Assisi Institute: The International Center For The Study Of Archetypal Patterns
Presents a Complimentary Lecture:
An Archetypal and Clinical Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic:
The Ravages of Denial and the Migration and Mutation of Forgotten Contents
Saturday March 28th at 12:30 -2 p.m. CST (1:30-3 p.m. EST)
"It may seem absurd to suggest that the attitude of the individual to his personal conflicts and problems could have any appreciable effect on an international situation involving the fate of millions, or to turn from the general problem to the personal one as if they were equivalents. Yet that is exactly what anyone with even a minimum of psychological insight is obliged to do if he seeks to understand the age in which he is living or to contribute in a conscious way towards the solution of the world problem."
- M.E. Harding, Psychic Energy pg. 14
It was in 1946, with the atrocities of the Holocaust so alive in hearts and minds that Jung wrote; “Something of the abysmal darkness of the world has broken in on us, poisoning the very air we breath and befouling the pure water with the stale, nauseating taste of blood". (p. 199) Now almost 75 years later, the world is once again terrified by irruptions from the dark unconscious. We live in fear of contacting the Corona virus, and struggle to keep this unwanted intruder away. Disinfectants, sanitizers, quarantine, locking our doors to strangers, and social distancing is sadly the new norm. And already the losses are unimaginable. Virtually every part of the world is touched by the causalities brought about by this malady. Sadly, there is no way to escape the long and relentless reach of this virus. While we long for contact with friends and loved ones, we are forced to abstain from so much of what brings us comfort. Will we ever find a way to understand and live with the ravages of this forced isolation?
Our attempts to ward off the contagious contents of the outer world have only reinforced our innate tendency to also push away and obliterate the reality of the Psyche.
This theme of keeping the unwanted intruder away is a familiar motif in fairy tales, myth, legends and the cinema. Who can ever forget the iconic scene of Jack Nicholson in The Shinning? The bone chilling terror when swinging an ax he breaks into the bathroom to kill his wife, and as he pokes his head through the shattered door says; “Here’s Johnny". However, no comic relief will ever assuage such fear. Similarly Hitchcock’s terrifying shower scene in Psycho. Initially all we see are the outlines of a shadowy presence, until the all too human features of the murderer and his intentions become horrifyingly clear. Even in our beloved childhood story, "The Three Little Piggies" we find the intruder- this time in the form of a wolf at the door. It is fascinating to note that in The Shinning, immediately before he breaks down the door, Nicholson repeats the words of the wolf from the Little Piggy’s story, saying; "Little Piggies, Little Piggies, let me in, let me in. I will huff and I will puff and will blow your door down."
Helping us to understand why these figures appear so violent and destructive, Erich Neumann explains that: Repressed contents ...are withdrawn from the control of consciousness and function independently of it... with disastrous results for both the individual and the collective. (Pg. 35) In repression, the excluded contents… lose their connection with the conscious system and become forgotten... become evil and destructive. (Pg 49).
It was the aftermath of the horrors of the Holocaust that allowed Jung to fully understand that even when we project our demons onto others, that these same...demons have not disappeared but have merely taken on another form; they have become unconscious psychic forces.
These terrifying intruders are psyche’s portrait of those cast off, unconscious contents. Freud taught us that the; "Return of the Repressed" and that "We repeat what we do not want to remember" represent ontological constants within the Psyche. Jung extended our understanding when he said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." Sartre’s "No Exit" reminds us that there is a reality we cannot escape and clinical practice teaches us anew each day of the consequences of our unconscious efforts to obliterate the internal reality and the Psyche. These processes of repression and denial cause so many lives to be ruined, families torn apart, and futures constrained by the stains of yesterday’s transgressions. Too many of these tortured days and years so easily become our tomorrows.
Perhaps now, as we are forced into isolation, we can turn our gaze inwards towards the psyche and the inner life of the soul. There may be no better time to stop the reiterating madness and admit to the ravages of denial, and learn to recognize the fragments of our past captured in the migration of the forgotten. And herein lies an opportunity not only to make a better life, but to learn about The Psyche. To know something of the ontological reality of this "antique soul" may allow us to do something to stem the tide of personal and collective madness. We do well to remember the inherent healing capacity of psyche and to recognize that the unconscious is a living psychic entity that (aims) not only at the restoration of the psychic equilibrium but at an advance towards wholeness.(Pg. 17).
Dr. Michael Conforti is a Jungian analyst and the Founder and Director of The Assisi Institute, and teaches at The C.G. Jung Institutes in Boston and New York. A pioneer in the field of matter-psyche studies, Dr. Conforti is actively investigating the workings of archetypal fields and the relationship between Jungian psychology and the New Sciences. He has presented his work to a wide range of national and international audiences, including the C.G. Jung Institute - Zurich and Jungian organizations in Australia, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and Venezuela. He is the author of Threshold Experiences: The Archetype of Beginnings (2007) and Field, Form and Fate: Patterns in Mind, Nature and Psyche (2002). His books have translated into Italian, Russian and a Spanish edition is nearing completion. His articles have appeared in Psychological Perspectives, San Francisco Jung Library Journal, Roundtable Press, World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution, and Spring Journal.
Dr. Conforti maintains a private practice in Mystic, CT and consults with individuals and corporations around the world. He provides his insights as a sought-after consultant to businesses, government institutions, and the film industry. He has served as script consultant on the films Pride and Glory and Elvis Anabelle and is currently working on a script for a new TV series. He has also been asked to consult on the application of field theory to the understanding and resolution of international border disputes. He was selected by The Club of Budapest and the University of Potsdam to be part of a 20 member international team of physicists, biologists, and dynamical systems theorists to examine the role and influence of informational fields. He is a recipient of the Vision Award presented by the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis.