Jungian Therapy: Active Imagination

Depth Psychology has never had it easy. Most articles in New Scientist and other scientific journals denounce psychoanalysis as pseudoscience, a collection of disproved and discredited techniques for curing mental illness. A long review article by Oliver Burkeman published in the Guardian takes a different view that psychoanalysis (the author focuses on the Freudian approach) is indeed proving itself much more effective than more popular approaches such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

I attended a group CBT and all we did was read the hand outs and fill-out the weekly questionnaire and the facilitator was convincing us to take medications (I did not take any). After 3 months I felt that I just wasted my time and it did not solve my problem at that time. Then one of the courses I took at the University of Philosophical Research teaches active imagination and I was able to talk to different parts of my self that were in conflict. I was able to heal my inner child by parenting it, lots of crying in this session. I was able to tame down my inner critic, part of ourselves that knows us very well but it is belittling and demeaning, my inner wisdom became my great ally and sometimes therapist.

The first image that came up in my active imagination was a baby fox, he was a comforter kind and gentle. One day while I was hiking at Runyon Canyon, a dog who look like the baby fox come up to me and we locked eyes. It seems like he knows me. My psychology professor Dr. David Bressler said that it happened to one of his clients too. It is amazing!

Recently another figure showed up, an alpha male gorilla, he said he is my protector. Challenges are always there but how you handle it makes a difference. You become less reactionary, you can detach yourself from the situation and analyze it and you can see which archetypes are at play.

Archetypes are supposed to produce certain psychic forms, we must discuss how and where one can get hold of the material demonstrating these forms. The main source, then, is dreams, which have the advantage of being involuntary, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche and are therefore pure products of nature not falsified by any conscious purpose (Jung, para 100).

Another source of material is to be found in active imagination. By this, Jung mean a sequence of fantasies produced by deliberate concentration. He found that the existence of unrealized, unconscious fantasies increases the frequency and intensity of dreams, and that when these fantasies are made conscious the dreams change their character and become weaker and less frequent. From this Jung have drawn the conclusion that dreams often contain fantasies which “want” to become conscious. The sources of dreams are often repressed instincts which have a natural tendency to influence the conscious mind (Jung, para 101).

Jung stated that a purely personalistic psychology, by reducing everything to personal causes, tries its level best to deny the existence of archetypal motifs and even seeks to destroy them by personal analysis (Jung, para 97).

Works Cited:

Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.) (Vol. 9, Part 1). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Jung, C. G. (1990). The concept of the collective unconscious. In H. Read, M.

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