May 20, 2008
Dear Joel and All,
What I find difficult to swallow about Perry’s work is that he seems to have a very naive trust in the unconscious to always find a way through. It is the worst side of Jungian psychology, in my view, in that it falsely romanticises and idealises the unconscious, always assuming that it will set things right. I find this in far too much Jungian writing, and I always find it objectionable and unacceptable. The unconscious is reified as a God, and to trust in God is seen as the way forward. I take this to be the result of misplaced religious projections, and possibly some Jungians want to make a religion out of psychology, rather than view it as psychology within its own due limits.
I don’t find this same imbalance in Jung. On the contrary, he is always saying that the ego has to take responsibility, and cannot trust to the unconscious with a kind of blind faith. Therefore: where do some analysts and therapists get their blind trust in the unconscious from? Certainly, it’s not from Jung himself. It’s as if a kind of Rousseauian fantasy operates in some Jungians – the notion that, if left to its own devices, the unconscious will lead to a social utopia or panacea. I find it dangerously one-sided and disturbed, a kind of false philosophy.
One would have thought that the “realism” that ought to develop within clinical contexts would temper or rule out such idealisations, and yet they seem to continue to thrive in some Jungian quarters, especially in the popular Jungian material that is sold into the mass market. On my desk now is a Jungian book of this kind, and on the back cover it asks readers to trust in the unconscious to find the way through. Perhaps this is a formula for commercial success, but also for human disaster. More…