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  • Friday, March 15, 2019 11:35 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” This statement first appeared on April 22, 1970 for the first Earth Day poster designed by cartoonist Walt Kelly, the man behind the comic strip “Pogo”. The cartoon shows Pogo looking out across his beloved forest now littered with trash. This iconic image and quote among others was intended to encourage Americans to become more responsible for their behavior and treatment of their environment and homeland. It was an apt representation of a growing public awareness of how fragile and interconnected our ecosystems and human life are. And it worked.  As a result of greater consciousness of each American, a national movement was created and “we, the people” changed our more wasteful habits and transformed our environment.

    Kelly’s statement also reveals something even more personal and psychological. Jung identifies ‘the enemy’ as the shadow within each of us. Last year at this time, I wrote a blog entitled “Can the Youth of Our Nation Save Us from Ourselves”? I focused on the outspoken young people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day shooting. Sadly, we have had additional shootings since then. But their voices were heard. They joined many others touched by these violent acts. Sparked by their activism, which also had a hand in the mid-term correction in Congress, a bill was passed in the House of Representatives on this past Valentine’s Day closing the loopholes in the requirement of background checks for those buying guns. Also, as of this March 14th, families are now able to sue gun manufacturers for the guns used in school shootings and other massacres which had been outlawed until now.

    These are small steps, but major victories over a powerful lobbying group that had amassed too much power and influence over politicians through financial contributions and other support for elections and re-elections as a quid pro quo to support and push through legislation in favor of their interests. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great leaders we have had, but we could not have had great leaders unless they had a great people to follow.” And a few short years later, Harry S. Truman stated, “The people have often made mistakes, but given time and the facts, they will make the corrections.” When people look within, then amass with passion around an issue of concern, they become empowered to change themselves, their environment, their communities, their country and the world.

    “The people” did this. These young people held a mirror up to us and said, “Look! You are the enemy!” They challenged us to dig deeper into ourselves, into our souls, to confront the enemy from within. Jung said that our greatest enemy is ennui, more commonly known today as apathy. Through apathy, we allow things to occur as long as they don’t seem to impact our lives. Yet, what we are painfully having to accept through numerous international and domestic terrorist acts and hate crimes is that we are not innocent in our ignorance.  We cannot turn a blind eye and hope someone else is taking up the mantle of the good fight.

    In “Aion”, Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung describes the shadow as “a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.” Becoming aware of our inner demons empowers us to realize we don’t have to be swayed, even dominated by the enemy within.

    Noted writer James Baldwin laments: “ I’m terrified at the moral apathy; the death of the heart which is happening in my country. It’s a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that one-ninth of its population is beneath them and until that moment when we, the American people are able to accept the fact that I, who have ancestors both white and black, that on this continent we are trying to form a new identity for which we need each other. Until this moment, there is scarcely any hope for the American dream because people who are denied participation in it, by their very presence, will wreck it and if that happens, it will be a very grave moment for the West.” The white nationalist incident in Charlottesville in 1917 revealed how little some hearts and minds have changed since Baldwin wrote this after the race riots and assassinations of black civil rights leaders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s.

    In the past year, Americans, indeed the world, has watched and often felt the war of good and evil right in front of us as political divisions, reputations of notable figures, acts of brinkmanship, the veneer of institutional governance and all that have emerged from our shadows, personal and public, have been peeled away, exposing our dark shadow psychological content.

    Jung states in “The Philosophical Tree” that “a man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor.” If, in fact, we begin to do the hard work of removing our projections from others, we soon discover our own inner dark angels, and we are not as quick to blame others for their shortcomings. “Such a man [or woman]” Jung says, “knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow, he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.”

    Obama eulogized after the Charleston shooting in 2015: “As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind. He has given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves. For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.

    As we have examined the darkness outside of ourselves parading across our TV and internet screens, we have been confronted with the darkness of our nation. Only by working through what we see and do not like that makes us feel uncomfortable, angry, even rageful, can we bring forth a better nation, our better angels. We can choose to look away, but it is at our peril.

    Jung’s words on love and power ring true today more than ever. He said: “Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” Our issues are not impossible to solve if we bring love to inform our power to act. A recent poll shows 93% of Americans do not approve of our current divisive politics. This means we are allowing only 7% of us to dominate our lives. The Dalai Lama shows us a way out:  to find in our enemies our commonalities beyond our opposing perspectives. This can only be done when we bring compassion to our brothers and sisters whom we regard as Other. Only when we are able to face our enemies within and without are we then able to work through our differences and our fears. If we can, this brings us closer to what the foundations of our democratic ideals are all about and we, the people, through greater wisdom will form “a more perfect Union”.

    Janice Quinn, PhD, LCSW, s a Jungian Analyst with a private practice in Arlington, VA. She is a member and past president of the Jungian Analysts of Washington Association  (JAWA) and is a Training Analyst for the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts (IRSJA).

  • Friday, February 15, 2019 11:36 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    When it was suggested a few years ago that one could prefer a hero who doesn’t get captured, it was another one of those decline and fall moments of “there goes the culture.” Why and how could this reveal a big deal? The myth of the hero is one of foundations of human culture. I recently had the pleasure of rereading Carl Jung’s classic, Symbols of Transformation (CW 5, cited below by paragraph) and was struck by how truly foundational the hero myth is to a culture, a civilization, and human development itself. There is a pattern to the hero myth that is worth exploring, if we are to get out of the ways in which we have been captured.

