C. G. JUNG, ON PSYCHOLOGICAL AND VISIONARY ART: NOTES FROM C. G. JUNG’S LECTURE ON GERARD DE NERVAL’S AURELIA. EDITED BY CRAIG E STEPHENSON, 2015. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2015.
REVIEWED BY JOHN BEEBE, Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2016, 61, 5, 701-705.
The present volume is like a marvelous miniature depicting one of the open courts that the pioneers of depth psychology used to hold. Beautifully preserved and presented to us anew through the museum‐quality literary curating of Craig Stephenson, it is also an example of what the Philemon Series is able to produce through Princeton University Press to supplement what we already have in the Collected Works. Jung’s lecture on the French Romantic poet Gérard de Nerval (1808‐1855), which until now existed only as a one‐paragraph abstract in CW 18, The Symbolic Life, is an arresting demonstration of why a symbolic life is both necessary and desirable, so long as the symbol is genuinely connected to the life.
The theme of Jung’s essay is how urgently the psyche of a creative person, when confronting the energy of unconscious imagination, seeks to achieve a newfound equilibrium. His subject in short is the psychology of the artist. Jung’s craft and empathy in working psychologically with a text that applies the transcendent function for aesthetic effect is impressive; there is an irony in the layering of Jung’s creative powers over Nerval’s that is not lost on Jung.
Aurélia, the final, visionary text left by Nerval on his own body when he committed suicide at the age of 46, begins with the thrilling pronouncement, ‘Dream is a second life’. Though understandably unwilling to sacrifice his status as an artist contemplating the beautiful logic of unconscious processes, Nerval claims in Aurélia to be exploring dreams that have helped him to recover from a psychiatric illness that required hospitalization. The artist tells us that these dreams have arisen in the midst of a personal romantic drama, one that we discover is already studded with evidence of obsession and delusion. We also learn that the poet had done something in that drama, breaking faith in some way with his beloved, that has caused him to suffer overwhelming guilt.
As he did when analyzing the fantasies of Miss Miller, Jung names Nerval’s disorder a schizophrenia. Karl Jaspers wondered if it was perhaps a schizoaffective disorder and I found myself wondering if it was not a bipolar disorder, but as Stephenson’s introductory review of the development of psychiatric thinking in France reveals, at the time Nerval was entering the final, deadly phase of his illness, a psychiatrist named Jean‐Pierre Falret was identifying for the first time a ‘circular madness that moved through three stages: mania, melancholy, and lucidity’ (p. 26). Falret’s account remains the best description of what Nerval’s nervous illness was like, and it is remarkable how much that cycle parallels the political history of France at just the same time. Paris turned itself upside down politically, from the excitement of the 1848 Revolution to the failure of the Second Republic through the ascension of the monarchist Louis‐Napoleon to the presidency. Louis‐Napoleon eventually made his intentions perfectly clear when he organized a coup in 1851 and established his imperial title as Napoleon III in 1852. For the French bourgeoisie, his was the cynically lucid solution to what they had come to regard as Republican madness (see Clark 1999).
Finding himself in 1853 also temporarily lucid, Nerval, on the advice of his psychiatrist Antoine‐Émile Blanche, had agreed at the time he began to write Aurélia to dedicate himself to ‘un traitment moral contre une aliénation mentale,’ meaning a remoralization of the psyche’s will to sanity. Nerval accepted Blanche’s advice to underline his own return to that state by attending more thoroughly to the compensatory, inspiriting fantasies of his unconscious mind. A psychoanalyst today might regard such transcendence as an unwise privileging of the superego, a shoring up of manic defences based on a self‐idealization likely to be undercut by a continued vulnerability to introjected guilt.
Jung, however, takes a different tack. As Stephenson points out in his introduction, ‘Both Aurélia and The Red Book are literary vehicles written for a psychological purpose’ (p. 39). Jung argues that the problem with the way Nerval attends in Aurélia to the positive, self‐integrative tendencies in his fantasy life is that by turning them into a gripping story of inner adventure which he develops as a work of art, he omits to make the imaginal gains real in his life. For all their promise of a return to self‐esteem and a new moral high ground for the ongoing santé of his mind, Nerval has not taken the ethical cue from his fantasies. They mourn his failure to embrace the life force that was at the heart of his anima projection onto the presumptive model for his ‘Aurélia’, a woman who is in reality now deceased. (She is identified by Stephenson as a minor Parisian actress and opera singer named Jenny Colon.) Jung feels that Nerval has still not grasped the necessity to alter his conscious attitude toward this original human object of his projection, whom he continues to depreciate even though his heart is broken (and his mind lost) after her rejection of him. In Jung’s analysis, it is this denigration that makes the compensatory fantasy that inflates the inner value of this disappointing anima figure necessary. (Stephenson tells us that in another story published the same year, 1854, Nerval identifies ‘himself with Prometheus, who is tortured by a sweet and seductive Pandora with her box of woes’ [p. 45].)
