Jung in the Paper!

The C. G. Jung Center was featured in the Evanston RoundTable on October 22. Read the full article below or Click here to read more!

Becoming More Human
By Tom Benz

Amid the hustle and bustle of Evanston’s central district lies a quiet sanctuary for engaging the contemplative side of life, both personal and cultural. The C.G Jung Center, established in Evanston by June Singer in the 1970s, describes itself as “a place for self-help and community.”

Its simple interior, with library and conference rooms, seems to invite a calm exploration of mind and spirit. Analysts Laura McGrew and Cate Rondenet describe the center as providing people with assistance in healing and uncovering a conscious sense of purpose in their lives. They characterize it in terms of a journey more than as a quick fix in an increasingly impatient world.

The Center’s framework is the celebrated work of Carl Jung. He believed that psychological distress is a result of an imbalance within the individual that often is experienced as an alienation from the deeper personality, or what he called the “Self.” The goal is to restore the individual’s connection to that more fundamental identity.

In her acclaimed book “Boundaries of the Soul,” Ms. Singer explained that the process “involves two movements, inward to discover the one who is, and outward to learn about one’s place in the function of the world.”

Ms. McGrew and Ms. Rondenet differentiate their approach from the Freudian one, which is somewhat more concerned with a person’s early formation. Jungian psychology tends to focus more on the unconscious as a guiding principle to help people discover neglected facets of themselves as they go forward.

“Some people have described the different focus as a comparison between back wheel and front wheel drive,” Ms. McGrew says. “We tend to focus less on what happened in childhood than how we’re being pulled into life.”

Though there is a considerable vocabulary associated with the field – ego, complex, shadow, unconscious, projection, archetype, mandala, individuation – individuals interested in a deeper understanding of themselves need not be acquainted with any of it. The analysts are decidedly down-to-earth in their use of such concepts, and Jung’s ethos was always based on an exchange of information between equals, where either or both might be influenced in the exchange. Like two chemicals interacting, each is transformed.

Ms. Rondenet says it is not unusual for clients to come in seeking one goal and emerge with a changed one, based on a greater understanding of their own attitudes and desires. She gave the example of a teacher of young children who was disturbed by her reaction to her frequent lack of control over the classroom. She feared her own anger would get out of hand. She came in thinking she might get advice on how to get her students to behave better, but she came to see that she needed to be more open in her own life to the kind of spontaneous energy the kids exuded.

While dreams are often cited as the most common bridge to the unconscious, Ms. McGrew says another way the unconscious manifests itself is through a strong emotional reaction, often caused by something that would not ordinarily elicit one. She explains that this may be a clue that there is more than meets the eye on the surface of a situation.

Then it becomes a matter of what is going on in one’s blind spot or “shadow” side that one probably is not aware of – something with a positive aspect that may become troublesome if it is repeatedly avoided or disregarded. Jung’s practitioners ask how individuals can incorporate that part of their nature in order to grow on a path to “wholeness.”

The Jung Center offers a wide range of services, from individual clinical sessions on a sliding fee scale to seminars, classes and a popular movie night about once a month. Movies that have been screened range from “The Hunter” to “Frozen” to “Biutiful” to “Pan’s Labyrinth.” “Babette’s Feast” will be shown in December. Afterward there is a brief lecture on the relationship of the story to depth psychology, invariably followed by a lively discussion.

Classes at the Center examine dreams, myths, symbols, art, and meditation. Clients can pursue personal meaning through any number of channels, including art, music, science, philosophy and the broad, innate hunger for spiritual connection. While the Center counsels 40 to 50 people of all ages per week, it also has an Institute for Creative Aging which focuses on the unique features of the second half of life.

An unobtrusive refuge at 817 Dempster St., the Jung Center is there for those seeking insight into a personal issue or a better sense of how they fit into the larger scheme of things. One of its principal mottos is “Be More Human.” One has to admit it is an intriguing idea.

Be More Human

Be More HumanHave you seen this? This enigmatic sign went up at 3485 N. Clark, May 30th for one month, funded by The C. G. JUNG CENTER with a gift from Judy Shaw, LCSW, Jungian analyst and volunteer with the C. G. Jung Center. The billboard will be up at the intersection of Addison/Newport in Chicago (near Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs play) for the month of June, beautifully lit up at night. We felt you would like to know more about the billboard, the person behind it, and how it came to be so we asked Judy to interview her for the C. G. Jung Center Blog and she graciously agreed:

What motivated you to put up this billboard?

I ‘d been feeling very distressed about all of the shootings and violence in the last three months, just feeling powerless. Stewing about what to do, I had several ideas, just a mass of confusion and emotion. So I let the whole thing go. About a week later, sitting at a red light and I looked up and saw a billboard sign that said it was available. Just then, I had my ‘Field of Dreams’ moment and decided to use that billboard and use my voice to say: “Be More Human.”

For those acquainted with Jung’s theory of the “tension of the opposites,” that’s what I was containing during that week. I understood that people want to have their guns, but also understood that something had to be done about the violence, it was just fever pitch for the past few months. In that moment when the billboard appeared, I saw a way to release some of the tension, and not feel so powerless.

