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I am fortunate to attend a university that offers depth psychology classes at the undergrad level—it’s the reason I chose to go to Antioch. Now that I’ve been there for three quarters, I’m beginning to see the difference between being engaged in depth psychotherapy and studying the subject academically.

My very first class was Psyche in World Religions, where we studied Edinger’s Ego and Archetype in-depth. At that point, I had already had several years of Jungian psychotherapy and reading Edinger’s work was like reading about my life. Despite my personal work and reading I had done, I had never known about the role that Ego plays in Individuation. For me, this was the keystone that held everything together and made everything click and come into focus. I use Edinger’s work in almost every paper I write and his idea of the Psychic Life Cycle has become the paradigm I use to demonstrate the necessity of sin, one of my favorite subjects to explore.

Since I was absorbing and integrating everything I was learning, I assumed (remember what they say about assuming) that my fellow classmates felt the same. Some rejected Edinger’s ideas and even more seemed to be highly critical of Jung. My heart gasped at these moments—how could someone hate Jung? This is when I began to see how my personal experience was coloring my academic journey. I came into this school saying “Depth psychology? Why yes” and “Jung? You betcha.”

The defining moment was when I started our class discussion by describing the way that Edinger’s chapter on the symbolism of the number 3 helped me to analyze a dream in therapy. To me, it was perfectly natural and a practice I had engaged in for years. An argument of sorts ensued about the validity of dream analysis. It wasn’t directed at me specifically, but my story had opened this potent can of worms. For the first time, I felt that I was in foreign territory despite being ensconced in an institution that advocated the kind of theory that saved my life. And that was just in the construct of the classroom.

Most of my colleagues plan on attending graduate school after completing their BAs. The more I talked to people, the more I began to see a bias against studying depth psychology or Jungian theory. People seemed to like it and were interested in it, but it seemed to have a veil drawn across it. To study Jung would be to find yourself inadvertently in Avalon with little hope of finding your way back to Camelot. I heard my classmates say things like, “I want to study the basics before I study Jung.” Um, my fellow, esteemed colleagues, Jung IS the basics. Okay, Freud is the basics, but they were colleagues and friends (for a time, anyway.) I don’t know what they consider to be the basics, but that type of thinking is one of the reasons why one has to go to special schools in order to study analytical psychology.

Jung wasn’t just some dude smoking his pipe in his library and pulling theory from the fondue pot. He was a medical doctor and practiced psychiatry in a mental hospital for schizophrenics.  His conversations with his patients are what began his inquiry into the collective unconscious. And really, that’s the thing that gets people, the collective unconscious. It’s mysterious–you can’t see it, hold it, weigh it or measure it. As they say at my school, it’s “woo woo.”

And that brings me to the importance of experience. I don’t know if I would view anything differently from my classmates if I had never been in Jungian therapy. But I was, and that experience is what made me decide to become a therapist myself. I never had an interest in psychology. I had seen a cognitive-behavioral therapist at one time and that certainly didn’t make me more interested in the subject. The transformative experience of my work in analytical psychotherapy breathed life into my course material. I could say, “Yes, this is exactly how it happens, because that has been my experience.” My textbooks are not just words; they are my life on the pages. So to think that I would have to study psychology that is not depth psychology doesn’t resonate with me.

In my first foray into college, I majored in music—voice major and piano minor. Not being able to study depth psychology would be akin to telling my former music-major self, “No, you cannot sing or play piano. You must learn how to play violin and oboe.” But I already know how to sing and I tried to learn violin but my fingers fumble on the strings and double reeds, really? I would have been heartcrushed. And that’s how I feel about Jungian theory. I already know it—I live it and I breathe it. It’s already enmeshed in my blood and my bones. And luckily, schools exist that promote a Jungian-based education. So there I will go, and there I will thrive.

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The Asheville Jung Center has published a suggested reading list for the June 24th lecture on “The Creation of Symbolic Meaning on the Path to Individuation.”  A chapter of Warren Coleman’s will also be available for download when you register. I will be viewing the lecture but I can’t say I’ll be able to complete this reading list:

Bovensiepen, G (2002) Symbolic attitude and reverie: problems of symbolization in

children and adolescents. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol 47:2, 241-257

Colman, W. (2010) Dream Interpretation and the Creation of Symbolic Meaning.

In Jungian Psychoanalysis (ed. M. Stein), pp. 94-108.

Jung, C.G. The transcendent function. In CW 8, paras. 131-193.

