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Dehing, J. (1992). The Therapist's Interventions in Jungian Analysis. J. Anal. Psychol., 37(1):29-47.

(1992). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 37(1):29-47

The Therapist's Interventions in Jungian Analysis

Jef Dehing, M.D.

Or muovi, e con la tua parola ornata,

e con ció ch'ha mestieri al suo campare,

l'aiuta sí ch'io ne sia consolata.

La Divina commedia, Proemio Inf. II vv. 67-9

Haste then, and with your gracious speech

and all that may be needful for his rescue,

help him, thus comforting me.

With these words Beatrice urges Virgil to assist Dante who is lost in a dark wood ‘in the middle of his journey of life’: he can no longer give meaning to his existence, and is preparing to descend to the underworld—a journey full of perils, uncertainties, doubts, horror, and dread. Virgil, his guide, agrees to escort him and give support whenever his step falters or his heart fails. This silent presence, which is none the less vital and attentive, reassures by its very quietness which guarantees the time and space necessary for things to occur, for the attribution of meaning to violent and often incomprehensible affects and their gradual integration into consciousness. Virgil stands by, ready to contain Dante's emotions when they become too powerful, to support him in his arms when his anguish becomes unbearable.

He does not represent an idealized master possessing unlimited knowledge. On the contrary, he is one of ‘those who are in suspense’, of those who experience a situation of permanent tension. He agrees to accompany Dante because he loves him; he has the courage to face danger because he believes in a possible meaning. But he can escort him only as far as the gates of Heaven; there, he will have to leave. This important limit is as difficult to accept as it is necessary.

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