Updated: Sep 20, 2021
A weekly blog about my experience of training as an Analyst during the Autumn 2021 semester at ISAPZurich and which also acts as an introduction to Jungian concepts and ideas which I hope inspire you in whatever way works for you.
Autumn sets in
It is has been a long week. I am writing this blog on a Sunday afternoon in Zurich. The weather is cool and drizzly which is in marked contrast to the warm and sunny weather we had all week. The last days of summer are here and the first signs of autumn are emerging. Travelling between the UK and Switzerland recently, I noticed that autumn in the UK tends to emerge a few weeks earlier compared to Switzerland. Towards the end of August in the UK you can see the leaves on trees start to change colour. The transition to the autumn has only just begun in Switzerland. It was an interesting observation for me cycling in the nearby hills next to Zurich having spent most of August in the UK. I love the autumn, especially running and walking in the woods at this time of year, watching nature transform from green to orange hues.
There are lots of new students joining ISAPZurich this semester which is unusual. The lecture room is packed and of course, concerns about catching the Coronavirus fill my mind throughout the duration of class. The room can get quite stuffy given the number of people in the room but there are breaks in between class to allow us to fully open the windows and let in some fresh air. Anyone who enters the building must be vaccinated so that provides some additional reassurance but it is still worrying. I guess this is the new world we live in. We have to learn to live with the Coronavirus. It is also important to take personal responsibility. Take the necessary precautions and look after yourself.
Settling in to Zurich life
As I mentioned earlier, it has been a long week. Working, studying and trying to settle in Zurich all at the same time is exhausting. It requires a lot of discipline to stay focused on the goals of the day or week without getting side tracked by other things. I have a huge preference for spontaneity so I can get quite bored of, or lacking energy in, routine. I really focused on my to do list this week which included getting a mobile phone and compulsory health insurance. I am still struggling to get a mobile phone because my UK credit and debit cards aren't being accepted by the online pay system despite the customer service agent telling me that my UK cards will be accepted as payment. It is virtually impossible to get any clarification from the mobile phone company. These experiences make my feel homesick! Homesick for the ease of running errands in the UK. I figured out that I probably need to have a Swiss bank account to pay my mobile phone bills despite the contrary advice from the mobile phone company. On the plus side, I purchased a Half Fare card or Halbtax. With the Half Fare Travelcard, you can travel for half price on all train, tram, bus and boat transportation. The cost of travel in Switzerland is high so the Halbtax is a welcome reprieve from spending way too much money on public transport.
A new semester
The Autumn semester has started with a great series of lectures based on the Jungian psychological concept of Individuation. Individuation is a central theme of Analytical Psychology or the ultimate goal of a Jungian Analysis. If you throw yourself totally and completely into an analysis, you can expect to see this theme emerge in the process. It is a daunting, painful but highly rewarding experience. It leads to a transformation of the Personality. It is a process of psychological development, a process of maturation of the psyche which culminates in an individual becoming him, her or themselves. The becoming of oneself is known as 'becoming whole' in Jungian terms i.e. indivisable and distinct from other people. The concept of individuation is Jung's key contribution to the psychology of Personality Development. How does one experience individuation? Well, you will better understand yourself, and better understand what motivates you consciously and unconsciously. You will feel a pull away from collective ideology and start to cultivate your own very unique position on things. You will begin to feel unique but not in a narcissistic, ego centric way. You will feel just like any other common man, woman or being, you will just have your own unique perspective, approach, attitude or view about life, its joys and tribulations. You may even begin to develop a vocation, not a career path but a passionate hobby that you have limitless energy for, and perhaps bring your own set of wisdom to this world.
Jung described the attributes of indivuation in Collected Works paras. 757-762 as (1) the goal of the process is the development of the personality (2) it presupposes and includes collective relationships i.e. it does not occur in a state of isolation, relationships are an important ingredient (3) involves a degree of opposition to social norms which have no absolute validity.
The individual stops solely identifying with their Persona. In becoming more unique, they become more authentic. You'll experience others differently and others will experience you differently too. There will be more depth to your personality, you will be less naive, more mature, perhaps even more creative and innovative in your personal and work life. Individuation does not need to happen in a Jungian analysis. The process of individuation can happen without any psychological awareness of it or outside of a therapy room.
This week's lectures provided some good examples of the individuation process in others e.g. artists, mystics, love relationships, traumatised individuals and to the casual observer reading a Fairytale. In the lecture, Individuation - Stepping Stones on the Journey, Penelope Yungblut provided a quote from Jung's autobiography Memories, Dreams and Reflections - 'self realisation of the unconscious - everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation and the Personality too desires to evolved out of its unconscious conditions and to experience itself as whole' (Prologue to MDR. p3). The process of individuation begins at mid life according to Jung, the so called second half of life which is usually around the age 35-50. It is usually triggered by a crisis e.g. breakdown or end of a relationship, job loss, death etc. There is a tipping point in which the individual finds themselves at a crossroads. The individual does not know what is ahead. A period of reflection, time by ourselves and self-examination is called for. In a Jungian Analysis, the process of individuation is explored between the patient and the analyst using a range of techniques such as dream analysis, active imagination, painting, drawing, and even bodywork.
