An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.


NOTE: This is a scholarly paper re-printed January 2002 by Myth*ing Links
with the kind permission of the authors, fellow faculty members at Pacifica Graduate Institute
To another paper by these authors:
Silenced Knowings, Forgotten Springs: Paths to Healing in the Wake of Colonialism

12 November 2008:
Congratulations to Helene and Mary!
Macmillan/Palgrave has just  released their new book,
Toward Psychologies of Liberation --
please click here for further information:


Individuation, Seeing-through, and Liberation:
Depth Psychology and Colonialism

By Helene Shulman Lorenz, Ph. D.
and Mary Watkins, Ph.D.

Bird of Prey
(Courtesy of Russian Sunbirds)

The face of a bird of prey

What we from our point of view call colonization, missions to the heathen, spread of civilization, etc., has another face--the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry--a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen.  All the eagles and other predatory creatures that adorn our coats of arms seem to me apt psychological representatives of our true nature.
                                                                                     Jung, 1961, pp. 248-249
In 1925, at the age of 50, Jung visited the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.  According to Jung (1961), Ochwiay Biano, the chief, shared that his Pueblo people felt whites were "mad," uneasy and restless, always wanting something.  Jung inquired further about why he thought they were mad. The chief replied that white people say they think with their heads - a sign of illness in his tribe.  "Why of course," said Jung,"what do you think with?"  Ochwiay Biano indicated his heart.  Jung reported falling into a "long meditation," in which he grasped for the first time how deeply colonialism had effected his character and psyche.
...someone had drawn for me a picture of the real white man.  It was as though until now I had seen nothing but sentimental, prettified color prints. This Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind.  I felt rising within me like a shapeless mist something unknown and yet deeply familiar.  And out of this mist, image upon image detached itself: first Roman legions smashing into the cities of Gaul, and the keenly incised features of Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus, and Pompey.  I saw the Roman eagle on the North Sea and on the banks of the White Nile. Then I saw St. Augustine transmitting the Christian creed to the Britons on the tips of Roman lances, and Charlemagne's most glorious forced conversion of the heathen; then the pillaging and murdering bands of the Crusading armies. With a secret stab I realized the hollowness of that old romanticism about the Crusades. Then followed Columbus, Cortes, and the other conquistadors who with fire, sword, torture, and Christianity came down upon even these remote pueblos dreaming peacefully in the Sun, their Father. I saw, too, the people of the Pacific islands decimated by firewater, syphilis, and scarlet fever carried in the clothes the missionaries forced on them.Jung, 1961, p. 248
Jung did not access these insights into the cultural unconscious while alone at his tower in Bollingen.  This meditation required his presence at Taos, a place which holds these tragedies in its own history and countenance.  It necessitated his being in deep enough relationship and dialogue with Ochwiay Biano that he was able to glance at  himself briefly through the chief's eyes, to see his own shadow as a European for the first time. In his autobiography, he said, "That was enough."
In our view, it was not enough, but only a beginning. We need to sustain and deepen this glance in ways that Jung was unable to in 1925. Our psyches and societies have been forged on the anvil of colonialism. As depth psychology was being born a hundred years ago, colonialism was stretching to its fullest reach.  Depth psychology's development coincides with the rise of national liberation movements and the ending of the colonial era. To the degree that depth psychology is a social critique of the narrowed vision of the dominant aspects of Euro-American culture, it has considered problematic many of the same dichotomizing and hierarchizing structures that are critiqued in postcolonial theory. We would not see this as accidental if we understood that the psychic structures and contents that depth psychologists have described reflect the psychic corollaries of colonialism - despite the fact that the context of colonialism is hardly ever named. You will not find "colonialism" in the indexes to Jung's collected works, his biographies or autobiography.
Re-membering the Context of Colonialism
for Depth Psychology