As Aurélia begins, Nerval, his own imagination‐prone protagonist, has decided that Jenny was simply too bourgeois to be preoccupied with now that he has lost her. A heartbreaking dream, however, bids him to show compassion for the projection he has withdrawn. An angel who has fluttered for a while in the corridors of a hostelry that has public rooms made up of narrow ‘galleries’, almost like a museum, has fallen into a dark courtyard. Nerval does not move to save the angel; such is the fate of a projection in the face of his own narrow cynicism about the fantasies of artists. ‘The trouble is, I read too much, I have taken the inventions of the poets too seriously and have made a Laura or Beatrice of an ordinary woman of our century’, he explains (p. 121). Stephenson reminds us in a footnote of von Franz’s (1977, p. 104) view of Nerval’s narrowness that this comment exposes.
The year that Aurélia was published Nerval had been living mostly in Paris for 11 years ‘between bouts of great literary productivity and bouts of madness’ (p. 8). Already a fine poet, he pioneered the surrealist novel and was the first writer to use the word surrealism as a way of describing the kind of art he was driven to produce. His most enduring masterpiece Sylvie had been published the year before, in 1853, but the era in which the great aspirations of 1848 had politically supported individual intuitive vision was already a memory. It is not hard to imagine that at a conscious level, failing like Melville at almost the same time to gain an audience commensurate with his greatest visionary achievement as an artist, Nerval had succumbed more than a little to the developing cynicism of his time. It is not too much to suggest that beyond his disillusionment with Jenny Colon, he had also begun to lose faith in the Romantic imagination. It was against this background that the final imaginal efflorescence of that imagination in the poet, Aurélia, was produced. Written to please his doctor, by identifying with what Janet would later call the partie superior of his conscious cognitive capacities as a visionary, Aurélia draws on an extraverted intuitive function in the poet that one feels was more than a bit over its head. (I imagine Nerval may have been an introverted thinking type with extraverted intuition as an auxiliary function. In this case, his inferior function would have been extraverted feeling, explaining his extreme difficulty in staying connected with his lovers at the feeling level.)
With the considerable advantage of 20th century hindsight, Jung claims he knew from the very first dream reported in Aurélia – whose original title was Dreams and Life – that Nerval would not be able to survive the melancholia that his creative angel, once able to spread its colorful wings over all of Paris, had fallen into. Nerval himself associates the angel to Dürer’s striking engraving Melancholia. This work of art was the subject of a book by a team of art historians (Klibansky et al. 1964) who found, after years of contemplating its iconography, that Saturn in his astrological role as a Lord of Limits had afflicted the Angel of Melancholy Dürer had drawn. It is reasonable to speculate that the great Renaissance artist had produced this picture during a period of creative depression.
For Jung, whose knowledge of art and artist turns out in these pages to be greater than one might suspect, the psychological lesson was clear: It is not enough for an artist going through a depression with psychotic features to be moved aesthetically by the images of melancholy that emerge at such times. One has to take each creative angel’s dilemma seriously and find a way to lead it back from Hell. This requires accepting the ethical demand to live the needs of the symbol, rather than taking refuge with it in the Beyond. The failure to live needs also to be engaged in the poet’s art, something that Goethe, whose Faust Nerval had translated at age 19, well demonstrated. The longing to make up for lost opportunities cannot be allowed to be dismissed as a result of reading too many books, as Nerval explained it to himself. Jung argues that this depreciation of the anima is destructive to the poet’s creative life force, just as the depreciation of his love object prevents him from anchoring his feeling in the world.
