Another serious misunderstanding: Jung, Giegerich and a premature requiemby Mark Saban

Journal of Analytical Psychology

About

Year
2015
DOI
10.1111/1468-5922.12130
Subject
Clinical Psychology

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Text

Another serious misunderstanding: Jung,

Giegerich and a premature requiem

Mark Saban, Oxford, UK

Abstract: Barreto?s paper, ?Requiem for analytical psychology? utilized Jung?s dreams and visions to argue for the obsolescence of Jungian psychology. Its thesis rested upon the theoretical assumptions of Giegerich?s psychology as a Discipline of Interiority, which he and Giegerich claim are themselves based in Jung?s psychology. Here I argue that that claim is misplaced because it depends upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Jung?s psychological project. I shall further argue that Giegerich?s arguments for a Jungian basis to his psychology rely upon misreadings and decontextualisations of Jung?s original texts. Finally, I shall attempt to draw attention to the weaknesses and contradictions involved in Barreto?s interpretations of Jung?s dreams and visions.

Key words: Giegerich, Jung?s dreams and visions, obsolescence of analytical psychology, soul

JEL Classification: ?me, d?su?tude de la psychologie analytique, Giegerich, r?ves et visions de Jung

The background

Inspired by three recent contributions to the Journal of Analytical Psychology (Barreto 2014; Casement 2011; Giegerich 2012a), this paper is an attempt to reflect upon the relationship between the psychology of Wolfgang Giegerich (the self-styled Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority) and Jungian psychology.

Although Giegerich states clearly that his psychology ?finds its base and starting point? in Jung?s psychology (Giegerich 2008a, p. 11), his numerous articles and books have sought to carry through a radical deconstruction of many of Jung?s key ideas. In other words, Giegerich?s systematic inversion of

Jung?s psychology has been performed under the banner of a renewal of

Jungian psychology in its essence. This critique remains, he claims, loyal not to the explicit structures of analytical psychology, but to the implicit core notion of Jung?s psychology. It is precisely this claim?that Giegerich?s approach to Jung functions as an immanent critique?that I aim to dispute in this paper. It is important to emphasize that my goal is not to offer any 0021-8774/2015/6001/94 ? 2015, The Society of Analytical Psychology

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DOI: 10.1111/1468-5922.12130

Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2015, 60, 1, 94?113 criticism of Giegerich?s psychology as such,1 but merely to show that, contrary to Giegerich?s repeated protestations, the ?rigorous notion? at its centre finds no source in Jung?s psychology, implicit or explicit.

When a thinker like ?i?ek criticises Jung, he does so from afar, from an honestly and clearly established external position (e.g. ?i?ek 1999, p. 362).

Giegerich?s approach is fundamentally different in that he claims to be using a Jungian theoretical base from which to conduct his critique of

Jung?s psychology, and therefore to ?read Jung in terms of Jung? (Giegerich 2005, p. xii). Marco Heleno Barreto?s paper provides us with a particularly good example of such a critique. I excuse my use of this exemplum on the grounds that Barreto?s position is entirely consistent with (indeed identical to) that of Giegerich on all points, as we can see from the uncritical way he cites Giegerich as an authority throughout his paper. I shall therefore enlist Barreto?s paper to help me explore the deeply ambivalent relationship to Jung?s psychology that we find in

Giegerich?s psychology.

The thesis of Barreto?s paper employs an argument to be found throughout

Giegerich?s writing (Giegerich 2003, passim): that, with regard to the modern form of consciousness, analytical psychology is obsolete. The novelty of

Barreto?s presentation of the theme resides in his attempt to show that various ?catastrophic? visions and dreams of Jung?s point?on an objective ?soul? level ?to the obsolescence of Jung?s own psychology.

Some elisions

Presumably because he is presenting this thesis to a readership that is, one assumes, broadly sympathetic to Jung?s psychology, Barreto clearly feels the need to emphasize the specifically Jungian credentials of his argument. In his first paragraph, having boldly stated that his paper will be ?adopting a very specific interpretive position anchored in the viewpoint of psychology as the discipline of interiority? (which he defines in Giegerich?s terms), Barreto immediately goes on:

This statement is identical with Jung?s position concerning the dream being its own interpretation? What Jung says about the dream can be extended to all psychological phenomena, which are then taken purely as expressions or statements of ?the soul?s speaking to itself about itself? (Giegerich 2008b, p. 176), thus not pointing to anything else but themselves. (Barreto 2014, p. 60)

In this passage Barreto elides a very specific idea (of Jung?s) about dream interpretation with a quite different and much broader idea (of Giegerich?s) 1 For a penetrating and compelling critique of Giegerich?s psychology, see McGrath (2014)

Jung, Giegerich and a premature requiem 95 about the tautological nature of the soul, thus giving the erroneous impression that there is no difference between Giegerich?s position and Jung?s position. Let us take a closer look at what these two positions are.

The position described by Barreto as ?anchored in the viewpoint of psychology as the discipline of interiority? (ibid.) is, as he says, fundamental to Giegerich?s psychology. According to Giegerich, psychic phenomena never refer to anything outside themselves and therefore should be always taken ?purely as expressions or statements of the soul?s speaking to itself about itself? (ibid.). A dream should therefore never be taken to be offering a comment or viewpoint on the actual life of the dreamer, or indeed upon anything else outside of the soul itself, which, in the unfolding imagery of the dream, is only ever speaking to and about itself. This is why, in Barreto?s words, the ?psychic phenomenon [is] meaning itself, being its own interpretation, so that interpreting it is an ?attempt to discover the interpretation as which the [psychic phenomenon] is? (Giegerich 2008b, p.180)? (Barreto 2014, p. 60).