    Jung beautifully summarizes the archaic and “typical mythological motifs” (par. 42) of the hero in the following:

    He journeys by ship, fights the sea monster, is swallowed, struggles against being bitten and crushed to death (kicking or struggling motif), and having arrived inside the ‘whale-dragon,’ seeks the vital organ, which he proceeds to cut off or otherwise destroy. Often the monster is killed by the hero lighting a fire inside him—that is to say, in the very womb of death he secretly creates life, the rising sun. (par. 538)

    Thus condensed is the underlying pattern. There is some capture, symbolized in different ways, which indicates a “going under,” a night sea journey, a neykia, a type of death and resurrection. We only need to think of Jonah and Jesus, Odysseus and Aeneas, not to mention, in American culture, Washington, Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, MLK, among many others. Some kind of dangerous journey to the underworld of darkness and suffering is required, if one is to gain something of true value that has the potential of renewing the culture and oneself in the process.

    For Jung, this myth of the hero symbolized the risks and possibilities of becoming fully human. The forces and regressive rip tides of unconsciousness are all too real. Indeed, Jung referred to unconsciousness as a “deadly threat” (par. 548) which could take over an entire nation. However, the dragon of the unconscious could be engaged, entered into, and transformed with the lighting of the fire of consciousness and discovering, in the darkness of suffering, some source, some treasure hard to find, that transcended one’s previous sense of self. “The treasure which the hero fetches from the dark cavern is life,” and one’s very self, new-born (par. 580). In this way, the hero is “an archetype of the self” (par. 612). Even more, for Jung, the question, myth and status, if you will, of the hero is internally connected to the role of religion in a culture and a psyche. How these heroic questions of the unconscious, suffering, darkness and unknowing are negotiated and dealt with, in many ways, determines whether religion serves the spirit—“the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath”—or the various alienating structures of the ego’s spiritual materialism and appetite.

    The hero has gotten captured, in our selves and in our culture. And, the myth of the hero has been captured by a two-dimensional story of aggrandizement and various forms of narcissism with its insatiable hungers. Whether the hero is freed and the myth of the hero restored is really up to us. A long time ago, when Star Wars was first released, I remember the heroic journey being played out on screen. In particular, I remember seeing the heroic Han Solo being captured by the kleptocrat, Jabba the Hutt, that grotesque image of bloated ego. In the end, Han is freed and Jabba is done in by Princess Leia, twisted into an image of objectified feminine and abused soul, to give it a Jungian interpretation. We need to be conscious and brave here. In recovering the hero in our midst, we need to remember that the unconscious has its own logic. If we spurn and chain it, it may come back and do us in, as it did to Jabba. But, seen from the angle of the hero, and venturing forth into life on the basis of such a perspective, after being captured and finding the treasure, one may find oneself on the new shore of a renewed human relatedness —Han finds Leia, the hero finds soul, feminine finds masculine—the opposites of the self are reconciled and a glimpse is given of what King imaged as “the Beloved Community.”

    Mark Napack, M.A., S.T.L., M.S., first studied the hero's journey as a student of comparative literature at Columbia University, after which he applied Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces to the redemption motif in medieval theology for his thesis at Fordham University. He further studied Jung, psychology and the history of religion at Loyola and Catholic Universities. A long-time graduate and college lecturer, Mark has a special concern for areas of psychology and spirituality and an ongoing involvement with the Collected Works of Jung and Jungian classics. He has presented at international conferences and published in scholarly publications. Mark Napack, LCPC is also a Jungian informed psychotherapist in North Bethesda, MD.

  • Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    The way is within us, but not in Gods nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life…. May each one seek his own way. The way leads to mutual love in community. Men will come to see and feel the similarity and commonality of their ways.” (The Red Book, p. 231)

    The path to discovering the oneness of creation starts with discovering our individual oneness. C.G. Jung took this path in 1913 when, having lost his way at midlife, he returned to his journals and let himself drop into the underworld to confront the unconscious. He writes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “Suddenly it was as though the ground literally gave way beneath my feet, and I plunged down into dark depths.” (p. 203)  So begins the story of The Red Book, the story of Jung’s journey toward finding himself, of how he reached out for the hand of his lost soul. Jung encourages us to do the same, to ask our soul to stay by our side as we make our own journey. And to write it all down in our journals, in our own red books.

    We have another example of finding the way within, in the journals of Etty Hillesum, Dutch Jewish author of An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork, written from March 1941 to September 1943, when she was deported to Auschwitz. She died two months later at the age of 29. Fearful of what loomed ahead, Hillesum started a journal, describing herself as “a miserable, frightened creature.” Slowly through intense inner work, with pen in hand, she uncovers a deep well inside herself. “And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too.” (p. 44) She draws prayer around herself in order to rest calm and collected, and to keep her body at peace with her soul. “The sky within me is as wide as the one stretching above my head.” (p. 145)

    It is in bringing together opposites—body and soul, the conscious and unconscious—that we uncover a wholeness, an essential oneness. During his journey of individuation, transcribed in The Red Book, Jung continues to call out to his soul. At one moment he asks her to dive down into the depths of darkness and to bring him all that she finds. She finds old armor, painted stones, images of Gods, stories from the ages. It is too much, he exclaims. His soul scolds him, “You wanted to accept everything. You do not know your limits…. Take shears and prune your trees.” (p. 306) Jung takes an imaginary knife and cuts away everything that has grown without measure. He cuts down to the marrow to find himself.

