Taugore Skip to content Skip to search. No trivia or quizzes yet. Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy Reality of the Psyche The Coniuctio, the Individuation, the bringing together of the opposites, the awareness by the conscious ego of the unconscious, bringing about edinber reciprocal reaction from the uncon A very good introduction into alchemy as a language describing the psyche and the process of Individuation. We rarely choose calcination consciously as a path, but knowing how it can forge us can give us hope when we find ourselves raked over the coals.
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Start your review of Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy Reality of the Psyche Write a review Shelves: books-i-own , jungian-psychology , reading-list My therapist, a Jungian analyst, recommended this book to me when I started referring to alchemical concepts in the therapy room. This triggered a renewed interest in the subject, and my cursory review of material about alchemy on the Internet gave me some basic ideas to My therapist, a Jungian analyst, recommended this book to me when I started referring to alchemical concepts in the therapy room.
This triggered a renewed interest in the subject, and my cursory review of material about alchemy on the Internet gave me some basic ideas to work with, but I yearned for a clearer map of the mysterious process of transformation that seemed to be unfolding within me.
To be clear, as academic as this book is in its style and substance, it is also very intuitive and mystical, and the map it provides is not linear. It does not describe a series of steps or stages, but rather different dynamics that can occur at any time and in any order. Edinger makes clear that each process tends to lead to another, and the way the spiral of transformation unfolds depends on the unique elements that make up an individual life.
Thus while Anatomy of the Psyche did not give me a fixed, universal standard to measure myself against, it did indeed deepen my understanding of my dreams and my psyche, showing me how to tune in to the elemental quality of what I am experiencing to understand what most needs my attention. In the examples Edinger uses, he also shows how these symbols and the dynamics to which they refer far predate the alchemical era, showing up in Greek myths and the Bible, among other places.
He then proceeds to its appearance in literature and religious myth, quoting poems and showing images from related illustrations and art. However, modern chemistry is so specific that its knowledge often is only useful in a limited, applied arena; it is harder to take away general principles from it. What the alchemists recorded was part of their attempt to uncover a universal process, and as such, points to dynamics of change that can be everywhere observed in nature, as well as in ourselves.
Application of intense heat quickly removes impurities, but can destroy all but the most resilient objects. We rarely choose calcination consciously as a path, but knowing how it can forge us can give us hope when we find ourselves raked over the coals. When one material is made liquid and dissolved into another, whichever liquid is of greater volume takes precedence in the resulting mix.
Edinger likens this to how we lose ourselves in identification with a person or group that has a more comprehensive perspective or complex mode of being than ourselves. While this often produces feelings of euphoria, an erotic merging that is the subject of so many songs and poems, it is also threatening to a small and brittle ego, and this fear of engulfment is often the source of great strife and conflict. People become frightened and aggressive when confronted with a viewpoint that could swallow their own.
Just as the process of solutio goes far in explaining many political and religious dynamics, so too does the process of sublimation, in which people flee from the particular and physical, subject as it is to decay, and recoil from what reminds them of the grossness of the body.
Yearning to identify with the eternal rather than the temporal, we reach for the intellect and the universal concepts at its command. To transcend the limitations of the personal, we employ abstraction; to overcome the power of instinct, we enlist reason. Our desire to rise above has powered some of our greatest religious and philosophical insights, just as our desire to perfect the world has driven some of our greatest innovations in law and technology, but our search for transcendence has also alienated us from ourselves.
It has driven the antagonism toward the carnal that is part of so many religious traditions and has fueled a powerful collective shadow. Edinger notes that "modern individuals have had entirely too much sublimatio"; usually, we require more help with landing than with taking off.
While sublimation is a necessary operation for those who are overidentified with the body and trapped by desire, most people have a greater need for coagulation, to come back down to earth and make peace with the particulars of their lives and their bodies. We are not abstractions, no matter how much we try to be. In the journey of transformation, every time we break ourselves down, the inevitable next step will be to reform ourselves. We then test this new form in the world to see how it stands up, and when it begins to restrict or block us, we must break it down again, but only so we can begin the process of building ourselves anew.
We must always coagulate to function. The earth we so despise is what we most need. Ultimately, any process of transformation is a process of death and rebirth. A substance is first "killed" in its original form, then subjected to decay and ferment. Its structure is collapsed and its constituent parts separate. We are intensely afraid of this decomposition and our resistance to it paradoxically becomes a source of self-destruction.
We do not wish to die, and in trying to avoid death, we neglect to live. Willingly subjecting ourselves to experiences that involve an inner death can help us come to understand bodily death and fear it less.
Spiritual awakenings can feel like death, as can individuation in therapy. Any time life requires of us a metamorphosis, it brings us through a death process, a shedding of an old form, persona, or way of living in the world. While the ego will never be able to accept its fragility and temporality, we can come to accept death in understanding that it is the only way for the world to be renewed. Nature teaches us that what appears to die is born again; instinct and memory keep alive the old ways of animal and human ancestors, and nature perpetually renews itself on a yearly feast of death.
Given time and more work, material appears in a new form, carrying in it something of what came before. The more easily we can shift from one perspective or mode to another, the more fully we can see.
The more of its countless faces and facets we can hold in consciousness at once, the more truly we can know the world. In trying to reduce things to an undifferentiated unity, we kill them, even as what motivates us is the desire for light, life, and good to conquer darkness, death, and evil.
We know the perfection of the world not by melting it down, but by becoming a clear mirror that can reflect it as it is. The opus is realized when sun and moon, male and female, all that is seemingly contradictory, solidifies into a form in which these elements are unified but distinct, neither heterogeneous nor with one subsumed in the other. Dark and light, male and female, good and evil, pure and impure--these dualities are in some ways a trick of the mind, but we can only see beyond them when we stop trying to reduce or eliminate them.
We only truly know ourselves when we stop excluding vital parts of ourselves from our conscious awareness and trapping them in our shadow. The individuated, realized person is conscious of her multiplicity. She is vital because none of her energies are blocked off. The lamb and the wolf in her do not have to battle. The wolf might eat the lamb sometimes, but she lets it be; the lamb is always reborn.
She has an unconscious, but she is open, and listens; she lets it bubble up into her conscious mind; she looks into the darkness and sees, and is not afraid.
Edward F. Edinger
Kagagami None of your libraries hold this item. Comments and reviews What are comments? It has driven the antagonism toward the carnal that is part of so many religious traditions and has fueled a powerful collective shadow. You learn about and work wit Edihger this book was very transformative for me.
Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy (Reality of the Psyche)