Monday, November 25, 2013

James Hillman and Tikkun Olam

James Hillman; photograph
by Bill Ballenberg, NYT

The concept of ‘tikkun olam’ (Hebrew), which means ‘repair of the world’, takes its origin in rabbinical literature and Lurianic Kabbalah. It refers to the pursuit of social justice, such as protection of the disadvantaged.

James Hillman’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf was an early, prominent Reform Rabbi, and from Dick Russell’s excellent biography, we learn to what a great extent Hillman listened to the voices of the ancestors, as well as being the very individual thinker he was.

Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf

In an interview with the author Dick Russell, Hillman says,
“When I say I do therapy of ideas, it is to repair bad ideas, broken ideas, forgotten ideas. That’s an indirect way of restoring or repairing the world, though it isn’t necessarily by social action. Also, the very idea that the world is broken, alienated from its source— although I don’t follow the Jewish idea that its source is in God, but that it has fallen away from its archetypal and mythical sources, foundations.”
From The Life and Ideas of James Hillman: Volume I: The Making of a Psychologist, by Dick Russell.
Rabbi Krauskopf and Leo Tolstoy

For all lovers of James Hillman – The Life and Ideas of James Hillman is THE book! Dick Russell has written a biography that reads like a novel, and brings the spirit of Hillman to the soul of his writings.

Recently, picking up Hillman's Healing Fiction, a postcard from many years ago that I had forgotten about fell out of the book. It warmed my heart even more so, in a slight hope to contribute a bit more to the repair of the world and cause less damage; "there is much to do," as Hillman says, much to repair.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Agreement reached in Geneva

"For the first time in nearly a decade we have halted parts of Iran's nuclear program"
(Barack Obama)

Agreement reached in Geneva
By Barak David, Haaretz Nov. 24, 2013 | 2:03 PM 

"Most Israeli officials denounce 'bad' nuclear deal; Peres says 'time will tell'; Lieberman: Israel must consider alternative allies; Gal-On gives positive repsonse: Deal slows down fast track to bomb."
Read article in Haaretz

How does Israel live in the shadow of nuclear threat? A fictitious scenario is described in the metaphysical novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return:

It seemed the Iranian leaders were biding their time. Intelligence confirmed that Iran had the bomb, or at least was very close. Having learned from the Israelis, the Iranians enforced a policy of deliberate ambiguity as regards their weapons capacity, maintaining they had already reached nuclear capability for peaceful means. Both Iran and Syria had greatly expanded their stocks of chemical missile warheads. Russia and China warned Israel of severe sanctions if it would attack, and the government had realized that an attack most likely would miss the target(s), and serve as pretext for counter-attacks on all fronts. There was a widespread feeling that the day of the bomb was coming closer.

Tel Aviv, known for its vibrant night-life, now saw hedonistic farewell parties for friends leaving, and parties celebrating “Gog and Magog,” “Doomsday,” and “Who will close the light at the airport?”

Missiles and rockets were fired from Gaza, often from schools and mosques, with the Israeli Air Force trying to target the militants. At one occasion a school was indeed hit, killing six small girls. The case was brought to the United Nations Security Council, which, surprisingly to many despairing Israelis, did in fact condemn the killing of civilian Israelis (in the course of time, just like during the events of 2000-2005, Israeli hospitals and schools, places of entertainment and worship, had been hit. Suicide-bombers now seemed to favor kindergartens and old age homes). However, “this could under no circumstances serve as a pretext for unnecessary and indiscriminate violence against the civilian Palestinian population, including children.” Libya and Pakistan were to head a special United Nations Human Rights delegation to investigate Israel’s frequent breaches of international law. Egypt and Jordan decided to freeze diplomatic relations.

While previously a few rockets and missiles had been the daily barrage from Gaza on Israeli towns and villages nearby, now not only the range and the precision of the missiles had been greatly increased, but at least thirty rockets were fired daily. One hit the oil depot in the Ashdod port’s fuel storage facilities, causing severe damage and closure of the port. The town was temporarily evacuated.

“We may then ask which steps can be taken to prevent the threat of catastrophe?” was the question Professor Shimeoni intended to ask his audience, since the purpose of his story was to ring the bell of urgency, by presenting a worst-case scenario.