Nervously Manipulating a Surreal Mechanical Bird
(Courtesy of Tradestone International)
We live in a land where the past is always erased and America is the innocent future in which immigrants can come and start over, where the slate is clean.  The past is absent, or it's romanticized. This culture doesn't encourage dwelling on the past, let alone coming to terms with, the truth about the past.  (Toni Morrison, 1993, p.180)
All practices of healing - such as depth psychology - reflect their own cultural context, while also struggling to address and transcend those aspects of culture that give rise to suffering.  Depth psychology can easily be studied to point out how its language and methods reflect a colonial mindset. Various writers have (rightly, in our view) critiqued aspects of depth psychology for being racist, antisemitic, sexist, and Eurocentric (Samuels, 1993).  At the same time, depth psychology gives us a methodology with which we can creatively and imaginatively rework current assumptions, biases, or limitations in our ways of seeing the world.  It is this aspect of depth psychology which we want to place in dialogue with postcolonial theory.  In this paper, we would like to outline how depth psychology, particularly Jungian and archetypal psychology,  has attempted to heal the psychic sequelae of colonialism.

From this vantage point, we can place alongside of each other depth psychology's restoratory methodologies with those of postcolonial theorists such as Freire(1989), Anzaldua(1990), hooks (1992),  Belenky(1997), Griffin(1992),  Sulak Sivaraksa(1992), Martin-Baro(1994), Thich Nhat Hanh(1987), Aung San Suu Kyi(1997) who work with restorative methodologies of "liberation."  Holding together Jung's process of individuation and Hillman's process of "seeing-through" with the processes and goals of liberation largely generated from the South,  we can begin to chart paths to a post-colonial consciousness that could be regenerative for both cultures and individuals.

Colonialism, which created the material basis and wealth that gave rise to the technologies of the twentieth century, is based on two kinds of power.  The first is the power of one group or individual to appropriate the resources, labor, and territory of another group or individual creating hierarchy and inequality. The second power is the capacity to deny responsibility for having done so, to silence resistance and opposition, and to normalize the outcome.  By normalization we mean that the resultant inequities and suffering are made to appear as if they are completely natural through mythologies of scientific racism, gender role, ethnic identity, national destiny, and social Darwinism.  In "official culture,"  the supposed superiority of some is taken as fate, while the imagined inferiority of others is taken as fact.  Beneath this tear in the social and psychic fabric, we each carry the uneasy feeling-sense that there is much about our experiences of self, other, and community that cannot be said, indeed, even formulated into thoughts.

"Safe House" (or, in the context of this paper, Percepticide)
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

Further, research into extremely repressive situations show that when people perceive atrocities and injustices, often they must actually renounce their own perception to avoid danger to themselves.  Diana Taylor calls this "percepticide" in her study of the fourteen years of military dictatorship (1976-1983) in Argentina, which unfortunately was supported and financed by the U.S. government.  This renunciation, according to Taylor, "turns the violence on oneself.  Percepticide blinds, maims, kills through the senses" (Taylor, 1997, p.124).   When whole populations are forced to not-know what is going on around them, when the media choose to not-name injustice, watching-without-seeing becomes "the most dehumanizing of acts." This kind of renunciation establishes a split within the self, where certain knowings are exiled, and unavailable for the negotiation of one's life.  Robert J. Lifton (1986), in his study of Nazi doctors, described this as a doubling of the self, where one self is condemned to numbness regarding what the other self knows and understands.

The fictitious "rational consumer" self in a homogeneous nation, mythologized in the official history of the modernist era, has been created by a long practice of percepticide.  For how many years did history books portray the genocide caused by colonial expansion as a triumph of civilization, the tragedy of slavery and the plantation system as unrelated to the wealth amassed for industrialization, the exclusion of women, Native Americans and African Americans from the political process as the rise of democracy?  Educated in this paradigm, how much have we learned to deny?  How might we have been maimed and blinded by the thousands of media images that allow us to normalize violence, stereotypes, and passivity?  In order to see ourselves more fully, the pictures we paint of ourselves and our theories of psychology must also include the likelihood that our perspectives are limited by our situated histories, that what we can see is steeped in collusion with the paradigms that shape our consciousness.

