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17th February 2001 text download this article
text Registering psychotherapy as an institutional neurosis: or, compounding the estrangement between soul and world
Michael Whan

The Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists

text text
Extracted from European Journal of Psychotherapy, Counselling & Health Vol 2 No 3 December 1999 pp.309-323


The movement towards registration of psychotherapists, especially towards statutory registration is under way across Europe. This is seen as a way of 'protecting the public' against abusive and/or incompetent psychotherapists. In what follows I argue that the dominant ethos of contemporary psychotherapy is based upon a metaphysics of subjectivism and that registration will reinforce this coercively through the law. My concern is that this subjectivistic notion of psychotherapy compounds the estrangement of soul (psyche) and world; that it continues, by way of rationalization and bureaucratization, the process of the 'disenchantment of the world'. Psychology and psychotherapy are then 'logically' constituted out of this rupture between the psyche and nature. This closes our psychological consciousness off from a deeper ecological awareness and from a critical self-reflection on the way this rupture is maintained in psychological and psychotherapeutic theory and practice.

Keywords:        soul, world, mystery, disenchantment, registration, subjectivism

the fully enlightened earth radiates disaster triumphant. The program of the Enlightenment was the disenchantment of the world; the dissolution of myths.
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer

For all the while that psychotherapy has succeeded in raising the consciousness of human subjectivity, the world in which all subjectivities are set has fallen apart. Breakdown is in a new place.
James Hillman

In this critique, I am raising the following question: whether the institutionalization of psychotherapy by organizations which seek to limit the practice of psychology and psychotherapy by legal means to accredited practitioners and 'officially' prescribed forms of theory and practice is not maintaining and reinforcing through that self-same law, an internally split and splitting (psycho-) 'logic', namely, the rupture between the soul and the world? This question reflects what I perceive as happening to psychotherapy with regard to 'registration' across Europe, and, in particular, in the United Kingdom. Registration is usually championed in the name of 'protecting the public' against abusive and exploitative practitioners, against 'wild' psychotherapists, to borrow from Freud's notorious phrase. The argument goes that entry into the 'profession' of psychotherapy should be via accredited training organizations, which have themselves been scrutinized by larger 'umbrella' bodies. The latter set the training 'requirements' and 'standards' in terms of what is conceived as 'good practice': this covers 'theory', 'practice' (often understood as 'application', 'technique'), and 'ethics'. The focus of this question of registration mostly concerns the practitioners and would-be practitioners, not psychology or psychotherapy itself. Although there may be some criticism of certain 'ideas' and 'practices', by and large, psychology and psychotherapy as such do not get fundamentally questioned. Further, the push for registration, as implied in my question, goes beyond a 'voluntary' register, it seeks the force of the law.

In my experience, the wider cultural, social, as well as psychological, meanings of registration are largely undiscussed in the public forum. Indeed, apart from seeing the obvious 'protectionism', the 'territorial imperative', in such a legal institutionalization - that is, ensuring control over the psychotherapy 'market', its economy - apart from a few dissident voices around issues such as 'autonomy' and 'pluralism' - themselves very worthy counter-arguments - there appears little deeper critical reflection or debate. So, in raising this question publicly, I am concerned with what is happening culturally. I am not interested in a politics of personality: that is, I am not attacking individuals, questioning personal motives, but trying to grasp the nettle of ideas, of social and cultural trends.