“Is it not paradoxical,” he thought, “that the Arabs of the Land are hostages to the Iranian leader’s doomsday calls. As long as they induce hope in him of victory, he need not press the button.” He felt this was but one of those enigmatic manifestations of an order he could not really grasp, yet it accentuated his sense of devotion, and his intent to listen to his Inner Voice.

He imagined the loneliness of those who once upon a time had really been only a very few, and his heart pounded strongly when he thought of the vibrant industriousness and creativity in Israel, which were so striking in the shadow of genocidal threat.

Suddenly he interrupted his stream of thoughts, and wondered how his words would reverberate in him, were he to listen to his own lecture. Imagining himself in the audience, the remarkable picture of the Sabbath evening service in Bergen Belsen, a few days after liberation, crystallized before his eyes. While the dead and the dying still lie on the ground, the barely living survivors let their voices rise from the ashes into divine Hope, ...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ari Shavit – the unique voice of sanity of Israel’s all too silent majority

Ari Shavit is one of Israel’s most well-known and respected journalists, yet his voice is different. He might be termed a moderate left-winger, but the division between left and right does in many ways injustice to the spectrum of views among Israelis, which is infinitely more varied, nuanced and complex than one would think, considering the governments over the last several decades.
Ari Shavit

Shavit expresses what he himself calls “the third approach that internalizes both intimidation and occupation… triumph and tragedy,” the tension between fear and uncertainty, on the one hand, creativity, assertiveness and hope on the other. Among journalists and political commentators, he has the unusual integrity of looking into the many problems and shortcomings of a troubled country without dismissing it, and its many achievements and its vitality, without being carried away by arrogance and denial.

Order Ari Shavit's My Promised Land at Amazon.

For the many who love Israel, and are open to the pain without falling into depression, and to the joy without flying too near the sun, and who want to learn in depth about Israel and be touched by its complexity, I highly recommend this wonderful and important book. Erel Shalit, Author of Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return; and The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel.

This ever-timely and powerful book [The Hero and His Shadow] delineates a psychological view of the collective processes that underlie the creation and development of the State of Israel and the relationship between the individual and collective processes up to the present time. (From Journal Of Analytical Psychology )

The title of this meditative book, REQUIEM: A Tale of Exile and Return', seems inappropriate when the reader begins Erel Shalit's story: if these are the thought patterns that are seething through the mind of our narrator Professor Eliezer Shimeoni as he prepares a lecture on the fate of Israel and the fate of the Jews, why then open with a 'Christian' mass for the dead? But then we are reminded that this is yet another work by the author of Enemy, Cripple and Beggar, and his life's work is not only as a Jungian Pyschoanalyst in Israel but he is also a man consumed with the great literature and the important writers of the world.

He begins this story simply enough as Professor Shimeoni reflects on the history of the Jews post WW II, ... 'That very moment he understood why the passionate longing for home had anchored in the Jewish soul, and why the sense of the soul's exile wandered like a shadow behind every Jew.' He quotes the words of Chaim Potok 'To be a Jew in this century is to understand fully the possibility of the end of mankind, while at the same time believing with certain faith that we will survive.' ...

... what Erel Shalit has accomplished in this very brief but intoxicating book is to provide a path for each of us to follow, wisely using the plight of the Jews during the last century as a matrix from which to judge our own individual exile and return. He is an accomplished thinker and he is also a very brilliant writer. —Grady Harp

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jan Wiener: Money Matters and their Impact on the Transference

Jungian Psychoanalyst Jan Wiener (SAP London), visited the Bar Ilan Jungian Psychotherapy Program, and gave a very rich and greatly appreciated lecture on “The World through Blunted Sight: Money Matters and their Impact on the Transference,” based on her chapter in Transformations: Jung's Legacy in Clinical Work Today (Cavalli, Hawkins, Stevns [Eds.])
And who, when it comes to the crunch, can live with a heart of gold?
(Carol Ann Duffy (1999) Mrs Midas from The World’s Wife)


