Category: Psychology

Depth Psychology

Approaches based on depth psychology focus on the psyche, human development, personality formation, and individuation.  Individuation is a process of bringing our unconscious potential into a concrete living reality.  This process helps to secure a bridge between an individual and the unconscious as well as the individual and his/her wider community. By incorporating both an inner and outer exploration, one discovers a more potent sense of meaning and purpose in life.

In my research I found several articles by Dr. David Johnston, that are relevant for this website. Dr. Johnston is a psychologist who has many years of personal experience with Jungian depth psychology along with knowledge that aids in interpreting and understanding the unconscious. He mentions two of the books I have summarized on this website,  Jean Gebser’s Ever Present Origin and Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections in some of his writings.

In his article Meaning and Jungian Depth, in which he discusses the nature of a meaningful life from the point of view of Jungian depth psychology, he writes that according to Jung a life is meaningful if consciousness is increased. Dr. Johnston continues to describe a life where consciousness is increased as one “where work and relational goals are transcended, becoming increasingly reflective of an inner need for more consciousness and, potentially, a vocation or meaningful expression of being.”

He explains that the “Self, that is the God or Godhead” is a “complex of opposites, including what we experience as good and evil” and that a person with a meaningful life is related to the Self and integrates into consciousness experiences of the opposites.  In other words, the process of individuation involves integrating new aspects of the unconscious into awareness and one’s activities in life, developing one’s character and discovering one’s inner essence.

Dr. Johnston provides in this article examples of how people have been able to enhance the meaning of their lives with the help of depth psychology by recognizing certain aspects of themselves and making the necessary changes but emphasizes that in all cases the individuals concerned had “something of a genuine religious and ethical attitude to life, which is of fundamental importance to leading a meaningful existence.”

He adds that even if one’s life is deeply meaningful, it does not mean that there is no suffering, or times when life seems random and senseless but by intuitively understanding “that life will once again make sense, that darkness will give way to light and that meaninglessness will prove to be contained in a greater meaning.”

In his article Jung, the Self and the Jungian Depth Psychological Worldview he elaborates further on the process of individuation and points out that “this process involves not only the transformation of individuals but also of the community” which implies the need of “a creative engagement of the individual in the life of the community.”

He also addresses the individuation process at the beginning of another one of his articles,  Individuation and the Individuation Process, and interprets individuation simply as the “developmental unfolding of the psyche over the course of a lifetime.”  He discusses in more detail how this process involves becoming more conscious of disparate aspects of one’s being including shadow qualities and the four functions of consciousness, thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation, along with the two attitudes, extroversion and introversion and deduces that this process will consequently lead “to a relative degree of wholeness, at which time the Self, that is to say one’s inner center of being, begins to direct one’s life. “

I found even more overlap with my research in his article Jung in Contemporary Context.  At the beginning he points out that we live in an “Age of ConfusionCompare with A New Earth under Spiritual Development” and refers to Hindu mythology and specifically the Bhagavad Gita which explain that the reason we are living in such confusing times is that people are no longer living according to eternal laws and therefore the Divine/God is preparing the way for a new age.

Dr. Johnston explains that in mystical literature and Hindu thought, the transcendent Self is considered to be “Brahman or God” but that Jung hesitated to make such metaphysical assertions and stayed with empirical experience.  Rather “than insisting that these experiences of the transcendent Self are experiences of God, he referred to them as archetypal experiences of the God-image.  Jung preferred to call it the God-image for the sake of a scientific attitude.”

In the same article Dr. Johnston writes that we are in the early stages of a major transformation in consciousnessCompare with The Ever Present Origin under Philosophy and culture and that Jung has stated once, that there is a transformation of the principalities and powers taking place or “in other words, a transformation of the archetypes, of the basic underlying patterns of life, and the way that we understand and relate to life and the world.” He continues to write, “the old ways are being transformed or destroyed, so the new can live” and states his belief that a more divinely oriented world is “already there in its early stages of manifestation”.

In the conclusion of this article he writes that “a New World is laboring to become manifest” and that “understanding Jungian psychology can be very helpful in gaining self-knowledge and consciousness and in encouraging fulfillment of one’s unique destiny.” He adds, that “there is the need to assimilate qualities of the chthonic spirit, which allows for the instinctive expression of the Divine Will in life and the potential to participate consciously in the New World.”

Websites I have used for this article are:

Your Own Identity by Herman Meyer

Herman Meyer maintains in this book, that our identity should be taken as a guide for our own true path and that negative fate only means that we have strayed from this path. He sees fate as a blind alley, that takes us away farther and farther from our own identity, or it indicates a detour.

Almost all people are on these false starts and detours, rarely is anybody succesful in recognizing their own identity and to live accordingly.