The notion of psychotherapy from which I offer this critique is probably not one that conforms to the usual conception. Most psychotherapies, as I understand them, are predicated on one or other idea of subjectivity and a drive to 'self-mastery'. In this sense, the 'proper' domain of psychotherapeutic endeavour is directed towards the subjective, towards a subjectivized concept of interiority, and to the notional assertion of subjectivity. Such modalities of psychotherapy are thus predicated upon a metaphysics of subjectivism. As to the idea of psychotherapy from which I speak, I hope this will reveal itself over the course of the next few pages. Essentially, though, I am questioning the notion of subjectivity as the 'proper' or sole domain of psychotherapy. Rather, I would differentiate the psyche from the human subject. By this I mean the psyche or soul as an autonomous factor which, though certainly experienced subjectively, is not exclusively of it. Though I voice my critique largely from within the tradition of Jungian and archetypal psychology, the position I'm taking finds resonances in the 'new paradigm' thinking, as with, say, the physicist David Bohm. At the end of his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, he states the '[our] overall approach has thus brought together questions of the nature of the cosmos, of matter in general, of life, and of consciousness'. These, Bohm suggests, are to be considered as 'projections of a common ground' (Bohm 1998: 212). Likewise, I am raising the problematical idea of soulfulness as part of the nonhuman world as well as the human one, as underlying both; perhaps a position ec-centric in relation to the predominant (centralizing) ethos of modern psychotherapy and psychology.

In articulating my argument against statutory registration, I want to set two notions side by side. On the one hand, I shall 'return to Greece', to one of the Presocratics, in order to think psychologically by 'thinking Greek'. Alongside this, I shall refer to Max Weber's thesis concerning the dominant cultural form of the modern world, namely, its 'disenchantment'. Between these two notions, I perceive a polemos, a polemical relationship, between the 'ancient' and the 'modern': the modern as seeking to overcome and truly free itself from the ancient and its archaic legacies. At stake in this is the conception of the psyche as subjective only, or whether we open psychology and psychotherapy up to what used to be called the idea of the World Soul, the Anima Mundi. I realize this is an immensely difficult claim, but, for all its problematical nature, I would stand by the worth of struggling with it; further, that this struggle is at the heart of what psychotherapy is about. Out of this comes the question as to how we conceive psycho-logy, the logos of the psyche. And, following on from this, how we conceive psycho-therapy; that is, in its original meaning as 'attending' or 'waiting upon' (therapeia) the 'soul' (psyche).

Put another way, my question is about whether the form that psychology and psychotherapy take - 'form' in the sense of their 'form of consciousness' (Giegerich 1998:141; Berry 1982:187-98) - more fully express the soul's movement and life. Or do the institutionalized modes of psychology and psychotherapy that 'voluntary' or 'legal' registration necessitate confine the psyche in a untenable way? Specifically, I would contend, they hold psychology and psychotherapy to one or other form of rationalistic, positivistic, secular and humanistic epistemology; to a mode of subjectivism which stands over and against the world as an 'object', as soulless. To demonstrate this, I will draw from some of the writings of Freud and Jung, not because the notional rupture between the soul (psyche) and world is confined only to their psychologies, but because they well exemplify the problematical nature of depth psychology in relation to this question. Jung, in particular (the psychological tradition I am most familiar with), recognizes and gives voice to these difficulties in his writings. This question implicates the relationship and relatedness (eros) of psychology and psychotherapy to the world. It demands a reflection on the very logic of psychology and psychotherapy. To ignore the necessity for such reflection and its cultural implications is to compound a cultural resistance to ecological awareness and grief - thus adding to the ecological problems of the world - which otherwise could be more fully reaching the hearts and minds of us all. Hence, we could practise and think a psychology and psychotherapy more sensitive and attentive to the world, to the afflicted realm of nature both within and around ourselves. But what registration effectively does is to place a boundary of legalized control and definition around the notion of the psyche and those permitted to work with it. This works against a more ecologically sensitive psychology and psychotherapy.

Further, from the perspective of the Jungian archetypal psychological tradition, this is contrary to its fundamental psycho-logic. For the psyche is essentially the unknown as it enters into the intimacy of our lives. As Jung himself puts it in Memories, Dreams, Reflections: 'We know that something unknown, alien, does come our way' (1963: 336). And elsewhere he wrote of the unconscious as 'not this thing or that; it is the Unknown as it immediately affects us' (1977a: 68). If this notion of the psyche as the unbeknown is truly related to and its psychological implications understood, how can an exclusionary boundary be placed around the psyche? There is an even older precedent for this vision of the psyche. Probably the earliest 'psychological' statement in the West issues from Heraclitus, who voiced the experience of the soul: 'You would not find out the boundaries of the soul, even by travelling along every path; so deep a measure does it have' (Kirk and Raven 1977:205). How then can one meaningfully practise an ecologically minded therapy of the soul, if it has already been legally, institutionally, appropriated by a psychotherapy 'profession'? What notion of the psyche and psychological work is supposedly being professed?