    His journey continues until in 1928 when he dreams of being in Liverpool, where in the middle of the dark, rainy city, there is a dimly lit square. In the middle of the square there is a pond with an island. In the middle of the island, there is a single magnolia tree in a shower of reddish blossoms. “It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of light.” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 223)  Jung sees the blossoming tree as a symbol of the Self, the goal of psychic development. He painted the dream in a magnificent mandala, naming it Window to Eternity.

    Window to Eternity, C.G. Jung, Image 159, The Red Book

    This oneness is both within us and around us. After this dream, Jung stopped writing in The Red Book, and turned to the study of alchemy and Eastern religions. The groundwork for his scientific opus was done. Jung taught, lectured, wrote, experiencing an ever expanding wholeness. It was during a stay in his tower at Bollingen, on Lake Zurich, that he wrote, “At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the plashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons. (ibid, p. 252)

    We find ourselves at one with all the creation. We experience a feeling of belonging, a feeling of being at home in the world around us. Jung summons us to find this oneness. “May each one seek his own way. The way leads to mutual love in community. Men will come to see and feel the similarity and commonality of their ways.” (The Red Book, p. 231) From inward, we stretch outward. Our path takes us to those around us. We discover our shared ways and our shared earth. We are part of this greater wholeness, one small whole within greater wholes – within family, community, country.

    When we embrace ourselves, we embrace all creation.

  • Thursday, November 15, 2018 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    We have…succeeded in forgetting that an indissoluble link binds us to the men of antiquity…By penetrating into the blocked subterranean passages of our own psyches we…establish a firm foothold outside our own culture from which alone it is possible to gain an objective understanding of its foundations.
    -C.G. Jung, CW5, para. 1

    Two decades ago, the notable post-Jungian writer, Wolfgang Giegerich, declared that the modern psychological situation is without parallel, that ancient mythology can no longer illumine the psychology of modern people. We have broken, he states, “with the entire level of consciousness on which truly mythic experience was feasible” (1999:175)*.

    Like Giegerich, we may point to our post-modern engagement with information technology, the internet, virtual reality, social media, and cyber communication as proof that the realities we construct have few, if any, links to our ancestors’ mythic sense of reality or their foundational stories.

    Jung would likely not agree. As our quote from Symbols of Transformation suggests, Jung rejected the idea that modernity could sever our ties to the mythic imagination of our ancestors. He spent a lifetime elaborating this position through his work on the archetypal structures that inform and organize human thought, emotion and behavior.

    The unconscious presence of mythic modes thinking, as well as the ongoing influence of foundational mythic themes in the Western psyche can be broadly illustrated. Ancient mythic underpinnings can still be cited in narrative patterns, basic cultural assumptions and behaviors. And because mythologems may express themselves constructively or destructively, we have an ethical duty to bring them out of the shadows.

    As I will demonstrate in my presentation to the Jung Society of Washington in December, critical examination of Biblical creation stories casts light upon the Western psyche’s dissociation from the land, our continuing investment in economies of extraction, and the industrial exploitation of human and non-human others. Despite its depth and beauty, the Biblical creation myth found in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis paints a bleak portrait of humans in relation to the larger creation. Human identity and existence proceed out of a fallen state; the curse of Adam severs our kinship with the land and its non-human inhabitants. The myth prescribes hierarchical family and social structures and attributes mortality to sin.

    Combined with other ancestral and ideological narratives, these creation motifs continue to inform our sense of time, our relationship with the land and with non-human others. They mirror back to us our fear of death and aging. And sometimes, when not interpreted metaphorically, but instead wielded as inerrant, literal truths, they foster communal warfare.

    Of course, it is important to consider the larger context of any motif. The narrative of “The Fall” is prelude to a much longer story about divine-human relations over the course of history. Our job is not to dismiss the mythic currents flowing out of the past and informing the present, but to think critically, dare to acknowledge how foundational stories inform society and culture, and to track how they underpin one’s sense of self and the world.

    To acknowledge and take responsibility for ourselves as mythic animals we must consider, not just what we think but how we think. We meet ourselves as mythic creatures through this work of tracking ancestral influences, but we also access the restorative and enriching experience of mythic imagination through those states of mind where conscious and unconscious psyches intersect: metaphoric communication, day-dreaming, story-making, night-dreaming, and socalled “mystical states.” I would like to suggest that the much-needed healing of the Western body-psyche may be supported by envisioning the path of individuation as an ecological process, one that fosters the healing of our broken kinship with the land through (what I am calling) “polyvalent awareness.” Working intentionally with the mythic dimension of our humanity, we foster multiple ways of perceiving: Western (differentiated), mythic (weaving ancestral with contemporary story-making) and holistic (explicable only by reference to the whole).

    Differentiated consciousness allows us to approach ancestral narratives with a critical eye. Mythic perception connects us with our deeper resources, allowing us to formulate meaning through metaphor and symbol. Differentiated thinking may help us locate ourselves within our ancestral stories while mythic thinking may carry forward the stories in forms that restore our kinship with the land and help us meet the experiences and needs of our time. Holistic awareness graces us with momentary glimpses of our participation in the greater whole. Polyvalent awareness allows us to receive the stories that rise up from the land. It links us to our ancestors and to one another through symbolic ways of perceiving, and it fosters personal authority in the face of powerful, unconscious currents flowing through us as a people.

    I look forward to sharing this exploration with you in December.

