Sunday, December 10, 2006

Our local Jung Society in St. Louis is extremely pleased to host Robert Moore in the Spring, March 30 and 31, 2007, for a Friday evening lecture and Saturday workshop. Details of the Moore event will be posted on the St. Louis Jung Society website (link on the left side of this page) soon. We urge everyone to sign up early as we expect a full house for this exciting event.

Here is a wonderful photo and quote that I copied from the Boston Jungian Society Website. That site address is:

"One must never look to the things that ought to change. The main question is how we change ourselves." C. G. Jung

C.G. Jung in 1949

Friday, September 22, 2006

On September 15, 2006, the Saint Louis Jung Society hosted a panel discussion of four local Jungian Analysts--Sheldon Culver, Shirley, Fontenot, Ellen Sheire, and myself. My contribution to the forum follows:

Presentation for Analysts Panel Discussion - September 15, 2006

The question for this panel discussion, “What is rippling your waters?” is a good one for any of us to reflect on. It has surely provided a lot of reflection for me. I want to thank the Jung Society Board for this opportunity and for their very hard work to make these kinds of programs and events possible.

The subject that has most gripped me in recent weeks has to do with states of consciousness. It is an extremely broad subject but one that lends itself to some brief discussion.

Of compelling interest to anyone is: what is the state of consciousness that I find myself in and why is it important to know that state? Examining one’s own consciousness is a questionable endeavor for we are apt to find what we want to find rather than what is more objectively true.

It seems to be the case that each of us has a conscience that is a state sometimes discernibly different from our usual mode of being within ourselves. Even the word ‘conscience’ in its derivation (con = with and scio = to know) implies a knowing with something other. The effect of conscience is that we feel a dissonance, often in the body, when our ego state or ego action strays too far from this implied other. This often vague dissonance can be a most helpful guide in any examination of consciousness

How does one examine one’s own consciousness, especially while necessarily and hopelessly stuck inside it? I think the answer to this question is one of the most important that Jungian Psychology attempts to provide. Jung thought that by taking a very long view, by studying what others in different epochs had to say about certain issues, one could develop an Archimedean point of view. By “Archimedean,” Jung meant in a psychological way what Archimedes expressed for physical reality: Give me a fulcrum sufficiently removed, and I can apply force that can move the earth.

When Jung studies and comments on works from Eastern philosophy, world mythologies, and from ancient alchemical texts, he is giving us an Archimedean point of view for modern consciousness. Even though modern individual experiences are short-lived and limited; images from the unconscious fleeting and illusory; and states of consciousness sporadic and discontinuous, Jung demonstrated that an aggregate view—gained from many texts from many eras—shows an unfolding process in which all humankind is involved.

This process is not random. It consists of regularly occurring images, motifs, and patterns that Jung called archetypal (from arche = ancient and typos = imprint). Our experiences of archetypes go primarily unnoticed even though archetypes are universal and everyday. In subtle but powerful ways they determine our patterns of behavior. For example, most of us have lived through one such pattern, having experienced the sadness, loss, and sterility of a Demeter state of consciousness when Persephone (that youthful, forward-looking younger daughter state) is snatched away.

Or consider the pattern of Aphrodite, Hephaestus, and Aires. When Aphrodite and Aries have an illicit affair, Aphrodite’s husband Hephaestus makes a net and entraps them, exposing the affair. That ancient myth describes the universal pattern of a consciousness that unwittingly sets up a situation to make sure his/her questionable behavior is uncovered.

Our modern consciousness, unmoored from the underlying and continuous unconscious, can get stuck in one state or can transition unnoticed from state to state. Today we label someone bipolar when he/she swings from Demeter to Persephone states, often with dire consequences. Knowing the pattern we are living, that is to say making the pattern conscious, may lead us to make different choices. And bringing an underlying unconscious archetypal pattern into consciousness has a healing effect. It is as if we need story, especially our own story, to connect us with universal human experiences and emotions—this universal archetypal bedrock--and to end our modern states of alienation from ourselves and others.

Why this need, we can’t be certain, but we do know that without story an individual grows ill. Dreams, in some fashion, connect us with our ‘story.’ When not allowed to dream, an individual will become psychotic in a remarkably short time.

Dreams are a fine way for examining our conscious state. When we remember a dream, it is as if the Dream Giver (perhaps the Self in Jungian thought) has filmed a drama from a point of view removed, then says, “Here, take a look at yourself and your relationships with psychic figures and events from my perspective.” Any of you who have examined dreams no doubt have seen archetypal figures and motifs in them, perhaps Mother, Father, Home, the Journey, Conflict, the Child, the Automobile, Moon, Sun, Stars, Earth, Fire, Water, Air, Sacrifice, the Scapegoat, to name a few.