By returning to Nerval’s fantasies with the vigour of his own post‐heart attack creativity, Jung offered his Zurich colleagues a rare chance to discover the degree to which anima and life were synonymous for him. In the Philemon edition Stephenson has given us a chance to share in the vitality of Jung’s participation mystique with the hidden creativity of what was left unlived in the life of a visionary ancestor. Starting with his generous introduction, Stephenson provides a comprehensive presentation of the materials that evidence Jung’s engagement with Nerval and reveal the various historical contexts in which both men lived and worked. These contexts include the one that led Jung to carefully revise an initial lecture in 1942 and after changed circumstances (his own brush with death, the end of the war in Europe) to return to Aurélia before an audience of his closest analytic associates on 9 June 1945. Stephenson gives us both the 1942 lecture, delivered at the General Meeting of the Swiss Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, and the 1945 talk at the Zurich Analytical Psychology Club, which includes a rich post‐lecture discussion in which Marie‐Louise von Franz asked the first question and Roland Cahen, Linda Fierz, Aniela Jaffé, Jolande Jacobi, C.A. Meier, and Rivkah Scharf (among others) participated. We also see Jung’s first notes on Aurélia, both printed out and photographed in the form he first wrote them in his own fine, determined hand. In addition, we get a full text of Aurélia, or Dream and Life, as recently translated by Richard Sieburth of New York University for a Penguin Books selection of Nerval’s writings. This English version of Aurélia is complemented by the illustrations that accompanied the 1910 German translation that was in Jung’s library. The illustrations were created by Alfred Kubin, another artist whose restrictive introverted thinking had been compensated by an intuition capable of entertaining a ‘multitude of archaic contents, a veritable “pandemonium” of irrational and magical figures’ and replacing ‘the thinking function as the vehicle of life’ (Jung 1921, paras. 630‐31).
The effect of this beautifully realized editorial effort is more than just good scholarship. It is a framed mirror of the kind of realization that Jung’s astute essay brings home to us as a necessity in any genuine attempt to lead the Symbolic Life. Nerval has found his ideal psychiatric reader for Aurélia in Jung, and one senses that he died knowing that his work would eventually serve as the cri de coeur for the life force that he could not find a way to live. That editor Stephenson is able to bring this great poet’s all but forgotten final opus back to vivid life is another sign of the creativity not just of this fine editor and writer, but of the efforts of the Philemon Series itself in paying what we owe the dead by taking up their worthy projects and letting the energy in them find a living place in our own imaginations.
Clark, T. J. (1999). The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France: 1848‐1851. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jung, C. G. (1921). Psychological Types. CW 6.
Klibansky, R., Panofsky, E. & Saxl, F. (1964). Saturn and Melancholy: Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion and Art. New York: Basic Books.
von Franz, M.‐L. (1977). Individuation in Fairy Tales. Dallas: Spring Publications.
CRAIG E STEPHENSON, POSSESSION: JUNG’S COMPARATIVE ANATOMY OF THE PSYCHE. LONDON: ROUTLEDGE, 2009; REVISED EDITION, 2015.
REVIEWED BY GRETCHEN HEYER, Journal of Analytical Psychology, 55, 3, June 2010, 441-443.
The phrase ‘possessed by a complex’ can be almost trite in Jungian circles, a simple nomenclature designating that the ego has been usurped by other portions of the personality, that in our fluid, multiple selves, something ‘other’ than the way we would like ourselves to be has taken over. However, to those outside Jungian circles, the same phrase can sound like abdicating responsibility, or even a return to the middle-ages. In this book, Craig Stephenson, a Jungian analyst practising in Paris takes the concept of possession back to the middle-ages, deliberately invoking demonic imagery to reshape our thinking of possession beyond the dissociative characteristics of an individual psyche, bringing to the fore the religious realm, as well as cultural dynamics. His thinking grows from an essay Jung (1961) wrote shortly before his death:
[the psychologist] cannot even see the analogy between a case of compulsion neurosis, schizophrenia, or hysteria and that of a classical demonic possession if he has not sufficient knowledge of both.
Beginning with the seventeenth century possessions of Ursuline nuns in Loudun, France, Stephenson shows us demonic possession in its historical and social context. This was a time when characteristics such as clairvoyance that defined demonic possession also defined possession by the Holy Spirit, a time when women could gain public influence through either good or demonic possession. In part, the Loudun possessions ended with the insight of a priest who took some of the suffering on himself, and provided one of the nuns with a speaking tour where she displayed ‘marks’ left by her possession.
These issues of the seventeenth century echo into the present. Stephenson draws out contemporary debates of power and feminism, following critical thinkers of today to explore the performative nature of possession both then and now. Whereas nuns once saw demonic visions and cut themselves (and in some places, still do) we now have eating disorders, major dissociations and suicide bombers. For Foucault, and by inference, for Stephenson, possession is the enactment of a social problematic. It is a performance. The question then becomes: What exactly is being performed and who within the person is performing? In their possessed state, the Ursuline nuns spoke and were acknowledged by the power structure. Yet to maintain their power the possessed nuns had to stay outside the structure, never get pinned into it. The doctors and priests attempting to name possessions and bring them into some defined place within the norm were curtailing them, making them other than what they were, so power was lost.