"Because I know not how to smile"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

As carriers of internal colonization, we may have developed the habit of silencing our own and other's suffering, resistances, and creativity when they come into contact with the official mythologies of normalized culture.  Many of us have learned all too well what not to say and when not to speak.  Carried too far, this split may produce a dissociated sense of a magic interior world where everything is possible, living alongside a harsh outer world where nothing can be altered.  Interior journeys and aesthetic adventures may be chosen as preferred modes of being, protecting one from exterior realities that seem immutable and fixed.  For others, sustained dissociation creates a sense of an impoverished and empty interior, yielding a sense of inferiority and alienation.  Feelings of impotence and fatalism can become linked with despair, addictions, and violence.

While many cultural groups continue to have public rituals where what has not yet been spoken can be aired communally, the fragmentation of modern urban environments and the dissociation of the individual from the group that is part of the myth of individualism has sent others to small dialogue groups or therapy.  Private therapy has provided a safe space for some people to begin to listen to the silenced voices at the margins of their consciousness.  What is known, but not yet said, is invited into the reality of the therapeutic relationship, where there is support for exploring, experimenting, resisting, and seeking alternatives through creativity and conversations with others.  When people enter therapy or dialogue groups aimed at consciousness-raising, often those feelings silenced by shame, fear, and self-hatred emerge along the way to imaging new possibilities.


"Rainbow's End"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

How old is the habit of denial? We keep secrets from ourselves that all along we know.... For perhaps we are like stones; our own history and the history of the world embedded in us, we hold a sorrow deep within and cannot weep until that history is sung.
                                                                                       (Susan Griffin, 1992,  pp. 4, 8)
In addressing the restoration of a torn soul, Jung described the normative psyche he found in the first half of last century: a hierarchically organized psyche, dominated by a one-sided ego and collectively identified persona.  Such a hierarchy pushes into the margins all that is inferiorized by the culture (the shadow), and sustains a sense of power through identification with collective norms.  Dissociation, denial, repression, projection were the defenses to be studied and confronted - each a psychological variant of a cultural process that maintained the status quo balance of power in colonialism.

In depth psychological methodology, this psychic configuration necessitates a move away from hierarchy, where the ego and the persona control the construction and representation of identity.  Through attention to dream, image, spontaneous thought, feeling and intuition, previously unrecognized knowings and points of view emerge, supplanting controlled monological thought with the vibrancy and multi-layered complexity of dialogue among many.

Jung's hope for this kind of process was that one could begin to become differentiated from mindless adherence to collective norms.  With this differentiation comes the possibility of being able to creatively participate with culture, imagining and enacting alternatives to the status quo.  When therapy is seen as only a retreat to an individual, interior, private space, cut off from culture, this hope on Jung's part may become short-circuited.  The American consumerist ethos too often allows us to see psyche or soul as a privatized possession of the individual, making it impossible to grasp the permeability of psyche and culture, and the potential for one's individuation to fuse with liberatory movements within one's culture.

"Breach of Contract"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

Jungian work begins with "pathologizing" official stories of "normal" and "healthy" adjustment to taken-for-granted social values, and inviting into dialogue what has been cast into the shadows.  Jung's notion that we are surrounded by a collective consciousness that has framed our ways of knowing ourselves and others means that pushing outside of this frame leads to a "defeat of the ego" and the creation of a new form of subjectivity that is in a way also a  defection.

The goal of Jungian work is "individuation," the differentiation of subjectivity away from the fixed and narrow conceptions of personhood given by the collective culture. This process could be described as a form of decolonization, a revalorization of those values cast aside by the technologization, industrialization, and rationalism of the modernist era.  Jung was clear that this kind of psychic differentiation should not entail a literal isolation.

Individuation is only possible with people, through people.  You must realize that you are a link in a chain, that you are not an electron suspended somewhere in space or aimlessly drifting through the cosmos.  You are part of an atomic structure, and that atomic structure is part of a molecule which, with others, builds up a body.  Jung, 1988, p. 103
Creating community and dialogue was part of individuation.
Since the individual is not only a single entity, but also by his very existence, presupposes a collective relationship, the process of individuation does not lead to isolation, but to an intenser and more universal collective solidarity. Jung 1966,   p.155
Having lived through both World Wars as well as the rise of fascism in Europe, Jung believed that the only hope for peace and freedom lay in the ability of individuals to break away from repressive social agendas.  Individuation always involves a rupture of the normalized roles of the surrounding social collective.