    *Giegerich, W. (1999) The Soul's Logical Life: Towards a Rigorous Notion of Psychology, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

    Melanie Starr Costello, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, historian, and senior Jungian analyst in private practice in Washington, D.C. She earned her doctorate in the History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute-Zurich where she currently serves as a Training Analyst. Dr. Costello has taught and published on the topics of psychology and religion, medieval women’s spirituality, individuation and ecology, aging and clinical practice. Her study of the link between illness and insight, entitled Imagination, Illness and Injury: Jungian Psychology and the Somatic Dimensions of Perception, is published by Routledge Press. Her presentation and workshop, “Natural Symbols, Natural Cycles: Individuation as Ecology,” is scheduled for December 7 and 8, 2018 at the Jung Society of Washington.

  • Monday, October 15, 2018 5:16 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    It is the natural desire and tendency of conscious life to solve problems and then move on.   This proclivity does indeed lead to the resolution of many if not most of life’s dilemmas.   But not the ones that matter most.

    Jung himself shared our desire to quick and happy resolution to the conflicts and stuck places.   He describes, “I had always worked with the temperamental conviction that at bottom there are no insoluble problems, and experience justified me in so far as I have often seen patients simply outgrow a problem that had destroyed others.   This ‘outgrowing,’ as I formerly called it, proves on further investigation to be a new level of consciousness.   Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency.  It is not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.”  (CW 13, Alchemical Studies, par. 17)

    How often the old adage, “sleep on it” does bring a measure of relief the next day when we have been able to step back out of the emotional morass and reframe it in some way.   Our unconscious has also worked on it to provide a new perspective.   Notable artistic and scientific discoveries have risen out of this outer/inner world dialectic.

    Still, many of life’s issues are not solvable.  For example, sometimes quanta of trauma remain in our system and send up bubbles to trouble our days, just as a sunken ocean liner releases its flotsam for decades.  (The USS Arizona is still leaking oil at Pearl Harbor after seventy-seven years).   Sometimes betrayals, profound losses, roads not taken continue to haunt a person and cloud the present.    We will never “solve” these experiences for they are always part of our psychoactive history.   But consciously we can attend to the business of living in the present.   Asking the question: “what does this old, persisting problem make me do, or keep me from doing,” obliges us to take responsibility for what spills into the world through us.

    Some years ago, in a book called Swamplands of the Soul, I suggested that our periodic visitations to dismal places: depression, loss, betrayal, grief, and so on were part of the human condition from which none of us is exempt.   But to move beyond a posture of outrage at life’s “betrayal,” we are called to ask another question: “to what present task is this swampland calling me”?   Asking this question moves us from a posture of “victimage” to engagement with the unfolding of our destiny.   Without this move, fate triumphs over destiny.

    Elsewhere, Jung writes eloquently about those dilemmas to which there is no obvious resolution, or no cost-free resolution.   Then he suggests we hold the tension of opposites which are pulling us apart, until the “third” appears.   The “third” means, neither this nor that, yes or no, but what is the developmental task this dilemma is bringing me.   Where am I being asked to grow larger than, to reframe, to reposition this contretemps?   In asking this question, once again, we are moved from a paralysis, a stuckness, a loss of agency to a summons to accountability.    Being accountable is what it means to be a grown up.

    Jung’s summarizes, “the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble.  They must be so, for they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system.   They can never be solved, but only outgrown.”  (Ibid. par. 18) Meanwhile, the task of living goes onward, with or without our participation.

    James Hollis, Ph.D. is a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst in practice in Washington, D. C. where he is also Executive Director of the Jung Society of Washington. He is also author of fifteen books translated into nineteen languages. 

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018 9:44 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    “Rather seek for yourself and your fellows the healing vessel, the servitor mundi, which you urgently need. For your state is perilous; you are all in imminent danger of destroying all that centuries have built up.”
    — C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 283. 

    Once upon a time, there was a man who illegally became king. Because he knew his own illegitimacy and the precarious position it left him in, he had a great tower built. Notwithstanding its apparent impregnability, the walls of the tower kept on collapsing. The king summoned a unique expert to diagnose the problem. This mysterious diagnostician revealed that there was a serious problem underground. The tower was built over two dragons, one red, one white, who, feeling oppressed by the edifice, would move around, shake the foundations of the tower whereupon the walls would collapse. The dragons were dug up from underground, engaged in their festering conflict and the white one killed the red.

    So begins the backstory to the Grail quest as told by Robert de Boron. The king is Vertigiers; the country is Briton; the expert diagnostician is Merlin. Merlin explains that the red dragon symbolizes King Vertigiers and the white dragon symbolizes the rightful heirs, Pendragon and Uther. The heirs and the king join in battle and the king is defeated. Merlin, because of his knowledge of the archaic past and his ethical pledge to the good, tells the new and rightful king to build a table, at which will sit a knight who will have found the Grail. Eventually we come to a fisher king, whose illness will not heal, whose country is a waste, who awaits something and someone new that will draw life and renewal from the Grail.

    Carl Jung, as indicated in the above quote, felt that the Grail myth was central to the problems of our time. It was Jung’s own mythic world, containing a great secret which, though still unknown, might confer a redemptive meaning on our own wasteland. Is not the backstory of the two dragons our own situation, where opposites are vying in the underground of the collective unconscious, shaking the foundations of our structures and institutions, state and church? Evidence of collapse is all around us. When opposing forces are unconscious, the people may know nothing but nevertheless feel themselves to be undermined.

