We are all puppets on the strings of group dynamics.

Dear Liz, The issue you raise about our diversity and it’s interference with communication is crucial. I remember participating in those conversations about whether Jung was a scientist or not. And, yes, there is a risk in losing the experiential and his esoteric brilliance amongst efforts to create a generalizable methodology, one that connects to...

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We are all puppets on the strings of group dynamics.

Dear Liz,

The issue you raise about our diversity and it’s interference with communication is crucial. I remember participating in those conversations about whether Jung was a scientist or not. And, yes, there is a risk in losing the experiential and his esoteric brilliance amongst efforts to create a generalizable methodology, one that connects to other social sciences. In this context, as has been pointed out by many others, there are many Jungs.

The Jung I’m trying to draw forward attempts to integrate his fundamentally esoteric insights with several of the current languages within the social sciences, particularly research into the interaction between individual development and group transformation, as well as the role of emotion in that interaction.

Jung’s holistic image of the positive interaction between individual development and group transformation implies a theory of psychocultural development that is unique but also can easily connect to the efforts of many others of his time, and our time. While he may be better known for his penetrating insight into the shadow side of the individual’s relationship to the collective (the submergence of the individual, the rise of collective passions distorted by problematic relationships to archetypes), I think that all of this was in the name of looking for a psychology that could show us the way to the conscious activation of the individual’s religiosity in the name of serving the integration of unconscious contents at a collective level, thus serving both the individual and the politics of their time (think of his story of brother Klaus in Archetypes of the collective unconscious. vol 9i). I write about this in a chapter of Raya Jones’ book Jung and the question of science. In my chapter I attempt to distinguish between those of us working to deepen the existing Jungian language and those of us attempting to integrate his insights using the language of other disciplines, I fall more into the latter category. The tension between these two intents could be more consciously integrated into our communities.

I appreciate your drawing attention to the current interest in cultural complexes and intergenerational trauma. Gudaite and Stein’s Book is very helpful in this terrain. I think of the concept of trauma as the rosetta stone, helping us translate individual and collective phenomena into a single language, one that can help us account for the complex relationship between the two. I would encourage others to read Tom’s Singers paper, applying Donald Kalsched’s theory of trauma to groups.  It is an excellent paper using the concept of cultural complex and trauma theory. In my own research with leaders, activists, and social change organizations from the political Left I note the way in which they (the Left) falls into the pattern of the “inward attacking” demonic force identified by Kalsched. Accordingly I have come to think of conservative identification following the characteristics of the “outwardly attacking” demonic force. And, I do not think the results of this analysis as mere armchair psychology, I found it to be quite useful. When I think of the political Left and Right as trauma responses, such as to 9/11 or to any conflict, such as between Palestine and Israel, currently a topic quite active on the IAAP political group listserv, I am able to start imagining into their distinct “political wounds.” Such imagining has led me to design specific interventions or practices that I use with primarily liberal groups with the intention of supporting the remediation of their distinct suffering. And, this is in the name of cultivating their emotional intelligence, political energy, and thus their capacity to realize their own agenda.

You draw attention to Noschis’ paper ‘Dealing with an Organisation’s Shadow in Stein and Hollwitz Psyche at Work. I think this is a very good example of what an organization can do to work with it’s own shadow using the concepts of shadow, inferiority, and type. I think that this is where the rubber meets the road, where we can move from psychological analysis to being psychological with one another. I do not think that this would be something we would attempt all the time; rather, I think there’s room to experiment with the listserve and other settings, like “conference space,” to learn how to bring the psychological attitude into our public relationships with one another. I’ve been trying to imagine a paper that I could write that would be about how we would go about establishing depth in public. In our online discussions and in conference space we primarily draw on the traditions of other disciplines and we are not distinctly psychological. I do not see this as a knock against us; rather, I see this to be a result of the newness of the psychological attitude. Joseph Henderson speaks of the way in which the psychological attitude does not yet have the epistemological significance of the other attitudes (religious, aesthetic, social, or philosophical) but, is still potent and has the opportunity to support us to carve out a new psychological objectivity within cultural experience. The implications of this need to be sussed out within our community. I write about this in “A transformative political psychology begins with Jung.” Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche, (2011) Vol. 5, No. 1 Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lastly Liz, I appreciate your question about how do we safeguard “individual integrity” while we are setting about to cultivate group consciousness or mind. When I think about this question I’m reminded of what Yvonne Agazarian says about groups, “we are all puppets on the strings of group dynamics.” Yvonne is the founder of system-centered training and therapy (SCT), which is a research institute focused on just this issue and several others. I’ve been training with this organization for the last four years and find that they have developed a very specific practice, mentioned in a different post to Judith, called “functional subgrouping,” that very much attends to individual integrity in the midst of cultivating group consciousness. I will be using this method that the Yale conference during my preconference workshop. For the moment, it is enough to say that I find it successfully working with tension between the needs of the individual and the collective. Also, functional subgrouping’s theoretical grounding is substantial drawing heavily from neuro-biological research in brain functioning, attachment and trauma theory, as well as attending to group dynamics. While not specifically Jungian, this organization’s ‘language’, the intelligence, kindness, and humility of its members readily supports the intent of addressing issues of inferiority, type, and shadow. In the last two years I have offered a workshop at their annual conference where I combined functional subgrouping with Andrew Samuels’ political clinic practice of taking a political history. This workshop has been well received and I will do some version of it next year as well.

Thank you for engaging,
Peter Dunalp

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