"Nothing like the sun"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

With this rupture we become capable of new ideas, utopian dreams, and healing insights.  We apparently have a deep archetypal need to create spaces in our worlds where older fixed complexes can be metabolized and spontaneous creativity can emerge.  Jungian analysis can be imagined as just such a space.  Within the temenos of regular dialogue with a mentor in what Dora Kalff has named "a free and protected space" (Kalff, 1980),  the analysand learns a method of self-witnessing, a kind of autoethnography and autoarcheology shared with an educator committed to participatory research.  In the form proposed by Jung, Jungian analysis does not diagnose or reduce the images of the analysand to already-known reductive categories.  Rather, the encounter is seen as one that involves and changes both in the dialogue, as the analysand practices remembrance in order to regenerate utopian potentials still outside literal everyday routines.

"Going home now"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

Jung developed the notion of a "transcendent function" that would be the medium for and the outcome of the individuation process.  This would involve the creation of practices of dialogue with whatever new images and events emerge spontaneously in our inner and outer worlds.  In developing the transcendent function, we work at critical reflection and imaginative interpretation, a hermeneutics that brings the already known into contact with the new.  We gain different perspectives from this work, which leads us to understand what we are and what we can become from multiple points of view.  Through this practice we learn to bear the anxieties of disidentification with surrounding cultural constructs and old patterns of thought.  We become less defensive and more open to the experimental, unknown, and synchronistic, more aware of unconscious potentials that are still preverbal.  As a result, the work often involves the arts - writing, storytelling, painting, movement - in imaginative symbolizations of the dialogue process; and it often involves conversation with others.  Jung claimed the process of developing the transcendent function would lead to "a considerable widening of the horizon" and "a deepened self-knowledge" which might also "humanize" us and "make us more modest" (1966, p.137).  The more we engage in this work, the more fully we can be with others in the world.  Finally there would be, Jung wrote, "no distance, but immediate presence."  (Jung, 1973, p.298)


"Sound of my voice"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

...I do not ever truly have ideas; they have, hold, contain, govern me.  Our wrestling with ideas is a sacred struggle, as with an angel; our attempts to formulate, a ritual activity to propitiate the angel.  The emotions that ideas arouse are appropriate, and authentic, too, is our sense of being a victim of ideas, humiliated before their grand vision, our lifetime devotion to them, and the battles we must fight on their behalf." (James Hillman, 1975, p.130)
In archetypal psychology we direct our attention to the voices and images of pathology, that which suffers, often in exile from heroic consciousness.  But it is not only to the margins we turn.  Indeed, much listening is done to the heroic ego itself, attempting to discern which ideas it has identified with, literalized, and taken for granted.  It is these identifications that have exiled other points of view,  laying claim on reality and truth.  When ideas are unworked, the reality they spawn is experienced as natural and inevitable, something to be suffered or enjoyed, but not questioned.  When ideas are seen-through and worked with, they "are the nodes that make possible our ability to see-through events into their patterns" (Hillman,1975).

Listening to the truth in the perspectives of the many at the margins, while practicing seeing as a perspective what one holds most dear and true, are movements that support each other, and which work to free us from false certitudes and easy dismissals of otherness.  For Hillman, seeing-through or deconstructing  ideas is an on-going process of liberation, allowing us the possibility of creating with ideas, rather than being enslaved by them.  "Ideas are ways of seeing and knowing, or knowing by means of insighting.  Ideas allow us to envision and by means of vision we can know"  (Hillman, 1975, p. 121).

