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The Psychology of the Transference Paperback – June 1, 1969
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Jung's subject is his discovery that the "great work" of the 16th and 17th century alchemists--a search for the 'philosopher's stone' of 'psychic wholeness' (as opposed to 'psychic perfection')--corresponds closely to the psychological process of the transference (a dynamic set of duo projections of unconscious psychic contents).
The alchemical process mysteriously corresponds not only the transference possible between psychologist and patient, but between any two individuals who spontaneously (unconsciously) constellate some part of the other's psyche through normal human interaction.
However, as with all of Jung's later work, the book's larger focus is the psychic evolution of the individual. The pivotal message of 'The Psychology of the Transference' is that the process of cautiously evolving one's consciousness to the hypothetical point of 'individuation' or 'integration,' is primarily a moral and ethical one. The book stresses that it is also a critically necessary process, however painful and potentially dangerous. In Jung's estimation, mankind has no choice but to accept the challenge of psychic evolution: the alternative is a perpetual present state of misunderstanding, hatred, suspicion, bigotry, oppression, war, and genocide.
Like Freud, Jung believed that man's psyche contains an enormous multi-tier unconscious reservoir, one which not only dwarfs man's generally narrow consciousness but is also the matrix in which consciousness originated (thus the alchemical motto "high rests on low").
The unconscious is the original abode of all drives, demons, and daimons, all instincts and angels, all creativity and appetites for destruction. Since many of its contents are unacceptable to modern man--the most foundational of these being the incest complex--these damned and rejected contexts are not and cannot be readily integrated into consciousness.
Instead, they are spontaneously projected outward onto other human beings, social classes, institutions, and countries--onto any 'object' that is perceived as other and different from the self. No man can evolve his consciousness without first becoming aware of and retracting these projections and learning to comfortably accept them as his own dark potentialities.
It is not simply of matter of leaving the instinctual man behind, but of learning to integrate the necessary if often unattractive instinctual and vital functions into consciousness before moving forward. Thus the process is one of refinement and accumulation and not one of elimination.
Only the first major step in a series (Emerson: "Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series"), the confrontation with and integration of the 'shadow' is often a harrowing and precarious process. If man accepts this task without ample preparation, inner fortification, and secure sense of identity (which he nonetheless must be willing to forgo), he may come to despise himself, lose all motivation, become morally degenerate, or commit suicide.
But if he does not recognize, accept and take up his own cross, he will blame, and attempt to injure or destroy, other people, classes, races, or countries to eradicate the sense of indefinable angst, doubt, suspicion, and fear that impinges itself so relentlessly upon his psyche; as Jung perfectly expressed it, he will endlessly attempt to free himself of "that thing that thrusts itself tyrannically upon him in the stillness and loneliness of the night."
Only after man has accepted and integrated his 'shadow' can he, 'reborn,' proceed rightfully ahead. It is this slow process ('make haste slowly' was another motto of the alchemists) of prudent illumination towards conscious realization of the "whole man," or "self," as Jung called it, that the alchemists referred to as "the great work," the highest single achievement of which man is capable.
Thus, though the alchemists apparently sought to turn base metal into gold, "gold" was in truth a simple metaphor for successfully integrated consciousness. Clearly, most of mankind, finding the burden of unconsciousness easier to bear than the burden of conscious realization and responsibility, regrettably and understandably fails in even this initial step.
As a result, man lives in a predominantly fallen world of near-animal existence.
'The Psychology of the Transference' is one of the most concise and digestible books in Jung's oeuvre; its insights and wisdom are readily applicable to life in the 21st century. As in the balance of his previous eighteen titles, Jung presents the world as an incredible place of breathtaking depth, mystery, and meaning, most of which is lost on the average man, who typically lives in a state of permanent hibernation from objective reality.
However, Jung's worldview is also one in which nature is infinitely strange and capable of continuous unexpected manifestations, unique hybrid creations, and monsters, simply because the process of psychic evolution is not only something man must willingly confront, but because it is a process which nature inexorably demands.
It is to Jung's credit that with 'The Psychology of the Transference' he is able to present his ideas in direct, palatable, and useful fashion without dilution.
A world of readers are blindly searching for this book, and turning instead to authors like Herman Hesse and Carlos Casteneda, 'New Age' crank authors whose work is merely plagiarism of Jung, or lesser psychologists who offer up Jung's ideas in vastly diluted form. 'The Psychology of the Transference,' a deep and hopeful book, is the source to which questing readers should turn.
Here are some representative quotations from the book:
"Suddenly (Freud) asked me out of the blue, 'And what do you think about the transference?' I replied with the deepest conviction that it was the alpha and omega of the analytical method, whereupon he said, 'Then you have grasped the main thing.'" (Pg. 8)
"This solution is normal and satisfying in that the dogmatically formulated truths of the Christian Church express, almost perfectly, the nature of psychic experience." (Pg. 29)
"Whenever an instinctive force---i.e., a certain sum of psychic energy---is driven into the background through a one-sided (in this case, exogamous) attitude on the part of the conscious mind, it leads to a dissociation of personality." (Pg. 67)
"Intellectual responsibility seems always to have been the alchemists' weak spot, though a few of them tell us plainly enough how we are to regard their peculiar language." (Pg. 125)
"The theoria of alchemy, as I think I have shown, is for the most part a projection of unconscious contents, or those archetypal forms which are characteristic of all pure fantasy-products, such as are to be met with in myths and fairy-tales..." (Pg. 15)