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

Updated: Nov 17, 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.

Saturday 30 October 2021. It is 11:18am. I am sat in a Starbucks on Bleicherweg in the heart of Zurich. It is fairly cold this morning, dull, grey, misty. Winter is on it's way. It's been a fairly mild Autumn both here and in the UK. It is usually much colder than this at this time of the year. The colours of the trees is just amazing. I want to head out to the mountains to take it all in but I have to work. I am well over 100% utilised with deadlines to meet so this trip to Starbucks is my only trip out of the flat until Monday. I need to get through my work, catch up on emails and do some studying. It is not easy training and working at the same time. I don't have the luxury of studying full time. I need to have a steady income to maintain my living standards. Besides, I don't want my life to become totally immersed in training as an Analyst and nothing much else besides that. I am really keen to get out to meet new people and to have a life here that is not only meaningful but involves other activities other than training as an analyst.

The danger of immersing yourself fully in analyst training is that you can begin to see the world through a Jungian lens and by that I mean, a total focus on analysing everything based on the theory of Jungian psychology. There is a break with the reality of the world and an almost dreamlike existence in the world, a pre-occupation with personal dreams and even analysing others and finding fault in their approach to the world which isn't psychological. If you are considering training as an analyst, it is important, in fact critical in my personal opinion, to maintain a grip on the outer world too. If you are familiar with Carl Jung you might know that he spent a number of years from 1912-1919 in the grip of his unconscious which he documented in what is now known as the Red Book. The Red Book is his documented diary of his encounter with his inner world which resulted in images, visions and encounters with inner figures. But at the same time, he also knew that he had to maintain a grip on the outer world. It was not an easy journey for him. He had to live, focus on his family and his marriage, work and do the usual day to day chores. It is a balance. A balance of the inner and outer world and finding that mid-point between the two realms of the psyche.

For me, the balance is partly a combination of training as an analyst and abundant work as a management consultant. I have other priorities in my life which I want to be at the forefront of what I do. I flew to London last Sunday morning. I am working with a client near Oxford which requires me to be on site at least once a month usually for 3-5 days during term time. I enjoy my short trips back to the UK. I feel ever so grateful for my friends there whom I miss. There is nothing like the term 'absence makes the heart grow stronger'. I have met some nice people here but I haven't quite connected with them in the way I do with my friends back home. I am developing a good relationship with one or two fellow students but for the most part, other students are friendly enough but it never really goes past 'greetings' and general chit chat. Plus analyst training tends to attract individuals who have particular interests in psychotherapy because of their own personal experiences, challenges and difficulties. I never set out to become a Jungian Analyst. I was drawn to the profession after spending hours in therapy myself. I found the process of therapy fascinating and the psychological ideas and concepts resonated with me. I think my motivations for friendship run much deeper than just Jungian psychology interests so I am hoping to widen my network beyond the training realm. I need an eclectic and diverse mix of friends with broad interests. This motivates and excites me.

So I spent the early part of this week working in the UK. I left Zurich on Sunday morning. I had a delicious breakfast in the British Airways [BA] lounge which has great views of the airport. I returned to Zurich on Wednesday morning in time for my afternoon lecture and analysis. It was a misty arrival into Zurich. BA used a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the flight to Zurich which was a pleasant surprise to me. I asked a member of the crew why they were using a long range aircraft for short haul and apparently there is a lot of demand for short haul travel and not enough short haul aircraft. I thoroughly enjoyed the Club Europe experience this time round because of the type of aircraft used.

I went straight to ISAP from the airport. However, when I arrived at ISAP, I realised that I had a seminar at 1pm which was not in my diary. I had arranged analysis for 3pm but the seminar which I thought started at 4pm was due to start at 3pm. I had double booked myself and completely missed another seminar. This was the signal I needed to realise that I am overwhelmed by my workload. I decided to pull out of the seminar which I forgot about and focus on reading instead which on reflection was the best approach for me. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my analysis and head to the seminar. I am usually on top of my diary but clearly on that day, it was simply not the case.