    In many ways, the point of the Grail legend is to bring into consciousness the situation of dissociation that exists generally in the culture in order to move towards reconciliation of opposites and conscious relatedness. For, the red and white of the dragons, in the imagery of alchemy, are the colors of the bridegroom and bride called into relationship, a coniunctio. That is the hope implied in the Merlin backstory, but we know that is not how it goes, at least initially. There is inevitable conflict and the ruling principle of the culture and the psyche, symbolized by the king, must be overthrown. The words of Hamlet are enacted:

    Laertes: The King, the King’s to blame.
    Hamlet: The point envenom’d too?
                     Then venom to thy work. 

    In Hamlet, the dying King is in denial—“I am but hurt”—and the overthrowing movement of Hamlet cries out in dragon-like rage, “Here, thou incestuous, murd’rous, damned Dane, Drink off this potion! Is thy union here?” In death and destruction?

    The Grail myth points the way to a different outcome, a life-giving and creative union, where the opposites don’t end up in a nuclear fission, but are reconciled, with the result being that the country, from top to bottom, is restored to health. The Grail quest is the search for this hidden wholeness.

    Mark Napack, M.A., S.T.L., M.S., first studied the Grail legend as a student of comparative literature at Columbia University. From there, he went on to study Jung, psychology and the history of religion at Fordham, Loyola and Catholic Universities, from which he received various graduate degrees. A long-time teacher and presenter, Mark has a special concern for areas of psychology and spirituality and an ongoing involvement with the Collected Works of Jung and Jungian classics. He has presented at international conferences and published in scholarly publications. Mark Napack, LCPC is also a Jungian informed psychotherapist in North Bethesda, MD.

  • Sunday, July 15, 2018 4:32 PM | Jung Society of Washington

    "The way to yourself is the longest way and the hardest way. Everybody would pay anything, his whole fortune, to avoid going to himself.  Most people hate themselves, and for nothing in the world would they go where they are, where their native town is, because it is just hell."
    -       C.G. Jung. The Vision Seminars, vol 1, p. 30.

    Tragedy, both ancient and modern, points to this idea.  One has only to look at Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex or Shakespeare’s King Lear or Macbeth or in modern times to Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman or Tennessee Williams’ Blanche from Streetcar Named Desire.   This blog post is just a short introduction to these ideas.

    Oedipus who has unknowingly lived out the oracle’s prophecy has killed his father and married his mother and thus has become the King of Thebes.  Under his leadership, the city eventually becomes plagued with disasters.   Oedipus is determined to find out why, yet he will not look into what is beyond the ego.  He refuses help from the unconscious, in the form of Tireseias.  Gradually, however, he finds out that the troubles in Thebes are the result of his own unnatural acts.  This knowledge comes upon him with great devastation and in his collapse, he blinds himself.  This is the hell of self-knowledge, fortunately, Oedipus Rex is not the end of the story for in Oedipus at Colonus, after thirty years of wandering, Oedipus has become a holy man with great wisdom.

    King Lear and Macbeth both come to self knowledge by way of a dark and difficult journey.  King Lear has a shallow belief in his generosity and the meaning of love, so he divides his kingdom between the two daughters who flatter his narcissism and exiles his daughter who loves him.  After the two flattering daughters deny him of his authority, Lear undergoes the torment of a ferocious storm, symbolizing the difficult journey to the shadow and self knowledge.  Before his death, Lear recognizes the meaning of love and is reunited with his true daughter.  Macbeth, who is a great warrior with a capacity for imagination, comes to know the murderous monster inside himself as he murders and murders, first for kingship, and then to cement his kingship and avoid his guilt.  Macbeth becomes more and more nihilistic, finally averring that “Life is a walking shadow, signifying nothing.”   Self knowledge led Macbeth to despair for he found the inner monster.

    Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman keeps himself alive with the illusion that he is a good man and that he is well-liked.   As the play progresses, Willy learns that his days of being beloved are over and when his son discovers his infidelity, his persona is destroyed, and his shadow cannot be ignored.  His one-sided knowledge of himself can no longer survive, and Willy is unable to bear the pain of this knowledge.  The play ends with his suicide.

    Like Willy Loman, Blanche Dubois survives on fantasy.  She presents herself as an upper class damsel who has fallen upon hard times and so she moves in with her sister, Stella, and her working-class husband, Stanley.  Blanch and Stanley are almost immediately antagonists.  In the meantime, Blanche falls in love with one of Stanley’s more refined comrades, Mitch.  By the by, Stanley discovers the truth about Blanche’s past-viz., that she squandered the family estate, that she had lived in a hotel known for housing prostitutes and that she had been fired from her teaching job for having sex with a high school student.  He tells all this to Mitch, who breaks off with Blanche and as an added insult, Stanley rapes her.  As a result of the broken fantasy, Blanche collapses into mental confusion and as she is taken away to the mental institution, she says the famous line, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”  She has regressed, in her illness, to the fantasy that had kept her alive.  Self knowledge could not be borne.

    For most of us, the gradual understanding and assimilation of shadow behaviors and affects mitigates the effect and although the knowledge will be painful, it will not be catastrophic.   This is also true for the work on difficult complexes. 

    So good news for analysis. 

    Julie Bondanza, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and a diplomate Jungian analyst who trained at the C.G. Jung Institute of New York, where she was Director of Training, a job she also held with the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts. She has taught extensively in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, as well as for various Jung societies across the country. Presently she serves the board of the C.G. Jung Foundation of New York and continues to serve as its program chair, a post she has held for many years. Dr. Bondanza practices in Takoma Park and lives in Washington, D.C.