It is tempting to many depth psychologists to split ideas from action, psyche from culture, psychological work from cultural work.  Indeed, it is difficult to hold psyche and culture together, to witness pain as it issues from both quarters, and to enter the mess and fray of participation, solidarity, and responsibility.  However in Hillman's archetypal psychology, these separations are seen as false.  Ideas and action are "not inherent enemies, and they should not be paired as a contrast" (Hillman, 1975, p.116).  Reflection is an activity and action always enacts an idea. "[When] an insight or idea has sunk in, practice visibly changes... By seeing differently, we do differently" (Hillman, 1975, p. 122).   Ideas such as "manifest destiny," "growth," "development," "racial superiority," "primitivity," "white supremacy," "noblesse oblige,"  "individualism" fueled colonialism, shaped psychological theory and research, and mapped themselves onto intrapsychic and interpersonal relationships.  Seeing-through them is no small matter, and it is a work that affects culture and psyche at the same moment.  As in Jung's case, it requires dialogue with or among others who have carried the burden of these ideas.


"Deaf Leonard"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

For me education is simultaneously an act of knowing, a political act, and an artistic event.  I no longer speak about a political dimension of education.  I no longer speak about a knowing dimension of education.  As well, I don't speak about education through art.  On the contrary, I say education is politics, art, and knowing. (Freire, 1985. p.17)
In the year that Jung died, 1961, a young teacher in Brazil named Paulo Freire was asked to initiate a literacy program that would involve teaching 5 million people previously denied education by institutions of neo-colonialism that had survived slavery.  As in the United States, where it was also forbidden to teach slaves how to read and write, such deprivation was used in Northeast Brazil to disempower the masses and to make claims of their inferiority easier.  Such claims would then rationalize the abuse of their labor, and their assignment to conditions of poverty, malnutrition and illness, in order that others in power could profit economically.   Freire deeply believed that the power to read and write should be linked with developing the capacity to decode the reality one is living in.  In his literacy groups the leader, or "animator," would help people engage in a process of questioning, of seeing-through, their circumstances.  Such questioning led to naming "generative" words and themes for one's writing and one's living.

As in psychotherapy, these groups directed participants' attention to what they were suffering.  Unlike individual therapy, it was easy for participants to experience that their individual suffering was shared by others in the group.  When the origins of suffering were interrogated, group members could begin to see that their personal difficulties were grounded in the arrangement of power and resources which they had largely taken-for-granted.  Psychological change and cultural change were understood to be indissolubly linked.

Freire reasoned that everyone discovers obstacles as they begin to examine the "limit situations" which restrict their freedom.  These obstacles prevent further growth and in many cases make survival difficult.  Some people accept these limit situations as inevitable; others begin to perform what Freire calls "limit acts."  Limit acts are strategies that allow us to detach from seeing limit situations as unchangeable givens - a  refusal and problematizing of what is normalized by those in power.  The question then becomes how to break through the barrier by reflection, witnessing, acting, and reimagining.

By first seeing-through the arrangements one has taken as god-given, one emerges into a field of creativity and imagination that Freire named "annunciation." The goal is to uncover some 'untested feasability': "something the utopian dreamer knows exists, but knows that it will be attained only through a practice of liberation" (Freire, 1989, p. 206).  It is "an untested thing, an unprecedented thing, something not yet clearly known and experienced, but dreamed of."

Like Jung, Freire thought that his method of dialogical action, could not provide a blueprint for the outcome.  It would be only out of local dialogue that alternative futures could be imagined by those who had the courage to refuse "being-in-a-lesser-way."  No one can do this for others, because to think for others simply recolonizes them.  To be free involves becoming an active participant in one's own context and history, to become consciente or aware and in dialogue with others.  This is the prerequisite of humanization, becoming what Freire called o ser-mais - "being-in-a-larger-way" or being more-so.

The short-lived populist government of Goulart which created the National Literacy Program or Programa Nacional de Alphabetizacao, ended abruptly with the military coup of April 1, 1964 that was assisted by the US government and the CIA.  The literacy movement was viewed as subversive to the status quo, which indeed it was.  During the fifteen years of military rule which followed, Freire was forced to go into exile and many of the people he worked with were tortured and killed.  His book, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, became world famous, was translated into dozens of languages, and was banned in most Latin American countries as well as the Iberian Peninsula during the years of his exile.

In the Space of Rupture, Imagination

"Descent of the Nomad"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

The critical ontology of ourselves has to be considered not, certainly as a theory, a doctrine, nor even as a permanent body of knowledge that is accumulating; it has to be conceived as an attitude, an ethos, a philosophical life in which the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them. (Michel Foucault, 1986,  p.50)
In the long development of  modernist Eurocentric discourse, an image of the completed rational subject who ruled the psyche paralleled the notion of the nation-state which ruled the political-economic sphere.  History was seen as a progressive evolution, blessed by God or at least "manifest destiny," from the "primitive" irrational to the "civilized" rational of contemporary Euro-American culture.   In this fantasy much was silenced that today has begun to be spoken.  In an era of globalization, difference not consensus, multiplicity not unity, conflict not repression, disidentification rather than identity is all too apparent.

In the second half of the twentieth century, numerous writers on every continent - including many depth psychologists - have begun to deconstruct modernist fantasies about unified selves evolving in a progressively developing world.   The voices of communities and environments that suffered as a result of the hymn to progress found an audience, complicating the story, making it difficult to view the march of development as an unqualified success.  As a result of this eruption of multiple points of view, much current research focuses on the local, the idiosyncratic, the forgotten, the denied, the crossroads of influences and intentions that make up both psychological states as well as regional history.

Contemporary post-colonial studies posit rupture, disequilibrium, the witnessing of ones own conflicts and contradictions, the imagination and creation of utopian dreams for alternative futures and experiences as central to our lived experience in globalized environments.  What is most apparent in this discourse is the difficult alchemical work involved in imagining a coherent self or a functional community in solidarity.  These are no longer seen as given, but, at best, as utopian goals.  The norm is denial, fragmentation, dissociation, contradiction, what Jung suggested was a type of personality more like an archipelago than a continent.  As depth psychologists we must begin to listen to dreamers who dare to imagine in the space created by rupture, who bring to us possibilities for post-colonial consciousness.  We have chosen as examples Ignacio Martin-Baro and Gloria Anzaldua, who [are] here with us today.

"Maya I"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

Ignacio Martin-Baro, a Jesuit psychologist from El Salvador murdered for his alliance with the poor by "security " forces funded by the United States, wrote about the revolutionary ideal of community (el pueblo or el pueblo unido)  linked to a process of liberation similar to what Freire described. He said that el pueblo is: "an opening - an opening against all closure, flexibility against everything fixed, elasticity against all rigidity, a readiness to act against all stagnation."  It is "a hunger for change, affirmation of what is new; life in hope" (1994, p.183).  In order to exist as a community or el pueblo a group of people necessarily move beyond the current literal state of their relationships to imagine a "negation of non-solidarity."  A "dis-associating and egoistic individualism," which denies the connection between self and culture, must be abandoned to forge this new consciousness "that does not involve the non-being of others, and that comes about through a having  that is communitarian and united" (1994,  p.183).

This utopian vision of community involves a changed notion of self.  "The self is open to becoming different, on a plane of equality with neither privileges nor oppressive mechanisms."  It implies "an opening toward the other, a readiness to let oneself be questioned by the other, as a separate being, to listen to his or her words, in dialogue; to confront reality in relationship to and with (but not over) him or her, to unite in solidarity in a struggle in which both will be transformed" (1994, p. 183).

For Chicana activist Gloria Anzaldua (1990) a new way of being in the world emerges when one "has gone from being the sacrificial goat to becoming the officiating priestess at the crossroads" (p. 380), where "mestiza consciousness" can develop.  With the notion of la Mestiza, Anzaldua is describing the development of a new type of subjectivity.  "In perceiving conflicting information and points of view, [la Mestiza] is subjected to a swamping of her psychological borders.  She has discovered that she can't hold concepts or ideas in rigid boundaries.  The borders and walls that are supposed to keep the undesirable ideas out are entrenched habits and patterns of behavior; these habits and patterns are the enemy within.  Rigidity means death.  Only by remaining flexible can she stretch the psyche horizontally and vertically. La Mestiza constantly has to shift out of habitual formations; from convergent thinking, analytical reasoning that tends to use rationality to move toward a single goal (a Western mode), to divergent thinking, characterized by movement away from set patterns and goals and toward a more whole perspective, one that includes rather than excludes" (p. 379).