The possessions of Loudun show some of the ways a psychological issue can be understood and appropriated—how the language of possession is fluid, and possessions themselves are phenomena with as many social dimensions as anything intrinsic to those involved. As Jung’s theory often eschews prescribing normative behaviour, it becomes uniquely positioned to address such issues. However in doing so, it needs to be held accountable for its own biases, such as Jung’s misappropriation of available knowledge to further his ideas. Stephenson points out several such discrepancies, including Franz Boas’ paper read at the 1909 Clark University conference attended by both Jung and Freud. There Boas argued that anthropological observations could not be used as proofs for the universality of psychoanalytic/psychological principles, but Jung overlooked this paper, continuing to read selectively anthropological literature in universalizing ways in order to legitimize his psychology.
Stephenson highlights the first use of ‘possession’ as a category in the 1992 American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an event that sounds as if it could bring about a shift in thinking, an awareness of ‘otherness’ even within the establishment—because what can we be possessed by if we are unified beings? However, in today’s world, much of ordinary human experience is pathologized, making it all too easy to look to psychiatry to make meaning of suffering. Stephenson points out ways that including ‘possession’ as a category of psychiatry submerges it in the larger purposes of that establishment, causing it to lose imagistic power. In contrast, Jung’s deliberate use of metaphorical and equivocal language creates a space for both precise psychiatric knowledge and mystery, both suffering and healing; a way to conceptualize our fluid, plural, embodied selves embedded in all that is beyond us.
The film Opening Night becomes Stephenson’s clinical example for these ideas, underlining possession’s themes of theatricality and performance. But when this example is juxtaposed against the complexity of previous pages, I am left with a myriad of questions. In the tradition of equivocal language such questions may be Stephenson’s intention—a way of furthering the interrogation of Jung’s thought both within and without. Yet I find myself wondering: What of those possessions does the culture itself share? For example, if a business executive were to look at a group of Jungian types, would such Jungian types be obviously performing something that within the culture of Jungians it is impossible to see? The proverbial fish is always swimming in water, so what do we do as professionals when we need to name that which possesses us? Are we imposing a norm artificial to another’s experience? If so, how do we use diagnostic categories, the naming and the exploration of commonalities in treatment?
Many things possess us as humans. We are subject to divisions within ourselves, to the multiplicities of ourselves. We are subject to what is beyond us, to what we see as different, as diabolical, and what we do not see at all because we consider it normative. In his exploration of possession, Stephenson has written a book for those with Jungian proclivities, as well as those highly critical of such proclivities, a book for anthropologists and historians as well as poets, a book to read not once but many times.
Jung, C. G. (1961). ‘Symbols and the interpretation of dreams. CW 18.
CRAIG E STEPHENSON, EDITOR. JUNG AND MORENO: ESSAYS ON THE THEATRE OF HUMAN NATURE. LONDON: ROUTLEDGE, 2013.
REVIEWED BY ROBERT MACDONALD, Spring Journal, 92, Spring 2015, 455-460.
In the Dream Seminars Jung recounts a dream where the dreamer is invited to the theatre by his brother-in-law and to dine afterwards. Jung interprets the theatre as “a psychotherapeutic institute [where the dreamer witnesses] the staging of his complexes—where all the images are the symbolic or unconscious representations of his own complexes.”1 The dinner engagement that follows the final curtain Jung sees as a consuming of those complexes.
In Jung and Moreno we read of an approach where the dream is embodied through action, the private theatre publicly staged within the temenos of a trusted group where members of that group take on the roles of the dream images, and the dreamer enters the staging of their psychological space in the spirit of “once- upon-a-time” storytelling.
The book comprises nine essays by psychodrama practitioners, most of them Jungian analysts who attended the Barz Psychodrama Institute Zumikon while training to be analysts at the C. G. Jung Institute Zürich. Although it is emphasized throughout the book that Jungian psychodrama operates as an adjunct to and is not a substitute for personal analysis, the essays draw us into the world of Jungian psychodrama and convey the unique benefits of this way of working. The book is rich in case material, without exception fascinating and lucidly written, which gives a fly-on-the-wall sense of what happens in a psychodrama.
