Jung’s centenary – Guardian article

Posted on June 5, 2011. Filed under: Jung | Tags: |

Jung’s was born June 6, 1861 so not surprising his name is back in the news – tho perhaps surprising that there’s not more. Here’s the first part of a recent article in the Guardian, a useful introduction to the man and his work


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Are mental patients carrying the shadow of their nurses?

Posted on March 21, 2011. Filed under: Ethics, Jung, professions | Tags: , , |

BBC today reports on University of East Anglia research which suggests that mental patients’ reduced life expectancy is attributable to physical attributes like diet, smoking, lack of exercise and high alcohol use – see

Mental health nurses \’set bad example to patients

The research suggests that patients are mirroring nurses’ life styles but apparently with high mortality rates. Can’t help wondering if the patients are somehow paying the price for rejected or denied behaviours in nurses? This would be classic collective shadow dynamics in Jung’s view, or a cultural complex, as Singer and Kimbles (2004) call it.

Will try and get hold of this report and the other recent research into the treatment of the elderly by their ‘carers’. An over-attachment to images of the angelic nurse has a lot to answer for, it seems – for nurses, of course, as well as their patients. And how can they or any other group with such responsibility begin to address the ethical issues raised here, if the reality is invisible?

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Jung @ Cornell (3)

Posted on August 14, 2010. Filed under: Conference reports, Ethics, Jung | Tags: , , |

Plane delayed (the joys of US air travel) so time for reflection at end of  conference:

Surprised by lack of explicit investigation of ethics, given it was a keyword in conference title; only one paper (Bonnelle Strickling) explored relationship between Jung and another body of theory, in that case virtue ethics. Another presenter (Don Moores) referred to links w Jung and Aristotlean eudaimonia in an interesting session on the ecstatic in art and culture. Other aspects of ethics were implicit and focused on object relations or the other. Enjyed a useful workshop on psychological types – much easier to understand from a human than a book – which again implied ethical relations.

– and that’s one of the joys of a conference like this when your understanding is so based in literature: here people are talking about the concepts, phrases and contested interpretations that were hitherto just text – so much more vivid.

Realise that last year I wrote down every word; this year I can absorb and reflect, digesting rather than force feeding.

Fabulous conversations with great people: getting to know people throughtheir books and papers, then another dimension through presentations, then the human emerges over dinner. I remember noting at last year’s  conference in Cardiff that delegates seem to bring their whole self to academic conferences, not just their professional personae. Really pleased t have spent time with Roger Brooke whose work on Jung and phenomenology I knew (though felt out of my depth with) who gave the opening plenary session on post combat trauma. He mentioned a paper on Psyche Self and the World which I found online and will use in thesis – terrifically lucid and helpful. Nice man,too.

Hope to stay in touch with rinda west – felt like the start of a friendship. Love the fact she’s left teaching and taken up landscape gardening; she gave a terrific presentation on the garden in the psyche. And we make each other laugh.

Looking at comments I wrote after the Cardiff conference, this year’s event felt more inward looking, with fewer bridges into different disciplines, though key speakers all brought tremendous richness with them. I like the idea that the JSSS use in their conferences of consecutive rather than parallel sessions, even if it means fewer papers. Would provide more of an unfolding narrative.

Personally, I have  felt encouraged by feedback and advice, have several names whom I could approach for collaboration or other support. May contact them in coming months as I move from PhD to post doc work. Need to get moving on book plans too and work out how to fund the writing process.

Last night closed with dinner dance thing – not quite enough dancing for me, but made it to observatory to see andromeda galaxy and neptune – more adventures in the universe.

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Jung @ Cornell (2)

Posted on August 13, 2010. Filed under: Conference reports, Jung, Papers | Tags: , |

Presented paper yesterday – still digesting interesting feedback. The first presenter, Evangaline Rand, gave a moving and emotional reflection on suffering, her own and WW1 soldiers, tracing an inner and outer journey through images, dreams and paintings. At first thought my offering would seem pale and dull but decided it was just different and gave a confident and fluent paper, speaking to power point slides but with asides and comments which I had earlier  written as notes but which I had no need to consult, making the whole thing flow more easily. What was brilliant was the interested and engaged response of those present, who saw major possibilities in engaging professions with their own shadows. One pointed out the shadow of eros in teaching, the unspoken omnipresent sexual tension (or potential) between teachers and students, which I’d not thought about. Others talked about the  hidden aspects in the therapeutic community (i did cite some eg from analysts on professional ethics).

Another person, Austin Clarkson, hoped I wd be taking this message to boardrooms and exec committees and wondered how that engagement might be managed. I spoke to him later over dinner, and we talked about maybe writing stories about the organisation, its members, its history to see if the shadow could be brought to light that way. Evangaline also very enthused by my work and we talked later – possibility of working together? She’s an experienced analyst so this cd be a good partnership.