Essentially, the answer to this is a notion confining the psyche to the 'consulting room', one in which psychological attention is conflated with the 'clinical gaze'. In his Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche points out the meaning behind this tactic of reducing the psyche to the known: 'Psychological explanation. - To trace something unknown back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying and gives moreover a feeling of power. Danger, disquiet, anxiety attend the unknown - the first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states' (1978: 51). What Nietzsche is speaking of here is a psychology under the sway of the spirit of positivism, its aim precisely the disavowal of the experience of the psyche, which presences essentially as a disquieting enigma. What we deal with in psychology and psychotherapy are the images and symbols which mediate the experience of psychic reality. The phenomenologically, through how it appears, its imaginal forms. Consequentially, these are not to be taken literally, but metaphorically. What they refer to remains in itself ultimately -unknown, though it can be sensed, felt, dreamt, lived, experienced. To admit to the psyche's enigmatic nature exposes a theoretical embarrassment, a problem of grounds. For Jungian psychology and the practice of psychotherapy that derives from it, then, the psyche is a deeply problematical notion, like Bottom's dream in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, it is bottomless! Hence, to follow this positivistic line is to establish a representation of the psyche at the heart of which lies a fundamental repression: namely, a repression of its unknownness.

There are further consequences. Since the psyche is both the 'subject' and 'object' of psychology, the psyche itself in-forms the very fundaments of psychological theorizing. Indeed, 'theorizing' is just another expression of the psyche: 'in any psychological discussion we are not saying anything about the psyche... the psyche is always speaking about itself (Jung 1969:269). Thus, the psyche cannot be wholly objectified in representational speech and thought. Understood in these terms, there is a crisis of representation in psychotherapy which cannot be avoided, a chronic crisis which belongs to its very logic. The soul as the unknown in our lives cuts right into, negates, any self-certain theoretical claims. For the nature of the psychological subject' is unlike the 'subject-matter' of the natural sciences, since psychology and psychotherapy cannot rid themselves of either the subjective or the psychic. They are intrinsic to their very constitution. Every psychological approach is essentially a 'subjectively conditioned confession' (Jung 1977a: 160). What William James called the 'personal equation' is to be found in all psychological thought and practice. The institutionalizing process of registration therefore basically reifies, ratifies and legitimates a 'theory' and 'practice' - in other words, as 'objective' - what is 'subjective' by the very nature of being psychological. This is the logical predicament which remains hidden beneath the legitimatizing functions of professionalization and registration. Psychotherapy thereby conceals its very essence, creating through the law a spurious cohesion, seeming 'rational' grounding and apparent coherence. This is skin-deep only, a 'public persona', and hides from the public the problematical nature of psychology and psychotherapy. Further, in concealing the mystery of the psyche at the heart of psychotherapy, the imaginal basis of psychotherapy is obfuscated and overlaid with literalistic discourses which are drawn upon to claim a privileged authority. Ultimately, the recourse to law is the recourse to coercion, to state power. Registration is the logical and historical culmination of this substitution and reflects the loss of psychotherapy's inner authority, derived from the voice of the soul itself. Authority now has to come from some other source, namely, from the law, which offers it in a non-psychological form: registration. The only valid claim the psychotherapist has in his or her work concerns whether or not he or she speaks and listens psychologically, nothing else, no other source, and that speaking and listening has to risk the vicissitudes of dialogue with the patient and the world at large. It cannot justifiably bolster itself legalistically. This would inherently distort the dialogue and dialectic between psychotherapist and patient. It re-introduces a Hegelian 'master-slave' relation, in which the psychotherapist's speech and thought alone carries the statutory power or self- and other-recognition.

