Nora Swan-Foster


Speaking of Jung: an interview

July 25th, 2018

Posted in

jungian art therapy and jungian analysis


On the morning of July 23rd, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Laura London on the podcast Speaking of Jung about my new book Jungian Art Therapy published by Routledge 2018.  Click here Episode #37  to listen to our conversation. We discussed many topics including the creative process, pregnancy as a metaphor, and the use of art, dreams and active imagination to faciliate consciousness.

Always, in conversations about Jungian psychology, there is so much more that remains untouched; analytical psychology is both vast and deep. For me, this is the beauty of Jung's work! Depending upon our stage in life or our personal interests, Jung offers us many windows and doors to enter and RE-enter into analytical psychology and its inherent philosophy. 

In conversation with Laura, I mention Jung's essay on the Transcendent Function: I misspoke and want to correct myself. The essay The Transcendent Function was published in 1916 (not 1912). As one of his most seminarl essays, it can be found in Jung's Collected Works 8 "The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche." It is concerned with how unconscious material becomes conscious and explains how and why we undergo a change in attitude. This is pivotal material for the field of psychotherapy as all of us work towards facilitating change and transformation. After Jung wrote the essay, he placed it in a drawer until it was discovered by students in 1956 and subsequently published. 

Apparently, in those early days he wasn't confident that the world would understand it and believed his research with himself and his analysands using dreams and art (The Red Book) would further deepen and validate his ideas on the process and method of the Transcendent Function. The stretch between 1916-1956 was a long period of time for his  ideas to remain unknown and invisible.  In a way the hidden nature of the essay mirrors the invisibility of the transcendent function itself. As a result, his tremendous insights into how we change is often times overlooked. Jung's notion of the Transcendent Function was undoubtedly on his mind during these early years when he expanded his theoretical writing and clinical work. With the publication of The Red Book we finally see just how deeply engaged Jung was with the unconscious and its creative process, and it was these early years that formed the foundation to which he referred for the rest of his life work. 

"The whole process is called the 'transcendent function.' It is a process and a method at the same time. The production of unconscious compensations is a spontaneous process; the conscious relationation is a method. The function is called 'transcendent' because it facilitates the transition from one psychic condition to another by means of the mutual confrontation of opposites." (Jung, 1954/1975, CW 11, p. 489). 

The Transcendent Function remains pertinent as it is integral to our clinical work as Jungian analysts and art therapists, paprticularly around the emergence of images, symbols, metaphors, and issues related to transference/countertransference and the intersubjective field where a shift in the attitude and focus on the inner work takes place. For further exploration of Jung's discovery of the Transcendent Function and active imagination, please refer to my book and to the chapters: Synthetic Method and Transcendent Function and Art Therapy, Psychic Energy: The Psyche's Life Force and Active Imagination and Art Therapy. 





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