Terence Dawson suggested contacting Wellcome to seek funding for post  doc research and I do need to get on with some ideas about taking  these ideas further into the world. Have to deal with not having a Jungian clinical background – treat it as a strength because I can talk to professions from educational and practitioner background, with added Jungian insight. Might even be easier – no hint of a therapeutic approach – just a diagnostic aide with suggestions for institutional integration, if desired.

If David Cumes,who shared about divining the bones and working with the dead yesterday, can take that talk to the medical profession (he described the ‘you’ve got 3 months’ line as a voodoo curse), I can surely talk to professions.

Conversations have all been v helpful. This time I haven’t taken notes  as few of the sessions feed directly into the thesis. Instead have enjoyed absorbing and reflecting on a wide range of presentations, including fabulous paper on Kafka’s metamorphosis, an Auschwitz novel and the dangers of hope.

Also enjoyable meetings – spent 4 hours today walking up and down Ithaca hills with Rinda West, a lovely woman with Jungian, literary and political tastes close to my heart. Got a bit lost, didn’t matter at all.

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Jung and ethics conference @ Cornell

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Conference reports, Jung | Tags: , |

Arrived v late Sunday night after gruelling 24 hrs of travel. V grateful to shiatsu massage people at La Guardia, where I ended up spending 7 hrs (missed connecting flight during loo break!), who restored flagging body and spirit.

Now in Cornell dorm, wondering if I  can get away with saying ‘I went to cornell’ without mentioning it was only for five days? Conference starts in a couple of hours – interesting line up, with highlights on combat trauma and the collective response, plenty on film studies , esp vampires, lots on the Other. I’m most interested in the political stuff, how ethics is lived collectively and in one paper on jung and virtue theory. Only the latter seems to address how a Jungian ethic might resemble or differ from established approaches. There will also be ‘interactive workshops’ which sound a bit scary, like audience participation.

Quite a full schedule – breakfast meetings and post-supper sessions; last year’s Jungian conference was hard physical work too, but the dancing made up for that. This year, I’m v tired so may skive off to write chapter 9, the PR case study.

I present tomorrow – have finished the slides, now need to rehearse. As these are parallel sessions, don’t expect big  audience, but these events are usually most interesting over meals and coffee. We’ll see….

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Interesting online event: Jungian view of Obama and global politics

Posted on July 28, 2010. Filed under: Jung |

Symbols, individuation, Obama and global politics – online Jungian seminar Sept 10

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getting there

Posted on July 25, 2010. Filed under: Ethics, Jung, main themes, PhD stuff, professions | Tags: , , |

finally feel I am heading towards the final stages of the thesis. Two meetings yesterday with supervisors (staggered for logistical reasons) who are v happy with the chapter I wrote last week on another visit to St Deiniol’s.  Things are coming together….

Chapter 8 brings into play all the themes of the thesis: professional ethics, Jungian ethics and their relation to each other, and begins to sketch what a Jungian approach to professional ethics would actually look like. There was a time writing it when I thought this is where the drums will roll, the velvet curtains will part – and the stage will be empty. But no; this is what I discovered:

  • professions could choose to drop their claims to be ethical and ‘serve society’ – claims which have little substance in reality – this would be an ethical improvement as the charge of hypocrisy could be dropped and the illusion of ethics abandoned. price they’d pay would be loss of  the professional kudos, the social status that is gained in exchange for alleged professional ethics, so more like to face external regulation,
  • OR they could step up to the claim and  actually engage with the complexity and conflict involved in any attempt to live ethically, but particularly challenging in the Jungian approach because it means facing the shadow aspects of the profession, bringing to consciousness the hidden impulses, temptations and abuses that have congregate under the surface of that particular grouping
  • this will require moral leadership, but as Jungian  theory makes clear , the group may actually embody the leaders’ shadow aspects making it v hard for the leaders to see what they are hiding from themselves – a facilitator may be needed; lay members may see the situation more clearly
  • An ethics advisory forum cd provide the space for free debate an the airing of ‘cultural complexes’ – the Other may be a rival profession but could be an internal group, ostracised by gender, race, sexuality or background – or by an occupational sub-grouping (eg broadsheet vs tabloid journalists; foreign vs arts correspondents)
  • There will not be a new code: this is about process rather than right/wrong acts. It will entail living with uncertainty: holding the contradictions; not knowing. This will distress those who expect to be told exactly how to behave and are unwilling/unprepared to take responsibility for their own ethical being – hardly surprising when everyone else is playing the blame game. But I think many already experience this; identifying it may be helpful and welcome
  • the question of whether a separate ethics for professions is necessary is I think answered by suggesting that the base for all professional ethics is human ethics, not an elevated sense of moral superiority. Quite the reverse; it is because certain complexes will have built up in groups and professions that they have a particular responsibility to ensure maximum awareness of the shadow dynamics of their group.
  • have also found tremendous academic richness in juxtaposing Jungian and other ethics, exploring however briefly the points of contact and divergence with Asian ethics, post modern approaches and particularly virtue ethics. No space/time here, but juicy stuff… tbc
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The professional psyche

