The bridge to wholeness: Jung’s alchemical studies and the process of individuation

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The bridge to wholeness: Jung’s alchemical studies and the process of individuation

A presentation by Diane & William Rockloff

Thursday, April 3, 2014 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: The Quaker House, 10 Hampson St, Kelvin Grove
Admission: Members & Concession: $10 • Non-members: $15

Jung spent the last forty years of his professional life weaving his ongoing alchemical studies into the fabric of, in the words of Goethe, his “main business”; understanding the “mysterious” reaches of the human psyche. Through his reimagining of the work of alchemists located in unrelated and disconnected cultures throughout the world, and who practiced their arts over a period of seventeen centuries, Jung achieved seminal insights and made new connections with the past as a part of his process in the development of his analytical psychology.

Jung uses the image of a “bridge” in the introduction to Psychology and Alchemy (CW 12, par. 1) to represent the potential for connecting and understanding “… matters that seem to lie very far apart…” In Memories, Dreams, Reflections (p. 201), Jung speaks of his efforts to find the link between the Gnostic writers, for whom he felt a profound affinity, and his work as a modern psychiatrist. His discovery of alchemy provided this bridge.

The presentation for this evening will seek to illustrate some of the many bridges which Jung developed to connect the past with the present, the inner with the outer and alchemical opus with the goal of the psyche’s wholeness. There will be a brief summary of some of the shared images and concepts which make up the Alchemical Tradition, and the circumstances under which this material came to Jung’s attention. We will see how Jung applied the material from this Tradition to his own developmental process.

We will offer an overview of how the alchemists moved from their observations, which included their projection of psychic content onto physical matter, to a spiritual expression of their journey. These projections are found in the transference phenomenon, which Jung referred to as “the main problem of medical psychotherapy” (ibid p.212). Jung believed that the projections of the alchemists had intuitively imagined psychology, and that similar images to those they experienced can be seen in the dreams and imagination of modern dreamers. As an example, a dream from a patient of Diane’s will be used to illustrate transferential symbols that can be found in alchemical texts, emphasizing the timeless quality of this tradition.

Diane holds a Ph.D. In Clinical Psychology, and was in private practice for over 30 years. Her initial training was primarily psychodynamic, but she was exposed to a Jungian approach to clinical work in early graduate school, and found that her style resonated with the theory. She chose as post-graduate training to attend courses through the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, including workshops focused on alchemy. Bill was at Diane’s side during every step of her clinical training, and though his own vocation was business, he has always been interested in Eastern thought and religions, poetry, art and psychology.