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An extraordinarily abridged exposition on the history and fantasies
Imaginal, and Depth Psychology
Please note that the following is hurriedly written, grossly
incomplete, laced with conjecture, unsubstantiated by citation or reference,
and otherwise strictly imaginary as is most of our work. Puer Aeternus! The future hopes to bring a more thoughtfully
written, accurate, thorough, informed, and perhaps comprehensible essay
to this page.
Jung's controversial technique.
Jungian psychology takes its name from Carl Gustav Jung, madman by some
accounts, psychological genius by others. Jung spent his life exploring
an idea first "discovered" by Sigmund Freud: The idea that human
behavior, emotion, thought, and experience are all greatly influenced by
psychological forces beyond the control or awareness of human consciousness.
Jung took this notion one step further, however, and suggested that these
"forces" were archetypally governed, and that archetypes were
independent agents with their own motivations and agendas. These archetypes
appear in various guises in all cultures, times, and places, and their stories
find expression through mythology.
Jung also insisted that the psyche cannot be understood in conceptual terms,
but only through images, living symbols, which, through their ability to
hold paradox and ambiguity, could reflect psychic processes more accurately
than concepts or reason alone. He often turned to the images of alchemy
to help describe psychic life, as well as to the images of many different
religions, though he stressed that psychology is not a religion.
Not believing psychology to be a religion, Jung never wanted to have disciples;
but the disciples, regardless, formed their own religion after him. Their
church is the Jung institute in Zurich, and the followers call themselves
"Jungians", like Christians after Christ, or Buddhists after Buddha.
The Jungians took Jung's ideas and concretized them into concepts which
they illustrated with essentially the same set of symbols that Jung introduced:
Shadow, Anima, Animus, Self, etc.. The main problem with this was that they
started to know exactly what the symbols referred to. They stopped re-working
their ideas, and the symbols became dead, by Jung's own definition, which
said that in order for an image to be a living symbol it must refer to something
that cannot be otherwise known.
some eyebrows as well.
One of the High Priests of the Jung Institute was named James Hillman, a
psychologist who studied at the Insttute while Jung was there, and who had
a fiery intellect and cantankerous tongue - and pen. Through some rumouredly
scandalous means, Hillman was defrocked by the Institute and set off on
his own. Hillman, not cut out to be much of a follower in the first place,
abandoned the idea of Jungian psychology, opting instead to name his particular
modus "Archetypal Psychology" after one of Jung's primary notions.
In this way, he avoided the dogmatic tendencies which plague so-called "Jungian"
thinking, and at the same time paid tribute to the man through whom these
ancient ideas re-emerged in our cultural consciousness.
Where Jung seemed to operate out of a scientific fantasy of progress, Hillman
seems to move backwards, not making new "discoveries" of psychic
processes, but constatntly drawing from ancient sources and showing that
"psychology" has been going on since Heraclitus and before. He
also shows that many supposedly ancient elements of psychic life still abound
in the modern world: ritual, gods and goddesses, possession, and more.
Hillman also returns aspects of psyche to psychology which the scientific
fantasy precludes, such as aesthetics, etymology, humor, sensuality, poetry,
and, perhaps most notably, imagination. Hillman twists ideas into obscene
shapes which arouse and cajole, leaving nothing at is was when he found
it - or as when he last left it. He suggests a polytheistic image of self
and a poetic basis of mind, emphasizes psyche's tendency toward suffering,
reminds that Hope is an evil, and contrary to many of his contemporaries,
Watkins dreams Imago
Imaginal Psychology is not so much a distinct psychology unto itself, and
not many therapists or writers bear its brand. It is more commonly used
to describe any psychology which involves the notion that imagination is
the primary element and modus of experience. Henry Corbin used the word
"imaginal" to distinguish from "imaginary", which carries
a popular connotation of unreality or fancy. Corbin, who is a major source
for Hillman, entertianed the idea that ultimate reality is unknowable directly,
and can only be experienced through the images by which it is expressed.
The use of the term "Depth Psychology" has roots going back to
Breuer and Freud, who used it to describe their new system of treatment,
and stretches into the present through its association with Archetypal Psychology
and the followers of Hillman. It may be the most inclusive way to describe
psychologies concerned with psyche and soul, but increasingly the words
"depth psychology" can also be found on the calling cards of more
ego-bound, un-psychological practitioners, such as those of Object-Relations,
or Rogerian process-centered therapy.
The connotations of the word "depth" serve to describe and inform
the fantasies of its practitioners, who are concerned with currents running
deep below the surface of consciousness. They don't want to simply cure
the symptom, but want to explore the depths of the problem. The long-term
nature of the therapy which can accomplish this, and the reluctance of insurance
companies to pay for it, necessitates that its patients have deep pockets,
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