________. The Tavistock Lectures, Lectures 3 and 4. In CW.18. Paras. 145-303.

________. The Symbolic Life. In CW 18, paras. 608-696.

________. “Symbol” in Definitions. In CW 6, paras. 814-829.

Ronnenberg, A. (ed.) (2010) The Book of Symbols.

Stein, M. (2009) Symbol as Psychic Transformer.  In Symbolic Life 2009 (ed. M. Stein),pp. 1-12.

Hello and welcome!

I am attempting to breathe new life into an old blog.  Make yourself comfortable and take a look at my Blogroll while I prepare a new entry.

I had some spinach and brocolette from my CSA box that needed to be used, so I created this recipe.  The garlic and shallots were also from the box.

Creamy Spinach and Brocolette Soup

2-4 cups fresh spinach
1 bunch fresh brocolette
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS butter
1 shallot
1 large clove garlic
½ cup white wine
½ cup flour, divided
49 oz can of fat-free chicken broth
3 cups 2% milk
½ cup orzo
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
cayenne pepper, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1.    Wash and chop spinach
2.    Wash brocolette and trim 1/8” off of the ends. Chop into 1” pieces.
3.    Mince shallot and garlic.
4.    Heat oil and butter in a dutch oven
5.    Sautee shallot and garlic until soft but not brown.
6.    Add white wine, let simmer until alcohol cooks off.
7.    Add ¼ cup flour and cook for 2-3 minutes.
8.    Add chicken broth and whisk to combine the roux.
9.    Add spinach and brocolette, simmer until vegetables are soft.
10.Puree ¾ of soup in batches in a regular blender then return to pot.
11.Whisk ¼ cup flour into milk and add to pot along with the spices and the orzo.
12.Simmer until orzo is cooked then stir in parmesan cheese.
All measurements are approximate as I made it up as I went along.  It may be easier to add all of the flour in the beginning before adding the broth.  Mine wasn’t as thick as I wanted it so I whisked more flour into the milk.  Experiment and let me know how yours turns out.

Soul Purpose

I moved from Las Vegas to Seattle about three and a half years ago.  If you asked me then what my impetus was, I would have said Love.  And that fact remains as true today as it was before, but I now realize other factors were already in motion in the grand scheme of my life.  The wheels in the water of my unconscious were turning to guide me to my destiny one trickle of awareness at a time.  I know, I know, it sounds “woo woo” and “out there” but you’ll see.
I had a great sense of direction and ambition that gave me the ability to pack up all of my belongings (including a grand piano) and arrange to have them transported 1300 miles from the desert to the rainforest of the northwest.  Once I got here, the time came to unpack my life, both literally and figuratively.  Unpacking the boxes was easy part; once everything was sorted and placed I then had to figure out me and where I fit in this new environment.  The first step was to find a job, which turned out to be rather easy.  I took a retail customer service position and almost quit on my first day.  But I stuck with it and grew to quite like it but somewhere the shadow of my potential whispered that I was meant for something else.  Enter my first office job.  A co-worker told me about an office administrator position that was available at her other job.  I applied, interviewed and was hired.  If adjusting to the retail job was a struggle, then adjusting to the office job was climbing Mt. Everest in heels and a pashmina.  Nothing in my life could have ever prepared me for the abominations I would encounter in that small rented space.  Luckily, I had already been in therapy for a year, so I had someone to help guide me through the chaos.  I hate thinking about how I let myself put up with so much negativity, but in doing so I learned how to stand up for myself and voice my opinions.  I also learned that the work I did in therapy was transformative and I wanted to become a therapist myself to help others on their journeys.
Here’s where all they “woo-woo-it’s-my-destiny-stuff” comes into play.  I didn’t’ want to become a boring run-of-the-mill cognitive behavioral therapist, but a depth psychologist.  Depth psychology is the old school model that began with Freud.  The kind in which one searches the unconscious for the repressed content that can aid in healing.  My own therapist was a Jungian and the more I learned about Jung and experienced his theories at work in my life, the more I knew that I wanted to become a Jungian.  I understand that Jung quite famously said, “I am glad I am Jung and not a Jungian” but for the purposes of this tale I will happily wear the Jungian mantle.
I didn’t realize when I moved here or when I started therapy that Seattle has a large Jungian community.  The emerald city is home to a C.G. Jung Society, the Jungian Psychotherapists Association and the North Pacific Institute for Analytical Psychology.  Seattle is also home to one of the five Antioch University campuses in the country and the only campus to offer classes in depth psychology.  That’s right.  The only one.  You can study psychology at virtually any university in the country, but depth psychology is a different matter.  If one is to study depth psychology, it is usually in graduate school.  A professor at my Antioch orientation pointed out that Antioch is the “only school that offers depth psychology classes at the undergraduate level.”  Jung might say this was synchronicity, or a meaningful coincidence.  I’ll go one further and say it was Fate.
Just to be sure, I looked at other undergrad psychology programs offered by various universities and sure enough, they did not offer depth psychology courses.  Just for fun, I looked up Jungian therapists in the Las Vegas area.  Maybe I could have stumbled upon the same path if I had stayed in the desert, but no, there wasn’t a Jungian therapist to be found.  No Jung Society and no analytical psychology training program.  When it came to depth psychology, Las Vegas was as barren as the desert on which it lay.
I began thinking about the word psychotherapy which literally means “soul healing.”  The famous indication that one is crazy is to move an index finger in a circular motion while pointing at their head.  The assumption is that “crazy” is in the head, but I believe suffering is in the heart.  The suffering causes the non-traditional behavior and if you can find the root cause of the suffering then the behavior becomes manageable or disappears all together.
I believe part of the reason for the lack of a Jungian presence in Las Vegas is because the city does not have a soul.  The city was forged on depraved behavior and that image is intact today, as we all know that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  The flashing lights of resorts beckon one to enter, promising the exotic landscape of Egypt, Paris or Rome.  The ceilings are adorned with clouds and blue skies to give the feel of being outside in vitamin D enriched sun, but the reality is a smoky and dank amid an endless cacophony of bells and sirens hearkening one to wake up from fantasy.  But the warning goes unheeded and spurs delusions of being the next to hit the big one.  The jackpot seemingly bestows self-worth onto those pulling the handle or trusting in cards, but they don’t realize that the jackpot is already inside them.  Jung spoke of a treasure buried in the field that was each individual’s task to find.
I had to move 1300 miles away to find my buried treasure.  I don’t think I could have done so otherwise, at least not in the same fashion and at a time when I needed it most.  The discovery of my Self is a gift that has no measurable value.  You could argue that the cost would be akin to the money spent on therapy.  But I would gladly pay ten times that amount if it meant the same result.  My adventure that started with love led me to my soul and my purpose.  I would be foolish to ask for anything more.