Moreno was concerned with what binds human beings together. He posited a field that connects humans, one that precedes and runs deeper than the transference/counter-transference field. He wrote:
Tele (from the Greek: far, influence into distance) is feeling of individuals into one another, the cement which holds groups together. … Tele is a primary, transference a secondary structure. After transference vanishes, certain tele conditions continue to operate. Tele stimulates stable partnerships and permanent relations. It is assumed that in the genetic development of the infant tele emerges prior to transference.2
The essays are preceded by an excellent and thorough introduction by the editor, Craig Stephenson. He discusses the ethos of psychodrama and presents a theoretical framework in which to read the book, one that anticipates the tension between theory and practice that is held poignantly throughout. He introduces us to Moreno the man. His discussion of complexes and personification is illuminating. We learn of the three dimensional practice of Psychodrama: group psychotherapy, psychodrama, and sociometry—the subtle feeling for the group dynamic and the relationship between individuals within it.
Stephenson explains the theoretical differences between Jung and Moreno, “Moreno [who] locates experience of selfhood in an external field of interpersonal relatedness” and Jung who locates it intrapsychically.3 Jung’s therapeutic approach, for the most part, is a process of private introspection in the presence of an analyst. Moreno believed that being fixed in a role was a function of the group dynamic and working in a group was necessary to unfreeze those roles and revive what Moreno referred to as the “spontaneous element of being.”
We learn of the process involved in Jungian psychodrama: the care with which a psychodrama enactment is constructed; the warming up stage when the collaborative energy of the group is awakened; the sensitive, sometimes urgent negotiation whereby the actor-protagonist (the person whose life experience will be explored) is chosen; and the skill with which the scene to be enacted is identified and focused on revealing archetypal themes. We meet the other players who participate in the psychodrama: the director who monitors the psychodrama ensuring balance between risk and restraint; the auxiliary ego who acts as a psychotherapeutic companion to the protagonist, supporting and occasionally challenging him to go deeper; and members from the group who are chosen by the protagonist to play key figures from the protagonist’s life. The technique whereby role-players are modeled into those roles by the protagonist is discussed. We read of the structuring of the psychodrama and the creative sensitivity whereby the protagonist encounters unconscious aspects and is guided to make deeper associations. Role reversal, doubling, and mirroring are explained— processes that facilitate that deepening.
We will meet these roles again in the subsequent case histories: a woman curious about her blushing; a man exploring the circumstances that provoked his early life onset of asthma; the image of a “hole” and a growing interest to explore it; and a dream where the unfinished sculpted heads of the dreamer’s parents relates to her wish to become a mother. A chapter on fairytale drama demonstrates the value of exploring archetypal narratives and their effect on personal material; a damaged father-son relationship is healed, an animus that can stand up to mother is sought, innocent child-guilt is lifted, and helpful animals are encountered. The use of psychodrama in one-to-one analysis recounts three enactments where a woman’s relationship to an inner critic/demon lover becomes conscious. And we read of its application to musical performance where active imagination and allowing space and time for complexes, rather than shutting them out, lead to increased depth and expressiveness. The final essay is a touching personal testament to the value of psychodrama in life’s journey.
A question arises around compromising the confidentiality of personal psychological material in a group situation. There is little said about the process of joining a psychodrama group but I sensed this is done with care and that what happens in the group remains there, kept secret and held as sacred. And of course this for Moreno is where the therapeutic value of the process lies—being held in a group. What is risked in terms of preserving confidentiality is gained in shared experience. And what about group members taking on roles of the protagonist’s significant others? How can a role player know what someone’s mother or father was like? Surely an inaccurate portrayal will unsettle the protagonist. The essays address these concerns convincingly. I was struck by the intuition of the players where more often than not they got it right. And when they didn’t the process ensured that error led to a dialogue that clarified the protagonist’s memory and deepened their experience of those past events.