The paucity of literature about the role of money in analysis is startling, particularly since the exchange of money through analytic fees is a central aspect of the frame in which an analytic relationship may develop. Shortly after qualifying at the end of the 1980s, a colleague and I wrote a paper called The Analyst in the Counting-House: Money as Symbol and Reality in Analysis (Haynes and Wiener 1996). The paper explored the neglect of any serious study of the role and meaning of money, reflecting with some puzzlement on the absence of due attention to fees and the meaning of money during training. The situation now, almost twenty years later, has not altered significantly, suggesting that for analysts money continues to be ‘the last taboo’ (Dimen 1994), and more difficult to contemplate even than the emotional subjects of sex or death. There is a remarkable lack of interest in the subject of money, or more likely, that thinking about money continues to represent an area full of conflicts and unresolved complexes for analysts who, it may be said, tend to suffer from ‘moneyblindness’ (Lieberman and Lindner 1987). Jacoby (1993), in a paper called, Is the Analytic Situation Shame-Producing highlighted the shame-inducing nature of the analytic relationship because of its artificial inequality, but without any reference at all to the part that the fee could play.

In his book, The World through Blunted Sight, Patrick Trevor-Roper (1970: 17-63), a Consultant Eye Surgeon, writes of the ‘unfocused image’ of people with poor sight and explores how optical anomalies, blunted sight as he calls them, can affect both perceptions of the world and the personality of those with visual impairments. He compares (ibid: 31) how Keats, who was known to be short sighted, focused on auditory subjects such as Ode to a Nightingale and On the Grasshopper and the Cricket, with Shelley, who had good vision and whose romantic imagery concentrated on the more distant evocations of the sky and the mountains. It is the unfocused image of money, its effects on the analyst and specifically on the transference and countertransference landscape with which this chapter is concerned.

From Ch. 5, Transformations: Jung's Legacy in Clinical Work Today

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Albert Camus, November 7, 1913 - January 4, 1960

Albert Camus
Nov. 7, 1913 - Jan. 4, 1960
The following is an excerpt from Camus' Speech at the Nobel Banquet at the Stockholm City Hall, December 10, 1957:

"Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death. In a world threatened by disintegration, in which our grand inquisitors run the risk of establishing forever the kingdom of death, it knows that it should, in an insane race against the clock, restore among the nations a peace that is not servitude, reconcile anew labour and culture, and remake with all men the Ark of the Covenant. It is not certain that this generation will ever be able to accomplish this immense task..."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is Jungian psychotherapy an empirically proven effective method?

From The Red Book 

The following is the abstract of a recently published (October 24, 2013) open access paper by Christian Roesler, showing Jungian Psychotherapy to be effective, regarding several significant parameters.

The full study can be accessed at Behavioral Sciences (Behav. Sci. 2013, 3(4), 562-575).

Viggo Mortensen plays Sigmund Freud, and
Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung in "A Dangerous Method." 

Evidence for the Effectiveness of Jungian Psychotherapy: A Review of Empirical Studies 
—by Christian Roesler 1, 2 

1 Clinical Psychology, Catholic University of Applied Sciences, Freiburg,
2 Faculty of Psychology, University Basel, Switzerland


Since the 1990s several research projects and empirical studies (process and outcome) on Jungian Psychotherapy have been conducted mainly in Germany and Switzerland. Prospective, naturalistic outcome studies and retrospective studies using standardized instruments and health insurance data as well as several qualitative studies of aspects of the psychotherapeutic process will be summarized. The studies are diligently designed and the results are well applicable to the conditions of outpatient practice. All the studies show significant improvements not only on the level of symptoms and interpersonal problems, but also on the level of personality structure and in every day life conduct. These improvements remain stable after completion of therapy over a period of up to six years. Several studies show further improvements after the end of therapy, an effect which psychoanalysis has always claimed. Health insurance data show that, after Jungian therapy, patients reduce health care utilization to a level even below the average of the total population. Results of several studies show that Jungian treatment moves patients from a level of severe symptoms to a level where one can speak of psychological health.

These significant changes are reached by Jungian therapy with an average of 90 sessions, which makes Jungian psychotherapy an effective and cost-effective method. Process studies support Jungian theories on psychodynamics and elements of change in the therapeutic process. So finally, Jungian psychotherapy has reached the point where it can be called an empirically proven, effective method.

B. F. Skinner: Operant Conditioning