The following is for my educational portfolio, which will have to demonstrate my proficiency in the liberal arts core competencies embodied by Antioch University:

A Mandala of Me

Mandalas are a form of art that is shared by many cultures including Tibetan monks and the indigenous people of North America. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung employed mandalas as a way to see a snapshot of the Self at the time it was created. I keep a sketchbook of personal mandalas as a way to hone my creative energy while practicing art therapy at the same time. Traditionally, a mandala (the Sanskrit word for circle) is divided into quarters and with this analogy I will describe my liberal arts competencies.

Critical and Creative Inquiry

One of the reasons I decided to finish my BA in Psychology was to ultimately get paid to do what I love in helping people find solutions. I realize that I already do that on a daily basis taking calls for a pest control company. I’m more than just an answering service in that I actually have to know how to assess a pest problem and explain to a potential client how we go about treating it and why they should choose my company. This capacity to help people is not enough for me and I want to do it on a more in-depth level, thus enter psychology. When I have downtime at work I surf the internet like anyone else would. But instead of frequenting celebrity gossip sites or hunting for recipes, I research psychological modalities, case studies and theories.

I keep three different journals: one for recording dreams, one for personal reflection and the mandala sketchbook. I also compose original songs that I sing and perform on the piano in my living room—sometimes for an audience, sometimes not. Through undergoing a personal Jungian analysis I have explored where these things come from and what they mean. Before being in therapy I would have said that the songs come from somewhere else, as though I was channeling them. But I now know that they come from me and owning that takes hubris and confidence—two things that I didn’t have for most of my life.

Self in Community

I have a history of agoraphobia and anxiety that has made it difficult to go out and be around people, therefore I’ve never volunteered at a charitable organization. However, several years ago, I did make 125 beaded bracelets for the My Stuff Bag Foundation, which provides personal duffel bags filled with toiletries, toys and blankets for children who were removed from their homes. But I certainly don’t see that as being nearly enough.

