Desire and compulsion are at the heart of psychodynamic psychology. And it is the object of our desires (and compulsions) that get us into trouble. Trouble, yes, but also a purpose for living and the desire to make meaning of what would otherwise be pretty banal. The desire to believe is a common experience in all humans.
In addition to this will to believe, Jung needed to draw our attention to a totally other experience, namely, archetypal desire … and here we are exposed to big trouble (he referred to it as a terrible mystery). It was as if Jung needed to rewrite the first words of Saint John’s Gospel: In the beginning was desire, and desire was with God, and desire was God.
To illustrate the complexity and ambiguity of desire and compulsion I will refer to two cultural stories. Firstly, Cinderella and the matter of her three mothers (archetypally, the polarity of the resentful, denying stepmother and the ever-giving godmother … but what about the real mother?). And, secondly, Scheherazade of The Thousand and One Nights and the archetypal polarity that holds together in a dynamic unity: the desire to betray and the desire to love.
Biographers of Jung often speak of his emotionally restricted life such that he denied his anima relationship and erotic relationship with Sabina Spielrein. Specifically, he denied it to Freud.
But as the rap song says … Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. Now that we have all seen David Cronenberg’s film A Dangerous Method (2012) it is impossible not to picture Michael Fassbender (as Carl Jung) whacking the bottom of Keira Knightley (as Sabina Spielrein) and being totally tantalised by her nipples popping out of a corset … such is the power of the visual image, or is it the power of psychoanalysis, or is it more a matter of compulsion being confused with desire, or, more simply is it just two adults in the throws of erotic passion.
Dr. David Russell has a psychotherapy/psychology practice in Darlinghurst (Sydney CBD). In his therapeutic work his intention is to attend to the experiential nature of desire and compulsion as experienced in everyday life. David is a past president of the Sydney Jung Society and past Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Western Sydney University.
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Date: 14th July 2017
Time: 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Venue: Mitchell Theatre Level 1 Sydney Mechanics' School
of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: Members $15 Non-Members $25 Non-Member
*Psychotherapists and other practitioners can obtain credit for Professional Development hours recognised by CAPA, PACFA and ACA for this presentation.