Meyer defines the criteria for Good and Bad as identical with the “learned” conscience or with the Ego. He sees the Ego as an aquired psychic authority based on childhood impressions, education, influence, and other environmental factors.

People who are good in the conventional sense (determined by others and society’s rulesCompare with Broken Open under Spiritual Development) are in reality bad to themselves.

He claims, that the unconscious can easily make a distinction between real and unreal and he says that it is our responsibility to develop our abilities and skills.

He believes, that whoever wants to become an individual, must offend, otherwise we will remain a puppet of the norms.

Hi gives a few examples of the true nature of people: Joy in nice conversations, sumptuous food, need in mental warmth and love, safety, cuddling, own area, fun in sport, play, adventure of life, independence, creativity, research, analysis, have his/her own taste, goal and dreams.

He provides concrete example for expressions of identity:

Identity in sports

Identity in feeling

Identity in action

Identity in the creative

Identity in lifestyle

Identity in the representation of outward

Identity in relation to place of residence and neighborhood

Identity in terms of furnishing

Identity in children’s education

Identity in the diet

Identity in flavor

Identity of the erotic

Identity when choosing a partner

Identity in the form of relationship

Identity in sexuality

Identity in the sexual fantasy

Identity on the spiritual

Identity in the philosophy of life

Identity in professional

Identity in the leisure

Identity in the choice of hobbies

Identity in the choice of friends

Identity in wishes and dreams

Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung

Carl Jung sees his life as a story of the self-realization of the unconscious which he describes in this book. He starts out with “First Years” and describes his outward memories on how he became conscious of smelling, when he saw the Alps the first time, how he found pleasure in water and how he became aware of his parents’ troubled marriage. He continues with his inward memories and recalls his very first dream and describes why a number of childhood memories have made a lifelong impression on him.

He continues to describe his “School Years” including a very important event at the age of twelve which made him understand what a neurosis is.  In this chapter he also shares that he was convinced from childhood that he had two personalities — a modern Swiss citizen and a personality more at home in the eighteenth century. “Personality Number 1,” as he termed it, was a typical schoolboy living in the era of the time, while “Personality Number 2” was a dignified, authoritative and influential man from the past.  He further discusses his thoughts about God and said that it seemed to him that it is one’s duty to explore daily the will of God. He shares with the readers that in the course of his life it has often happened to him that he knew suddenly something, which he really could not know at all, and that the knowledge came to him as though it were his own idea.

In the chapter about his “Student Years” he says, “Although we human beings have our own personal life, we are yet in large measure the representatives, the victims and promoters of a collective spirit whose years are counted in centuries”.  Here he also explains how important “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Nietzsche and “Faust” by Goethe were for him and why. He explains when and how it became clear to him that the only possible goal to him was psychiatry and that it was his “fate” even though this area of medicine was looked down upon at that time.

In the chapter about “Psychiatric Activities” he recalls the most interesting and most important cases for him and his realization that he “could not treat latent psychoses if he did not understand their symbolism.” That was why he began to study mythology.  In addition he emphasizes that a psychotherapist has to understand himself and that a doctor will only be able to teach a patient to heal himself if he knows how to cope with himself.  He shares some of his dreams here as well.

He dedicates a whole chapter to “Sigmund Freud” and their relationship and explains in detail why he broke with him.  In the appendix some of the letters Freud wrote to Jung can be found.  In this chapter he recalls a dream that led him for the first time to the concept of the “collective unconscious”.

In the chapter “Confrontations with the Unconscious” he explains the concepts of anima and animus, as well as individuation – a psychological process of integrating the opposites including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy, necessary for a person to become whole. In his opinion, people who have advanced towards individuation tend to be harmonious, mature and responsible. They embody humane values such as freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.

In the chapter “The Work” he shares his research and findings about alchemy and his thoughts about Jesus. It is his belief that “it is God who created the world and its sins, and who therefore become Christ in order to suffer the fate of humanity.”

In the next chapters he tells the readers about the “Tower” he built and lived in, his “Travels” to the U.S., India and Africa.  For me the most important statements were “Everything that irritates us about othersCompare with A New Earth under Spiritual Development can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” and that “The longing for light is the longing for consciousness”.

My favorite chapter was “Visions” which starts with a description of an illness and a near death experience. He had visions after that followed by a fruitful period.  At that time he also had an affirmation of things as they are: “an unconditional acceptance of conditions of existence as I see them and understand them, acceptance of my own nature, as I happen to be.”  He also realizes “that when one follows the path of individuationCompare with Depth Psychology, when one lives one’s own life, one must take mistakes into the bargain; life would not be complete without them”. And it was only after the illness that he understood how important it is to affirm one’s own destiny.