When we begin to live out of this open awareness, it changes the way we see the world, the way we understand ourselves, and the way we behave. By gathering up many lost and excluded parts of ourselves and our communities, we begin the process of giving voice to strengths, wounds, and needs as we "seek to recover and reshape" what Anzaldua(1990) calls our "spiritual identities" (p. 386).

Psychological and Cultural Restoration

"The Price of Admission"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

If we do not fashion for ourselves a picture of the world, we do not see ourselves either, who are the faithful reflections of that world. Only when mirrored in our picture of the world can we see ourselves in the round. Only in our creative acts do we step forth into the light and see ourselves whole and complete. Never shall we put any face on the world other than our own, and we have to do this precisely in order to find ourselves.  (Jung, 1960 p. 379)
What can we contribute to a "picture of the world" from this holding together of depth psychology with post-colonial theory and practice?  Can we begin to imagine the norm of both individual and community life as evolving interconnected systems of multiple elements that are potentially chaotic and discordant, that is, not as necessarily moving toward order, unity, reason, progress, or enlightenment?   Can we envision the alternating rhythms of seeing-through and utopic imagining as liberatory to both psyche and culture?   Can we take the process of moving attention to the margin, of listening into the multiple voices that have been exiled from consciousness, as foundational to both depth psychology and post-colonial cultural work?  What if, as depth psychologically-minded cultural workers, we labored against falsely separating the processes of individuation from those of liberation?  Can we bear to acknowledge the complete interdependence of psyche and culture, while working to differentiate ourselves from identifications with collective norms and ideas?

"Blue Madonna"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

Healing arts have developed because every cultural environment evolves routines of normalization that are regularly ruptured by life circumstances.  Chosen or unchosen transitions and circumstances - the death of a loved one, illness, growing into adolescence, new or ending relationships - break apart old ways of thinking and being everywhere.  With the development of colonialism, whole populations began to suffer previously unknown types of rupture - genocide on a massive, unthinkable scale, slavery involving tens of millions of people, colonial conquest, world war, massive migrations due to the disruption of self-sufficient local economies.  These ruptured conditions are documented contexts for the increased incidence of mental illness and experiences of suffering (Kleinman, 1988).   The process of rupture has been further intensified by globalization.  In contemporary neo-colonial and hierarchical environments, the oppressed have felt a constant assault on, and rupture of, their dignity, humanity, and dreams for happiness.  Those privileged to live comfortable lives in the midst of human misery, must perform ever more complete percepticide within their own psyches if they are to sustain a sense of comfort.

In all of these forms of rupture, whatever structures of self-identity have existed up until that point may prove insufficient to navigate the new situation.  At such a moment, we could imagine that a deep human need for meaning, coherence, community, and hope may reassert itself, attempting to create processes of restoration through the cultural work that arises from alternating waves of seeing-through and utopian imagining.  Such imagining necessarily reaches into the past for images of recollection which are capable of contextualizing, narrating, and mythologizing the current situation.

In what we are calling "creative restoration," it is not a restoration to an idealized past - a golden age - that is sought or that is possible.  By creative restoration we mean psychologically-minded cultural work and culturally-minded psychological work that crafts psyche and world in the image of the deeply desired; that provides a healing context where what has been torn can be reimagined and sutured in concert with others.  Such restorative work is an act of love and care that has both human and spiritual dimensions. While it can be suffused with wrong turns and misreadings, sometimes it breaks into moments of grace and communitas that allow desired transformations.

