Summary of: Renewing our faith in groups: A moral imperative for our community.

To the IAJS community,

With this seminar the executive committee has initiated an inquiry regarding our community, how we communicate, the strengths and limitations we face as people interested in the work of Jung, as moderns, and simply as people without having a shared community center for our gatherings. It is my hope that this inquiry will evoke curiosity about ourselves and lead to greater collaboration across our differences and the circumstances of our meeting.

Below I summarize my paper and the responses I received and set the stage for the next phase of this seminar, which we initiate with a wonderful paper by executive committee member Jean Lall. Please read her attached paper and join in the self-reflection and conversations that her paper invites.

Please download Jean Lall’s paper here: Jungian Studies Lost and Found (1)

Summary of: Renewing our faith in groups:  A moral imperative for our community.

1)    There is a divide in our social and political experience between our public and private lives, which is seen as a significant problem as it diminishes public participation making the maintenance and renewal of democracy more difficult (Bellah 1985; Samuels 1993; Sandel 1998; Tronto 2013).This thinking can also be traced back to the 1840s to Alexis de Tocqueville’s research into American individualism.

2)    This divide can also be a subject matter for psychology, in the manner that it makes its way into our distinct identities as a ‘condition’, including into our professional identities. There may be a distinctive contribution to understanding and transforming this condition that could be provided by the Jungian community. However, attending to it as a “cultural complex” would require some consolidated attention, which may be quite difficult due to the fractile nature of our own attention, which may be evidence of the very condition itself as shared concerns are submerged in the midst of our privileging, even celebrating our differences.

3)    We are in a position to do unique research by bring both a psychological attitude and our uniquely developed historical consciousness to bear on this problem. Through such attention we could explore the existence of the public/private cultural complex as it exists within in our own individual and organizational identities. Such an approach could then help us become a ‘homeopathic’ remedy, that is, we could develop the psychological language and practices that could support its remediation in other communities and organizations. This would help create a socially and politically engaged Jungian psychology. Intervening in this condition includes attending to our privileging of differences and the deprecation of our group identities.

In response to this paper attention has been drawn to the way in which depth psychology only occasionally succeeds in supporting transformation. Instead, our public communications with one another may lack the “intellectual humility and psychological balance” of other communities. However, our cyberspace communications support the recognition of subtle cultural differences. While this can be frustrating it also supports “extreme care in selection of vocabulary and fastidiousness of expression” as well as performing “a valuable function as motherships in cyberspace by giving a sense of group identity and togetherness.”

In the midst of my paper’s call for convergence within our community on shared critical questions it was pointed out that the trend in psychology has been more toward “the creation of more schools of thought, each disagreeing with each other.” And, this movement toward divergence is particularly poignant in Jungian organizations where group interaction is shaped by the way we come from“different cultural, scholarly and professional backgrounds.” In the midst of this tension between individual differences and a desire for some group cohesion it was pointed out that 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.’”  One responder acknowledged that my desire is to return “enough of our attention to the public sphere to create groups that are conscious, that is, capable of having a conscience and acting in the world with increasing moral integrity.” With this in mind it was also acknowledged that there is a growing interest within our communities in applying “Jungian clinical theory and practice in social activism and cultural issues.”

Thank you all for engaging.
Warm regards,
Peter T Dunlap

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