I began reading with the question, what does psychodrama have to offer that sets it apart from a one-to-one analysis? That comparison faded as I became immersed in the world of psychodrama, where inner life is made concrete and reengaged with an embodied visceral experience. Memories are relived, significant others encountered, fantasies made flesh, and passages to the underworld personified:
Psychodrama provides a chance to connect to body-ground, through trusting the urge to step into a drama, to present characters, to touch and move around the room. It is experienced first in breath, in lack of breath, with heartbeats, sweat, uneasiness, eagerness, postures, emotions.4
Hillman articulates the paradox “Do not act out; do not hold in”— its resolution to be found, he says, in acting in.5,6 In psychodrama the distinction between “acting out” and “acting in” is blurred in the service of going deeper and differentiating between what was real and what were unconscious projections. Moreno distinguishes between two kinds of acting out: “irrational, incalculable, acting out in life itself, … and therapeutic, controlled acting out taking place within the treatment setting.”7 The group imaginatively reconstructs the “real” and the protagonist is licensed to engage with the source of their resistance, meet defense mechanisms face to face, approach difficult feelings, and explore situations where the dangers of acting out are encrusted. The freedom to move between repression and acting out allows the complex, contained and guided by the imaginative response from the group, to find the way towards its center such that inner psychic processes are clarified, personal and archetypal material differentiated, and complexes become grounded in their psychic background. Through the re- enactment of memory a distinction is made “between what happened in the past and what happened as they re-experienced the past.”8 Personalization moves towards personification, engagement with the “real” reveals its symbolic background, and the role of archetypal forces in shaping memory is intimated.
Moreno first published on Spontaneity Theatre in the 1920s when the importance of mirroring and empathic attunement in childhood development and the therapeutic relationship were in their infancy. In this, Moreno was at the forefront. In psychodrama mirroring is three-dimensional: person-to-person, individual-to-group, and group- to individual. From the warming up stage we get a sense of the giving and receiving that awakens the “feeling between” individuals and establishes the collective attunement where the protagonist can safely open, explore, and reveal.
The examples of role reversal are fascinating and its therapeutic potential compelling. In the initial enactment the protagonist has played himself, explored, and gone deeper. He then takes on the role of a significant other—say mother, father, younger brother—and by standing in their shoes looks back at himself, his protagonist role now played by another member of the group. He sees himself from an outsider’s point of view, feels what it is like to be someone else in relationship to himself, even what it is like to be the recipient of his own projections! There is the option to switch back and forth: he plays himself, then again standing in the other’s shoes, then back to the protagonist role. Finally the protagonist might stand out and witness the scene replayed by other members. There is an art of seeing here, where oscillating between different points of view leads to a wider perspective.
“Sharing” concludes the psychodrama when members of the group discuss their life experience and where it mirrors the protagonist’s journey. The protagonist, having exposed his personal material, is not singled out. By recognizing shared complexes bridges are built between individuals, and consciousness of shared humanity binds the group together.
The book opened highlighting the differences between Moreno and Jung. As I read, their concern for the individual stood out and their different approaches were not opposed but rather complementary to achieving that end. An essay on the transference and counter- transference is placed appropriately towards the end of the book. While it revisits and articulates their different models of the psyche, at the same time it identifies what connects them by grounding both Jung’s concept of eros and Moreno’s tele in the deeper layers of the unconscious. Both men “… speak of the communication between co-unconscious states as the basis for the empathic relation between two or more people.”9
Jung and Moreno is a fascinating and compelling testament to the therapeutic value of Jungian psychodrama and the integrity of its way of working. It is a feast of practical experience and theoretical reflection, full to the brim with inspiring guidance on working creatively with psychological material. It is said that psychodrama invites the unlived into life. Indeed this quest is shared by analytical psychology, and we read of some remarkable and moving examples in this book.
1. C. G. Jung, Dream Analysis: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1928– 1930 by C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1948), p. 12.
2. J. L. Moreno, Psychodrama, First Volume (Beacon, NY: Beacon House, Inc., 1977), p. xi.
3. C. E. Stephenson, “Introduction,” in C. E. Stephenson, ed., Jung and Moreno: Essays on the Theatre of Human Nature (London and New York, NY: Routledge, 2014), p. 4
4. S. Ness, “The True Time of Psychodrama: Reflections on a Jungian Psychodrama Group,” in Stephenson, Jung and Moreno, p. 74.
5. J. Hillman, Alchemical Psychology (Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, 2014), p. 37.
6. Hillman, Alchemical Psychology, p. 37.
7. Moreno, Psychodrama, p. x.
8. W. Scategni, “Jung, Moreno and Dream Enactment,” in Stephenson, Jung and Moreno, p. 99.
9. M. Graziosi, “Psychodrama and the Resolution of the Transference and Counter-transference,” in Stephenson, Jung and Moreno, p. 143.
CRAIG E STEPHENSON, ANTEROS: A FORGOTTEN MYTH. LONDON: ROUTLEDGE, 2011.
REVIEWED BY JOHN BEEBE. Spring Journal, Spring 2013, 89, 185-190.