In the next chapter he elaborates about “Life after Death”. He sees rationalism and doctrinism as a disease of our time because they pretend to have all the answers and admits that he does not know for what reason the universe has come into being.  He points to the fact that the unconscious helps by communicating things to us and explains that he speaks of inner promptings when it comes to things after death and that he can go no further then to tell us dreams and myths that relate to this subject.  Based on dreams he understands that the souls of the dead “know” only what they knew at the moment of death, and nothing beyond that. He defines myth as the natural and indispensable intermediate stage between unconscious and conscious cognition.  He also discusses the concepts of reincarnation and karma but is not sure if karma is the outcome of past lives or maybe the achievement of ancestors. He is convinced though that it is important that we “do not stand at the end with empty hands.” He sees the purpose of human existence to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

He ends the book with “Late Thoughts” and “Retrospect” and tells us that he led his life by obeying an inner law which was imposed on him and left him no freedom of choice and that he was satisfied with the course his life has taken.

My favorite statements are from the chapter  “Late Thoughts” in which he says that the individual has need, “first and foremost of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness.  He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of.” He adds “such self-knowledge is of prime importance, because through it we approach that fundamental stratum or core of human nature where the instincts dwell. Here are those preexistent dynamic forces, which ultimately govern the ethical decisions of our consciousness” and that deepened self-knowledge requires psychology.

Laws of Destiny by Herman Meyer

These are the main ideas explained by the author:

The unconscious remains mostly unnoticed and rarely influences our decisions. Life as a whole however can only be understood if we include the unconscious. Each of us has the task to develop specific skills such as assertiveness, setting boundaries, communication skills, technical skills, the ability to discover our own identity, independence, analytical skills, ability to develop our own life program and to implement it, and the ability to overcome traditional and established rules that are outdated.

Each skill in the patriarchic culture is divided into two poles – a negative pole and positive pole.

Negative pole: Skills in the negative pole are inhibited; Meyer characterizes people who have their skills in the negative pole as people who play the role of a child. These are people who are constantly attacked, manipulated, exploited, or need a shepherd. People like that repeatedly react to situations and follow rules. Because they react instead of acting they don’t live their own lives and other people determine how they have to live.

Plus pole: Meyer characterizes people, who have most of their skills in the plus pole as people who play the role of a parent. The skills of these people are to a certain extent also inhibited, but they compensate this inhibition by trying to embody these skills as ideal. Those people have not developed their own identity either because they try to develop those skills based on cultural norms.

Adult: Meyer calls people who develop their skills inherent to their own nature as adults. In his opinion these adults can perceive both poles and can grasp the entirety of life. Because these people have an understanding of both poles, they can broaden their perspective and develop their own identity.

He explains further that everybody’s laws of destiny are neutral and cannot be influenced unless we learn to integrate them into our lives.

He continues by going over the development cycles of humanity and pointing out that we are currently in the patriarchic (anal) phase and that this phase is coming to an end (this phase is equivalent to the mental structure of consciousness described by Gebser) . We are developing currently equal rights; women up till now have been oppressed, as well as everything feminine such as nature and wholeness, which has been leading to lifelessness (living without a soul). This can be seen in our current ideology in all areas of life – in academic medicine (the human being is not seen as a whole), in pedagogy (by demanding obedience), in religion, in agriculture (by using pesticides) and in politics (by damaging the environment).

In all areas of life everything concerning our soul, everything that’s lively and natural is devalued. In this respect illness is an attempt to compensateSee also Heal Thyself by E. Bach under spiritual development and depicts a recovery process. Politics preaches constant economic growth and destroys the environment, which in turn endangers our health. Patriarchs think everything is doable and they pay no attention to problems.

We have to change on an individual as well as a collective level. We should not fight and be reactive but instead create something new.

In psychology we have to understand how the soul functions and the “new” person must be concerned on a personal level with every aspect of life, among them nutrition, religion, politics, medicine, economy, ecology, and gardening.

He also addresses in this book the laws of harmony. The “new” people have to find balance between work and leisure. Health means leading a balanced life. He also points out that being good as determined by the moral people means often that one is bad towards the laws of life.

The author believes that everybody who can find his own identity will feel safe. People who are afraid to express themselves through their work will never find fulfillment in what they do.

In his opinion we live in a collective neurosis and must free ourselves from it and the patriarchic system. Patriarchy in the form of divided and pre-determined roles between women and men leads to developing different sets of skills. He explains that partnerships have a crisis if the original positions or roles “played” are changing. In addition, if we try to reach an “ideal” we supress the energies of the physical, mental and spiritual plane and that makes sick and leads to addiction.