  • Friday, June 15, 2018 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    Who can be trusted to mark the path in these troubled times where there seem to be no answers and no way forward.  I’m casting my lot with Hermes, that psychopomp who leaves stones to mark crossroads for travelers and who leads journeyers into the underworld and back again.

    Jung, in Secret of the Golden Flower, speaks to the relevance of symbol.  “The collective unconscious does not understand the language of the conscious.  Therefore, it is necessary to have the magic of the symbol  which contains those primitive analogies that speak to the unconscious.  The unconscious can be reached and expressed only by symbols, which is the reason why the process of individuation can never do without the symbol.  The symbol is the primitive expression of the unconscious, but at the same time it is also an idea corresponding to the highest intuition proceeded by consciousness.”

    I have chosen, for now, the ordinary stone as a symbol of the still point, time slowed down, ancient and enduring, a place of rest and solace in times of personal and collective crisis.  It is through the image that we begin to allow an expanding vision that emerges deep within the human soul.  Within that still place the image quietly mediates heaven and earth allowing something new to emerge. 

    There is a story of a woman who is following the Sufi path.  She dreams of bringing her psychological disturbances to her teacher.  Frustrated at the teacher’s seeming disinterest she is taken aback when the teacher takes a dark stone from her pocket which glows bright and pulses with light.  She is told to take the stone out from time to time and look at it.  The Lover and the Serpent, Vaughn-Lee

    The dark stone, which “glows bright” and “pulses with light,” is undoubtedly the philosopher’s stone, the goal of the inner work.  It is always in our possession even though we may forget it from time to time.  In alchemy, the Philosophers shed tears over the stone and von Franz states that the stone sent by God was the starting-point and the goal of the alchemical opus, that place of suffering where the inner work   often begins.

    “I tilled the sorrows of the stone, until love found a way to breathe life into this feeble heart and lift this mortal veil of tears” are the words from the song called “Dante’s Prayer.”  The stone is all around us, the ancient cooling of the earth itself.  It carries mountains and rivers; it is the foundation of the buildings that house us; it is the ancient altars on which sacrifices of petition and atonement were performed.  It was present before any human sorrow and long after humans have ceased to exist.  The stone is in many ways a mystery, interweaving both physically with the earth and symbolically with the human psyche.  In the preface to his beautiful book, Talk to a Stone, Tetsuzan Shinagawa writes:  “Even a stone will respond to you if you approach with love, call out, and talk to it.”  Imagine, for a moment, you are holding a stone in your hands.  Hold it, feel it, love it, flow into and through it.  And, as the 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho suggests, “We begin our journey of transformation in quietness and stillness, letting the stone absorb the noise of our everyday life.”

    Von Franz quotes in Myth in Our Time, “When the Tao, the meaning of the world and eternal life are attained, the Chinese say: “Long life flowers with the essence of the stone and the brightness of gold.”  Jung   comments….”This essence of the stone has grown out of the initial fiery magma.  This fiery magma is a metaphor for the cauldron of the self out of which the inner stone forms which then must be worked and shaped in the journey of individuation.  Indeed, this is not just a necessary goal for each one of us individually; it is a critical goal in present history for the entire human collective.”

    The power of the stone to transform human nature and, hopefully, the collective, is depicted with a beautiful simplicity within a children’s story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  One’s first experience of the Self is generally in projection.  This story is of a boy who sees the divine image in stone, one in which he spends his entire life searching for.

    The hero is named, appropriately, “Ernest.”  The valley in which he lives is a well-populated cross-section of the human adventure, neither better nor worse than human collectives everywhere.  The valley is hedged-in with rocky mountains, and, from down in the valley, a person looking up at a certain out-cropping of rock, will see the outlines of a majestic human countenance.  The face like countenance projects something noble, intelligent, tender, and enormously kind.  Ernest, even as a child, finds this combination lacking in his fellow valley citizens, and he longs to see the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy that someday a paragon will appear in the village who both resembles the stone face on the mountain and who possesses its projected qualities.  As a somewhat solitary and pensive child, Ernest spent hours gazing upon the face of stone.  He reached out with his heart and asked it to become his teacher, a role it retained throughout his long life.  The years went by and various luminaries took center stage, but none came close to capturing the qualities of the face.  In Hawthorne’s words, “The sublimity and stateliness, the grand expression of a divine sympathy, that illuminated the mountain visage and etherealized its ponderous granite substance into spirit, might here be sought in vain.”  An old man now, Ernest is still looking for the prophesized paragon, (face in the stone.)  He alone in the valley is unaware what the other residents now know, that the stone face with its sublime qualities has sculpted the face of Ernest and taken up residence within him.

    In Dimensions of the Psyche, von Franz says of the process of individuation, “Experientially, it is as though something divine and creative intervenes in the life of the individual and indeed in a personal and individual fashion.  We have the feeling that something is watching us, something that we do not see – perhaps that ‘great man’ in one’s heart, who communicates his intensions to us in dreams.”

    It seems to me that unconsciously we all are drawn to the power and meaning of the stone or still point, long before we might become cognizant of a journey of transformation within.  This, of course, is the thrust of Hawthorne’s story. 

