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C. G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts) Paperback – February 1, 1998
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References to hippies superficially date this volume. After all, it was first published in German in 1972, with the English translation originally appearing in 1975. However, as is the pivotal point of Dr. von Franz, who worked with Jung for many years until the latter's death in 1961, Jung's life quest continues to represent-as the subtitle reads-an archetypal myth for our times. In their tuning into the symbolic and "shadow" aspects of the psyche through Eastern religions and drug experiences, the flower children unwittingly shared an affinity with the founder of analytical psychology.The Swiss analyst's probing into the individual and collective unconscious and synchronicity (non-random coincidences) also resonated with many physicists and philosophers. Ironically, Jung's holistic ideas were perhaps least appreciated by those in his own field; some psychologists referred to him as that "muddled mystic"! As it turns out, his interactive therapeutic techniques, as well as appreciation of the creative potential of the unconscious, are more in tune with contemporary thought than Freud's authoritarian, repression-oriented psychoanalysis.Though too dense with detail to serve as an introductory primer on Jungian psychology, this longtime colleague has masterfully interwoven biography, dream analysis, and other key concepts in evaluating Jung's legacy. -- From Independent Publisher
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Author of "Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul"
When Marie-Louise von Franz asked C. G. Jung if his views were similar to those of shamans, he is said to have laughed and exclaimed: "Well, that's nothing to be ashamed of, it is an honor!" (13) The reader might be wondering what she means by "similar" here. Jung never claimed to be a shaman and he avoided the projection of the archetype of the medicine man whenever it came his way. Although Jung was a great healer, he was not a shaman, nor did he claim to be a medicine man. He viewed himself rather as an empirical scientist and psychiatrist and instructed his patients and readers of his works not to identify with the shamanic archetype, but to relate to it consciously through the process he called "active imagination." What von Franz has to say about shamanism and Jung is quite interesting. In chapter one "The Underground God" she argues that the process of psychic transformation that Jung went through was a process in the collective psyche "in preparation for the new aeon, the Age of Aquarius." The secret of Jung's earliest childhood dream from the age of three, she says, "stamped" his whole life and "became his fate" (37). Insofar as Jung was moreover a "hermeneut, an interpreter who translates the symbolic dream-letters the patient receives out of his own psychic depths during the night," she suggests that "Jung's work resembled that of the old shamans and medicine men among primitive peoples" (65). In chapter five "The Journey to the Beyond," she writes: "The shaman is frequently both the seer and the poet and of his people and in the trance-state may speak in verse" (101). "Among many people," she adds "the shaman discovers, over and over again, his own songs and melodies" (102). "As a shaman often suffers from the plight of his people," she continues, "Jung was afflicted with dreams of bloodbaths and catastrophes in Europe" (106). Von Franz adds that while "shamans and medicine men of primitive peoples keep their experiences to themselves and hand them on only to younger shamans... Jung never thought of keeping his discovery to himself, in order to strengthen his prestige. Instead he taught this way of dealing with the unconscious, which he called 'active imagination,' to his patients" (111). "Unlike the shamans," she continues "Jung did not attempt to enter this world in a trance-state, but rather in full consciousness and without any diminution of the individual moral responsibility which is one of the attainments of Western culture. This is something new and unique," she says, "something which cannot be compared with the earlier stages of culture..." (117). One of the most interesting discussions in her book to my mind is when she begins to discuss the issue of possession states with regards to the emerging archetype of the Anthropos, the astrological image of man in the Aquarian Age. Possession by this archetype is morbid, she says. Again, she points modestly to the shaman or medicine man as a person who knows "how to control the spirits and give them free rein to work their powers through him without becoming possessed himself" (137). Thus, there appears to be a link between the shamanic archetype and the Anthropos. "The Anthropos, seen as mankind's 'group-soul' is, namely, an image of the bond uniting all men" (138). Later in the book she points out that group therapy needs a leader and the role of the priest, as well as that of the doctor and psychotherapist, and these archetypal roles go back to the shaman and medicine man as the protector of the life of the group: "Curing the soul of individual and collective states of possession is really the principle task of the shaman" (262). "The symbolic inner experiences which the shaman lives through during his period of initiation," von Franz continues, "are identical with the symbolic experiences the man of today lives through during the individuation process. One may therefore say that the shaman or the medicine man was the most individuated, that is, the most conscious, person of the group to which he belonged" (263). Here she begins to make an important distinction between the white and the black shamans described by Eliade in his classic work: "From the very beginning, ... the shaman's shadow appeared, namely the psychopathic black magician, who misused his inner experience (the experience of the spirit world) for personal power aims. The real shaman has an unintended power in that the spirits, especially the archetype of the Self, stands behind him, but the black magician claims collective power with his ego and consequently is psychically ill" (263). This is one of the first works written by a Jungian that attempted to discuss the issue of Jung's myth and its relation to shamanism. "The individuation process," she cautions wisely "is incompatible with any sort of social power claim" (263). To be sure, von Franz is at her finest.
