The Elliptical Dialogue: A Communications Model for Psychotherapy by GUNILLA MIDBØE

New Book from Chiron Publications


The Elliptical Dialogue is presented in this book as a model for communication, dialogue and reciprocal relationship in analytical work, psychotherapy and supervision. The book also suggests new clinical and theoretical perspectives for analytical psychology by integrating systems theory from Gregory Bateson and language theory from Ludwig Wittgenstein.

In analytical work as well as in everyday life, the essence of human existence sometimes shows itself as unguarded moments of mutual meeting. They cross time and space and become everlasting experiences. Such a moment opened up for Gregory Bateson when he met C.G. Jung’s poetic text Septem Sermones ad Mortuos. The connection between Bateson and Jung’s view on mind and matter is carefully elaborated in the text. In interaction with Wittgenstein’s view of the deep architecture of nonverbal and verbal language The Elliptical Dialogue points toward an integrated perspective for clinical use both in analytical work and supervision.

Jungian psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and experienced clinicians, supervisors and students, as well as the general public interested in analytical psychology, will be able to catch the deeper sense of powerful creative energy of elliptical dialogues in personal and professional life.

“What I like most about this book is the lively impression it gives of what happens in the psychotherapeutic relationship. Things are constantly in motion; there is give and take; there are many dimensions simultaneously in play.   And all of this is contained within the framework of professional and ethical responsibility, a temenos or sacred space that exists today within our secular world.” -Murray Stein, Ph.D.

“These pages map the intersections between three kinds of conversation that occur in the psychoanalytic dialogue—one emphasizing difference and change, one privileging the recognition of what cannot be talked about, and a third focusing upon the creation of an internal narrative that can hold the tension of these opposites.  Amplifying her observations with a sensitive reading of Bateson, Wittgenstein, and Jung, the author convinces us that all three communication styles are necessary if the patient is to construct an ‘I’ strong enough to deal, not just with the analyst’s presence, but as well with the ineluctable otherness of the transforming symbol.  What emerges, for the reader, is how much the reality of the psyche can be taken aboard when someone’s experience of being in the loop between ego and Self is witnessed and understood.”

-John Beebe, author of Integrity in Depth

“In Ancient Greece, geometry was a symbol of creation, as both bring form into existence.  The circle is considered the first form in geometry, suggesting indivisible oneness and source.  Only through mirroring or reflection of ‘sameness’ can a second circle be made, as ‘another’ and multiplicity. The oval where they overlap becomes the place of creation.  Gunilla Midbøe uses these archetypal forms of creation—the two circles and the oval ellipse—in her exciting book about new therapeutic perspectives, which arise out of reflections and dialogues between therapist and client, between therapeutic methods and philosophical theories.  Practical and visionary—highly recommended!”

-Ami Ronnberg, Director and Curator of ARAS (Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism)

“At a time when much of the world is preoccupied with its borders and the tensions between preserving safety and identity versus an open freedom of movement across borders, Midbøe’s book is an original and refreshing contribution to the creativity and value that can emerge from occupying comfortably a borderland position. Midbøe brings her experience as a Jungian analyst in clinical practice and a fine intellect to bear to develop what she calls an elliptical dialogue, a map to orientate the reader to a contemporary and useable model of the analytic relationship in clinical work. Jung emphasized strongly the role of the relationship between the patient and the analyst and the potential for this relationship to bring opportunities for growth and healing. Midbøe combines three different fields of study, systems theory, the theory of linguistics and Jungian psychology as a framework for understanding the connections between the intrapsychic and the interpersonal worlds of the individual. The book is well-written, accessible with theory and practice woven beautifully together so that the role the analyst and his/her psychic processes play within the elliptical dialogue may be clearly observed. The book makes a first-rate contribution to both theory and practice, and should be on the reading list of every training institute.”

-Jan Wiener, Director of Training, Society of Analytical Psychology, London; Vice President, IAAP, 2010 to 2013

Available here:

PDF available here: Elliptical Dialogue