What is happening then to this notion of the soul's mystery? Basically, we have subjectivized it. Instead of experiencing it in the sense of the mystery of life, of being - as an ontological mystery - we have turned it into either an empirical or logical mystery: what today we speak of as 'the unconscious'. By empirical mystery, I mean one that is, in principle, knowable, that can be intuitively or methodologically uncovered, as, for instance, through the scientific experiment or as in psychoanalysis through interpretation. Here we would perhaps talk rather of demystification. The notion of a logical mystery expresses itself, for instance, in the idea of a 'transcendental subject', that is the subject to which all things have to be 're-presented', the 'representational subject', but which, a priori, transcends a full self-knowledge. It cannot, as it were, get round to the back of itself in order to see itself seeing. It remains the condition of knowledge, but it cannot be completely transparent to itself.

Hence, registration and its attendant organizational structures and processes are a contemporary form of what Friedrich Schiller and, after him, Max Weber called the 'disenchantment of the world'. Fundamentally, this comprises the increasing rationalization and bureaucratization of everything. It is the programme of the Enlightenment, whereby rationalism comes to dominate all spheres of human and natural life. Thus, in establishing psychotherapy as a 'profession', in subjecting and subjugating 'theory' and 'practice' to standardizing measures, to socially and intellectually approved forms, the idea of the soul and the ways of attending to it (maieutics) are being increasingly rationalized, and, in terms of the necessary organizational structures and processes of registration, bureaucratized. only in this way can regulation function. Hence the many have to be subordinated to the one. To claim any grounds for registration, notions of the psyche, psychology and psychotherapy have to be formulated in modes of thought and language that are rationally and bureaucratically 'accountable'. That is, they have to be explainable in a way that can be attested legally, have to be said in terms that affirm the languages of law, government, administration and the prevailing socio-economic culture. (Witness the effects of the private insurance industry on the practice of psychotherapy!) Can you imagine, for example, the following definition of the task of psychology being inscribed in the constitution of a public psychotherapy regulatory body? It's from Jung and states how he understands the psychological vocation as being 'fundamentally nothing but attempts, ever renewed, to give an answer to the question of the interplay between the "here" and "hereafter"' (1963: 299). Intellectually, such a definition makes a profound sense in terms of the traditions of thought and of the experiences that influenced Jung. Of course, anyone has the intellectual right to argue against such a definition of psychotherapy, and many, no doubt, would certainly not subscribe to it. Whatever, there is the freedom to accept or reject it. No one has inscribed a definition in law. Dialogue, debate, dialectics, are all possible when intellectual liberty is maintained. Given one or other definition, even if such a definition can be arrived at, the force of law would kill this fundamental freedom in one stroke. It would kill off dialogue, and hence would be a form of suicide; for psychotherapy is nothing if it is not a dialogue, a dialectic. An attempt to define psychotherapy in terms that would accommodate legal, governmental and administrative means would probably have to speak in a 'clinical', 'positivistic' and 'humanistic' form; in other words, one that can give an account of itself in terms of calculative, instrumental reason. Such a definition aims precisely to eliminate the notion of the psyche's mystery and to substitute for it a rationalized concept. The problem with this, however, is that, if the experience of the psyche, the soul, moves us into a place of the unknown, but imaginally perceived mystery, how can we fully know what psychology and psychotherapy are? But we do make just this assumption when we encapsulate it in rationalistic formulations, for such a knowing is implied by it. If, on the other hand, we accept the mystery of the soul, then the psychological project(tion) cannot be completely accounted for; its cultural direction (teleology) becomes an open question, a dialogue, as it were, with an as-yet-unknown future.