Where did the phrase “Be More Human,” come from?

I trained in Zurich, Switzerland at the C.G. Jung Institute. While there, years ago, in 1988, one weekend we hiked up the Matterhorn. After hiking eight hours, we arrived at a rest spot, completely drained but gratified, too. There was a sign in seven languages (it’s a destination for people from all over the world) saying, “Be More Human.” I was so moved, I almost wept. That moment re-visited me, my ‘Field-of-Dreams’ moment. You don’t know what’s cooking, but you are just more receptive to the unconscious; and that’s the message I got.

What does it mean to you to be more human?

For me it means being vulnerable, experience that. Guns and the violence are an attempt to force some equality, the great equalizer. Vigilantes can’t get justice through the courts, so you have the ‘Dirty Harry’ guys. The gangs feel invisible in the white world, so they establish their own hierarchy of power. No one wants to say, “Yeah, you know what? I am powerless. I’m pretty humbled right now.” At the top of the Matterhorn, spent, you can know that place of depletion and not have shame about it, even take pride in it! To know that we’re just little clay pots filled with the spirit, it’s a much better way to live.

And how does that relate to Jungian philosophy and the Jung Center?

Our mission all along has been to “be more human.” Jung said that being human requires owning your shadow. The shadow of these guns is the experience of powerlessness and vulnerability. He said somewhere the “love of power eliminates the power of love” or something to that effect. How can you have a human connection with someone you’re holding a gun over? You can’t. That’s why our veterans return from war so broken, but that’s another story. For me, the mission of the C.G. Jung Center has been about being human, being imperfect, owning and experiencing our deficits. That generates compassion for ourselves and for the deficits of others, too.

What do you hope will happen as a result of people seeing the billboard?

I hope to provoke some thought and discussion. I love that it’s black and white, and simple. I want people just to imagine, “What does it mean to be more human?” I hope everyone who sees the board will ask themselves that question.

Thank you for acting on your “Field of Dreams” moment, Judy and for including the C.G. Jung Center in this experience!

Judy Shaw is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Chicago. She is a former board member of the C.G. Jung Center, a frequent lecturer, and provides clinical supervision at the Center. For more information about her practice, visit www.judithshawlcsw.com


The Hunter: A Film Analysis by Daniel Ross

HunterI am struck by what seems to be a lack of masculine energy that is life-giving rather than destructive in our culture.  I am also struck by the lack of films that address male individuation.  We have plenty of hero myths played out in film but the transformation is external, not internal.  The hero changes the world around him by defeating evil but remains unchanged.  The recent exception to that may be the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall”, but we suspect that any softening of Bond will mean his demise and the end of a franchise.  So it took a woman to write a story of male individuation with a Bond-like character.  In contrast, several very good films have portrayed individuation in young women in recent years.  Some of these we have presented at our Movie Night at the Evanston Jung Center, such as Black Swan, Winter’s Bone, An Education, True Grit and others.  Over the summer Jackie Mattfeld, a board member of the C.G. Jung Center, suggested I view the film “The Hunter” and perhaps present it at the Center.  On January 4th we will do just that.  In preparation for that I will discuss some aspects of the film here. Continue reading The Hunter: A Film Analysis by Daniel Ross

Biutiful: Movie Night and Film Analysis by Daniel Ross

BiutifulThis Friday we will be showing a film by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s and starring Javier Bardem. It is González Iñárritu’s first feature since Babel and fourth overall, and his first film in his native Spanish language. The title Biutiful refers to the orthographical spelling in Spanish of the English word beautiful as it would sound to native Spanish speakers.  The spelling of the word sets the tone of the film which grounds us in the senses, not in the intellect. This is a story that has to be felt deeply and it is a rough road.  The director teaches us we are accustomed to films (particularly American) taking a stance in which good and evil is personified in characters and the good always prevails. This film asks us to see the complexity in people and that right and wrong and good and evil are part of the same whole.  This is a Jungian view of the world. Continue reading Biutiful: Movie Night and Film Analysis by Daniel Ross

Martha Marcy May Marlene: Movie Analysis by Daniel Ross

Martha Marcy May MerleneA close friend of mine, a psychotherapist, told me when she walked out of the theater after seeing this film she struggled getting her footing.  I too found the film to be unexpectedly disturbing like when you wake up in the middle of the night after hearing a sound and you begin quietly searching the house while your spouse sleeps comfortably in bed.  You feel alone to face what lies in the darkness which you know is nothing, yet your entire body is braced to meet the intruder.

Continue reading Martha Marcy May Marlene: Movie Analysis by Daniel Ross

True Grit: The Archetypal Realm of the Old West

True GritMovie night on June 10th involved an excellent discussion about the night sea journey (nekyia) of Mattie Ross, a 14 year old girl who begins a journey to avenge her father’s death by finding and killing the man responsible, Tom Chaney.  The story can be seen as an exploration through Mattie’s grief over the loss of her father and the characters of La Bouef  and Cogburn become archetypal and instrumental in Mattie coming to terms with her unresolved relationship with her father. Continue reading True Grit: The Archetypal Realm of the Old West

C. G. Jung Center for Psychotherapy, Evanston