Reading Marie-Louise von Franz is always an inspiration. She is tremendously insightful and that is demonstrated here, if not as much as in the books that she wrote on topics of her own choosing - The Problem of the Puer Aeternus and her interpretation of The Little Prince by St Exupery for one great example.
It is a pleasure to read such a clear thinker and to read her life of C.G. Jung.
Picking up a book by Marie-Louise von Franz and coming to her from the political news of the day is like being washed clean of the dirt and the filth that we are all immersed in. "We were sunk in evil and knew it." (*)
"We live today in the age of psychopathy, when the psychopath rides in the limousine of the visiting head of state or is the head of giant corporations. Today the psychopath is celebrated and appears nightly on our TV screens instead of being shunned and forced to slink through the filthy alleys of our cities, as in the past." - James Hillman, paraphrased.
In such an age, Marie Louise von Franz, C.G. Jung and their fellow explorers of the human soul -- and the human unconscious -- are vital - with their unflinching descriptions of Absolute Evil, Radical Evil, known to the Church as the devil and their implacable resolve to counter 'major evil' -- the evil of the concentration camps and the ovens. The same 'major evil' that has returned under the Neocons of the US at the start of this twenty-first century. Returned and led half the US population down the road of the Germans after 1933 towards 'mass psychosis' and the (unconcscious) urge to start a world war. When the unthinkable has become normal - the routine use of murder, torture-to-death, death camps with 27,000 missing muslims -- Where are they? Can they be released or are they in mass graves? --, genocide, war crimes - the Afghan 'convoy of death', crimes against the laws of war - the use of death squads in Iraq and now Afghanistan-- the 'El Salvador Option' -- and the creation of the infrastructure for a police state in the US.
Laurens van der Post - "We must demand psychological illumination from our politicians. Otherwise they may spar with their own shadows, projected on 'the enemy'." "The human being who starts by withdrawing his own shadow from his neighbour is doing work of immense, imediate political and social importance." - Matter of Heart - Part 9/10, to end of Part 10 - @7:08 v=meNT56CqtLE#t=07m08s
Marie Louise von Franz - "Withdrawing our shadows from projection." "The only way to cope with evil is if each person will confront their own evil. If benevolent preaching would work, we should have been out of the trouble long ago." - Matter of Heart - Part 9 - @ 9.10 v=meNT56CqtLE#t=08m20s
(*) Events today are not generally worse than in the last eighty years - 1930s Germany, followed by World War 2. The difference today is that we have the internet and we can, if we choose, see completely through the attempts to manipulate us; manipulate our views, our thoughts, our politics via the media - the main stream media (MSM). That makes for some very hard reality to face.
There is a reason that C.G. Jung said "I am not concerned about the world. I am concerned about the people with whom I live. The other world is all in the newspapers. My family and my neighbours are my life -- the only life that I can experience. What lies beyond is newspaper mythology." Yet today we listen to the news and we read reports of mayhem, murder and the foulest evil from all around the globe. Even harder, we see it daily on our TV screens.
This does not make us happy. It does not make us healthy. It does not make us whole. But we have a duty to bear witness to it and to try, each in our own way, to act to the very limit of our personal endurance -- but no further -- to stand against it. While remembering that what is important first is our family, our wife or husband, our children, our friends and our town; that if we are not healthy we cannot help any other. And there are many others who need and deserve our help, not least for what has been done to them in our name.
So we must hold these opposing ideas in our minds simultaneously - we must be healthy, we must care first for our own family. And we must do what we can to help others who need it.
Which, perhaps, is why Jung also said "I get a great deal of satisfaction from growing my own potatoes." Growing our own food in the earth, with our own hands, connects us to that earth and to this blue-green planet and to everything on it. It connects us to the web of life, 'of which we are merely a strand'.
It makes us whole.
As does reading and watching on video Marie-Louise von Franz.