Jungian Analysis /Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis acknowledges from the outset that we are not masters of our own psyches, and that we can feel driven by powerful forces which are hard to comprehend. Often we try to deal with this by living to our strengths, but there are times when this strategy fails and things get the better of us. We can then feel overwhelmed, lost and disconnected from the flow of life. Seeking some in-depth psychotherapy is one way of trying to address this feeling of crisis.
With this in mind, the analyst sets out to help us grapple with our failing strategies. The aim being to get us back on track, or even on track for the first time so we can lead more fulfilled, enjoyable lives; more aware of the impact of our past and more able to live in the present.
In practice the focus of the work moves between the present and the past, between our inner worlds and their impact on the people close to us. Often looking at the therapeutic relationship itself becomes a very helpful tool to further the patient’s understanding of their problems.
Meeting more than once a week, while not always essential, can be preferable, in order to facilitate a deeper engagement with the core of our troubled selves.
Jung valued these psychoanalytic principles as core to the healing process, yet his approach sought to add another dimension: that of meaning. Accordingly today’s Jungian analyst is mindful that somewhere in the suffering there might be the emergent potential for a new direction. Perhaps part of the patient’s current pain might be in their resistance to making important changes. Jung placed his faith in the psyche’s capacity to heal itself, provided the individual was willing to listen to its prompts.
Jung saw tremendous depth in the world of the imagination. He thought that we could benefit from listening to, and engaging with our dreams. For this reason they will often figure centrally in the analysis. Jung’s methods reflected a more mytho-poeic approach; he believed a picture revealed a better story than any conceptual approach ever could.
For him our potential future required as much attention as our past, particularly in times of transition. He termed this approach synthetic or prospective, complementing the more reductive childhood focus of psychoanalysis.
In a tradition that values the uniqueness of the individuation process (Jung’s term for self discovery), there are many ways a Jungian analyst will conduct their practice.
Jung in more depth
Jung sought to extend the basic tenets of Freud’s psychoanalysis.
He sought to emphasize the distinctive importance of the cultural ether in which we live (Jung’s term being the ‘Collective unconscious’) which is ever present, influencing and permeating our individual lives. This ether includes the prevailing political systems and social conditions, as well as myths, popular fairy tales, film, theatre, contemporary culture, religious beliefs, and ancient texts from both East and West. Accordingly, Jung thought that by acknowledging our connection to collective stories, we are better placed to bear our individual suffering.
Counter to the paradigms of modern science prevalent at the time, he believed it was perilous to dismiss the ancient traditions and their arcane wisdom. He studied the esoteric writings of medieval alchemists and astrologers finding their metaphoric language rich in imagery similar to that of the dreams of his patients. He recognised parallels between his clinical work and the discipline of Zen Buddhism, the practice of Kundalini Yoga, the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching) and Native American cosmology.
For him the practice of psychotherapy arose out of a modern search for soul, a necessary antidote to the spiritually impoverished materialism of the twentieth century.
He preferred the term ‘analysand’ to ‘patient’ thus emphasising a more reciprocal and mutual relationship.
He was the first to emphasize the powerful influence of the therapist’s personality on the process, something he named as the therapist’s ’ personal equation’. He also acknowledged how important it was that the therapist remained open to the full impact of the analysand and their complexes.
He was the first to insist that the aspiring analyst needed to have been in analysis himself, and should continue to find ways of monitoring the state of his own psyche.
Nowadays many of Jung’s clinical ideas have found a home in contemporary psychoanalysis. While not necessarily embracing Jung’s affinity for the arcane, theorists such as Michael Eigen, Christopher Bollas and Thomas Ogden, working in the traditions of Winnicott and Bion, have found much in common with Jung’s original formulations.