Fiction Break

Such interesting reflections on the nature of connection have surfaced during this interim away. For those of who do not know, I have been wearing two hats over the past several years, as both professional and student, working toward my doctorate in clinical psychology, and I can honestly say that I have not read "for pleasure" in years. But this summer vacation period has been different. Instead of cramming for exams, or worrying about dissertation research, or any other type of heady exploration, I read poorly-written detective novels watched every single Harry Potter movie for the first time. A pile of academic journals and cerebral Jungian "stuff" sat on the nightstand, looking appealing, but never winning. You know what? I loved it.

But I am left with wondering, how do the two worlds coexist? Or can they? Can a person be committed to connection between ego and Self, both professionally and personally, and also be committed to mass market novels and popular culture? Is that an interruption of individuation or a part of it? I don't have an answer, so I thought, what do all of you think?

Since this blog  is meant to be an interactive, supportive community that helps incorporate psyche into our everyday lives,  who better to ask, right? Hope to hear from you. Feel free to post here on this site, or like us on Facebook and join in the conversation there...

Hope you all are enjoying these summer months,


The Cut of our Diamonds

I thought we could celebrate imperfections today, and consider our “flaws” as facets of the gems that we are.  I took this metaphor from an article on psychopathology and Jungian analysis by Sandner and Beebe (1995).  Psychopathology refers to an aggravation of maladaptive patterns or complexes to the degree that it seriously limits our lives through symptoms of mental illness.  However, the existence of complexes is what makes us human.  They are created when the worlds of family and circumstance clash with the world of Self.

But pathology in the Jungian model is not considered as simply an “illness,” or a blip on our life’s radar that has to be squashed for as quick a return to the status quo as possible. Sandner and Beebe (1995) highlight; ‘In the Jungian model, the patient endures the illness in order to become well; the illness contains the ‘germs’ of wholeness” (p. 303).  They continue:

“The nucleus, the dynamic origin of every complex, is connected to the collective unconscious and a part of the Self.  This relationship to the Self introduces a paradox: the production of complexes not only leads to a divisive injuring but also provides a new way of achieving integration. Complexes participate in the Self’s effort to replace an initially unconscious state of unity with a conscious state of wholeness.  Their dual nature explains how splitting, even to the point of psychic injury and neurosis, is necessary for the evolution of consciousness and ultimate personality integration.” (p. 302)

The woundings and response patterns are different for each of us.  Some of us might be sensitive to circumstances that others don’t think twice about.  And we each have our own modes of coping.  But this, too, is a sign of our own unique journeys.

 Hence, the cut of our diamonds.  Sandner and Beebe, describing complexes and our reactions to them, write:

It takes many different forms in different individuals, much as a sharp blow with a hammer on one diamond will cause quite a different fracture line than it would on another.  Variations in internal structure, planes of structural weakness, and basic temperamental disposition make the difference.” (p. 301)

So no comparing ourselves to others, thinking, why does this bother me so much, while so-and-so has smooth sailing? Instead, think of our lives as flawed but unique gems that capture light and shine in their own sparkling and subtle fashion.

Have a good week!


Ushering in Spring

Spring officially began on March 20th.  Unfortunately, as the snow on the ground shows us, the weather and the spring solstice sometimes have little to do with one another.  We curse Cleveland weather and its propensity to keep us frustrated and stuck in the cold.  We can only anticipate warm weather to come through the markers of daylight savings time, growing light in the evenings, Easter, Passover.  And yet somehow, somewhere in the midst of anticipation and disappointment, we blink and realize that the crocuses have popped, the buds have appeared, and the snow plows have gone into hibernation.  The shift of season has occurred.  This seems hauntingly psychological.  And since the past several blogs have focused on our relationship to nature and psyche as a means of understanding ourselves in connection to the larger anima mundi, how might we conceptualize the coming of spring from a Jungian perspective? 

In fact, spring is the spoils of the hard-earned work of autumn and winter.  Buds and new growth are only possible because of the decay of the autumn and the dormancy of winter.  The buds, the flowers, the greenery, come from things laid bare and stark.  This death and re-birth cycle is a core piece of personal growth, as well.  Mostly, though, and unjustly, we tend to value spring, the spoils of personal growth, without recognizing that emptiness and confusion, our personal winters, are its precursor.  Perhaps an appropriate psychological lens to the coming of spring might be less a sense of a “thank goodness horrid winter and cold are leaving,” sentiment, and more a quiet celebration of the wisdom of nature that knows the process it needs to grow and flourish again.  This wisdom guides our own psyche, and is at the root of the individuation process.  Individuation is cyclical, not linear, just like the seasons.  So ushering in this season, perhaps we can reflect on how indebted we are to the work of winter in bringing us the flowering or spring of new psychic energy. And now it is our responsibility to tend to the soil that has been prepared for us.  Happy gardening!!

The Living Psyche

Hi community –

 Still trying to get a regular schedule in place for posting the weekly blog.  I am thinking Friday afternoons, but that may shift as it becomes a bigger part of my routine.  So please bear with me, and know it is our intention to keep this blog fresh and consistent.  I encourage all of you to explore the RSS Feed tabs if you are interested in being notified of posts and comments through your email inbox.  Enough logistics.  Let’s shift to the great inspirer (and also disappointer), Psyche.

 Coppin and Nelson (2005) summarize psyche as “the great repository of ideas, images, emotions, urges, and desires that appear in the world, whether its source is personal or collective, conscious or unconscious” (p. 5).  Psyche includes the archetypes, and their expression through symbol and myth, that exist within the collective unconscious.  It is the “capital S” knowing Self of our unconscious that seeks to guide our “lower case” ego selves in our process of individuation.  Dreams are the stuff of psyche reaching out to us.  One of its most amazing qualities is that psyche is not bound by the time-space continuum that we, as humans, must serve.  Instead, it has the uncanny and precocious ability to pre-date us, exist without us, and, at the same time, be co-constructed in partnership with us.  Synchronicity is the expression of this impossible simultaneity. 

 We often forget that psyche is not only meant to help us in our personal, ego-oriented individuation.  Instead, psyche exists as a potentially healing, guiding force for the collective.  Therefore, we must also be in service to psyche.  If we nurture psyche, it may not only help us along through our personal relationship of self to Self, but also help the collective energy of our community.  It is a true partnership and relationship.  The more open we become, the more open it becomes.

 Relationship to psyche is at the root of our psychological work from a Jungian perspective.  I particularly love a description of this relationship provided by Coppin and Nelson (2005).   They write:

Psychological life is what Socrates called piety and what we have described as reverence toward all living things, including the living psyche in its many forms.  Psychological life is devoted to continual inquiry, relishing the pursuit of wisdom more than the possession of it.  It is the willingness to learn from everyone and everything by reflecting on others’ ideas without defensiveness.  It is the ability to be deeply moved by what one sees, hears, and feels, accepting the full impact of living in complex emotional bodies.  It is tolerating periods of personal doubt and confusion created by meaningful engagement with other perspectives.  It is looking past the surface of things to their interior depths and their transcendent source.  Finally, it is holding ideas, images, and beliefs lightly so that one can witness and learn from their inherent playfulness.  In other words, once one declares that psyche is real, one grows increasingly aware of the actual complexity and fluidity of lived experience. (p. 148)

 Let’s not forget the playfulness over the coming week.  Relationship is not just hard work.  It should also be fun, playful, and full of joy. 

Hallie Durchslag, LISW



Coppin, J., Nelson, E. (2005). The art of inquiry: A depth psychological perspective. Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, Inc.