What's it like to train as an Analyst? What is Jungian Psychology?

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

A 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.


Active Imagination

This week, three things stand out to me. Last weekend 25th-26th September, I attended an experiential seminar in Active Imagination run by Penelope Yungblut. I also attended a lecture by Roderick Main as part of ISAP's Zurich Lecture Series and I went on an excursion to the former home of CG Jung himself organised by Margo Estabrook Stienstra. The theme for this week is 'meaning'. I explored what 'meaning' means to me in the context of these lectures and excursion.


I enjoyed the experiential seminar; seeing the process of active imagination in myself and others, observing the output or collages from the process, the participants' analysis of our output and post-seminar reflecting on the spontaneous images I created. Jung described 'active imagination' as a process of dreaming with eyes open [Jung's Collected Works 6, para.723]. The facilitator gave us a bristol board, paintbrush, cup of glue and water and a lot of flimsy paper in various colours. Our task was to put the paper on to the bristol board and to let whatever spontaneous images emerge on the board. The idea of active imagination is to focus on a particular point, an image, idea, mood, event, emotion and then allow yourself to make it concrete by creating the image [idea, mood etc] out of the paper using whatever colour appeals to you.


By creating the image, it begins to have a life of its own, any conscious doubt or effort must be restrained to allow the unconscious to unfold. Psychologically, the output from active imagination brings unconscious content into consciousness, or concrete reality, something unconscious becomes much clearer and articulate than would otherwise be expressed using the thinking function. The process of active imagination is a collaborative effort between the conscious and unconscious mind. The contents or output of active imagination can be taken to an analysis for interpretation. The interpretation can help address or resolve an emotional problem. The trick is to let go of your ego to allow your fantasy images to emerge with conscious effort. It is of course much easier said than done.


Some of my work from the seminar is shown below. I made a total of 7 collages over the weekend. I felt very relaxed as I created these images. They depict specific fantasies and state of my unconscious mind at this point in time. I was able to explore these fantasies and states in my analysis. Every training analyst has to accumulate 300 hours of personal analysis by the end of the training. The 'rose pink' imagery represents the Egyptian Cobra to me or Uraeus. I have a huge interest in ancient Egyptian iconography. The Uraeus was a meaningul symbol to ancient Egyptians. It represented the Egyptian Goddess - Wadjet - and was also a protective symbol, check out the Golden Mask of Tutankhamun where a rearing Cobra is placed at the top of his gold headress. The Cobra is deeply meaningful to me so it wasn't entirely surprising that it emerged in my active imagination images. Meaning emerges from the process of engaging both your conscious and unconscious mind. It is a form of collaboration within yourself, accessing parts of yourself that aren't in your day to day self awareness. The unconscious reveals itself in active imagination so whatever you produce from the process is bound to be or at least should be considered, meaningful.

Zurich Lecture Series - Roderick Main, The Undoing of Enchantment: Mystery, Meaning and Metaphysics in the Work of CG Jung

Talking about meaning in a theoretical sense, I also attended a great lecture by my former dissertation supervisor, Roderick Main, the main guest at ISAP's Zurich Lecture Series https://www.isapzurich.com/en/special-events/zurich-lecture-series-as2021/


Roderick Main is a lecturer at the University of Essex. I did my MA in Jungian and post Jungian Studies at Essex. It was a pleasure to see him again and to hear about his latest book soon to be published. During the early twentieth century when Jung was developing his psychological ideas, one of the topics debated at the time was 'disenchantment'. There was a feeling that the world was devoid of meaning, genuine mystery or spritual or divine reality. In this lecture, Roderick Main looks at the various ways Jung's work can be seen as a response to this debate of disenchantment. Jungian psychology has often been criticised for it's 'spiritual' or 'quasi religious' air. That is is very much far from the truth. Analytical psychology is a useful way to provide a critical perspective on our social, political and environmental crises and can even be applied as an 'analytical' tool to better understand and address workplace issues and culture. Jungian analysis can also help us find meaning in our lives through dream analysis and active imagination. Having meaning in our lives gives us purpose, it motivates us and makes life's challenges more bearable.


What does 'meaning' mean for you? Have you found meaning in your life? Do you find meaning is missing from your life? Finding meaning is a common reason why people go into therapy or analysis. They may have everything they wanted, a partner, husband, wife, children, good job, house, car, savings, pension but something doesn't feel quite right. Analysis can be a good way to search for meaning in your life. The answer may surprise you and it may take some time but whatever the response from your unconscious, you will not be disappointed. Many people find meaning in their jobs or in the workplace. But is work the be all and end all of life? Is there more to life than work? Yes!


