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The Middle Passage (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts) Paperback – March 1, 1993
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About the Author
James Hollis, Ph.D. is a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst. He is the acclaimed author of seven other books in this series. He lives in Houston, Texas, where he is director of the C.G. Jung Educational Center.
Jungian analyst James Hollis looks at that point in life when people return to questioning who they are and where theyre going. While its often called a mid-life crisis, Hollis prefers to call it a passage--after all, its not a crisis for everyone. Reading his own work, Hollis discusses the pressures that lead to this passage, points out the weight of past influences, and offers suggestions on how to navigate these treacherous waters. With a calm tone and a friendly voice, Hollis leads listeners through this perilous period and advises on ways to negotiate it. While the narration is fine, the book itself is dense, and listeners may need to take some time to reflect on some of its profound ideas. K.M. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
What I especially enjoy about Hollis is the literate sensibility he brings to his writing (often utilizing appropriate references from literature both old and modern), combined with his wise and welcoming experience of being human (every stage and experience has its place and value.... It's all good when we find it's meaning, and the struggle and suffering make it all the more recognizable and significant. The real problem is our modern culture is lacking in clear guidelines, maps and support from wise elders.... The challenging part is it's up to us here and now to create these essential functions.)
This book covers an overview of the four stages/identities humans experience in a complete life (childhood and adolescence, which lead to the second adulthood beginning at midlife, leading to acceptance of mortality in old age). It clearly points out how the first half is about establishing our egos, and fitting in to expectations, while the second is about finding our individual voice and real meaning (the resolutions of often long buried questions). As Hollis says, "if we are fortunate to suffer enough, we are stunned into a reluctant consciousness and the questions return to us again." (Pg 19) I could quote so much more to give a taste of his gentle wisdom, but I will share just one more.
"During the Middle Passage, the insurgence of the shadow is part of a corrective effort made by the Self to bring the personality back into balance. The key to integration of the shadow, the unlived life, is to understand that it's demands emanate from the Self, which wishes neither further repression nor unlicensed acting out. The integration of the shadow requires that we live responsibly in society but also more honestly with ourselves. We learn through the deflation of the persona world that we have lived provisionally; the integration of inner truths, joyful or unpleasant, is necessary to bring new life and restoration of purpose." (pg. 44)
He compares the magic thinking of children, to the heroic thinking of young adulthood, to the more realistic thinking of the second adulthood. It is during this second adulthood that we must recognize what behavior patterns we bring from our early family of origin and whether those patterns have become maladaptive rather than adapative. He asks us to be aware of emotional outbursts or unrealistic passions of any type that signal that an unresoved complex still directs us emotionally and may be blocking our growth. He asks us to be willing to go into the luminous darkness within to seek answers, after all, by midlife you should have seen enough of the world to know that answers rarely lie outside of ourselves.
I enjoyed the poetry of Tennyson, Rilke, and Kazantzakis that he uses throughout the book. I especially liked the linkage to Tennyson's Ulysses, a poem that honors the fact that Ulysses' greatest adventures happen after mid-life.
Hollis believes the greatest tragedy during the midlife crisis is to remain unconscious and never examine the illusions, concepts, complexes, and dark shadows within us. After all, as we reach mid-life, this is the last chance for a meaningful life. The meaningful life is a higher goal that the happy life for both Jung and Hollis.
Hollis links his concepts to the ancient Greek dramatic concept of the tragic flaw. This flaw is usually unconscious and eventually brings the hero to ruin, at which point, his eyes are opened and he sees beyond the veil of illusion under which he has acted.
Hollis would say that the meaningful midlife is one in which ego needs are met and the ego becomes a tool, not an ever hungry brat requiring constant feeding. The wise adult uses the ego to achive a meaningful life, but does not have to achieve fame and fortune to feed this bottomless belly. The complexes are identified when unexplained or unwarranted anger and passion occur. After all these are just sign posts of an inner strategy failing to operate as it did back in childhood. The shadow has been accepted so that one's faults are put in perspective and do not weigh one down day after day with guilt and flashbacks and recriminations. This gives us the strength to go into the final years where one by one we lose all those whom we have loved and eventually they will lose us.
Jung asks "Are we related to something infinite or not?" and he defines life as a luminous spell between two dark mysteries. Coming through the mid-life crisis allows us to personally answer these thoughts and concepts.