This is the first communication about the event in honor of 40 years of Archetypal Psychology to be held in Brazil in the second half of this year under the organization of
Himma Groups: Studies in Imaginal Psychology and Rubicon: Crossings Jungian.
Himma: Estudos em Psicologia Imaginal – www.himma.psc.br <http://www.himma.psc.br>
Rubicão: Travessias Junguianas –http://travessiadorubicao.blogspot.com
ARCHETYPAL PSYCHOLOGY AT 40 YEARS – AND COUNTING
Michael Vannoy Adams
Although I prefer the name “imaginal psychology” (what most interest James Hillman – and me – are images, not archetypes), for the purpose of this exercise, in deference to convention, I shall employ the name “archetypal psychology.” What I say in “The Archetypal School,” the chapter that I recently revised for the second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Jung (pp. 107-124), remains a more or less accurate description of archetypal psychology.
In 1985, in Jung and the Post-Jungians, Andrew Samuels identifies three schools of Jungian psychology – the classical, the developmental, and the archetypal. Twenty-three years later, in “New Developments in the Post-Jungian Field,” the introduction to the second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Jung, Samuels identifies four schools. The absence of archetypal psychology from this new list of schools is conspicuous. It is not so much an omission as a deletion. Samuels says that the archetypal school “seems to me to have been integrated into the classical or even eliminated as a clinical perspective” (p. 11). He never explains why this seems so to him. One sentence is all that Samuels has to say about the status of archetypal psychology in 2008. Although I much prefer the word “analytical” to the word “clinical,” I do have a clinical license from New York State, and under that legal authority, the perspective of at least one Jungian in New York City in 2011 is archetypal. The recent book Archetypal Psychologies: Reflections in Honor of James Hillman is ample evidence of the enduring, abiding vitality of archetypal psychology. That book is but one example (an excellent one) of the contemporary relevance and influence of archetypal psychology.
Most Jungians compulsively repeat, ad infinitum, what Jung says. As Hillman says in Inter Views, “They simply live off Jung’s ideas (or Freud’s, for that matter) without working the field one inch further themselves” (p. 36). It is as if all they can do is to quote Jung. Were it not for Hillman, Jungian psychology would be (even much more than it is) just Jung, Jung, and more Jung. Hillman is the only really original Jungian after Jung. If there is a “post-Jungian” (or at least a “post-Jung”), it is Hillman. In this respect, archetypal psychology is a “Jungian-Hillmanian” psychology. More than any other Jungian, Hillman has remained true to the creative vision of Jung even while he has offered a critical “re-vision” of it. Just as analytical psychology is much more than “Jung,” archetypal psychology – at 40 years and counting – is much more than “Hillman.” One of the most important contributions of Hillman is that he has been such a personal inspiration to so many people who now do work the field further.
Forty Years of “Why Archetypal Psychology?”
In answer to Marcus Quintaes’ request to give in a few words my opinion about Archetypal Psychology and my own contribution to it, I would like to point out the following: James Hillman’s “Why Archetypal Psychology?” of 1971 was not only for me personally, but also objectively for the field, a real breakthrough overcoming the rather sterile state in which Jungian psychology was (and often still is), a state in which what Jung had worked out was more or less routinely repeated and applied to the new cases that the therapists had to deal with as well as to mythic and fairytale material not already interpreted by Jung himself. The fundamental significance of Hillman’s paper lies in his raising a question, in his pushing beyond the level of what Jung had taught, the level of his dicta, to the question of what was the underlying deeper interest that inspired and motivated Jung’s psychological investigation in the first place, and what was the pulsating heart of his psychology. Hillman thereby showed that he was no longer satisfied with simply taking over Jung’s work as a ready-made (which is always a mindless business). He searched for the root principle of a true psychology in order to be able to construe our conception of psychology out of this productive center.
His attempt was to think psychology, to develop a psychology that was a living organic whole, because grounded in a living center it was not a set of convictions and theorems, but an animating spirit and a general way of seeing and proceeding. This was the purpose that he tried to realize a few years later under the title of a “Re-Visioning” of Psychology. Unfortunately, at least this is my impression, in the further development of Archetypal Psychology this living spirit slowly solidified again in the direction (1) of a fixation, if not reification, of certain essential concepts such as “soul” in an anima-only sense and “the imaginal” as a strictly idealistic, (despite its officially metaphorical character but nevertheless) quasi-metaphysical given, and (2) of an oppositional thinking that (implicitly and partially explicitly) excludes certain essential areas or aspects of life as “not-soul,” e.g., what we call “the animus,” logical negation, historical Time, and much of the modern world (as a fallen soulless world). My own need, by contrast, is to keep the original questioning spirit of Hillman’s 1971 paper alive, which leads me to speak of “the soul’s” logical life, to conceive of true psychology as the discipline of interiority and absolute negativity, and to understand “the soul” predominantly as the soul of the real.
