Ecstatic Ancient/Archaic Thought and Analytical Psychology: An Inquiry

London, July 15 — 16, 2016

Venue: Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX ( Freud’s final home in London after fleeing the war. Nearest underground Finchley Road.
Schedule: 9 am sign in for 9.30 am start until 6 pm – 15th July (Friday); 9 am until 1 pm – 16th July (Saturday)

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In 2014 at a conference at the University of Leuven organized by the Faculty of Arts entitled “Psychology and the Classics: A Dialogue of Disciplines,” speakers presented papers arguing that ancient thinkers, especially among the Greeks and Romans, recognized a human interior that likely pointed to an understanding of the unconscious among the ancients, although that understanding was articulated in ways unfamiliar to modern psychology. This point of view conventionally runs counter to many contemporary assumptions about ancient thought  based on the notion that knowledge of an interior world and and unconscious is based on a specific way of articulating that knowledge.

In the course of examining this question presentations attempted to bring ancient texts and ideas into conformity with 21st Century psychology, arguing, for example, that the ideas of the Stoics regarding mental health correlate with contemporary ideas about cognitive behavioral therapy (Christopher Gill, University of Exeter).

Indeed, we are all aware that the idea of a “talking cure” appears as early as Homer, and was alluded to in the Hippocratic canon. Disparaging as he was of emotive rhetoric, Plato felt ‘divine frenzy’ was emblematic of expressive human creativity, and Aristotle’s “Problems” discussed personality in ways that Freudian and Jungian psychology would find familiar.

Crossing these disciplinary lines is only one hurdle in trying to focus on the theme of ancient thought and analytical psychology (whether of ancient Greek, Roman, African or Asian origin).

The other hurdle is that psychoanalysis, from Freud to Lacan and Kohut, is the mainstay of such disciplinary discussion. Jung is typically only mentioned by speakers in myth or media studies, but not much by classicists.  We hope there will be more representation of his work: Jung would have been stunned to learn that he was left out; as a close reader of Plato and Cicero, Jung was convinced of their importance to him regardless of whether he was in agreement with prevailing interpretations of their work or not.

Speakers committed initially to present papers include (alphabetically) Emannuela Bakola (Warwick), Paul Bishop (University of Glasgow), Alan Cardew (University of Essex), Terence Dawson (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Raya Jones (Cardiff University), Richard Seaford (University of Exeter) and Mark Saban (University of Essex).

Additional papers approaching the theme of ancient thought and analytical psychology in the broadest terms are included.  Discussion including Lacanian and Freudian perspectives are included particularly as they relate to analytical psychology.    The overall theme will be the interior dynamics of healing in ancient thought and modern psychology toward achieving the goal of individuation and wholeness.

The deadline has now passed for submitting proposals (although apply as below if unable to comply with deadline with brief description to Please also provide a brief note on your personal background and disciplinary base.  Speakers selected will be notified by 1 May. We will convene at the Freud Museum in north London (