Public Lecture: Alchemy – A bridge to Jung’s “objective Psyche”
West Midlands Institute of Psychotherapy
This talk has its origin in a paper (JAP 2005) by Jeffrey Morey in which he presented a correlation of this striking image – ‘Athene arising from the head of Zeus’ – drawn from an alchemical emblem book of 1617, with the ‘splitting headache’ dream Winnicott experienced in the wake of completing his controversial review (IJAP 1964) of Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
Winnicott’s contention that Jung ‘started off knowing (about the Self) but lacked a self with which to know’ effectively draws a challenging line between the objective, collective, unrepressed psyche of Jung and the subjective, personal, repressed unconscious of Freud: yet his dream, ‘which cleared up an element of my psychology that psychoanalysis could not reach’, self-confessedly bridges these two perspectives that have for so long regarded each other with mutual suspicion.
One implication of this alchemical image of the bearded contemplative accepting (self) sacrifice in order for the Athene (Self) figure to emerge is that the work of psychoanalytic introspection, leading to a relinquishment of narcissistic preoccupation, must necessarily precede any sustainable engagement with the ‘objective psyche’. Narcissus cannot see beyond his own image into the depth of the pool.
Although not of course couched in such terms I believe some such premise underpinned much of the alchemical opus, particularly its European flowering in the C16 & C17. This day conference is an invitation to consider this possibility in the company of the richly enigmatic imagery which expressed it.
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