The analysis of such material can be interpreted using amplification using Fairytales. John Hill's Individuation and Fairy Tale Drama - Enacting Rituals of Play, Laughter and Tears was a great lecture describing the process of individuation in common fairytales. Why read or enact a fairytale to understand individuation? Well the process of psychological development appear to be well documented in fairytales. Marie Louise von Franz, a close working partner of Carl Jung carried out a huge amount research into Fairytales and the processes of psychological development contained within the stories. John Hill also argued that Fairytales are the end products of the cultivation of the imagination - giving the unconscious structure and narrative. In Fairytales from around the world you can see the same patterns of individuation and that by enacting these patterns, the individual will experience the energies and gain deeper insight into the process of individuation.
Katherin Schaeppi delivered what was my favourite lecture of the week. An exploration of the motifs in the works of Swedish artist, Hilma af Klint, who lived between 1862 and 1944. It was a depth psychological and symbolic perspective of the drawings of Klint which have remarkable similarities to the drawings made by Carl Jung in his Red Book. The Red Book illustrates the spontaneous drawings and paintings of Jung as he went through his own self analysis in 1913-1919. The outcome of the Red Book was Jungian Psychology itself. Shaeppi took us on a wonderful journey through the lifework of Klint. You can clearly see how her work developed throughout her lifetime depicting incredible processes of individual and archetypal patterns. Klint certainly individuated through her work. She left instructions that her work was not to be exhibited to several years until after her death. An exhibition of her work is currently on display in Australia. Check out her work online, it is surprisingly modern and contemporary for its time.
We then went on to hear about Individuation and Trauma also another great lecture by Dr Ursula Wirtz. This is a topic of particular interest to me and an area I hope to specialise in as an analyst, helping individuals to recover from trauma. One of the main benefits of individuation is transformation of the personality. The process of individuation can be of huge relief to those who have experienced trauma and suffer from its long term effects. It is a great way for traumatized individuals to re-vision who they think they are, to overcome the trauma and to transcend their pain and suffering. It is a lesson to learn, an invitation to awaken, an opportunity for growth and self-compassion. Dr Ursula Wirtz quote Zorba the Greek 'The realisation of wisdom requires participation in the full catastrophe of life'. A great quote which reconciles the paradox of suffering and recovery.
The next lecture by Jody Schlatter looked at individuation at a collective level. We explored Jung's final Collected Works, Aion. Aion is a very difficult text to read but it does have what I think are the best definitions of the Jungian concepts of Shadow, Anima and Animus and the Self. We explored the text from the perspective of the western world. I aim to analyse organisations in-depth from a Jungian perspective so Aion provides a good tool to do so but it is highly steeped in religious symbolism which can be very difficult to sell to leaders and managers in organisations. We also looked at the individuation process from the perspective of love relationships, in the mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp and the Body. We explored how relationships can act as containers for the process of individuation. Jung had some provocative views about love relationships essentially seeing them as projections of the psyche. He argued that if an individual can drop their projections on their significant other, they integrate the projection back into themselves leading to psychological development i.e. individuation and seeing their significant other for who they really are.
The significant others does not necessarily have to be a lover. For some, like Hadewijch of Antwerp, her significant other was God. She wrote incredibly erotic poems about her desire for God what is commonly known as erotic mysticism. Her desire for reunion with God mirrors the process of individuation although the object of desire in Hadewijch's case is outward. The process of individuation is a strong, instinctual inner desire, a desire for the Self, the inner reflection of God, in psychological terms.
Finally, we explored the body in the process of individuation. Dariane Pictet gave a convincing argument that the mind and body are connected. I was really struck, and resonated with the idea that the stomach acts like a second brain. I felt unwell when I moved to Zurich beset by stomach issues which at the time were very worrying. But when I look back I can how my stomach seemed to be reacting to the move in a positive way although in my mind, I had interpreted the stomach noises as less than positive. Training as an analyst is the culmination of my own individuation process which started in my mid-30s. Discovering Jungian Psychology brought a lot of clarity, structure, purpose and meaning to my own individuation process. Becoming an analyst is very much the outcome of the process. It is a vocation rather than a chosen career path. Dariane Pictet set out to explain why it is important to listen to the body, to attune oneself to its wisdom and as a seat of intellect, just like the brain.
Individuation and the workplace
It was a long week if I haven't said that enough times already. Lots of lectures, long talks and presentations but I learned a lot about Individuation in its various forms of manifestation; in the therapy room, a religious mystic, a fairytale, a traumatized individual, an artist, a love relationship and within the body.
How does individuation affect the workplace? Well, the workplace can benefit from 'individuated' individuals. Individuation is the hallmark of Jungian Psychology. The process has as its goal the development of the individual personality. A mature, fully developed personality brings bring creativity and innovation to the workplace. This in turn contributes to the organisation's effectiveness and ultimately has a beneficial impact on bottom line results.
So how am I feeling after this 'long week'? Well, I'm fairly exhausted. Lectures are long, usually quite monotone and by that I mean the presenters generally talk through their notes with some reference to slides but overall it is a lecture for all intents and purposes. I struggle with singular approaches to lectures. I prefer a variety of styles and props which tend to maintain my attention. So it wasn't a surprise by the end of the week I felt exhausted from sitting down, listening and taking notes. Those of you familiar with my Personality Type will know I have a preference for Extraverted Sensation. Guess what I did after this 'long week' of lectures? I headed straight to one of my favourite Vegetarian restaurants in Zurich and ordered a very large Negroni. It was the perfect antidote, so to speak, to a long week of Introverted Thinking i.e. exploring concepts and ideas.
Thanks for taking the time to read this latest instalment of 'What it's like to train as an Analyst? What is Jungian Psychology? The next instalment is due next weekend. Register on my site to be the first to hear about or listen to my latest blog.