I attended two seminars this week. The first one was The Psychopathological Assessment run by Christiana Ludwig. The seminars take place weekly for the next six weeks. The seminar introduces students to the AMDP or the manual for the assessment and documentation of psychopathology in psychiatry. The seminar trains students to recognise, explore, name, understand and document psychopathological symptoms and is a preparation for the Propaedeuticum Exam 'Fundamentals of Psychiatry and Psychopathology'. In another world or time, I would have trained as a Psychiatrist. Instead my life veered towards training as a pilot, studying business at university and then working as a freelance management consultant. So I am very excited about attending this seminar. I really enjoyed the teaching style of Christiana Ludwig which was both informative and engaging. She also has a particular interest in us as individuals which is always a good sign of someone who is open to others and meeting their needs as students. We explored some of the symptoms of psychopathology throughout the class and were introduced to the AMDP book in both the English and German version.

Analysts do not work like Psychiatrists. Analysts do not treat psychopathy unless appropriately trained to do so but they must be able to recognise psychopathological symptoms and refer to the patient to the relevant services as and when necessary. The AMDP was conceived of as part of working group of German, Swiss and Austrian psychiatrists. Jung himself trained and worked as a Psychiatrist at the Burgholzli Psychiatric Hospital in Zurich. It is here that Jung worked on the world famous Word Association experiments and his discovery of the 'complex'. A complex is a collection of ideas and images characterised by a highly charged emotional tone and derived from one or more archetypes. When a complex is triggered in an individual it contributes to their behaviour and results in some kind of affect which may be conscious or unconscious. The discovery of the idea of the complex was important to Jung, he even considered naming his psychology, 'complex psychology'. Jung was able to link the personal and archetypal experience of the individual .

Jung was able to establish his credibility as a psychiatrist through his empirical work at the Burgholzli. He advanced the work of his mentor, Eugene Bleuler, by carrying out the word association experiments on patients at the hospital. The idea of the complex was developed via the use of the word association experiment. Another way to understand the complex is to see it as a autonomous aspects of ourselves which remain conscious or unconscious. The complex can be so powerful as to possess or overwhelm the personality resulting in behaviours or affects which will appear as abnormal or unfamiliar to others. Some therapies actually encourage individuals to dialogue with the other parts of our personality. Sometimes called splinter psyches it is a part of ourself that we have disowned or hidden for whatever reason. These parts of ourselves become autonomous and also want to live so in time they can become disruptive to the individual psyche. If they become deeply repressed it can lead to symptoms of neurosis an even worse it can also lead to psychopathological symptoms or serious psychiatric disorders. Therein lies the boundaries between the role of an analyst and psychiatrist. An analyst can treat the symptoms of a neurosis, however if not appropriately trained, they should refer a patient to a psychiatrist for the treatment of psychopathological symptoms.

Since the inception of the AMDP, its members have conceptualised and developed a system for the documentation and assessment of personal history and psychopathological and somatic symptoms in a computer-readable format. The AMDP is used around the world and has generated an extensive databased of clinical knowledge and expertise useful for comparative analysis and research purposes. The AMDP establishes an internationaly unified and standardised approach to psychiatric diagnosis and research. The findings in the manual are based on the empirical analyses of the documented case histories of more than 2,500 patients. The seminar is a great starting point for me to begin to discern this boundary more clearly and I look forward to the next 5 seminars.

I also attended a lecture called The Favourite Picture of My Childhood by Marianne Peier. The lecture deals with the personal aspects of the child's becoming aware of pictures [of artists] at the parental home and with the emotions connected with these images. Why was a picture chosen as the favourite one? Elements of how we look at and interpret pictures, biographical and developmental background, as well as working with creative resources is discussed including case material.

We explored the lecturer's favourite picture by considering the questions in this photo of a lecture slide. Thank you to Amy Katz for allowing me to post this photo on my blog, she is the individual facing the slide. Given the lecturer's personal material presented during the lecture, I can't say much about what happened during the lecture but I will have an opportunity to present my favourite picture at a follow up seminar at the end of November. Look out for that particular blog where I will go into a lot more detail about the approach to the psychological interpretation of pictures and you will have the opportunity to see some of the pictures that have had a huge impact on my life and propelled my journey to becoming a Jungian Analyst.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please do get in touch if you have any questions. I'll be back next week with another edition of 'What's it like to train as an Analyst? What is Jungian Psychology?


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