Sunday, July 26, 2015

‘Born on this date: Jung and Huxley’

First published in 2014, this has become one of the most visited posts in Magpie history, so here it is again.

It’s a notable pairing. Born on this date were C.G. Jung in 1875, and Aldous Huxley in 1894. Both accomplished so much for which the world is indebted. As a pioneer in psychoanalysis, Jung advanced our understanding of the mind and human behavior by defining the characteristics of introversion and extroversion; by providing us the concept of the collective unconscious; and by postulating how the identity of the individual is shaped by archetypal symbols. He examined man through a microscope. Aldous Huxley saw man through a telescope, predicting social dysfunction with eerie prescience. His Brave New World (1931) has been warning one feckless generation after another of the perils of surrendering one’s humanity for the promise of a better society. His book predates the rise of Hitler and the bloodiest years of Stalin, to name a few, thus lacking the hindsight that benefitted Orwell, and yet that foresight is what makes Huxley’s story even more scary. It also doesn’t help that emerging technologies seem to vindicate his predictions; in a television interview with Mike Wallace decades after the publication of Brave New World, Huxley said there never could be a drug like Soma. Today we know otherwise.

Carl Jung was the spiritual scientist among the psychoanalysts. Freud dismissed Jung’s explorations of mysticism, which partially caused the break between the two. His research into symbolism, particularly as regards alchemy, garners him devotees around the world to this day. There are those of us who enjoy the study of various esoteric streams who see Jung’s research as essential to balancing the headiness of the highly speculative and undefinable intuitive.

The C.G. Jung Foundation and the C.G. Jung Institute of New York will present an advanced seminar on Wednesdays, from January 28 through May 13, 2015, titled “The Alchemical Opus: Demystifying What It Means for the Client to Work in Psychotherapy.” The course description:

The alchemists used the term “opus,” or “the work,” to refer to their process of changing base metals into gold. This implies not a magical transformation of material, but one of labor and persistence. Descriptions of alchemists and their processes show us that transformation requires our active engagement—dedicated work, in fact—to achieve the psychological growth that we hope for. Psychotherapy serves as the modern version of alchemy in its efforts to forge and create a personality that is, like gold, malleable but incorruptible. But in an era of re-parenting and corrective emotional experience, clients are often not aware of what work they need to do to make their time in psychotherapy effective in bringing about change.

This course will utilize contemporary research, timeless stories, and ancient images to explore the clinical dimensions of the clients’ role in psychotherapy. Both therapists and clients are invited to attend.

Learning Objectives:

  • Summarize basic alchemical concepts and apply them to clinical work.
  • Identify archetypal patterns underlying clinical work.
  • Identify and apply effective clinical practices based on research.
  • Recognize differences between clients’ resistance and lack of information about how to use therapy.
  • List 8 of possible 10 tools that their clients will be able to utilize to make their work in therapy more effective.
  • Identify which tools clients may be avoiding or unaware of, and identify strategies to help them use these tools.
  • Use techniques to help patients effectively and productively channel their emotions.
  • Help patients to utilize the therapeutic relationship more effectively.
  • Encourage patients to assume appropriate responsibility for their actions without self-attack.
  • Instruct patients to utilize stories, literature, and basic schemas to achieve their goals.
  • Help clients to recognize and challenge cognitive assumptions that prohibit progress.
  • Identify clients’ opportunities to utilize challenging issues for growth.
  • Identify appropriate tasks for clients to use in pursuing their psychological growth outside of sessions.

Instructor: Gary Trosclair, LCSW, DMA

Those who pursue the spiritual alchemy found in Rosicrucianism and other disciplines recognize an obvious kindred thinking in this science. There is no reason why the two approaches cannot complement each other.

Aldous Huxley too was concerned with the soul of man. In addition to his social theorizing, he was a magpie himself, studying the world’s religions and producing the book The Perennial Philosophy. Before anyone had heard of Joseph Campbell, Huxley’s study of comparative religion finds there is a “Natural Theology” common to all the religious teachings he examined that offers “an absolute standard of faith by which we can judge both our moral depravity as individuals and the insane and often criminal behavior of the national societies we have created.” People everywhere endeavor to find communion with God, and if they cannot be saintly themselves, they can follow the examples of those who were.

Speaking of birthdays, I’m going to be late for a friend’s party if I don’t sign off. Have a good night. Please enjoy these videos:


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