, sometimes with long periods of silence. He held himself open and vulnerable in these meandering with little concern for how his stories or pointed comments might effect the patient or student sitting in the room. If someone had the nerve to break in and comment on feeling cruelly treated or hurt or even ignored by his too pointed and focused or too vague and meaningless expostulations Jung would sometimes answer by referring to “the Great Man” and what “He” required from the situation. The “Great Man” mentioned in these contexts was apparently a figure from the collective unconscious, someone in communication with Jung or to the unit soul in the room, a partner to both, a force that dwelled in the space between them. Or it could be a kind of background against which the dialogue proceeded and new discovery was made.
While this monologue proceeded, the patient or student felt increasingly disoriented. She or he lost connection with personal identity. The sense is of no one actually being in the room no one directing what is happening, events taking place at something else’s behest, a channeling of larger forces, a “self-to-self-encounter”. Dreams are interpreted before they are told, feelings are described and prescribed before they are felt. The “great man,” the third presence, “knows” about the pair much like Ingerman’s spirit guide knows the history of Diana, the cousin who raped her and probably Ingerman’s own need to heal and escape the land of death. A larger perspective is created in the consulting room, one in which Jung is the primary traveler but not controller, in which he is at the behest of a Guide, the Great Man, and in which the patient while awake is silent, passive a strange observer of his or her own soul being affected—healed.
Descriptions of these kind are more like the ravings of worshipping and adoring sycophants than thoughtful men and women. They remind me of descriptions I heard when I was in medical school by one of the great pioneers in modern hypnotism. He said he almost never had to hypnotize anyone anymore—he used classes of hard-nosed medical students to keep his skills sharp—because patients referred to him had heard so much about him and were so well prepared and inspired by those who referred them that they came to his office and immediately went into a trance. This was no doubt helped by the overbearing physical presence of the man—he was 6’4’’ and looked like a bear. Entering Jung’s office, the combination of his physical presence, the famous face, the culmination of a life long wish with all the transference and other expectations must have produced awesome effects on already well prepared psyche’s. Is there more here than an encounter with real and projected charisma? And how do we separate that from a description of an encounter with an otherworld through the way of the Shaman?
There is obviously much in common in Jung’s role, his healing intent, his training and inclination, the broad and deep authority vested in him by the patient, his commitment to the other world—the objective psyche and more—and that of traditional Shamanic practice. At the last stages of his life as a healer Jung was clearly little concerned with the personal dialogue between himself and the patient. He is inducing an other kind of dialogue, one free from the personal world, free from reflection and dependence, one firmly rooted in a more archetypal space in which Jung and patient are nodal points on a web of the collective psyche. Healing in that hour is not dependent on the patients (or Jung’s) understanding of what is happening. A reflective consciousness is not the point; it is taken for granted, a stepping of point for a different kind of work.
We might say that in his last phase of work Jung rediscovers the Shamans tradition for himself. The people who experienced this work were clearly Jung worshipers but there was more here than that. These individuals were also very conscious individuals, working on their individuation and wanting more than they had yet experienced from their own analysts. They knew about the vagaries of Mana transference and idolizing projections but what they felt from the interviews was also an otherworldly presence which moved them in directions that went far beyond the considerable force of Jung’s own intellect, and personality and charisma. Some felt unheard because he didn’t listen to their personal stories and dreams. Some felt metaphorically raped because there were no supports offered, no softening of his pronouncements. Some felt overrun by Jung’s personal shadow—certainly he didn’t filter his communication through what we now call the personal countertransferance. Nevertheless they were profoundly altered without any direct and focused elicitation of their personal reflective consciousness. It was the otherness of the world Jung’s behavior unleashed and his profound belief in the efficacy of that otherness that held and changed them.