The process of disenchantment happens though not from the 'outside' alone, it is inherent within modern psychology and psychotherapy themselves. Indeed, psychology has been one of the major cultural products of the Enlightenment programme of rationalization. As will be evident when, shortly, I focus on Jung's thought, he was very aware of this consequence as an outcome of psychology. What statutory registration further does then is to intensify this tendency within psychology and psychotherapy, to reinforce and ossify them in the 'status quo', in its rationalized concepts of both. Fundamental to this disenchanting logic is the divorce between the notion of the soul and the world. The inward turn of psychology and psychotherapy is accomplished by a turning away from the world, and this turning away becomes compounded by professional and legal structures. Psychology and psychotherapy become petrified! Underlying the question of registration are many anxieties that I have rarely heard psychologists and psychotherapists address in public, indeed, just as rarely in private. What about economic anxieties?

To explore this notion of a split between the psyche and the world in more detail, I want to turn now to some of Freud's statements. First, this from The Future of an Illusion, in which he writes:

F or the principal task of civilization, its raison d'etre, is to defend us against nature.. .. There are the elements, which seem to mock at all human control; the earth which quakes and is torn apart and buries all human life and its works; water, which deluges and drowns everything in a turmoil; storms, which blow everything before them; there are diseases, which we have only recently recognized as attacks by other organisms; and finally there is the painful riddle of death, against which no medicine has yet been found, nor probably will be. With these forces nature rises up against us, majestic, cruel, and inexorable; she brings to our mind once more our weakness and helplessness, which we thought to escape through the work of civilization.
(Freud 1961a: 15-16)

In the following passage, Freud speaks directly of turning away from the world, implying that psychoanalysis is a scientific technique in the human self-defence against and attack on nature:

Against the dreaded external world one can only defend oneself by some kind of turning away from it, if one is to solve the task by oneself. There is, indeed, another and better path: that of becoming a member of the human community and with the help of a technique guided by science, going over to the attack against nature and subjecting her to the human will. Then one is working with all for the good of all. But the most interesting methods of averting suffering are those that seek to influence our own organism.
(Freud 1961b: 26)

In Freud's writings, the inward turn of psychoanalysis is predicated on a polarization between 'civilization' and 'nature'. The relationship to nature is conceived as a struggle in which psychoanalysis, as the application of a psychological scientific rationalism, helps humankind to preserve itself against nature's overwhelming might. Psychoanalysis therefore at its very inception takes its stand over and against nature as an 'inexorable' force of destruction. The work of psychotherapy and psychology, in this attitude, at the level of civilization and culture, is to protect the psyche against the natural world. The psyche and nature are understood through an oppositional fantasy, and the very logics of psychology and psychotherapy, at least in the analytic tradition, are born out of this opposition. Registration then furthers this internal logic of splitting in the way that it, through the medium of the law, literalizes and acts out the actual segregation of psychotherapy and psychology in an exclusive enclosure of 'professionalism'. In the way this kind of thinking and so-called 'scientific technique' are upheld as 'models' of analytic propriety, as exemplars, any attempt to think through and practise a psychology and psychotherapy which begins to take more account of the world, indeed conceive of the notion of the soul in a more worldly way, would be dismissed (Hillman 1992). For it would transgress the boundaries that the law has established around psychology and psychotherapy - which is to keep them as much apart from things as possible. It is not enough to think of nature, the world, as a content, in one's theory, even to talk about them in one's practice -though this is of value as a way of opening up thought, imagination and feeling - it is the form of psychological awareness and practice that would be changed if we took such a thinking to heart and allowed it to re-inform us in the work.

The connection between the inward turn and turning away from the world is one deeply rooted in the history of the West. For Jung its basic roots lay in the metaphysics of Christianity. Of this, he wrote:

The gulf that Christianity opened out between nature and spirit enabled the human mind to think not only beyond nature but in opposition to it, thus demonstrating its divine freedom, so to speak. This flight from the darkness of nature's depth culminates in trinitarian thinking, which moves in a Platonic, 'supracelestial' realm.
(Jung 1977b: 176)

