Friday, March 23, 2012


Elizabeth:  Learning to Dress Myself from the Inside Out by Mary Elizabeth Moloney has just been published.  When my copy arrived from, I could not put it down.  The book is autobiographical, recounting the life of a woman who has struggled to deal with a powerful mother-complex.  Ms. Moloney wrote the book over the last ten years while deeply engaged in a long-term Jungian analysis (not with me).  It is one of the most honest and compelling stories I have ever read.  The author captures the inner struggle of someone caught in the terrible bind of needing her mother's love but never being able to attain it.  Her life became a recapitulation of that tragedy, a long series of seeking to please others while ignoring her own needs.

Ms. Moloney uses the metaphor of clothing as a structure in the narrative.  As a symbol for the persona, her adaptation to the outer world, the metaphor captures her journey from being dressed by mother, by requirements of the various private schools she attended, by the Catholic order of nuns she joined, by the requirements of a trousseau when she married, and eventually by the requirements of her own personhood.

There are many case histories in Jungian Psychology written by analysts.  I have long wanted to read one written by an analysand.  Elizabeth is, in addition to being autobiographical, a deeply moving account of the process of analysis.

Monday, March 05, 2012


In his TWO ESSAYS ON ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY, Paragraph 85, Jung talks about
personality typology.  He makes an interesting claim:  "Sensitiveness
is a sure sign of the presence of inferiority."  He is not speaking
here of emotional sensitivity or sensitivity to oneself, which can be
helpful qualities.  I believe he means the kind of reactive
maladaptation we can exhibit when we meet something that requires a
response from our least developed function (e.g., for the intuitive,
sensation; for the thinker, feeling).

Clearly, the more our four functions of adaptation to the external
world (thinking, feeling, intuition, sensation) are developed, the
more able we are to cope without becoming unduly exercised.  It
follows, then, that in those situations where we find ourselves overly
sensitive or taken over by some unconscious force that "attacks, it
fascinates and so spins us about that we are no longer masters of
ourselves and can no longer rightly distinguish between ourselves and
others," in those situations, we have the most to learn about
ourselves.  In other words, negative, unpleasant experiences can
provide profound learning experiences for us.

Reminds me of the conversation between a master and disciple:

Disciple:  How do I become wise like you?
Master:  Exercise good judgement?
Disciple:  That is no help.  How do I develop good judgement?
Master:  Good experience.
Disciple:  That is no help.  How do I have good experience?
Master:  Bad judgement.