The original Shaman, the cave painters of ten thousand years ago, believed in the healing power of an other world revealed in the fire and enacted in ceremonies surrounding their inspired drawings of man’s relationship to unseen worlds. We have all have found ourselves in the thrall of such presence and used and perhaps abused its enormous power. Our modern therapeutic persuasion provides an idiosyncratic explanation of the phenomena—countertransferance is the concept currently in vogue but I hope by now you appreciate that for what I am talking about, terms like countertransferance are far too limited. And yet we still do not have any good words let alone conceptual frames for the kind of interface and bridge with the collective that later development requires. We need such frames for it leads to a therapeutic stance and a deepening of a healing practice that includes knowing went to let go as well as continue on. I t is the awareness of a crossing place, a bridge leading to a path that continues beyond the usual boundaries of analysis that must be recognized. For without this recognition there may be a foreclosure of development and a narrowing of vision that hurts our patients and ourselves.
I must leave the question of how to transform such concepts into practical therapies for another time. But let me end by sharing some possible “metaphors” for the coming therapies:
A personal experience metaphor: .How often has any transformation that have profoundly effected your life occurred within the realms of your ordinary consciousness? In my own life experience very few. For example elsewhere I have written about the impact of surgery in healing severe chronic physical pain. In my own case of the definitive healing of chronic severe pain took place out of my ordinary awareness, out of my ordinary consciousness entirely. I know something was done because of x-rays showing an inch of bone in my spine and two large screws holding it in place and a large scar. I also know I have trouble going through a metal detector in many airports. Subjectively what happened was in the other world for me. Although the surgeon would never have though of what he was doing as following the Shamanic tradition, taking a bone from a dead man and replanting it in my spinal chord is prototypic. There is no doubt that the integration of the otherworld bodily shifts was well served by my own psychological work but change and healing did not happen within that container. It had nothing to do with my ego except for my intent to allow the shaman-surgeons to transform me. Analysis was an adjunct to something far more profound which to me at least was beyond any definition of ordinary reality.
A movie metaphor: See the movie The Game? Besides being a good adventure film, seen from the context of this paper it is a potent commentary on the limits of analysis and offers a fanciful blueprint of a different kind of approach that is not entirely beyond our reach. Briefly it is the story of a man who is depressed precipitated by the death of his wife and past traumas in childhood. But he is totally insulated from his feelings by his 30 million dollars and the power of his corporation. He has no love in his life—his work or his relationships. He is offered the chance to play a Game which will transform him. The fame is not analysis, shrinks, the movie says, couldn’t touch him. Instead his world is altered in such a way that he loses control of all the pillars of his life that prevented change. The ways this is done is outrageous and frightening but very real. I will not ruin the film for you by telling you how but it is a method that transcends the consulting room and yet uses psychological knowledge, insights as well as a real situation as the material for healing.
A metaphor of analysts: Who do you trust as a guide when the big moments of your life come full force? Who do you trust to help and advise when the harsh and ecstatic crossroads that determine the next large arc in your life arrive? I trust those people who worked on themselves who know their psyches but who have also risked their bodies in the “sweat lodges” of their initiation, who have taken psychedelic drugs with intent, who have risked their bodies in adventures, who have dealt with pain , illness, loss, and letting go, who have crossed cultural boundaries through intentful travel, who have done all this with consciousness and tested it courageous action in their own world. At such times I trust scapegoats more then insiders, prophet more than priest. These are the people I want to work with in my individuation and the individuation of my friends.
A metaphor in the language of analysis: Jung defines individuation as the development of a psychological individual as a being, distinct from the general collective psychology. Suppose we added that individuation also requires “the integration of the unique and distinct elements of the individual with the collective so that both are served.” The elusive so called fully analyzed individual would be an individual fully realized in the world he or she lived in with others, fully realized in the collective. How would that change our methods? The personal and collective shadow, the archetypes, the complexes, the psyche’s reality, the reflective function all would be the tools for the individuation process like learning music notation and vocal technique are tools for singing and prayer. And then the real game could begin.
Such a perspective would make us more courageous in our analytic work for it would point us towards fire, our own and our patients. The fire of individuation is both the place of boundary less and the place of pain, the place of risking role and relationship by asking our patients to uncover the humiliating and dangerous secret, to incorporating the scapegoat, to confronting the need for sacrifice. And the reward for these difficult connections with the collective would be the rewards of all spiritual paths: truth, beauty, service, and peace. That’s the work of analysis that is worth doing, and the proper subject of our explorations as we develop our method further.
From a Speech given in Mexico City, November 1997. Dedicated to Donald Sandner, M.D. (1929-1997)