This gap between spirit and nature manifests in the languages and practices of Christian spirituality which, in the main, literalize inwardness, conflating the notion of soul with that of human subjectivity. Interiority comes to mean human subjectivity. In his Confessions, St Augustine describes this opposition between Christian spiritual inwardness and the world: 'And men go forth to admire the high mountains and the great waves of the sea and the broad torrent of the rivers and the vast expanse of the ocean and the orbits of the stars, and to turn away from themselves' (1943: X, VIII). Here, Augustine is speaking against the pagan awe and worship of nature as a deflection from Christian interiority, the soul and truth. He exhorts elsewhere: 'Do not go outward; return within yourself. In the inward man dwells the truth' (De Vera Religione XXXIX: 72). This inward turn, the shaping power of Christian interiorization, led to 'a new and independent relation to nature whereby the foundation was laid for natural science and technique... the world has not only lost its God... but also to some extent has lost its soul as well' (Jung 1996[1991]:74). Jung understands the notion of the psyche as a subjective interiority which developed through an historical process of interiorization, culminating in the emergence of depth psychology and the psychological attitude: 'the psyche has attained its present complexity by a series of acts of introjection. Its complexity has increased in proportion to the despiritualization of nature' (1969: 25, italics added). Thus psychological awareness, psychology, is bought at the price of nature's loss of soul. The turn towards the soul is accompanied by the 'disenchantment of the world'. It is a turn that gathers force in Christian spirituality, but which continues in the work of psychology and psychotherapy. Psychology carries onward the legacy of Christian inwardness literally in its conception of interiority as human subjectivity, binding the notion of the soul to that of the human over and against a soulless nature. Further, declares Jung, it is the task of a psychology of consciousness to 'de-psychize nature', to 'take back all archaic projections' (1964: 67). The two key psychological concepts which both reflect and reinforce psychology's splitting logic, the rupture between the psyche and world, which continue the process of the despiritualization of nature - as can be discerned in these various quoted writings of Jung, and evident with even less self-questioning in the psychoanalytic tradition - are those of 'interiority' and 'projection. The logic of both these ideas arises from the notion of the psyche's separation from nature, separation from the world. They are based upon a conception of being in terms of the 'subjective' as distinct from the 'objective', of 'subject' from 'object', of the psyche as a 'container': the Cartesian mode of consciousness. This is the spirit in which much contemporary psychology and psychotherapy both understand themselves and therefore see their task, and in which the concepts of the 'inner world' and of 'projection' play such a legislative role.

But if, as I am arguing, psychology and psychotherapy are undergoing a 'breaking down' of the notion of the psyche as confined to a clinical conception, to the consulting room, then their task is to reflect freely upon themselves, their thought and practices. Indeed, I would say this 'deconstruction', this 'negation', is happening whether we go with it or not. The task is to examine how the prevailing 'logic' of psychology and psychotherapy confines the movement of the soul in its relation to the world. We need to be psychologically aware of our psychology, and to be able to practice a therapy upon our psychotherapy. This task cannot be confined to a prescribed group, since culturally attention to the soul in terms of the world belongs to all those who concern themselves with this predicament of psycho-logy, with the logos of the psyche. The name 'therapeutae' refers to, honours, all who attend the soul, who undertake soul-work, whosoever and wheresoever they are.

I shall look at two examples which open up the question of a psychology of nature. The context of the first one is that of the 'mad God' of Europe. In the following passage, Jung connects the loss of nature's soul with a 'madness' in the Western psyche:

For the first time since the dawn of history we have succeeded in swallowing the whole of primitive animism into ourselves, and with it the spirit that animated nature. Not only were the gods dragged down from their planetary spheres and transformed into chthonic demons, but, under the influence of scientific enlightenment, even this band of demons, which at the time of Paracelsus still frolicked happily in the mountains and woods, in rivers and human dwelling-places, was reduced to a miserable remnant and finally vanished altogether. From time immemorial, nature was always filled with spirit. Now, for the first, we are living in a lifeless nature bereft of gods. ... Just when people were congratulating themselves on having abolished all spooks, it turned out that instead of haunting the attic or old ruins the spooks were flitting about in the heads of apparently normal Europeans.
(Jung 1964: 211)

This transformation of our concept of nature was the work of 'the scientific enlightenment'. Animated nature has been replaced by the concept of nature of the natural sciences. Physics now gives us our psychology of nature, not 'Paganism' (Giegerich 1997:9). But does psychology, in its turn, have something to say to the natural sciences such as physics?