If we do not find ourselves and take advantage of the right to live our own lives, we give other people the permission to run our lives. Whoever wants to be “good” by living his live based on the rules established by others, is “bad” against himselfCompare with The Four Agreements by Ruiz and will be punished.

Among the examples he provides are people who develop illnesses or develop a crisis because they play sports that are “in” or part of the countries culture instead of choosing sport activities that fit their personality; people who choose jobs, partners and houses for materialistic reasons; people who only buy designer clothes; people who don’t listen to their inner voice; people who pick furniture from magazines instead of developing their own taste.

An Introduction To Astropsychology by Glen Perry

The Zodiac is the foundation of the astrological language. The signs are symbols of life processes reflected in nature. Similar to Plato’s forms, Carl Jung’s concept of archetypes also applies to zodiacal signs. Archetypes are structural elements of consciousness; they are not limited to human consciousness.

Planets are described as psychological processes geared toward satisfying the needs of the signs they rule. The context, or setting, within which these processes play out are the houses.

As Jung points out, at root our consciousness is collective, at our deepest strata we are all composed f the same fundamental energies.

The first six signs are where the days are longer; they are about the individual, the emergence of the self from the whole.

The second six signs are where the nights are longer; they are about the participation toward a larger network.

These two groups are related through the interplay of complementary opposites.

He describes the four elements Fire, Earth, Air and Water and points out that they parallel Jung’s Intuition, Sensation, Thinking and Feeling. Fire gives faith in oneself, in others, and in the Universe. Earth represents our capacity to be practical, realistic, and productive. Air gives us objectivity t make distinction, separate ourselves from our experience, and make the compromise necessary to live harmoniously with others. Water is the unifying element that binds us all together on a “gut” level. It is the urge to love and the need to be loved.

After talking about the modalities (Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable) and the polarities (Yang, Yin) he points out the relation to Jung’s belief that the constant interplay and tension between opposite poles of conscious and unconscious makes for the integration of the psyche – individuation.

He explains that every individual is a replica in miniature of the entire Universe. He sees the task of evolution to integrate the parts into a balanced and functional whole, and in so doing become one with the whole.

After explaining the conjunctions in detail he describes the planetary aspects as core beliefs that relate to the individual’s convictions about the relative likelihood of meeting basic needs. In other words, they are dialogues between the different needs and drives that make up the whole of the human being.

The goal of the psyche, as symbolized in the zodiac, is the ever more effective and balanced integration of these energies into an dynamic and unified whole. In other words, the goal of the psyche is to integrate the self with others, the individual with the collective, in order to achieve psychic balance and wholeness

He also talks about Buddhism and explains in this context the Conscious as the relation between subject and object or self and not-self. The subject cannot exist without object and vice versa. The ego exists because it accepts this polarity. Buddhism holds that liberation from duality is contingent upon the ability to recognize that such opposites are ultimately a trick of the mind, a self-created illusion (maya), the reconciliation of which allows for unitive consciousness an liberation. By neutralizing opposites through awareness, the illusion of duality is extinguished and the individual attains nirvana.

Perry writes about Jung’s discovery that much of the content of individual consciousness such as dreams, fantasies, and thoughts see rooted in a collective consciousness shared by all human beings. In addition he explains Jung’s concept of synchronicity – simultaneous occurrences of a certain psychic state with one or more external events that appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state.

Perry says that as an integrated totality, the zodiac symbolizes the potential for wholeness.

An archetype can manifest externally as a character in three different ways – as a personality type, a role or an occupation.

A core principle of astrology is that character produces events consistent with itself. This is supported by Jung’s concept of synchronicity, which implies that any idea held long enough will attract whatever conditions it needs for its expression.

A planet’s sign position not only tells us how the planet is doing its thing, it also tells us what the outcome might be.

Five criteria for interpretation:

1) Psychological function of the planet

2) Motivation behind the behavior

3) The behavior itself should be described

4) A planetary affect state should be related to the domain of its sign position

5) Empirical consequences of a planet’s action

Jung’s theory about marriage as a psychological relationship emphasized how each person’s unconscious image of the opposite sex is projected onto the partner for purposes of bringing the unconscious into view. Marriage was a vehicle for healing and transformation.

The ideal of wholeness is something that one approaches gradually, possibly even over a succession of lifetimes.

While each archetype has its part to play in the life story, it is the task of every human being t integrate these parts into a unified whole. The ego initially thinks it is separate from its parts, yet it must incorporate them to become the Self – a complete, balanced integrated human being capable of expressing all the archetypes (Hero’s journey).

The Zodiac can be thought of as the archetypical structure of the psyche.

Therapeutic intervention should help the client to integrate repressed needs, develop more constructive beliefs and behave in a more positive and successful manner.