Edge of the Sacred - Jung, Psyche, Earth

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Does earth have spirit or soul? This is a question being asked ever more frequently, especially by those interested in the future of the natural world and the development of consciousness. The alchemists said ‘the greater part of the soul is outside the body’, and indigenous cultures have felt that soul or spirit resides in Nature and the physical environment. Such notions have been dismissed by modernity as illusions, but we are beginning to have second thoughts about the animation of the earth. Science and rationality have not taught us how to love or care for the earth, and in the modern era the environment has been disrespected.

The mythic bonds to Nature such as those found in Aboriginal Australian cultures appear to have real survival value because they bind us to the earth in a meaningful way. When these bonds are destroyed by excessive rationality or a collapse of cultural mythology, we are left alone, outside the community of Nature and in an alienated state. In this state we do real damage to the environment, because it is no longer part of our spiritual body or moral responsibility.

Jung was one of the first thinkers of our time to consider the psychic influence of the earth and the conditioning of the mind by place. Inspired by his writings and those of James Hillman, the field of ecopsychology has arisen as a powerful new area of inquiry. Edge of the Sacred: Jung, Psyche, Earth contributes to global ecopsychology from an Australian perspective.

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About the author


Dr. David Tacey is Reader in literature and depth psychology at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He is the author of eight books, including Jung and the New Age (2001), The Spirituality Revolution (2003) and How to Read Jung (2006). The author was born in Melbourne and raised in Alice Springs, central Australia. It was here that he was influenced by Aboriginal cultures and their religion and cosmology. After completing a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide, David Tacey was a Harkness Fellow in the United States, where his studies were supervised by James Hillman. He regularly gives lecture courses at the summer school of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Daimon
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9783856309022
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
Psychology / Movements / Jungian
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In applying psychology to the field of politics, the eminent British anthropologist and psychologist W.H.R. Rivers deals with social or collective psychology rather than with the psychology of the individual. This choice presents a number of problems. These include the relation between individual and collective psychology, the concept of a collective or group mind, and the question of how far society can be regarded as an organism. The choice also presents the need to explain the fact that when a number of individuals act together, the product of their combined activity is not the same as what might have emerged from the separate activity of individuals. Rivers' belief in the political process prompted him to deliver the lectures on psychological theory that are printed in this volume. Three other addresses are also included in this volume, one on socialism and human nature, another on education and mental hygiene, and a lecture on the aims of ethnography. Rivers considered the relation between psychology and sociology, putting forward the position that the formulation of an adequate science of social psychology lies in the observation of social conduct, including not merely the social conduct of everyday life, but still those forms of it which are subsumed under the headings of religion, economics, and politics, as well as the social institution of language. The social behavior of mankind is capable of being studied as a methodological principle, independently of the psychological basis of behavior.

Modern psychiatry attributes psychological suffering to functional disturbances of the brain. This approach, based on precise outside observation combined with advanced technology, renders the individual ever more an object of examination and treatment. The author of Soul Hunger adds another dimension by arguing for a differentiated perception of inner experience. His basic hypothesis: the more high tech there is, the more important high touch becomes. The more psychiatry is influenced by neuroimaging and neurogenetics as a viewpoint from the outside, the more an affected individual needs inner groundedness, a mindful inclusion of personal experience. Daniel Hell explains that many psychological disturbances can be attributed to contradictions between a self-image and actual experience. This tension-filled discrepancy is illustrated in detail with examples from the development of depressive, anxiety and adjustment disorders. At the same time, it is shown how it is vital, in dealing with tensions, to carefully perceive arising feelings and thoughts.

This book is divided into three parts. In a first historical section, a short history of the soul and its treatment (psychiatry) is presented. The second part consists of a conceptual description of the necessity of an inner and an outer point of view for understanding and treating psychological disturbances. The third part describes the practical application of this approach to some of the most frequent mental disorders, such as depression.

The twenty-first century could well be Jung's century, just as the twentieth century was Freud's. Jung predicted the demise of secular humanism and claimed we would search for alternatives to science, atheism and reason. We would experience a new and even unfashionable appetite for the sacred. Educated people, however, would not return to unreconstructed religions, because these do not express the life of the spirit as discerned by modern consciousness. The sacred has developed a darker hue, and worshipping symbols of light and goodness no longer satisfies the longings of the soul. The new sacred cannot be contained by the formulas of the past, but nor can we live without a sense of the sacred. We stand in a difficult place: between traditional religions we have outgrown and a pervasive materialism we can no longer embrace.

These changes in our culture have come sooner than Jung might have imagined. In his time Jung struck many as eccentric or unscientific. But his works speak to our time since we have experienced the full gamut of Jungian transformations: the unsettlement of Judeo-Christian culture, the rise of the feminine, the onslaught of the dark side, the critique of modernism and positivism, and the recognition that the Western ego is neither the pinnacle of evolution nor the lord of creation. A new life is needed beyond the ego, but we do not yet know what it will look like. The outbreak of strong religion and terrorism are signs of the times, but these are expressions of a distorted and repressed spirit, and not, one hopes, genuine pointers to the future.

What the future holds is uncertain, but Jung's prophetic vision helps to prepare us for what is to come, and this will be of great interest to analytical psychologists and psychoanalysts, as well as to theologians, futurists, sociologists, and the general reader.

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