However, the drag and  weight of our historical, cultural, and personal complexes is very forceful, and there is also a type of "normative restoration" that is constantly available in times of rupture.   Here, ways of the past are  anxiously referenced and rehearsed.  Jung often raised the possibility that confronted with new potentials which needed to be assimilated to consciousness, his patients might instead move toward what he called "the retrogressive restoration of the persona" (Jung, p. 163).  This can be true of communities and nations as well.  In normative restoration, we cling rigidly to the constructs of the past, ceremonializing them and rejecting all new elements as polluting.  Facing an unwanted rupture or rapid social change, fascist violence or personal crisis, we can use the arts of restoration - performance, storytelling, ceremony - to reify mythic figures and historical ideas, to defend against what is new and nearby, to create compassion fatigue and numbness toward current suffering.  Agendas for social and cultural liberation as well as psychological individuation can both yield a type of normative restoration.  In many liberation movements, leaders failed to realize that new societies would require new subjectivities - people who were critical, imaginative, and free to voice oppositional strategies and points of view.  History has yielded many sad examples of movements that began as liberatory and ended as controlling and repressive.  At the same time many schools of psychology, intending to assist individuals in finding new potentials, stop short of critiquing and engaging the social limitations which make transformation impossible.  Thus, it is often the case that the mental health establishment helps to personalize, marginalize, and medicate what is essentially a protest against dehumanizing and repressive social milieus.

© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission

If projects of social liberation and personal individuation are to be carried through to processes of creative restoration, each will require completion in the other.  Anyone involved in the differentiation from collective consciousness that individuation calls for will soon find social situations where new images and behaviors are necessary.  Jungian analyst Guggenbuhl-Craig hoped that depth psychologists would be a thorn in the side of their communities.  On the other hand, anyone who truly wishes for liberation for the marginalized and oppressed will soon discover their need for individual experience and support in reimagining alternative identities and futures and voicing their own personal perspectives of criticism and dissent.

Liberation and individuation projects that aspire to creative restoration require the capacity to question the status quo and work with imaginal scripts.  bell hooks (1994) speaks of the kind of education that is needed to support such transgressing of boundaries, an education that whets the appetite and creates the capacity for the practice of freedom.  She says, "It is also about transforming the image, creating alternatives, asking ourselves questions about what kinds of images subvert, pose critical alternatives, and transform our worldviews and move us away from dualistic thinking about good and bad.  Making a space for the transgressive image, the outlaw rebel vision, is essential to any effort to create a context for transformation"(1992, p. 4).

In our analysis,  the Jungian work of individuation, the archetypal work of seeing-through, and the practices of liberation and conscienticization, are each instances of the arts of cultural and psychological restoration that have been practiced by healers all over the world for centuries in various local forms.  Yet leaving behind the triumphalist and modernist fantasies of progress toward perfection, in a post-colonial discourse we are left with projects that are always provisional and incomplete.  In a world desperate for new understandings that mitigate suffering and inspire creation, we need to be clear that both liberation movements and individuation processes can also be retrogressive and support neo-colonial hierarchies.  We need to learn how to distinguish creative restorations that bring together complex and multiple dissonant experiences through dialogue, and normative restorations that force our experience apart into oppositional and dissociative binary oppositions: pure vs. polluted, insider vs. outsider, sacred vs. profane, us and them.

Neither depth psychology nor post-colonial consciousness can  promise a safe distance in which we can stand free of the cultural constructs that have formed us and with which we constantly collude.  Instead both require a complex ongoing and situated engagement that necessitates bearing suffering, witnessing our own involvement in neo-colonial relationships, and bending in toward the world to accept the responsibilities of attending to what has been experienced and understood.  We need to reach for creative restoration cautiously, in dialogue with others who challenge us, knowing that we bring the past with us partly unconsciously.  Yet we are drawn forward by the paradoxical joy of vulnerability, allowing what has been suffered to be known, bringing with it a potential for relief from the dissociations of both self and community.  If we are successful as healers skilled in the arts of creative restoration, we may find the sweetness of liberation from ideas and cultural arrangements that have imprisoned, and the pleasure of working together towards a just and peaceful world that is deeply desired.

© Helene Shulman Lorenz, Ph. D. and Mary Watkins, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.

(Note: You can contact the authors, c/o Dr. Mary Watkins, by clicking here.)

"La Belle Epoque"
© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission


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Silenced Knowings, Forgotten Springs:
Paths to Healing in the Wake of Colonialism


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