Saturday, March 31, 2012

Marked By Fire and C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles

Sunday, April 15, 2012; 1:30PM - 4:00PM

The C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles Presents:
Marked By Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way

"This life is the way, the long sought after way to the unfathomable which we call divine" —C.G. Jung, The Red Book

Presented by Jerome Bernstein, J.A., Claire Douglas, Ph.D., Gilda Frantz, M.A., Jacqueline Gerson, J.A., Jean Kirsch, M.D., Chie Lee, M.A., Karlyn Ward, L.C.S.W., Henry Abramovitch, Ph.D., Sharon Heath, M.A., Dennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D., Robert Romanyshyn, Ph.D.,

We are pleased that many contributors to the new book, Marked By Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way, are gathering locally for an afternoon of celebration and discussion. Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way is a soulful collection of essays that illuminate the inner life.

When Soul appeared to C.G. Jung and demanded he change his life, he opened himself to the powerful forces of the unconscious. He recorded his inner journey, his conversations with figures that appeared to him in vision and in dream in The Red Book. Although it would be years before The Red Book was published, much of what we now know as Jungian psychology began in those pages, when Jung allowed the irrational to assault him. That was a century ago.

How do those of us who dedicate ourselves to Jung’s psychology as analysts, teachers, writers respond to Soul’s demands in our own lives? If we believe, with Jung, in “the reality of the psyche,” how does that shape us? The articles in Marked By Fire portray direct experiences of the unconscious; they tell life stories about the fiery process of becoming ourselves.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Dangerous Method and Ecopsychology

           by Dennis L. Merritt, Ph.D., Jungian Analyst, Ecopsychologist

The film A Dangerous Method is remarkable in its presentation of the early days of the psychoanalytic movement that was to revolutionize our understanding of the human psyche. Superb acting dramatizes the relationship between two giants of the psychoanalytic world, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, and the struggle between them that led to a painful split still reverberating through their two schools of thought over 100 years later. Sabina Spielrein, a former Jewish patient with whom Jung was to have an intimate relationship, functions in the archetypal feminine role of Eve in painfully forcing the raising of male consciousness through the discovery of countertransference. She became the seed of Jung's concept of the archetype of the soul, the anima or inner feminine in a man. Other significant elements in the film include the powerful role of sex in life and in the therapeutic environment, the the midlife crisis, the association experiment, and the issue the “Jewish” and the “Christian” cultural unconscious. As a Jungian analyst and ecopsychologist, I see in Sabina Spielrein as portrayed inA Dangerous Method as the catalyst that eventually led Jung to believe that a strong emergence of archetypal feminine energy in Western culture is the most important element in a needed paradigm shift. He called the shift a “New Age” and the “Age of Aquarius,” a shift with important ecological implications.

Why the Method was Dangerous
The beginning of psychoanalysis was particularly dangerous because it blew the lid off a culture trapped in a repressive Victorian worldview. Following Freud's initial exploration of the unconscious using cocaine and hypnosis, he developed a revolutionary approach called “the talking cure” which encouraged patients to tell their thoughts and fantasies to an analyst. What is repressed ultimately turns against us in a negative form, and what Freud discovered was the results of centuries of repression in our Judeo-Christian culture of powerful instinctual drives, especially sexuality. The material was so shocking Freud called it “the seething caldron of the Id,” full of animalistic drives, barbaric behavior, and childish immaturity, as he saw it.

While Freud was analyzing privately and primarily with sexually repressed and abused Viennese women, Jung, 19 years Freud's junior, began working in the world-renowned Burgholzli clinic in Zurich in 1900, the year Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams based on approximately 13 years of developing his methods and concepts. Eugene Bleuler, the chief at Burgholzli, insisted doctors live on the grounds of the cantonal mental institution, as depicted in Method, eat with the patients, and speak in their dialect. (Ellenberger 1970, p. 666, 667) Because of Jung's background, described in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, he was particularly good at relating to schizophrenics and published an important paper on the topic. This, together with his development of the association experiment, convinced Jung their was an unconscious and led to his meeting with Freud.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Marriage according to Joseph Campbell

"The whole thing in marriage is the relationship and yielding—knowing the functions, knowing that each is playing a role in an organism. One of the things I have realized—and people who have been married a long time realize—is that marriage is not a love affair.

"A love affair has to do with immediate personal satisfaction. But marriage is an ordeal; it means yielding, time and again. That's why it's a sacrament: you give up your personal simplicity to participate in a relationship. And when you're giving, you're not giving to the other person: you're giving to the relationship. And if you realize you are in the relationship just as the other person is, then it becomes life building, a life fostering and enriching experience, not an impoverishment because you're giving to somebody else . . .

"This is the challenge of a marriage. What a beautiful thing is a life together as growing personalities, each helping the other to flower, rather than just moving into the standard archetype. It's a wonderful moment when people can make the decision to be something quite astonishing and unexpected, rather than cookie-mold products."

—Joseph Campbell in conversation with Michael Toms, from "An Open Life"

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Help . . . my mother is driving me crazy!"

That was the phone call I woke up to this morning. My fifty-three year old friend Jo is a little stressed today.

