Jung’s psychology is not suited to the work of forming conscious groups.

Dear Judith,

First of all, I appreciate your joining me where you could find similarity. Besides simply feeling good, it is my understanding that joining on similarity helps create group consciousness. One of the theoretical perspectives that I draw from asserts that group consciousness or “group mind” develops as groups discern and integrate differences (Agazarian and Gantt, 2007). And, the approach or technique used by practitioners following this perspective, called “functional subgrouping,” has us joining on similarities prior to the sussing out of differences. This approach supports the integration of differences in the name of learning to attend to the life of a group, which paradoxically supports each individual’s destiny, that is, their path of individuation. So, in the midst of what are clearly significant differences between us, I appreciate your effort to join me.

Your description of the privileging of individuation echoes my own and also has been written about by San Francisco Jungian Arthur Coleman in his book. Up from scapegoating: awakening consciousness in groups (1995). I am hoping that this subject could receive greater attention within the Jungian communities. The type of research that could come out of such focus could help the general confusion around what it means to be in a group, how to care for group identity and how, in turn, individuals are themselves cared for, not submerged, but supported to find their own talent, creativity, and capacity to contribute to the Commons. Your further description of your experiences as an organizer and negotiator sounds like a good story or, the fertile ground of many stories.

I follow your distinction between community and individual freedom and I’m familiar with authors you listed. They are part of my formative experience as well. Yet, perhaps I have misrepresented myself, I see no sacrifice of individual freedom in my focus on group or community. In fact, I see reciprocity. Now I recognize that’s easy to say; the actual work of integrating these is a profound mystery and challenge, one that our communities continue to make a significant contribution, though more is needed.

I also think that the distinctions between our national identities, and the multiple other identifications that form us, warrant attention and are quite interesting. Jung’s typology is a wonderfully rich initial effort to use psychology to account for difference in the name of supporting the emergence of a shared story and the capacity to work together. However, as we have since seen, this project is either doomed or more difficult than any of us have imagined, I believe the latter.

I agree with you, in part, that Jung’s psychology is not suited to the work of forming conscious groups. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, that has not stopped me and many others from pursuing this quest anyway. In fact, I think there is an emergent dynamic at work here. And, yes it is beginning primarily with insight; however, the psychological attitude itself is about intervention. At this point there are too many Jungians to list who are actively researching the interface between insight into collective social and political experience along with methods or practices that intervene in such experience. Right now the IAAP is organizing a second conference, in Rome this year, at the interface between Jung and politics. At the first conference in London last December I described a ‘political therapy’ group I’m starting and other presenters shared their work. Many were insight focused and several others were about cutting edge research for intervening in the sociopolitical ills of our time. So, the-times-they-may-be-a-changing and we may be able to keeping up.

One of the dilemmas may be our defused concept of “collective.” In a resent post on the discussion listserve for this IAAP political group, Stefano Carta (who is one of the organizers for the Rome conference) questioned our use of that concept, suggesting that we limit our analysis through its use. We allow ourselves to use an undifferentiated concept in a manner that keeps it vague and foreboding.

I’m not quite sure what you are objecting to my distinction between thought and feeling. I recognize that Jung found both to be rational, which I find very helpful idea fitting with multiple sources of research over the last 50 years into the nature of affect and emotion and their psychopolitical function. I write extensively about this subject in my book and several subsequent papers, which I’d be happy to share.

Warm regards,

Peter Dunalp

PS. about “what astonishing innocence.” This statement brought immediate laughter and left me with a sense of a warm connectedness to you and with some embarrassment wondering if I’m, again, wearing my heart on my sleeve. I especially liked your wondering if it said more about me or you, maybe one day we will find out. Thanks again.