Friday, July 6, 2012

Recommended in US Review of Books

The Cycle of Life
by Erel Shalit
Fisher King Press

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"The perspective of life as a cycle lived through its stages enables us to bring the archetypal and the personal dimensions together."

While Sigmund Freud mapped out the psychosexual development of children to puberty through the oral, anal, phallic latency and genital stages, Carl Jung expanded the study of human development through the second half of life. Jung also expanded Freud's somewhat materialistic focus on psychosexuality as the source of the unconscious to include a vaster world of archetypes that emanate from our undifferentiated Selves through symbolic forms. It is the child's slow separation from the Great Mother archetype that allows him to incorporate the powerful unconscious energies of this symbol into a developing ego. The next stage, the "puer," or troubled teenager, carries this process further, adding the "fire" of his or her growing awareness of Eros to the "dismemberment" of the "unconscious" contents of the archetypes so that the ego can use their energies. A successful transition to adulthood entails a completion of the ego's ascendancy. But the ego must learn to surrender its role as "king" once old age begins.

The author engagingly illustrates Jung's conceptions of the power of the archetypal forces that inhabit our unconscious Selves, showing how they are dual, with both grandiose and terrible aspects. In accessible language, he maps out how figures from the Bible, Greek mythology, and fairy tales contain eternal truths on the mythic level where the Self at the core of our being operates. He explicates the dangers of becoming stuck in a particular stage, and cites actual cases of individuals he has helped make the transitions in his clinical practice as Jungian analyst.

US Review of Books