She's single, lived at home her entire life until a little over a year ago. She decided it was time to unfold her wings, take 'em for a test-flight and meet life on her own—head on. She bought a two bedroom condo in November 2010. It took her all this time to realize there's a healthy amount of freedom in leaving home and being on your own. In her own place, she was finally beginning to enjoy life differently, and often she'd have friends over just to hang out, share some laughs, lovingly pick on one another, drink a little, eat a lot and sing karaoke all night. Freedom was good and she was loving every bit of life.

She barely had time to process her leave-taking when things took a sudden turn. In the fall of 2011, her mother left her matrimonial home, by choice, and moved in with Jo. She's not the only child but, the only single child. No threatening daughters and sons-in-law to rain on her mother's parade.

The first time Jo confided in me about her mother, I took her frustrations for granted. I listened, but did not hear her. "Just leave her be. She's old and doesn't have much time left in this world. You'll miss her when she's gone. Don't pay attention to her . . ." I dismissed her feelings and acted as if I knew her mother like I knew mine. Her mother is not like my mother and I did not know her like Jo did. My mother never rejected my friends nor listened in on my telephone conversation from another extension. She never cussed about my friends or meddled with how I lived my life. She didn't ask where I was going or whom I was going out with or what time will I be home. She trusted and supported my judgment and kept respectable boundaries. There was mutual respect. I miss her beautiful soul more than words can describe.

I don't know much of what goes on in Jo's household, but I know the kind of person she is, and making up stories like this is just not her style. I can't help her about the swelling family dysfunction, but can lend an ear for support and openly give my personal opinion when asked. There are seven children in the family—all married except Jo. None of the other siblings are offering their home to their mother. It's a sticky situation because the mother receives a healthy pension and is financially capable of getting a place of her own. She's eighty, and here's one sad part, "If I rent I won't have any money left for casino."

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Silly Birthday Poem

A spontaneous invitation to a birthday party, I made up my mind, it was going to be fun.

I didn't have time to go out and buy a gift, or bake a cake. But I just happen to have something originally purchased for myself a few weeks back, to scratch the surface of my momentary shopping itch—unworn and tags still attached. This is okay—desperate times call for desperate measures. Turned out it was going to be someone else's gift in the end. To go with the gift, I had about ten minutes to write this silly poem before I got picked up for the party. Read on to figure out the gift.

there's a party
I've been told
a birthday party
and it's yours
not sure how old you are
but I know this much
you are a woman
a beautiful one

just like i do
you have them too
a pair of mounds
healthier than mine
so I got you this gift
hoping they would fit
to cover the mounds
you have been graced with

sorry I didn't get
a matching piece
to cover the single mound
but you and I know
is an exciting
way to go

Happy Birthday, Babes!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Pink Room

It's pink! I need to repaint it before Sean moves in. That was my first thought when I saw the second smaller bedroom to an apartment we viewed back in November. Except for the white baseboards, and the trimmings that hugged the two small bedroom windows, the entire room was pink—not baby pink or cotton candy pink but a brighter rosy pink. I like pink, but this was going to be Sean's bedroom. 

Contrary to popular belief
We moved in. Sean didn't care much that the room is pink. It's his bedroom and he likes it. He is actually quite content in his bedroom—his own little pink sanctuary. His own creative oasis—to work—paint—write—sing—strum his guitar—listen to music and stream Lost videos—or just, simply be.

It took nearly three months before it got repainted—Sky Blue.

Two weeks ago, I've been itching to paint. What I had in mind was acrylic on paper. So from the black duffle bag, I pulled out a pad of paper, paint brushes and paint tubes but they just sat on my kitchen table for days. No image was coming to me—until a few days ago—the image of a small bedroom in the color of sky blue—'azzurro' in italian—a word I later learned from an italian friend. All along, my desire to paint was not of acrylic on paper but wall paint on pink walls.

Sunday afternoon the time is 5:30, I assemble my paint tools in the empty pink bedroom. I need music to do this kind of work. The headset attached to the iPod gets in the way. It has to go. On top of a wardrobe sits my laptop that plays shuffle music from Abba to U2.  It's 7:30. I feel hunger pains. I am too hungry to keep the momentum. To wash my hands, change my clothes, or check my appearance in the mirror is a drag. Keys in hand and some pocket change, I descend two flights of stairs, out the front, and enter the next door immediately to the left—into the bakery.

There is a good number of patrons enjoying their cappuccino, lattes and pastries. I suspect a few wonder what planet I come from by the way they look at me. I move forward to the counter and asks the bakery owner, Victor for 200 grams of prosciutto and two buns. He walks to the back. A few seconds later he comes back and asks if I have a good knife upstairs in the apartment. The answer is yes and the result—a two pounder prosciutto hock, absolutely free. I pay him 70 cents for two buns. It must be the drywall compound powder I was covered in, and the azzurro paint that generously smeared my hands and dotted my nose that gave me away—hard at work, and hungry! My landlord and I share a mutual regard. I fix up his place—he makes sure I'm healthy and be around to pay the following months rent.

My stomach is content and I go back to the pink room. In the background, Celine Dion is singing Halfway to Heaven. How fitting. I look around, and the pink room is now half blue—the color of sky—the color of heaven, so and I've been told as a little girl.

The bedroom is now the color of light sky-blue. But something  is wrong. The beige drapes I picked up at Walmart clearance rack has to go.