Wolfgang Giegerich, Berlin, February 2011
James Hillman’s ‘Why “Archetypal” Psychology?’ (1970)
Hillman wrote in his editorial postscript to Spring 1970 that ‘Jungian, analytical, and complex are the three generally used terms for the psychology represented in this publication during the past thirty years’. In addition to these three terms, Hillman would introduce a ‘fourth’, in typically Jungian fashion, since according to Jung three is a number wanting to become four. Hillman’s fourth is the term archetypal. It is in many ways a logical title for Jungian psychology, since the archetype is the central psychic organ, so to speak, in Jung’s model of the mind. Moreover, as Hillman argues, ‘Jung had not yet worked out [the concept of archetype] when he named his psychology’. It makes sense to name his psychology retrospectively in terms of what is most distinctive and important about it: the living reality of the archetypes and their determining influence in psyche and culture.
For me, Hillman’s naming of ‘archetypal’ psychology was able to bring fresh air into the stale atmosphere of the Jungian consulting room. At the time when Hillman coined this term, ‘analytical psychology’ was becoming fixed, routine, derivative and predictable. This was perhaps an inevitable result of the increasing institutionalisation of analytical depth psychology at the time. Some of its ‘spirit’ was being lost, as the repetition of key terms and phrases took precedence. Naming it ‘archetypal’ returned the clinical practice of Jungian therapy to the wider world of culture, mythology, religion, philosophy and the history of ideas. As Hillman put it: ‘Placing archetypal prior to analytical gives the psyche a chance to move out of the consulting room. It gives an archetypal perspective to the consulting room itself. After all, analysis too is an enactment of an archetypal fantasy’.
Although Jung felt that soul is not confined to the individual nor even to the human, the idea of soul has a habit of falling back into the human frame and becoming caught ‘inside’ us. When this happens, psychology loses its historical reach, social relevance and cosmological dimension. In 1970, Hillman undertook to remind Jungians of the broad range of psychological insights which Jung had investigated, but which Jungians, in their institutionalising mood, had seemingly forgotten. Sonu Shamdasani correctly pointed out that, ‘The history of Jungian psychology has in part consisted in a radical and unacknowledged diminution of Jung’s goal’. Hillman tried to reverse this narrowing tendency, and for his efforts some thought of him as rebel, betrayer or destroyer. But he was only ‘destroying’ hardened clichés which had become fixed and established in the Jungian world.
Hillman struggled not only to add culture, ecology and politics to Jungian thought, but also cosmos and philosophy as well. His attempts to ‘revision’ psychology were met with resistance and repudiation. Some said he was dangerous and to be ignored. These comments were mostly from ‘institutional’ minds who were closed off to Jung’s larger, archetypal and cosmological vision. I have heard some say that Hillman’s work is impractical and of little or no use in the clinical situation. It has been said that Hillman’s work is a form of philosophy and not ‘psychology’ at all. But Jung’s attitudes, in contrast to those of some Jungians, are in full accord with Hillman’s approach to psyche as a vast field of social, psychic and cultural relations. It is this centrifugal, outward-going range of interest which is characteristic of Hillman’s work, and which saved the Jungian world from hardening and narrowing.
The direction of Hillman’s work is validated by this remark from Jung:
I can hardly draw a veil over the fact that we psychotherapists ought really to be philosophers or philosophic doctors – or rather that we already are so, though we are unwilling to admit it.
Hillman wanted to conserve and preserve the extra-clinical aspects of Jung’s vision which had been lost to the institutionalising mainstream. Hillman reminded the Jungian community of what it had overlooked or forgotten. Some of Hillman’s followers argued that he ‘discovered’ the anima mundi perspective, and this separates his work from Jung. But this betrays an ignorance of Jung’s research, because he not only wrote about anima mundi, but was an advocate of it. Hillman was a creative force who identified and championed the genuinely cultural and soulful aspects of Jung’s original vision, and who allowed this deeper life to be developed and lived.
I left my home country of Australia to work with Hillman in Dallas, Texas in the early 1980s, because it seemed to me that Hillman was at the very epicentre of creative developments in our field. To my mind, nothing as significant or liberating has come along in the field since James Hillman.