Psychoanalysts on the Couch: Evolved Archetypal Sources of Analytic Intransigence by Robert Langs

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Robert Langs

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One Comment on “Psychoanalysts on the Couch: Evolved Archetypal Sources of Analytic Intransigence by Robert Langs”

  1. John White Says:

    A couple of things immediately come to mind on reading this, speaking here as a Jungian.

    (1) When Jung posited his “new” theory of the unconscious psyche (i.e. in contrast to Freud) he also argued for the adaptive character of the psyche. He does not deny the value of Freud’s “second paradigm” but sees his own work as adaptive. Still Jung at times oscillates between the two paradigms you outline.

    (2) I am struck by your comment on p. 7 “Notable in this regard is a deep fear of the activation of the unconscious guilt that tends to be linked to these events – be it for causing harm to others, real or imagined, or based on an identification with individuals who have caused harm to themselves or others. As noted above, this guilt calls for the unconsciously driven actualization of punishment for the harm done. This in turn evokes a discombobulating dread that they will either commit suicide or become psychotic.”

    I wonder if this describes what was going on in Jung when he was breaking with Freud? Something in Freud’s and Jung’s relationship was always shot through with issues of death, like when Freud fainted thinking that Jung wanted him dead. But also, as Jung talks about in Memories, Dreams and Reflections, he had a deep fear of some sort of psychotic break as he undertook what he calls “the descent into the unconscious”. I would think, based on Jung’s own descriptions, that he felt very much like he was annihilating himself by separating from Freud as well as feeling he was annihilating Freud by daring to posit his own understanding of the unconscious psyche. How many anxieties founded in death-related experiences must have resonated in Jung’s soul? Winnicott even suggested that Jung was psychotic as a child; perhaps these later experiences echoed such earlier experiences.

    (3) Concerning the “deaf ear” that psychoanalysis has turned to your work, perhaps recent psychoanalytic thinking actually has a deaf ear more generally. What I mean by that is that anyone familiar with your work, right from its early days, knows you have an incomparable ear for derivatives and unconscious communication. I am sure I am not conversant with all the major streams of psychoanalytic thought but, what from what I do know of it, I don’t see anywhere near your emphasis or your sensitivity to the indirect ways that one has to listen for the unconscious. Sometimes, in fact, “the unconscious” in such literature sounds more like something of which one is not immediately and in the moment aware, rather than the deep experiences of trauma that one often assigns to oblivion because they are too much to bear –thus requiring a more indirect and derivative access, as well as a more intensive work of uncovering.

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