    Jungian analyst Edward Edinger imagined the troubled times that we are now living when he wrote of earth-shaking collective phenomenon. “It is manifesting itself in international relations; in the breakdown of the social structure of Western civilization; in political, ethnic, and religious groupings; as well as within the psyches of individuals.”  Towards the end of his life, Jung, himself, was not particularly optimistic about our future, “Too much pointed toward war, mass psychosis, and impending disaster.”  Yet all is not hopeless.  If an adequate number of individuals become conscious…our civilization can renew itself and survive…”A person can only be creative in connection with the “ordinary man” within himself, the inner stone face of which Hawthorne wrote so perceptively.  So, says Jung, “Instead of waiting like a herd of sheep huddling together from fear until some unauthorized figure presses the atomic button, we can actually do something.  We can begin to cut and polish the inner stone of the Self, what the alchemists called the lapis, a symbol of the free, mature, and responsible individual.”

    And returning to lines from the song, Dante’s Prayer:

    “When the dark wood fell before me – and all the paths were overgrown –

    When the priests of pride say there is no other way – I tilled the sorrows of stone.

    …Breathe life into this feeble heart – lift this veil of fear

    Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears – we’ll rise above these earthly cares.”

    And, finally, Jung’s beautiful dream just before he died, as von Franz writes in, Jung, His Myth in Our Time.  “He saw a great round stone in a high place, a barren square, and on it were engraved the words:  And this shall be a sign unto you of Wholeness and Oneness.  Then he saw many vessels to the right in an open square and a quadrangle of trees whose roots reached around the earth and enveloped him, and among the roots golden threads were glittering.”

    With stillness and imagination we can traverse the unknown path as Zen-Buddhist D.T. Suzuki writes:  “The awakening is really the discovery or excavation of a long-lost treasure…this is homecoming.  This is the seeing of ones own ‘primal face,’ which one has seen even before birth.  The unconscious which has been lying quietly…now raises its head and announces its presence through consciousness.”

    Anne Pickup is a licensed psychotherapist in D.C. and Maryland with a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She received her Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles.  She is a founding member of the C.G. Jung Study Center of California, past president of the Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts, and current president of the Jungian Analysts of the Washington Area.  She is a member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and is secretary of the Kairos film project; preserving Jung.

    Anne has lectured and taught in N.Y. Calif., and D.C. on themes of separation and loss.   She lives in V.A. and has a private practice in D.C.

  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    Jung wrote about inviting his patients to make art, “The aim of this method of expression was to make unconscious contents accessible and so bring them closer to the patient’s understanding”. (Jung, CW 18 p.182).

    In his work with a young artist, Jung said, “You get all the material in a creative form and this has great advantages over dream material. It quickens the process of maturation, for analysis is a process of quickened maturation. (1989 CW 18 par 399.)

    Jung’s method for analysis rested heavily upon reclaiming unconscious material from the realm of psyche, from the inner life. We have all read even in our beginning studies of Jung’s work, how much he encouraged the retrieval of images from the unconscious.  Dreams he taught are direct paths to the unconscious.  He encouraged his patients to record their dreams and bring them to their analytic sessions.  Then together, analyst and patient would work at decoding the message of the dream. 

    Jung pointed out that just participating in the dialectic with the patient was not enough because there were so many ways of straying from the depths of psyche wherein Jung believed lay one’s true self.  One might retreat to intellectualizations devoid of emotional content to protect one’s fear of self exposure. Often there was a sense of foreboding, secrecy and shame that Jung called shadow. The patient might have moments of dissociation or experience feeling “backed up against the wall’, with no words at the ready.  There are many ways to stay hidden in analysis.  A great deal depends upon the chemistry between analyst and patient. The analyst’s capacity to create a sense of safety, of unconditional acceptance and trust aids in encouraging the patient to grow more comfortable with self disclosure. Then dreams may arise and spontaneous drawings. 

    Jung learned this from his own self analysis. His dreams began to reveal material that often came as a complete surprise to him bringing parts of self that had remained shut away since early childhood. Thus tracking his dreams, he realized was like discovering passageways to the unconscious. He called these entries into the depths of psyche, “rites d’entres”. But dreams he felt were not enough. There were still ways for unconscious content to remain encoded.  There were times when he would feel blocked in his work, stuck  without access to his creativity.  He tells us that when those experiences occurred he reached for his drawing materials, his paints and canvases, or he would carve stone or sit by the lake and use small stones to build little houses and structures of all sorts.  He was driven in his search for the lost parts of self. He called this process the journey of individuation. It was a life long process of personal psychological development. All of the creative, artistic methods Jung turned to for himself served as entries to the unconscious.

    He realized then that there was something unique about using art in the analytic work.  The drawings and paintings that he and later his patients produced were most often spontaneous.  They were unplanned and able to bypass the defenses so dominant in the dialectic process. The messages from psyche just slipped under the door. Then discoveries were revealed and both Jung and many of his patients realized that the art could access even deeper levels than the dreams. And they could be seen by both analyst and patient—they could be kept.  They weren’t ephemeral like the spoken word. Furthermore, Jung discovered that these drawings often conveyed an experience of the numinous.  He called them magical and spoke of enchantment. The drawings became the third in the consulting room. There was the patient, the analyst and the artwork.  Each had a voice. In this way, the patient could be brought directly into the work of interpretation, because, and this was the same in the dream work, the images came from the psyche of the patient.  It would be for him or her to determine the final interpretation of the symbolic content.  This enhanced the process of maturation because the patient was given space to develop their personal sense of agency and not rely entirely upon the wisdom of the analyst.

    Jung was so convinced about the effectiveness of making art in analysis that in addition to drawing and clay work, he invited his patients to use other expressive media as well--- dance/movement to express emotional content or singing, or writing.  There were many times when words seemed not to be enough or when like Jung himself, the patient seemed stuck, perhaps trying to express memories and feelings from a preverbal time. Unable to speak it seemed.   Then the magic of art would be called upon.