The Jungian technique of amplification can work in two ways to open up our understanding of ancient myth. One way, developed by Jung as part of his “constructive standpoint,” is to broaden the context in which a myth’s images can be seen to be embedded, thereby making the myth more “ample.”1 Another, perhaps older, way is to reveal the amplitude already inherent in the myth itself by demonstrating its continuing ability to speak to experiential aspects of existence that have largely evaded conceptualization. Both kinds of amplification offer the connections revealed by a myth the chance to become conscious insights in the way we live our lives, and both are on display in Craig Stephenson’s discussion of Anteros, the almost forgotten sibling of Eros, who springs back to life in these dense, deliberate, and dazzling pages to make us wonder how we have managed to live without him.
There is scant support for a single understanding of what this god, referred to with telling ambiguity by Plato in his Phaedrus, may have originally portended. Each of the later literary sources—Cicero, Pausanias, Eunapius, and Themistius, whether writing in Latin or Greek—portrays the originally Attic figure of Anteros from the standpoint of a classical world dominated by Rome. Stephenson, who lets us see all the pieces he has to build on, seems to prefer the story related by the philosopher Themistius, who was based in Constantinople in the fourth century CE:
When Aphrodite bore Eros, the lad was fair and like his mother in every way, save that he did not grow to a stature befitting his beauty, nor did he put on flesh; but he long remained at the size which he had had at birth. This matter perplexed his mother and the Muses who nursed him, and presenting themselves before Themis (for Apollo did not yet possess Delphi) they begged for a cure to this strange and wondrous mischance. So Themis spoke. “Why,” said she, “I will solve your difficulty. . . . If you wish Eros to grow, you need Anteros. These two brothers will be of the same nature, and each will be cause of the other’s growth.” . . . So Aphrodite gave birth to Anteros, and Eros shot up at once; his wings sprouted and he grew tall. . . . But he needs his brother always beside him; sensing him large, he strives to prove himself greater, or finding him small and slight he often wastes unwillingly away.2
As the Titaness primarily responsible for “right order,” Themis offered this solution to the oft-recognized immaturity of Eros to the goddess of love herself, Aphrodite, and to the Muses, whose ability to nurse Eros had not included the ability to guarantee his sound development. That (according to Cicero) Anteros had a different father (Ares) from any of the candidates assigned to the paternity of Eros (Stephenson seems to prefer Hermes) and that Anteros is most commonly visualized as dark suggests that the figure of Anteros, although sometimes assumed to represent “love returned,” is actually the image of our aggressive shadow that likes to quarrel with love whenever it threatens to dominate our emotional life according to the formula that gives title to Caravaggio’s most famous painting, Amor Vincit Omnia [Love Conquers All].
From that perspective, Anteros refers to the touchy part of all of us that struggles against simply submitting to another’s spontaneous affection. We turn anterotic (and thus at times away from those who love us) to embody nature’s insistence that love must always be received and reflected on by the beloved before it can be returned in a way that can possibly create a relationship. Those who really love us tolerate that temporary turn from them because they realize that only if we can return it, authentically, from within ourselves may their love and ours authentically prosper. Anteros’s appearance within the relational field created through an attraction spearheaded by Eros emblematizes not just resistance to Eros, but also the way Eros is enabled to become relatedness. As Stephenson argues, the anterotic response of the beloved provides the energy that can transform the lover’s erotic desire into something far more mutual, and also more likely to last. Wrestling as they must in ongoing love, both partners need to be able to be both the erotic lover and the anterotic beloved.
On this foundation, Stephenson builds, in true anterotic fashion, his own counterargument to any assumption that all he is talking about is the “fulfillment of Eros.” He is able to show, using literary examples from Sappho and Plato through Rimbaud and Virginia Woolf, in which he repeatedly finds Eros challenged by Anteros, that if Eros is consistently rigid in his expectations of our submission to love, Anteros is a shape-shifter whose elusive nature is changed each time a new generation takes up the effort to interpret his presence on the erotic scene.
Perhaps the most reckless countermove in the course of this history of a god who has to be continually reinterpreted to be understood at all has been the recurrent misunderstanding of the name Anteros, which etymologically means something like “love countered in reciprocal fashion.” By a misguided leap of intuition, the name has too often been misunderstood to mean nothing more than anti-Eros. This unfortunate simplification is reflected in the Christian humanist distinction between profane, that is, sexual love (surely what Aphrodite’s Eros had intended most humans pierced by his arrows to desire) and sacred love, the anterotic ideal of many Italian Renaissance paintings. Stephenson, developing a hint from Erwin Panofsky’s analysis of Titian’s Venus Blindfolding Cupid: The Education of Love, finds Anteros in the counter- Cupid who supports Aphrodite as she covers the eyes of the original Cupid, who apparently now needs to stop being distracted by worldly attributes to justly recognize and reciprocate love’s sacred nature.3 This is quite a distance from the imagery of Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love, completed fifty years earlier, in which the contrasting objects of love are depicted on canvas as the nearly naked bride, innocent of persona allures, and the elegantly dressed, sophisticated married woman she is apt to become once she has profited from erotic experience.
