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Presentation: Shadow Work in Psychotherapy and the Art of Dying with David Russell

  • Mitchell Theatre, SMSA 280 Pitt St Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia (map)

I began preparing the material for this talk because the topic has been on my mind for some time.  I find that most published writings on the shadow leave me most unsatisfied. And on the matter of dying, well, it appears to be one of those occasions when our tendency is to avert the eyes.  Nothing to see here!

Jung’s notion of the shadow was that it is an archetypal force.  So, my intention is to develop some potential richness around its archetypal basis.

Psychodynamic psychology is called psycho-dynamic precisely because it emphasis the dynamic or energy aspect of the archetype. It’s an archetypal force not a neutral structure. It is a force that is constituted as a pre-existing framework ready for action in the world. Thus we can talk of a primordial predisposition.  Babies don’t come into life as a blank page. Every baby has a prescribed beginning that is then continuously shaped by experience.

The archetypal shadow

Perhaps the most difficult to grasp of all the so-called Jungian archetypes is the ‘shadow’. We humans are drawn toward the ‘light’ and toward the ‘dark’. The light is a top-of-the-mountain experience. The dark, in contrast, is a moist, misty valley. One see clearly from on the mountain peak, the view is stunning and the air is pure. One only sees the very immediate in the dark valley. Often the mist is so full-on that all that can be seen is the thick mist itself. It’s so easy to feel lost. The expected path is barely visible if at all. Dying, as a key aspect of an archetypal force, is a move toward the ‘dark’.

Our culture is very light orientated in that we crave for understanding, insight, enlightenment. But because the archetypal force lies on the dynamic spectrum, the more we move toward the light the more our daily living accentuated the dark.

Ars moriendi, the classical literature on the art of dying needs to be revisited and Jung’s shadow work is proposed as a useful vehicle for this task.

 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.

 Date: 14th June 2019
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
Concession $20

*Psychotherapists and other practitioners can obtain credit for Professional Development hours recognised by PACFA and ACA for this presentation.