Why all this interest in states of consciousness? I think with some degree of self knowledge, one can learn to choose one’s state without identifying with it. When identified with a state, one is trapped, things are as they appear. As one ancient put it: We must “learn whence is sorrow and joy, and love and hate, and waking though one would not, and sleeping though one would not, and getting angry though one would not, and falling in love though one would not. And if thou shouldst closely investigate these things, thou wilt find God in thyself . . .” [Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 11, Para. 400]

Someone I know personally described disidentification this way: “When you look at your dreams, it’s amazing the information you get that’s different from your perception, information that gives you a different way of walking through life. You don’t have to go through it the same old way any more. I used to go strictly with my feelings that were raging around, would get stuck in them. Now I find that if I can go over them, process them, those feelings don’t hang around for days. I am unstuck then.”

Ultimately, there is a creative state of consciousness much to be desired. The best attempt I’ve seen to explain this creative state is from Toni Morrison:

“I’ve said I wrote The Bluest Eye after a period of depression, but the words ‘lonely, depressed, melancholy’ don’t really mean the obvious. They simply represent a different state. It’s an unbusy state, when I am more aware of myself than of others. The best words for making that state clear to other people are those words. It’s not necessarily an unhappy feeling; it’s just a different one. I think now I know better what that state is. Sometimes when I’m in mourning, for example, after my father died, there’s a period when I’m not fighting day-to-day battles . . . . When I’m in this state, I can hear things. . . . . It has happened other times . . . At that time I had to be put into it. Now I know how to bring it about without going through the actual event.” [Black Women Writers at Work, New York: Continuum, 1984, edited by Claudia Tate, p. 189-9]

You might ask a most practical and fundamental question: how do we self-examine, how do we discover precisely what our state of mind is? Here are some ways: (1) Paying attention to dreams and dream images, a topic I touched on earlier; (2) observing synchronicities that occur in our life; (3) watching for repeating patterns in our own behavior; (4) being mindful of the unintentional effects we have on others and on events; (5) mapping our own psyche for the complexes (which act like mine fields) that exist in our unconsciousness and that explode or erupt occasionally; (6) being more or less aware of the triggers that set off our complexes; (7) paying attention to our emotional state and its many variations and swings; (8) entertaining fantasies that can provide information to our ego state; (9) observing which characters we resonate with in literature and film; (10) noticing who gets under our skin and asking why; and (11) above all, having an awareness that ego consciousness is embedded in something larger than itself that exerts pressures, that influences attitudes and behaviors, and that has real affects.

In our shared interest in Jungian Psychology, we are making an additional effort. By relating to Jung’s ideas and the images he explores, by developing a relationship with them, we are in effect establishing a better relationship with the Unconscious. Or we are at least studying the map Jung provides for our own journey. The psyche, or the Unconscious, consists of images and patterns that picture vital activities which are full of meaning and purpose. When we do make the kinds of efforts I have described, it is as if a connection gets made from one’s small personal existence and experience to some underlying source of all existence and experience, and the individual has an ‘ah-ha’ realization that is satisfying and helpful. The ‘ah-ha’ is of the nature of the experience one gets when a mathematical proof “clicks”. There is a feeling of completeness and unshakeable certitude. Many of you may remember that feeling from your study of geometry in high school.

It would seem to be case, the Unconscious also gets something of an ‘ah-ha’ when connections between consciousness and the Unconscious occur.

The word psyche is a Sanscrit word that also means “butterfly” so that in the word itself is an understanding of the experience of transformation or metamorphosis. If the ego is an epiphenomenonon of the psyche, that is to say, the ego is formed on the substratum of the archetypal bedrock and takes on its patterning, then the ego, too, will be subject to psychic transformations. However, without an awareness of the underlying nature of the psyche and its pattern of regular, somewhat predictable transformations, the ego will simply be dragged through the transformations and may experience primarily the suffering. Or the ego may simply try to numb itself to all experience, in which case the baby has definitely been thrown out with the bath water. With memory, knowledge, imagination, patience, and perseverance, an individual can better weather the suffering and storms that are part and parcel of transformation.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I will be presenting a Study Group, "Introduction to Jungian Psychology," for the C.G. Jung Society of Saint Louis this Fall. The course will meet on eight Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. Meeting dates are: September 7, 21; October 12, 26; November 9, 30; December 14, 21. We will be exploring fundamental concepts of Jungian Psychology. Our text, which will be provided to participants, will be a Spring Journal article by Edward Edinger. This study group should be of interest to those who want to familiarize themselves with Jung's theoretical foundation as well as to those who desire to refresh their understanding of Jungian Psychology. The study groups are always occasions for deep discussion of absorbing and enriching topics.

For more information or to enroll, go to the Society's excellent website:

The St. Louis Jung Society is offering excellent programming for this Fall, beginning with an Analysts Panel Discussion, "What's Rippling Your Waters?" on Friday, September 15, from 7:00 to 9:30 pm. Detailed information is available on the Society's website.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rod Johnson, a writer and artist, who attended the last Jung Society "Jung Readings" Course on the subject of complexes, has captured the essence of parental complexes in his succinct poem, "Our Favorite Ghosts." Rod's poem:

Ghosts are with us all the time, hanging around,
Sometimes their presence is obvious, even obnoxious,
Like when I get bombastic with my wife
Who then smiling says, "Who let J.T. in?"
J.T. is that grandiose part of dad I try to keep locked up.
But you know ghosts. I'm told they go through walls.
Or, I come on weak, meek, disorganized, invite caring.
"Hi, Mom. Speak up. Wht do you need?"

