Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How Do They Do It?

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about Thomas Moore's book, Dark Eros: The Imagination of Sadism, which I read two summers ago. During our talk I mentioned to my friend that I'd heard Moore mention in a radio interview that I downloaded last year that he felt compelled to write that book because he'd just started out practicing psychotherapy and a lot of his patients were coming to him with dreams filled with kinky sex, death, and murder. It has always fascinated me how an analyst can handle sitting across from a patient and listen to them reveal the different dimensions of their soul. Well, this morning, while reading James Hillman's biography I ran across this quote in a letter that he wrote to his mother in his early thirties:

"To be an analyst is a hell of a burden, since the questions one must face are not to be answered easily, else the patient himself would have found the answers. Every hour of working with someone involves the whole personality, with all it weaknesses especially in this Jungian method where the two people sit face to face, and not where one does all the talking lying down and the other hides behind a note book out of sight.. So this autumn I have been depressed over facing all the implications of my work, my shortcomings, mistakes...It has never been clear sailing but the difficulties become more apparent as one gets nearer the port. One can only have an effect on the other person if one can experience certain symbols and certain problems and certain wounds. In ancient times the physician was symbolized as having a wound himself, or the same disease as the patient. Or he carried or caught the patient's disease and thus by curing himself cured the patient. Since most of the illnesses brought to the consulting room are the standard illnesses of our day, illnesses which everyone has and shares, I have to work these things in myself before they can be of any use to anyone else."--[James Hillman in a letter to his mother in 1957, pg. 441, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman]

On a different note but somewhat related. Yesterday I ordered Lament of the Dead: Psychology After Jung's Red Book. It was the last project James Hillman was working on before he died.

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