Welcome to our on-line seminar: IAJS: An Experiment in Group Relations

Dear IAJS members,

I write this introduction to the spring 2015 seminar while at home on a warm, sunny afternoon in southern California — a person at a computer connected through cyberspace via our online IAJS community to the many of you living all over the globe! As participants in the IAJS community, each of us approaches our cyberspace-based work physically grounded, yet with many personal and professional aspects that influence our context not easily known by those reading or hearing our words. The IAJS Executive Committee (EC) became conscious of these various cyber-realities and dynamics in the course of our work, which spawned a discussion that we decided to extend to the IAJS community-at-large. The result is this seminar created to explore the implicit and explicit aspects of the individual and the group in the creation of community, including communities that function primarily through individual interaction in cyberspace.
In relation to the interface of the individual and the group, what is the experience of being bounded, psychologically or materially in-person, or unbounded, connected through cyberspace? Content of shared words is one aspect, yet so is the experience of an elastic, continual process without specific times for meeting, varying responses popping up from a variety of time zones, and no definite endings to discussions as Jean Lall, EC member discerned

(1). Additionally, what “cultural forces” (gods, religion [educational institutions, institutes], and technology), as Ottavio Mariana suggested

(2), are influencing us when we are communicating with each other in the creation of community, whether in-person or as part of an online group?  As importantly, what are we motivated by or yearning for when communicating with each other? Mariana theorized that, “…technology presents itself as the indispensable framework for the expression and realization of our passions, desires, and ideals”

(3). These “passions, desires, and ideals” are individual and group based, yet also psychologically and politically based. Perhaps, as Peter Dunlap proposed, the interactions of the individual and the group are based upon the “adoption of Jung’s attitude toward groups and the inadvertent risk that brings for privileging the individual in our psychology”

(4). Moreover, Lall stated in relation to our IAJS community: “The difficulty with IAJS is that it lacks the possibility of ‘physical and psychic particularity of the place in which it is located,’ since its location is in cyberspace, and its individual members have only very limited physical contact with each other. Cyberspace is a “place” that displaces us from place in the normal sense, and also from time and embodiment, and thus radically disrupts our processes of creating social order, civility and culture using skills that have been honed over generations (if not aeons)

(5).” The result of our interactions might be an individual as well as a group experience of intellectual stimulation, and other times, disappointment, alienation, or other feelings and outcomes.

The interface of the individual and the group in these technologically-driven times was explored by Erel Shalit, PhD, at his recent workshop, The Human Soul, presented at the Analytical Psychology Club at the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles. In his description of the workshop, Shalit wrote: “The post-modern condition is characterized by a multitude of perspectives and narratives, challenging the view and the value of central, universal truths. The changes generated by this existential condition affect the individual as well as society, the experience of interiority as well as the perception of external reality. In cyberspace, the internal and the external sometimes converge, persona and shadow may merge, and the ego’s sense of identity may become detached from its roots in the Self

(6).” Given the multitudes of perspectives and narratives and considering the varied possibilities presented by Dunlap, Lall, and Shalit, what is the felt sense and “hoped for” yearning that we strive to experience as individuals and as individuals creating community? This seminar seeks to explore this question and more.

To begin the discussion, we ground the seminar by starting with a paper written by Peter Dunlap, IAJS Executive Committee member (Version Peter Dunlap IAJS 2015 seminar). Peter challenges us to consider the way in which contemporary Jungian communities, based on Jung’s experiences and theories, may be embedded in a cultural complex that privileges the individual while deprecating the group. He proposes that this cultural complex may have us focused intently on our individual differences rather than coming together to respond to the social and political ills of our time. Peter challenges us “to reflect on ourselves as individuals and as a community through a focus on consciousness and greater political activity”

(7). We welcome your thoughts about his paper as well as your own reflections and ideas on the topic.

After a week of discussion, I will post a paper written by Jean Lall, also a member of the IAJS Executive Committee, which focuses on engaged community, especially community that exists primarily in cyberspace. Jean and Peter challenge us to explore the experience of being in community and to examine our experience of embodiment when we come together at conferences or other in-person events as well as our experience of being cyber-based. We welcome you to continue the discussion with further comments and thoughts about both papers, once Jean’s paper is posted.
I hope you enjoy the unique perspectives this IAJS seminar offers. Given the proximity to the upcoming Jung-Neumann Letters Conference, the EC looks forward to the participation from those of you not attending that conference (as well as those who do and are able to take time to participate in this IAJS online discussion forum). At the conclusion of this seminar, we look forward to hearing about the Jung-Neumann Letters Conference from those of you who attend.
With warm wishes,
Marybeth, on behalf of the IAJS Executive Committee
Marybeth Carter, PhD and Candidate at the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles
REFERENCES:
1.      Lall, J. (2015).Unpublished letter.
2.      Mariani, O. (2008). Analytical psychology and entertainment technology: Idle time and the individuation process. In Technology, cyberspace, & psyche. Spring Journal, 80, 45.
3.      Mariani, O. (2008). Analytical psychology and entertainment technology: Idle time and the individuation process. In Technology, Cyberspace, & Psyche. Spring Journal, 80, 45.
4.      Dunlap, P (2014, June): Renewing our faith in groups: A moral imperative for our community. Paper presented at the IAJS Conference: Rebirth and Renewal, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
5.      Lall, J. (2015). Unpublished letter.
6.      Shalit, E. (2015). Retrieved on 4/3/2015 from http://www.junginla.org/t/publicprograms/2015/winterspring/month/february/p/the-human-soul-saturday-only
7.      Dunlap, P. (2015). Unpublished email

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