“Let us descend from the empyrean . . . my time is short and I cannot afford to wait on the morals and judgments of the world.” --Sandor Marai, Cassanova in Bolzano
Transgressions are expressions of an archetypal field of morality, carrying with them many traumatic emotional experiences. In response to the occurrence of moral transgression, humanity is pitted between the Procrustean bed of religious condemnation and a collective lack of understanding of unconscious dynamics; both attitudes are insufficient for an adequate understanding the full meaning of these painful, profound, and potentially transformative experiences; this is especially evident when we see that, in service to a greater consciousness, upon entering this domain of morality, we are often called to transgress accepted moral code.
History and clinical practice have painfully captured the consequences of our personal and collective moral transgressions, many of which have altered the course of history. While to transgress is archetypal, so too is the need to justify our behaviors. As Elie Wiesel has reminded us, along “with the development of the rational mind came the capacity to rationalize anything and everything,” and humanity’s hunger to expiate guilt and the discomfort of painful unconscious contents is evident in our ongoing search for scapegoats, sin eaters, and confessors.
Jung emphasized that every analysis will involve an encounter with the archetype of morality and the numinous, and clinical practice confirms that virtually every patient will eventually have to face the reality of transgression. Perhaps it will be a patient whose addictions results in the abandonment of family, or parents who give up for adoption a newborn child because they want a better life for themselves. These are deeply disturbing transgressions that violate accepted behavior but which, nevertheless, may also be in service to a necessary psychic need.
Dr. Michael Conforti is a Jungian analyst and the Founder and Director of the Assisi Institute. He is a faculty member at the C.G. Jung Institute - Boston, the C.G Jung Foundation of New York, and for many years served as a Senior Associate faculty member in the Doctoral and Master's Programs in Clinical Psychology at Antioch New England. A pioneer in the field of matter-psyche studies, Dr. Conforti is actively investigating the workings of archetypal fields and the relationship between Jungian psychology and the New Sciences. He has presented his work to a wide range of national and international audiences, including the C.G. Jung Institute - Zurich and Jungian organizations in Australia, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, and Venezuela. He is the author of Threshold Experiences: The Archetype of Beginnings (2007) and Field, Form and Fate: Patterns in Mind, Nature and Psyche (2002). His articles have appeared in Psychological Perspectives, San Francisco Jung Library Journal, Roundtable Press, World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution, and Spring Journal, and his books has been translated into Italian, Russian and a soon to be released Spanish edition of his work.