Posted on June 4, 2010. Filed under: Jung, PhD stuff, professions | Tags: |

End of my stay at St Deiniol’s library, during which I have not achieved the tasks I listed at the beginning of the week. But no sense of failure because the space and time here allowed me to see an idea that has been lurking beneath my draft chapters: I am proposing that a profession can be conceptualised as a psychic entity, with an ego, persona, shadow and the possibility of integration. The literature supports this – eg Abbott 95 on professions as entities defined by boundaries, and others on the developmental process of professions – though some Jungian caution against over simplification of parallels between micro (individual) and macro (collective). But the chapter I thought I’d tidy away on Monday has gained from this explicit approach – it was buried in earlier drafts – and the arguments are clearer, even though it’s taken all week. Having worked til 2am making this case on Wed night, spent yesterday reading Hauke (2000) on Jung and the postmodern which dismantles such an argument. But not entirely – so today I aim to take on board these caveats while discovering the possibilities opened up by this new concept of a profession.

So, many thanks to this quite residential library that has given me the silence and space to think and work – booked again for July.

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Approaches to professions

Posted on May 13, 2010. Filed under: Jung, PhD stuff, professions, Uncategorized | Tags: |

Useful supervision session this week. Just dithering about what to do next.  We talked about chapters on professionalism – before and after viewing the subject through a Jungian lens. Have had to teach myself a great deal about sociology in order to describe impact of Durkheim and Weber on concepts of profession in society. Interesting to discover in the later chapter the links between them and their contemporary Jung – a concern about the loss of the sacred from the world, the over-emphasis on rationality and the objective. Durkheim and Jung share more characteristics than do Weber and Jung, it seems as Weber is more clearly rooted in a Marxist perspective and much more interested in power relations than Jung ever expressed. Society is the locus of struggle and contested identity for Weber, where the psyche is the main field for Jung. Nevertheless, interesting overlaps of interest. Even found a terrific paper connecting Bourdieu and Jung, v v useful as Bourdieu’s conceptualisations of professions honours the inner world as well as outer constraints. (Also planning major research project on communication aspects of an anti-obesity campaign using Bourdieusian framework).

But current chapter 3 is a ‘smorgasbord’ of approaches to professions = x says that, y says this. Have set it all out as part of my own learning process but need to claim the topic and drive a narrative through the raw material. Actually always enjoy this stage of writing – the sudden authority when I sense I actually do know what I’m talking about. Not there yet, though – still waiting for that command to emerge.

Here’s an attempt to summarise my intent:

There are multiple perspectives on the role of professions in society, from those that simply describe what people do in certain professions (trait approach) to those who see professions as a power struggle for status (power approach). The latter group is of course the most interesting but it is complex and contradictory, comprising social constructivists, new institutional theory, neo-Marxist approaches, Bourdieu on social capital and habitus, Goffman on professions as performance. My approach has been to briefly describe each of these and the purpose of that is to ‘map’ the field of professional studies. This is particularly important for two reasons: one, the different perspectives inform varying claims to ethics, which are examined in the following chapter; and two, the later chapter which looks at the impact of a Jungian approach on current theory and practice needs, I think, to engage with a wide range of existing concepts. I sometimes think I could have made life easier by taking one theorist and comparing with Jung but needed to educate myself in these areas first.

So, chapter 3 sets out overview of professions; chapter 4 looks at varying approaches to professional ethics; 5 explains basic Jungian precepts; 6 sets out individuation as a basis for an ethic; 7 relates Jungian approach to professionalism; 8 considers what a Jungian professional ethic would look like.

As to progress:

3 and 7 are in rough draft but need to add material on professional identity formation and moral leadership

5 and 6 are pretty much done

4 and 8 are just notes

Plus case study to do and conclusion.

Hope to have full rough draft by end July – but still a tall order!

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Expanding Identities | Global Oneness Project

Posted on February 26, 2010. Filed under: Jung |

Expanding Identities | Global Oneness Project.

Interesting project on social identity and the Other – echoes themes from PhD. Ways of bridging the I-thou divides.

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