The Christian “recuperation” of Eros as conjugal love—counting on Anteros eventually to induce Eros to outgrow even that limited permission to indulge in pagan sensuality so that humans would, at least in their mature years, finally come to appreciate love’s spiritualizing aspects—experienced its own reversal in the Romantic era. As Romanticism saw it, both the Renaissance and the Reformation had left too much of the body, too much of the feminine, and even too much of evil out of what had come to pass for love in the now Enlightened, but still far too Christian world. But even Romanticism’s anterotic embrace of physical passion in flight from the attempt to contain Eros within Christian marriage was to meet its own anterotic recoil. Anteros came in the modern period to refer to all the moments when lovers are not together, when they cannot meet, or when their meetings are shadowed by alienation.
Stephenson is probably at his most subtle when interpreting the content of complex, late modern contemporaries, such as the painter Francis Bacon, the poets Anne Carson, Thom Gunn, and Joseph Brodsky, the cartoonist Matt Groening (Life in Hell), and the filmmaker Krzystof Kieslowski (A Short Film about Love), all of whom have tracked how intimate relationships develop themselves not just through erotic meeting but through states of withdrawal and questioning that Stephenson accurately interprets as anterotic. As I read this section of his book I thought of the recent Academy Award– winning movie Amour by the great Austrian director Michael Haneke, realizing that the film develops the love between the Parisian couple, married for decades and now faced with death and separation, by giving them precisely the anterotic opportunities they need not just to test but to complete their love.
For lovers of depth psychological theory, Stephenson offers reflections on the different ways Freud, Lacan, and René Girard have configured desire, moving psychology increasingly toward the recognition of something first postulated by Hegel, that what we most desire when we desire another is the desire of that other, in other words, the anterotic completion of one’s own erotic intention. Stephenson gives Jung his own chapter, making it clear that the alchemical conjunction Jung puts at the heart of the individuation process makes sense only if it is seen to emerge out of the large shadow created in any relationship by difference and unrelatedness. Although Jung understands alchemy’s emphasis on the union of opposites as holding the key to the development of Eros within individuation, Stephenson pays close attention to the role played by the union of sames in the process. It is by bringing Eros as a male god into close enough relationship with his brother god Anteros that humans, both male and female, can manage to reflect on what their unions mean to their developing separate identities. Between men and women, this consciousness brings up what the individual, irreconcilable genders continue to signify. It keeps the union of same-sex partners from becoming simply a merger based on the illusion of a common identity.
Toward the end of this rich and beautifully written book, Stephenson, drawing from his work as a Jungian analyst, offers clinical vignettes of a depth and delicacy that must be read to appreciate how resonant they are to the possibilities of that aspect of the therapeutic relationship that analysts have long been taught simply to regard as “resistance.” Stephenson amplifies this interactional reality, as enlarging of psychotherapy as dark energy is of the physical universe, through a fragment of the myth of Anteros that has the god wrestling with his brother Eros for the laurel of victory. The attention Stephenson gives to Anteros in the clinical setting does the service that the late James Hillman so often demanded of depth psychology: “saving” the phenomena it purports to understand. Stephenson recognizes that what analytical psychologists have always been taught to respect—the feelings, language, imagery, and interaction style that epitomize the psyche of a patient—most lets us realize our desire to help when it insists, anterotically, on its irreducible nature. This helps me to understand, as an analyst, why the patients who are most willing to receive the benefits of our love of psyche are the same ones who so stubbornly continue to present their psyches to us—as if to remind us that they love too, and in their own individual ways.
1. For an explanation of the constructive method or standpoint, see C. G. Jung, “On Psychological Understanding,” in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, vol. 3, The Psychogenesis of Mental Disease (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1960), pp. 181, 184ff. For a definition of amplification, see Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter, and Fred Plaut, A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986), pp. 16–17.
2. Themistius, Orations, trans., R. Pennella (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 24, quoted by Stephenson, pp. 10–11. 3. This painting, which Titian completed when he was at least seventy-seven, hangs in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.