    I have been an art therapist and a Jungian analyst for many years.  I have worked with individuals and groups, including many art therapists and students of Jung.   The moments of healing, even transformation, that I have witnessed are countless, as well as my own experiences as a client in art therapy and later in dance movement therapy and my years in Jungian Analysis. I don’t tire of the work often feeling like the guide or sometimes even the mid-wife. I am the witness, I hold the space and I invite my students and clients to make art.  Then we look at the drawings or sculptures together. I ask, “What do you see? Or, What is this about?  What are you feeling, how are you affected by the drawing?”  I point out that often  the art affects us.  Perhaps a quickening, the heart skips a beat or we feel breathless, or constricted or fearful.  We might both feel that way.  Then we have an experience of Jung. Thus art making in analysis lays the ground work for these mutual experiences  and as Jung wrote then both analyst and patient  are  affected and the journey of individuation quickens.

    Sandy Geller, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, is a Jungian analyst and a Board Certified Licensed Art Therapist.  She is in private practice in Washington, DC where she sees analytic clients and does ongoing Jungian Art Therapy groups.  Sandy lectures and gives workshops about Jungian Art Therapy and Creativity. The workshops always provide an experience of Jung and a deep connection with the symbolic.  She has taught at the CG Jung Institute in Kusnacht, Switzerland, The Philadelphia Jung Institute, The Jung Society of Washington, The George Washington University Art Therapy Program and elsewhere.  She gives workshops in her new office just off of Connecticut Ave on the Red Line.  Some recent classes have focused on Dream Drawing, Personal Myth and Fairytale, Personal Creation Myths and Stories.  Many of her clients are artists, poets and writers stuck in their creative process. Working intensely with dreams, art expressions and the symbolic is helpful in the process of awakening the creative spirit.
    For more information go to

  • Sunday, April 15, 2018 9:00 AM | Jung Society of Washington

    We are living in times of great disruption: political passions are aflame, internal upheavals have brought nations to the brink of chaos, and the very foundations of our worldview are shattered. One cannot avoid coming to grips with contemporary history, even if one’s very soul shrinks from the political uproar, the lying propaganda, and the jarring speeches of demagogues. One has duties as a citizen and an obligation to humanity. (C.G. Jung CW10, pp. 177-178.)

    Written 72 years ago, Jung’s words are surprisingly current and relevant, as if he were writing a column for a newspaper’s op-ed page. For me, the question of what constitutes a citizen’s duty to humanity has been reverberating for more than a year. Perhaps you too have been stirred to act, to protest, to resist, to join, mobilize, and march, to write your elected representatives, perhaps even to run for office.

    We are usually spurred into action by the workings of our conscious mind. However, Jung often reminds us that the conscious mind is a bad judge of its own situation.

    He insists that we learn more about our unconscious mind, saying:

    When, as the result of a long technical and moral procedure a person obtains knowledge of the structure of her psyche, based on experience, and accepts the responsibility entailed by this knowledge, there follows an integration or completeness of the individual, who in this way approaches wholeness but not perfection. Instead of striving after the ideal of perfection, we content ourselves with the more accessible goal of approximate completeness. Progress does not lead to an exalted state of spiritualization but to a wise self-limitation and modesty. (CW14:616.)

    Thus, from Jung we have a pair of opposites concerning duty: The first is an external duty, an action to encounter contemporary history. The second is an internal duty, to pursue knowledge of one’s psyche.

    As with any pair of opposites, it is crucial to choose and value both sides. We do not have the luxury of choosing between an external and an internal duty, because we will be incapable of correct external action if we don’t become acquainted with our internal situation. We will locate an enemy “out there” if we fail to befriend our internal adversary.

    One way to pursue the goal of self-knowledge is by cultivating an authentic relationship with our shadow. Only by owning our unwanted psychic contents can we become empowered to discern and deal with any external evil. It is naive to assume that our conscious attitude toward any person, group, or element of society is totally accurate until we acknowledge our unacknowledged unconscious attitude. As Jung points out:

    An unconscious process always sets in when the attitude and orientation of the conscious mind have proved inadequate. Dreams and psychological symptoms must be examined, for they contradict the attitude of consciousness. There will be a stirring up of those archetypes that were most suppressed by the conscious attitude. Then the ego is confronted with its adversary and the melting and re-casting process begins. (CW14:505.)

    Erich Neumann’s Depth Psychology and a New Ethic has been a good place for me to start, re-start, and start again the difficult process of recognizing and owning my shadow. Neumann urges us to stop suppressing, repressing, and projecting our unwanted and unacknowledged unconscious psychic elements.

    In his Foreword to Neumann’s book, Jung writes:

    We might define the “New Ethic” as a development and differentiation within the old ethic, confined at present to those uncommon individuals who, driven by unavoidable conflicts of duty, endeavor to bring the conscious and the unconscious into responsible relationship.

    Here’s to all “uncommon individuals” who wisely and modestly pursue both external and internal solutions to our shared problems, whatever they may be. May we find value in the melting and recasting process.

    Phyllis LaPlante is a certified Jungian Analyst and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She received her Diploma from the C.G. Jung Institute of New York in 1998. She teaches courses in Jungian theory and practice. Semi-retired, she offers short-term consultation.


"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." – C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Welcome to the Jung Society of Washington's blog. Here you'll find posts by our speakers on topics ranging from interpretations of Jung's works to comments on events from a Jungian perspective, and so much more.

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