Psychotherapy, Jungian Analysis and Creativity
Some fear that case studies, even Jungian case studies will lack creativity. They envisage talking endlessly to a minimally responsive therapist who records everything, but shows little of his or her reaction. They even fear that it will be overly rational, and distant from feeling. But it doesn’t have to be so. Proper therapeutic work can bring genuinely creative possibilities into being.
The Water of Life
Psychotherapy can enable encounters with enlivening, vital elements in the psyche. Often, such contents emerge, and take us partially, or sometimes entirely by surprise. They may take the form of things that we discover attract us, for reasons that we would find it hard to explain. Or maybe there are things that we’ve yearned to try for much of our lives that suddenly become urgent. Or else there are feelings that we discover ourselves feeling, that suddenly make us seem that much more alive.
The Spectrum of Aliveness
On the other hand, I’m not talking about that kind of ungrounded “being positive” prevalent in our time. Often we find ourselves opening to a whole range of widened feeling possibilities. Often this may mean both possibilities for feeling that move us towards new passions and joys, and also capacities for genuinely feeling the sorrows, angers and difficult emotions in our lives. It seems almost to be a psychic law that, as the capacity to experience one of these things increases, so does the other. An approach that is one-sided, that only offers joy and exhilaration would involve a fundamental denial of what it is to be human. As we experience the whole spectrum of our feeling in more depth however, we feel more alive.
The particular importance of the best case studies involves opening those parts of the psyche that are poorly connected to, or disconnected from, consciousness. There is a whole range of thought, feeling, intuition and sensation experience that is actually or potentially part of us. From the perspective of consciousness, it might almost seem as if it were the experience of ‘somebody else”! Yet it is that full spectrum of psychic content that carries the fullness of our life. This is not to say that it is easy or effortless to let it emerge into consciousness, but the full impact is real.
Image and Possibility
To the best of my knowledge, it was American archetypal psychologist James Hillman who was the first to refer to “imaginal” reality. Images and feelings that emerge from the unconscious levels of people, particularly people in case studies, can have a compelling reality. And they can reveal a great deal about the unique psyche of the individual. As individuals creatively explore such psychic content, and take steps to bring its reality into their own lives, people start to flesh out new possibilities for their lives.
What Will Your Deepest Self Create?
The creative powers released in case studies can be vast and compelling, and might not take the form and direction that the conscious mind would expect. Have you had experiences of unexpected creativity coming to the fore from within yourself? Or, the experience of having the unconscious mind solve something that the conscious mind could not? A living, vital experience of case studies can often bring an individual into contact with a creative wisdom that the person did not know that she or he had.
Wishing you creativity and vitality on your journey to wholeness,
© 2011 Brian Collinson