Archetypes, Animal Instincts and the Brain

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Archetypes, Animal Instincts and the Brain

A presentation by Anna Conaty

Thursday, November 4, 2010 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: St Mary’s Parish House, Cn Merviale and Peel St, South Brisbane
Admission: Members & Concession: $10 • Non-members: $15

"Archetypal theory tells us that we carry in our cells and synapses the legacy of two million years of human striving and selfhood. What motivates and moves us can be found in a panoply of ancient images and myths from long before the Greeks. The story that our childhood encodes in our brain as to what we should be is sometimes out of sync with who we are. When we fail to rewrite the story and reshape our neurons, the body will tell us we are living a lie and rebel against us. The test for who we are is found in whether our doing is in harmony with our being. Trouble comes when it isn’t."
  — Blair Justice and J. Pittman McGehee, Raising Lazarus: The Science of Healing the Soul

Jung’s most basic and far-reaching discovery is the collective unconscious or archetypal psyche. In terms of neurobiology, Jung saw archetypes as inherited modes of functioning, predisposed patterns of behaviour. Jung’s theoretical perspective was inspired in part by his observation of the hallucinatory fantasy of an uneducated schizophrenic patient which was followed by his experience of meaningful connections to the symbols and rituals in the obscure art and literature about initiation into the Mithraic Mysteries.

Anna will present examples of Jung’s amplification of the images in the iconography of Mithraism in his interpretation of animal instinct in the affect-laden experiences of individuals. Mithraism has been referred to as a sister religion to Christianity, and more recent studies of the origins of the Mithraic mysteries can be used to illustrate the development of ideas about cosmology, sacrifice, and salvation in the dialectic of development between religion and science that has informed the Western mind. Sharing from her research in comparative symbolism and observations and experience of the power of religious imagination, Anna hopes to evoke further exploration and contribute to an ongoing conversation about the relationship between recent discoveries in neuroscience and the potentials of our participation in the unfolding of a divine drama that is often described as an evolution of consciousness.

Anna is a Clinical Social Worker and a Board Certified Registered Art Therapist currently employed as an Allied Health Professional at Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. She has over thirty-five years of experience of advocacy and service in the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In her multidisciplinary team-work with children who have been diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses and their families, she is integrating the findings of research in neuroscience into the professional practice of facilitating families in their adjustment to diagnosis. This work often involves efforts to inspire others in the search for meaning. Her integrative practice includes creativity as a therapeutic principle and advocating the importance of the arts in the healing process.