Meaning can be described as 'the quality ascribed to something that gives value'. The question of meaning was very important to Jung in particular to his work as a psychiatrist, therapist and depth psychologist. He stated that the locus of meaning is in the psyche or the unconscious and the psyche or unconscious alone can discern the meaning of what is experienced. This emphasises the need for reflection in one's life, to reflect psychologically on what is experienced in one's life. Jung also believed that meaning had a curative and restorative effect on the personality; attending to meaning can bea cure for emotional problems and neuroses. He also wrote that a person's experience of meaning is a numinous experience, a sense of awesomeness, mystery and at the same time terrifying. The interpretation of one's own meaning then becomes a myth, a lived or to be lived myth, that becomes a person's way of living their life according to a certain truth. Jung's work on meaning developed further to the idea of 'Synchronicity', a collaborative effort with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli.


Roderick Main gave a deeply informative lecture about 'Synchronicity'. Check out Roderick's book Synchronicity; The Rupture of Time for more information. Essentially, Synchronicity is two or more events paralleling each other, which have a shared meaning, is accompanied by an emotional charge. It is a non-rational pre-emotional meaning. I experienced a synchronistic event the other day which I blogged about https://www.nicholastoko.com/post/do-you-believe-in-meaningful-coincidences-synchronicities-or-destiny


As a psychic phenomena, Synchronicity is a difficult concept to explain. It is more than just a coincidence of events. Somehow an external event occurs which seems to reflect an inner situation. Jung set out four levels of meaning in the context of synchronicity:


[1] two parallel events exhibiting shared content or shared meaning [shared meaning]

[2] exhibited by the emotionality or numinosity of the experience [numinosity]

[3] the subjective meaning of the event with regards to the subject’s personal circumstances [personal circumstances]

[4] objective meaning of the event, the transcendental or archetypal meaning of the event.


The first three levels can be linked back to archetypal meaning [archetypal meaning]. Most of us can relate to the third level. It is perhaps a little more difficult to discern a synchronistic event i.e. Levels 1 and 2 therefore some of us will not even notice when it happens. Meaning is revealed by consciousness as it reflects on the unconscious. What this means is by accessing your unconscious, you will discover meaning but it cannot be expressed without reflection by your conscious ego in an objective rather than subjective way.


Haus CG Jung in Kusnacht

Following the lectures some of us attended an excursion to the home of CG Jung in Kusnacht on the outskirts of Zurich. The excursion was perfectly executed by Margo Estabrook Stienstra. Margo has an awesome background, a graduate Analyst from ISAP and a Swiss certified psychotherapist https://isapzurich.com/en/about/people-of-isap/isap-analysts/margot_estabrook_stienstra/


We had a delicious lunch before walking 15 minutes to Jung's home, now partly a museum and partly a home of his grandson and wife. I was very excited to take a photo outside the main entrance. It is a beautiful home set on the banks of Lake Zurich. The Jung's purchased the land in the 1900s and set about building their dream home.


We were shown round the house including his library and the room where he saw patients, pretty much left in the same state it was when he died in 1961. Jung found meaning in his inner world. He delved deep into his own unconscious mind and transformed himself and introduced analytical psychology to the world. His house is a lasting testament of his life and work. I was amazed at Jung's book collection. Thousands of books, many of which are hundreds of years old. He is a man who loved to read and to learn. He found meaning in his work and devoted it to the unconscious and developing a whole new field of psychotherapy.


Walking around his house, I felt a tinge of sadness. That eventually, everything comes to an end. Jung lived to the age of 81. He had a rich and vibrant life full of meaning but eventually it came to an end. I couldn't help but think, it is important to live in the here and now, to enjoy life, to find meaning and live it completely, and that life's dramas and crises are just temporary and ultimately, those dramas and crises just don't matter. My goal in life is to find meaning in everything I do. I am lucky. As a management consultant, I work with clients whose purpose is meaningful. My close friends and family are people who have cultivated 'meaning' with me and that has enriched our relationship. I am training as an analyst because I want to help other people find meaning in their lives. It was a great excursion. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos 'inside' the house but I hope you enjoy the 'external' photos.


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