Your own personal contribution to analytical psychology and psychoanalysis

SC: Now, in the concluding section of this interview, I want to look at your own contribution. Particularly at the father and at plurality. In your own words, what is your unique contribution to analytical psychology and to psychoanalysis at large?


• The schools of analytical psychology;

  • • The political turn in Jungian analysis;
  • • Challenging Jung’s positions on gender and ‘race, with special reference to Jews’ and ‘Africans’;
  • • My ‘new anatomy of spirituality’;
  • • Building bridges between the Jungians and groups of others.

SC: In your book Jung and the Post-Jungians (1985), you claimed that there are three main post-Jungian traditions - the ‘classical’, ‘developmental’ and ‘archetypal’. In my PhD thesis and in the introduction of this book I proposed it may now be time for a fourth: the plural. This approach, encompassing eclecticism and integration, is rooted in your work and aims to restore and enhance Jung’s work and analytical psychology at the core of depth psychology, by studying the psyche as plural and, therefore, as political. What is your take on this?

AS: It is a good idea. Nowadays, what I say is that within the professional mind of a contemporary Jungian analyst are elements of all the schools. A process or separation and division was needed back in 1985 (and, of course, long before). But now we can start to develop a plural version of the analyst, just as you depict in your question. Your language is very creative.

SC: That being said, I propose that this is, however, not the only new approach. I call this new approach: neo-Jungians. This is a heterogeneous, international, and multicultural group of scholars who, on the one hand, base their work on the teachings of Jung (and the post-Jungians), while on the other hand have opened their investigations beyond analytical psychology. Therefore, the neo-Jungians are able to balance the teachings of Jung and the post-Jungians with those teachings coming from other schools and traditions (both within and beyond psychoanalysis) in a mutual and plural, enriching exchange. In fact, contemporary neo-Jungians can be linked (although not limited) to relational (and post-relational) psychoanalysis, feminist psychoanalysis, the intersubjective approach, psychosocial studies, and cultural studies, to name a few. Thus, there are many ways to be Jungian (or to be a Jungian), and this is very good news. It signifies that analytical psychology is alive, and reflects the continuing interest in, as well as perhaps even rejuvenation of, Jung’s theory at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

AS: Whilst I could quibble at the prefix ‘neo’, the important thing is that you, a member of a different and younger generation, are also engaging with a central problematic of huge importance to me and to my generation: How to relate to Jung on the basis of knowledge and passion - and how to distance oneself when that is required.

SC: In 1989 you coined the term PLURAL PSYCHE. How do you see this concept 30 years after? We live in very rigid times now, where neopopulism is gaining power. Is plurality passe or could current rigidity and populism be considered a regression before development?

AS: Pluralism, as I developed it, is a way to hold the tensions between unity (like the state) and many-ness (like the various identity politics groups within the state). But the state is also an interest group within the state, if you see what I mean. It is not above or always bigger than its component parts. Jung got at this when he said that the Self was both the centre of the psyche and also its circumference. The Self, like the state, is BIG. But it is also a little thing within something bigger, which, paradoxically, we also call the state. Pluralism is not ‘the many’. It is the relations between ‘the one’ and ‘the many’.

SC: To put the understanding/study of the psyche in relation to politics was ambitious. Therefore, to claim that the psyche doesn’t constitute a marginal aspect in politics and policy making was innovative. You claimed that the psyche is a fundamental tool in politics. When/How did you come to that?

AS: Well, I wasn’t the first, as you know. Others went before, and so I demur from the question. But it has been and always will be a somewhat marginalized element in depth psychology.

SC: You underlined (1989: 1) that the plural psyche is a concept necessary to both analytical and depth psychology to ‘hold unity and diversity in balance’, because pluralism is an ‘instrument to make sure that diversity need not be a basis for schismatic conflict’. This is, in my opinion, what makes you a relational psychoanalyst ante litteram.

AS: You are right that I understand pluralism as a way, not to avoid conflict, but to prevent conflict from being only destructive.

SC: You have underlined that the psyche is an unavoidable tool for looking at politics. Was your message understood? I propose that it was not (although not because of your own failure) - because, to understand what you were trying to say, you have to have a deep understanding of the unconscious. And this is why, Blair preferred to follow Giddens’ advice and not to adventure to understand politics psychologically. I propose that his election as Prime Minister, inaugurated a long series of political shooting stars (e.g. Zapatero; Sarkozy; Trudeau; Renzi; Macron and perhaps even Obama), who are politicians that appeared on the international stage and that inspired change and transformation, although they colluded with the existing system instead of changing it radically. Does this mean that the system cannot be changed? It is puzzling that Clinton and Blair came into power to contrast (even compensate) Reagan and Bush Sr. and Thatcher, but failed to make chance happen and to build a new system that would resist in time. And now ... looking at politics today with Trump, Brexit, Salvini, Le Pen, Orban, Bolsonaro and the possible return of Kirshner’s dynasty at the Casa Rosada in Argentina, etc...

AS: I worked with Blair and his team between 1995 and 2001, and they understood the role of psychological thinking in the following areas: leadership, male issues such as structural unemployment, and public apologies (e.g. for the Irish potato famine and the Slave Trade).

1 also worked on both Obama election campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Again, the question of leadership, with special reference to leadership by a Black man. Also, he wanted to be ‘the father of the nation’ and 1 proposed that new variants of the father, such as a more nurturing, related and democratic father might be more use than the disciplinarian, patriarchal father we were all used to. I also valorized failure and this led to Obama saying ‘I’m not perfect’.

This is the first time I have allowed the detail of this work to appear in print

SC: Thank you for sharing this detail about your work with Blair and Obama here. I truly appreciate it. But you haven’t answered my question about what I call political shooting stars and the current emergence of populists or neo-fascist leaders.

AS: To be honest, I think that the question of ‘neo-fascist leaders’ was really well addressed in your Abstract for the Analysis and Activism 4 conference in Berkeley, California in October 2020, where the upcoming US Presidential Election was a key focus. Why don’t you paste that Abstract into this interview?

SC: I didn’t expect you to suggest that, but why not...:

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