Psychology and psychotherapy have to enter into the predicament, and this means into the domain of the science - in actuality, they already are in it, though, perhaps, psychologists and psychotherapists have not yet caught up with what is happening. In this way, they enter into the question of the psycho-logy of nature, of soul and the world. But, Jung asserts, psychology itself has to undergo a transformation, in order for its work of deepening our awareness of what psychology is:

psychology actualizes the unconscious urge to consciousness. It is, in fact, the coming to consciousness of the psychic process, but it is not, in the deeper sense, an explanation of this process, for no explanation of the psychic can be anything other than the living process of the psyche itself. Psychology is doomed to cancel ['aufheben'] itself out as a science and therein precisely it reaches its scientific goal. Every other science has so to speak an outside; not so psychology, whose object is the inside subject of all science.
(Jung 1977a: 223)

Jung's remarks do two things. First, they annul the character of psychological theory as 'explanation'. As pointed out earlier, all psychological statements are themselves the psyche speaking of itself. By what exclusive authority, legitimation, then can the language of psychology and psychotherapy be legally restricted to a few practitioners - as if no-one else had the authority of soul worth listening to on psychological or psychotherapeutic matters. Second, they point to the work of psychology upon itself, if it is to engage with physics on the question of the psychology of nature. Its work has to do with 'the inside subject' of all the sciences. That is to say, with both the movement of interiorization and interiority, but deliteralized from a conception in terms of human subjectivity.

This work of awareness, as already said, requires the freedom of dialogue as an expression of the movement of the soul. Prescription and proscription resist this dialogical movement. Again, the cultural, social and political conditions, in which this work happens, are blocked by the advent of registration, the essential restriction of dialogue and authority to an 'accredited' few and the prescinding of all the 'other' voices which have something to say on these matters. All of this keeps the notion of soul literalized as human subjectivity and, through the logic and organization of registration, preserves the split between soul and the world.
Let me end with the second example, a brief 'case study' taken from Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections. In it, Jung speaks of his father as:

a sufferer stricken with an Amfortas wound, a 'fisher king' whose wound would not heal - that Christian suffering for which the alchemists sought the panacea. I as a 'dumb' Parsifal was the witness of this sickness during the years of my boyhood... he had literally lived right up to his death the suffering prefigured and promised by Christ, without ever becoming aware that this was a consequence of the imitatio Christi. He regarded his suffering as a personal affliction. . . he did not see it as the suffering of the Christian in general.
(Jung 1963: 215)

As Jung points out in this passage, though his father's pain was personally suffered, individually experienced, it was essentially impersonal, collective. In this sense then the suffering has already transcended the boundaries of the consulting room. It can be shared there, but it is fundamentally the whole Christian realm and the logos of its pathos (pathology) that enters through the suffering patient.
The imagery of the wounded 'fisher king' further illuminates the character of this suffering in a way especially relevant in this time of ecological catastrophe. It also indicates the roots of this crisis in the relationship to nature, namely, the turn away from the world in Christian spirituality and in its modern, secular legacy. The development of Christian spirituality and the enormous mental accomplishments it inaugurated, the freeing of consciousness it fostered, led simultaneously to an estrangement from nature, the world of chthonic instinctuality. The alienation from nature underlying Christian spirituality represents a stage in the dialectic of its disenchanting logic. The suffering 'fisher king' and the surrounding 'wasteland' of his kingdom can be understood then as the suffering of nature experienced individually, as an ecological grief If we interpret this grief only as personal suffering, looking for causes in a 'clinical history', we completely deny its connection to the affliction of nature. If, however, we acknowledge the suffering as related to what is happening in the natural world, namely, as having an ecological dimension, that is the concern of us all. Then a therapy of the soul becomes a cultural task and one that cannot be confined to a cultural elite:

For today:

The activation of an active, conscious soul life in the face of the present world is necessary and unavoidable. We see grieving all around us, for this condition is us. Our Earth, this source of love, is dying.... As long as this is denied, what belongs to the world will continue to be interpreted as only personal psychological suffering, when in fact it is at the same time a world suffering.
(Sardello 1996: 92-3)

Such an acknowledgement takes us beyond the machinations of legal registration and professionalism, which would reinforce the 'inward turn'. For this only increases the solipsism of consulting-room psychology, intensifies the narcissism of the psychotherapy 'profession', and keeps soul-work in a kind of 'virtual reality', a simulation or parody of itself. No matter how perfect it makes its 'codes of practice and ethics', its 'theory' and 'practice', psychotherapy will be swallowed by its own power driven shadow. Instead, as therapists we need to turn outward - or rather, follow the turn of the soul's images and logic into the world - not holding psychology and psychotherapy cognitively captive in the literal an literalizing interiority of the consulting room; the notion of the soul legally confined to the clinical, personalistic and positivistic idea of human subjectivity, one in which the soul is given over into the hands of an exclusive supervising band of 'experts', themselves over-supervised and regulated in their efforts to police the psyche and its attendants. Where the latter prevails, so would everyone be further, both personally and culturally, alienated from the experience of soul. Its interpretation would become the legal right only of the sect of 'psychotherapists', and the problem of its worldliness forsaken beneath the welter of 'professional politics and misappropriation.


Augustine, Saint (1943) The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. F. J. Sheed, London; quoted in C. G. Jung (1954) The Practice of Psychotherapy Essays on the Psychology of the Transference and Other Subjects, Collected Works 16.
Augustine, Saint De Vera Religione; quoted in C. Taylor (1992) Sources of Self The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Berry, P. (1982) 'The training of shadow and the shadow of training', in Echo's Subtle Body: Contributions to an Archetypal Psychology, Dallas: Spring Publications.
Bohm, D. (1998) Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London: Routledge.
Freud, S. (1961a) The Future of an Illusion, New York: Norton; quoted in R. Sardello (1996) Love and the Soul: Creating a Future for Earth, New York HarperCollins.
Freud, S. (1961b) Civilization and Its Discontents, New York: Norton; quoted in R. Sardello (1996) Love and the Soul: Creating a Future for Earth, New York HarperCollins.
Giegerich, W. (1997) The Opposition of 'Individual' and 'Collective' - Psychology Basic Fault, The Guild of Pastoral Psychology, Guild Lecture No.259.
Giegerich, W. (1998) The Soul's Logical Life: Towards a Rigorous Notion C Psychology, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang; see also his (1977) 'On the neurosis of psychology or the third of the two', Spring: An Annual of Archetypal Psychology and Jungian Thought, Zurich: Spring Publication' pp. 153-74.
Hillman, J. (1992) The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, Dallas: Spring Publications.
Jung, C. G. (1916 [1991J) Psychology of the Unconscious, trans. B. M. Hinkle, London: Routledge.
Jung, C. G. (1963) Memories, Dreams, Reflections, New York: Random House.
Jung, C. G. (1964) Civilization in Transition, Collected Works, 10.
Jung, C. G.(1969) The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Collected Works,
Jung, C. G. (1977a) The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Collected Works, 8. of the Idols, trans. R. J. Hollingdale, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Jung, C. G. (1977b) Psychology and Religion: West and East, Collected Works, 11.
Kirk, G. S. and Raven, J. E. (1977) The Presocratic Philosophers, Cambridge:
Nietzsche, E (1978) The Twilight Hudson: Lindisfame Press.
  1. Sardello, R. (1992) Facing the World with Soul: The Reimagination of Modern Life,
  2. European Journal of Psychotherapy, Counselling & Health
  3. I 364-2537 © I 999 Taylor & Francis Ltd
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