Study of cultural complexes and intergenerational trauma

Dear Peter and all,

Peter, thank you for your thought provoking paper. I think group interaction is particularly challenging in Jungian group organisations because we are such a diverse group coming from different cultural, scholarly and professional backgrounds. We all are interested in Jung but our mixed cultural and educational backgrounds can act as barriers to communication. Do you see any solution that could help us bridge some of these barriers? There are Jungians, not trained as analysts, who even discount unconscious processes, even the efficacy of dreams and symbol formation, preferring to concentrate on an academic, scientifically rigorous approach to Jungian theories. When I joined IAJS in 2008, the online group debate was often centred on defining whether Jung was a scientist, philosopher or an artist. Jung’s essence as a psychoanalyst and pioneer in clinical psychoanalytical studies disappeared between the different faculty chairs in the demand for a specific methodological approach.  Methodologies themselves can act as a barrier to furthering experiential approaches to Jung’s concept of unconscious processes.

A more fruitful engagement in recent times is the growing widespread acknowledgment of the application of Jungian clinical theory and practice in social activism and cultural issues. One of the most valuable contributions in Jungian group theory, as Peter points out, has materialised in the study of cultural complexes and intergenerational trauma ( Singer and Kimbles, 2004, Kimbles, 2014).  As I work as a Jungian analyst in Germany, the recent publication along these lines by Gudaite and Stein (eds.) (2014) Confronting Cultural Trauma, Spring Books, is a helpful resource showing how Jungian clinical approaches can support uprooted diverse cultural groups and individuals to adapt to new environmental and work challenges while absorbing the horrors of intergenerational war trauma. The chapter on ‘Cultural Trauma in Modern Germany’ by Gert Sauer expresses the cultural wounds in both the individual and collective consciousness, particularly with reference to how Russian immigrants from historic German ethnic roots are treated inside Germany as one example.

All these finely sketched details draw me back to an earlier work mentioned by Steven at the beginning of this seminar in his initial response to Peter’s paper; Stein and Hollwitz ( eds.) (1995) Psyche at Work; Chiron Press. Of particular interest to me is the application of ‘shadow’ phenomenology in Kaj Noschis’ paper ‘Dealing with an Organisation’s Shadow Aspects’ pp. 118-135. This paper provides a pointer to how we can deal with our own ‘shadow’ organisational aspects, perhaps by utilising the ‘inferior’ function of the group through ‘feeling’ the ‘other’ methodological approach.

In the initial essay, ‘Organizational Life as Spiritual Practice’ p. 1, Murray Stein gives us insight into how murderously organisations can function when they seek to eliminate ‘one’s signiture, the unique fingerprint, the still, small voice of a personal, nonrational conscience.’ As Jungians, whether we are Jungian analysts, Jungian orientated psychotherapists, psychologists or academics with an interest in Jungian and post Jungian theory, we need to safeguard the essence of subjectivity and personhood.

Peter, in your conclusion, you suggest a list of seven points we could utilise in order to build a new group consciousness. Do you have any further thoughts of how we can safeguard individual integrity within group dynamics using Jungian or post-Jungian theory?
Jung was all too painfully aware of how difficult safeguarding individual integrity and human rights expressed as ‘difference’ is within groups with their emphasis on cohesion, shared values and the sense of ‘belonging.’

With warm wishes and thanks again for your timely paper.
Liz Brodersen

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