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Metman, P. (1958). The Trickster Figure in Schizophrenia. J. Anal. Psychol., 3(1):5-20.
    

(1958). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 3(1):5-20

The Trickster Figure in Schizophrenia

Philip Metman

When I described three types of psychological patterns in schizophrenia on the basis of dynamic and structural ego-characteristics (Metman, 1956, 1957) I was aware of the probable incompleteness of my classification, all the more so as certain cases had eluded my efforts to classify them satisfactorily. Yet Radin's account of the Winnebago Trickster Cycle, which I first read in its German version and in which I now recognize a key to another pattern in schizophrenia, did not at once impress me as such.

In spite of Jung's clear hints in his contribution “On the Psychology of the Trickster Figure” at the applicability of its symbolism not only to the creative but also to the pathological personality I remained at first too much focused upon Jung's mention of the shadow to consider its importance for developments which might precede the differentiation of ego and shadow.

The Incipient Ego

However, it gradually became clear that my view of the stalemate or struggle between an autonomous complex based upon an infant-mother-self identity and “forces which strive towards unification of the personality” was still too undifferentiated and left a factor out of consideration which, once recognized, shed light upon the symptomatology of a number of cases.

This factor is the relation between numinosity and consciousness. Jung (1931, Coll. Wks., par. 97) says that “these archetypes of the collective psyche … are the dominants that rule the preconscious soul of the child”, and Fordham, commenting upon this (1955, p. 84), remarks: “In using the term preconscious Jung wants to designate a state of consciousness in which the ego is very weak and the images representing unconscious vitality are highly charged with libido, i.e. are numinous.

Further on (pp. 93-102) Fordham describes the process of beginning ego-development in a way that seems highly relevant to my own train of thought. First he speaks of the “spontaneous division of the self into parts”.

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