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Donald L. Conover
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Lament of the Dead: Psychology after Jung's Red Book--Reviewed
During 2010, world renowned psychologist James Hillman* and Sonu Shamdasani**, Editor of The Red Book: Liber Novus by Dr. C.G. Jung, sat together for fifteen conversations about the implications to modern psychology of this long missing foundation of Dr. Jung's oeuvre. These conversations are the substance of Lament of the Dead: Psychology after Jung's Red Book. Their insights add important depth and breadth to what was already a profoundly important work for the future of our species.
"He who does not heed history is doomed to repeat it." Cicero
While the old adage is well known, we pay little attention to it. As we watch Fascism revive itself in a new form around the globe, very few have noticed or stood up to the onslaught of the loss of our liberties, although the occupy movement and the demonstrations in Turkey and Egypt are manifestations of people doing just that. This situation gives new urgency to Dr. Jung's dictum in The Red Book that the weight of history is upon us, and we must listen to "what the dead want to say."
Although medical psychology is largely focused on "normalizing" a patient with quick fix drugs these days, the loss of the Soul in our psyche means that we are forever cut off from what the dead want to tell us. Dr. Hillman points out that "psychology after The Red Book has to be based on the fantasy image," and cannot simply rely on the "denotative." By this he does not mean a make believe fantasy, but a real image that emerges from the unconscious as a dream or vision, and influences our day-to-day lives.
Given that this observation is coming from one of the most famous psychologists of the 20th Century, and an early disciple of Dr. Jung, it seems amazing that the comment can seem like he is exposing a revelation--something new he himself had to learn.
He has clearly shown that diagnoses based on mere categorization, even categorizations identified by Dr. Jung himself, like anima and Shadow, are pale and inadequate as compared to the depth of information that dream images and visions present from the level of the unconscious.
Dr. Jung's famous vision of the onset of World War I is a case in point.
"It happened in October of the year 1913 as I was leaving alone for a journey, that during the day I was suddenly overcome in broad daylight by a vision: I saw a terrible flood that covered all the northern and low-lying lands between the North Sea and the Alps. It reached from England up to Russia, and from the coast of the North Sea right up to the Alps. I saw yellow waves, swimming rubble, and the death of countless thousands." The Red Book, P. 231; Reader's Edition, P. 123.
Something in his psyche was telling him the war was coming. At the time, it nearly bowled him over, but now, in the fullness of a century of consideration, we can see the importance of the vision. And, as he often later said, it was "quite real."
One of the most interesting aspects of this book was seeing James Hillman, one of the leading psychologists of the 20th Century and near the end of his life, being once again swept up in the depth and brilliance of Jung's work, after having been an elaborator on it and its significance for decades. I should say that he seemed somewhat chastened that he and his professional colleagues had not fully grasped the significance of some of Dr. Jung's subsequent teachings.
It was less surprising to hear from Sonu Shamdasani that the only real critics of the publication of The Red Book are current "Jungian" analysts. After all, if one has based a professional practice on a somewhat formulaic understanding of Dr. Jung's various innovative ideas, it might be difficult to reset the guardrails of the psyche in a more organic way.
For me, as a layman, what was there to criticize? The Red Book is what it said it is, a completely personal memoir of extraordinary events. But, now with the benefit of the commentary contained in Lament of the Dead, I can more readily see the here and now societal implications of what Dr. Jung was saying in the first place a century ago. While I did note that there were a lot of references to blood in reading The Red Book, I did not realize until I was preparing to write this review, that blood is central to much of Dr. Jung's thinking, giving new meaning to the phrase "There will be blood."
*James Hillman was the first Director of the Jung Institute in Zurich and founder of the elaboration on the work of Dr. C.G. Jung and others, which became known as Archetypal Psychology.
**Sonu Shamdasani is the Editor and one of the Translators of The Red Book: Liber Novus by Dr. C.G. Jung. He is the Philemon Professor of Jung History at the Center for the History of Psychological Disciplines at University College London.