Alone with my wife's live-in folks
We know we need to set places at table for the four
And leave room in the bed in case they demand notice.
They do deserve honoring but somehow
Always show their worst traits. Or are those
The only ones we'll notice them for.
Not for all the good stuff for which we
Want to take full credit.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pat Spear, a friend with a long-time interest in Jung, read my blog essay, "The Ego as Complex," and very kindly sent me her thoughts on the subject of complex. Following is Pat's commentary:

In The Essential Jung Storr wrote that Jung seemed to link the complexes with unconscious personalities. He quotes Jung as saying that complexes can have us. Every constellation of a complex postulates a disturbed state of consciousness. The unity of the consciousness is disrupted and the intentions of the will are impeded or made impossible…(p. 38).

In The Portable Jung, Joseph Campbell quotes Jung as he describes how isolation can activate the unconscious (p. 331) and discusses freeing oneself from childhood (p. 339). "So that when in later years, we return to the memories of childhood we find bits of our personality still alive, which cling round us and suffuse us with the feeling of earlier times. Being still in their childhood state, these fragments are very powerful in their effect. They can lose their infantile aspect and be corrected only when they are reuinited with adult consciousness. This 'personal unconscious' must always be dealt with first, that is, made conscious, otherwise the gateway to the collective unconscious cannot be opened" (p. 339).

So to answer your questions: In my experience, the intention of the complex is to preserve the status quo, and is not conscious. It derives its energy as a split off piece of the personality in order to maintain its integrity. It begins as benevolent (i.e., when first established, its purpose is to protect the psyche) and over time becomes malevolent (cf. Kalsched). The triggers that set a complex in motion are an unconscious emotional field and sensory experiences, and in the case of addiction, the need for a “rush of pleasure” to restore balance or compensate.

The ego complex is a manager, like a director or conductor, with an intent to organize experience. (And now that I’ve written all this, I would like to say that not only does Jung’s theory now align with quantum physics, it’s also shamanic and exists in all the shamanic traditions I’ve studied from around the Earth.)

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis, Pat. Should any other readers wish to add to this discussion, please e-mail me your input, and I will post it also.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


According to Jung, consciousness AND the personal unconscious are made up of various complexes, one of which is the ego/shaow complex. The ego complex is somewhat different from other complexes in that the ego complex is the center of consciousness. The shadow part of the complex resides in the unconscious and consists of all those qualities not admitted to consciousnes, their having been excluded in the conscious development of the individual. That is to say, in our conscious, waking reality we experience life through one agency which we commonly call the ego. All those formative experiences not acceptable to the ego or which the ego has not the ability to incorporate are encapsulated in the shadow which remains unconscious as long as is necessary for the functioning of the ego personality.
At the center of every complex is an archetype. Archetypes, and hence, complexes, are composed of opposites: good mother/bad mother; punitive father/loving father; victim/persecutor, to name a few. Usually, the ego recognizes one side or pole of the complex but not the other. The one not recognized, or residing in the unconscious, we meet through projection. Thus, if we recognize (or identify with, i.e., think we are) the victim, we meet the persecutor 'out there' in our projections. Of course, to qualify for a projection the object of must have some hook that makes the projection possible.
But what, following this line of thought, would be the archetype at the core of the ego complex? It is--again according to Jung--the Self. Underlying the exprience of the ego, or the "I" of my experience, is the Self, the organizing principle and center of the personality that has the ego as its exponent in the world. Recognition of the Self as a reality has the effect of deposing the ego from its usual center and replacing it with some felt sense of 'other' of which 'I' become the subject. We find this idea usually expressed in religious language, such as: "Not I but Christ that lives in me," (St. Paul); or "My heart is restless, Lord, until it rests in thee," (St. Augustine).
Here is how one patient of Jung's expressed the sense of well-being and wholeness that recognition of the ego's home in the Self wrought:
"Out of evil, much good has come to me. By keeping quiet, repressing nothing, remaining attentive, and by accepting reality--taking things as they are, and not as I wanted them to be--by doing all this, unusual knowledge has come to me, and unusual powers as well, such as I could never have imagined before. I always thought that when we accepted things they overpowered us in some way or other. This turns out not to be true at all, and it is only by accepting them that one can assume an attitude towards them. So now I intend to play the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow forever alternating, and, in this way, also accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. What a fool I was! How I tried to force everything to go according to the way I thought it ought to!" [ALCHEMICAL STUDIES, Para. 70]
The ancient text, the I CHING, expresses the same notion in this (paraphrased) way: Only when we accept things exactly as they are and accept ourselves as we are, only then will a light form out of events to show us the way.