The Transcendent Function in Nelson Mandela’s Politics

Book tickets

Organised by:

The Society of Analytical Psychology

03 December 2022

Time: 11:00 - 13:00

Price: £15-£30

Location: online


Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. When Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa, he envisioned how winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup could help heal their deep racial divisions. In a shock result, they did indeed win, and it had a transformational impact on race relations. There was a great deal of luck involved, and subsequent rumours that a betting syndicate gave South Africa’s final opponents food poisoning 48 hours before the match. Nelson Mandela’s personal contribution was very substantial to both the sporting achievement and its impact on South African culture.

This presentation is a follow up to the Journal of Analytical Psychology article ‘The transcendent function in politics: YES!’ (June 2022). After laying out some background, it will use this sporting event to show how the flexibility of attitude furnished by the transcendent function underpinned and helped shape the politics of Nelson Mandela. It will use the medium of film – including Invictus (2009) and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) – to show how Mandela was willing to oppose both blacks and whites, maintaining the tension of opposites for the purpose of reconciliation.

The presentation will conclude by posing some questions for a plenary discussion. For example, how relevant is analytical psychology to contemporary political developments outside the clinical setting? Is it currently being too passive (having no impact), too one-sided (exacerbating the problems of polarisation), or is it promoting greater use of the transcendent function in public political discourse? The aim of the session is to provoke further debate on the practical steps that can be taken to realise the full potential of Jungian political psychology’s contribution to politics.

Steve Myers is a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He has a Masters in Jungian and Post-Jungian Studies, and a Doctorate in Psychoanalytic Studies that examined an aspect of Jung’s theory of myth. He is the author of Myers-Briggs Typology vs Jungian Individuation: Overcoming One-Sidedness in Self and Society, has a chapter in The Routledge International Handbook of Jungian Film Studies and has written numerous other articles/chapters on subjects within analytical psychology. He has a commercial background and is the author of psychometric tools used in team and leadership development.

Chair Christopher Hauke

CPD Credit

Book tickets



Find out more about upcoming events.
Read more