One of my goals in studying psychology is to devise and conduct studies that examine the link between obesity and child abuse. But just like I found there is meaning in music and art beyond the actual creation of it, I believe there is meaning in fat. Not just my fat but everyone’s fat. While I attempt to find that meaning I also have to come to terms with the fact that I’m an overweight woman who has to function in society. This is not always an easy task but I’ve made it my personal mission to be an advocate for myself so that I can be an advocate for others. One of the ways I have done this is by bringing the latest scientific research on obesity in the workplace to my general manager when I felt there was a bias against myself and other overweight women in my office. He and I had a private meeting to discuss my concerns, which ended with us both feeling like we had mutual understanding with no hard feelings.

Understanding the World

My ultimate goal in studying psychology is to open a private practice as a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist. Jungian psychology is different from other psychologies in that it acknowledges the Collective Unconscious. Archetypal symbols show up in dreams and creative endeavors and by understanding these images as they reveal themselves on a personal level then I will be better able to understand them on a global level. For instance, I have very little power in my work environment being the person with the least seniority among people who have been with the company for over a decade. Power is an archetypal energy that exists in my personal unconscious that I then project onto the management. Once I realized that power is projected from myself, then I could withdraw it and reclaim it for myself, like when I brought the issue of possible weight discrimination to my superiors. In turn, this view can and should be manifested in a global arena, especially when dealing with populations that are underserved.

The Journey

The final quadrant of the Mandala of Me is the journey. I am nowhere near the destination I envision through the completion of my goals. Even when I graduate Antioch I will still need to finish graduate school and pass a state exam in order to obtain licensure to practice. The time from start to finish is daunting and that’s when I focus on honoring this academic and soulful sojourn. As the platitude goes, it’s one day at a time. But it’s also one class or one professor or one reading at a time that can create the next level of awareness that transforms from the inside out.

In my Abnormal Psychology class last week the professor posed two questions: What is life? And who needs to know? There were varying answers to the first query but none were truly surprising: love, happiness, growth, challenges and other platitudes. I was the first to offer an opinion to the latter “I need to know. As long as I know then it doesn’t matter if anybody else knows.” The next volunteer disagreed with me and said, “Everybody needs to know. If I know you then you need to know everything about me.” Several people nodded in agreement, “Yes, everyone needs to know.”

Part of me felt stupid because no one agreed with me but I was glad I spoke my truth and didn’t wish I had opted to remain silent. Still, I had to wonder why I saw things differently than they did but that’s as far as I got, until today.

I have been met with a spectrum of reactions since I announced that I was going back to school, not just to finish a degree, but also to eventually become a psychotherapist. To everyone else I guess it seemed to just come out of left field but this is something I had been pondering for well over a year. Most people are supportive, including the ones that count the most: loved ones, of course, but also the owner and general manager of the company for which I work. I was counting on them to be flexible with my schedule to allow for my studies and they obliged. You would think the hard part would be over. But no, enter the Shadow Struggle.

Shadow Struggle is a term I coined in therapy when discussing my office manager. She’s not the same office manager I have complained about in the past (she was demoted) but a gal who started working for the company about a year ago. Eight months into this gig she was promoted to office manager. I was a bit hurt at the time because I had always mentioned my desire to have a managerial position within the company. I was always told that position didn’t exist but it would one day, which made me think that when it did exist I would be in the running. I dusted off my bruised ego and told myself it’s not what I really wanted anyway. All I really needed to do was keep working to put myself through school. So where does the shadow struggle come in? Before Ms. Newbie was promoted and she was just a peon underling like me, I had told her about my plan to go back to school and kept her updated on my application process. She was very supportive while I was planning on going to a state university. Then things changed once my heart was set on a private university and I was accepted with record speed. There was a definite shift. I was no longer asked how my plans were coming along. If I offered information I was met with a cool “Oh, well that’s nice.” Enter the Shadow Struggle. I soon realized that the office manager would have liked to finish college but an unplanned pregnancy got in the way. She has the two things that I don’t have: a high paying job and a kid. I’ve always wanted both but life hasn’t worked them out for me yet. As I’m getting older I have accepted the fact that I will probably never give birth to my own child (but that’s a story for the future.) In turn, I am getting the education that having a child prevented her from having. Our phantom ambitions played foils to each other and prevent us from getting along.

So who needs to know? My answer is still the same: I do. I am the only one who can know my purpose and I am the only one who can get me to where I want to be. Just today I was on the receiving end of some petty, vindictive behavior for pointing out a mistake the office manager made. I didn’t do it to be mean but because her mistake caused an inconvenience for a client and as a company we pride ourselves on client care. In dealing with childish office politics I have to know what my life is about in order to navigate to the other side. The “I know” is my compass faithfully directing me to the True North of my potential.

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