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Gordon, R. (1977). The Symbolic Experience as Bridge Between the Personal and the Collective. J. Anal. Psychol., 22(4):331-342.

(1977). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 22(4):331-342

The Symbolic Experience as Bridge Between the Personal and the Collective

Rosemary Gordon, Ph.D.

The Origins of my present reflections go back to a paragraph in Louis Zinkin's paper, ‘Flexibility in analytic technique’. The paradox he had discovered and to which he pointed there, intrigued me, stimulated me and challenged me to do battle with it. The paragraph in question is the following:

In my view Freud's and Jung's approaches produce paradoxical results. It was Freud's method (at first sight a quite inhuman one, with emphasis on Logos, on analysis as science, valuing technique, making the unconscious conscious, thinking, categorising, drawing distinctions, etc.) which led to a greater understanding of human relationships, and Jung's (analysis as art, valuing spontaneity, corrective emotional experience, feeling, reciprocal relationship, growth and transformation) which led to a greater knowledge of the ‘objective psyche’ and of the autonomous psychic processes. Somehow he begins by valuing the personal and ends by valuing the collective. Perhaps each had to compensate in his life's work for a one-sided standpoint (ZINKIN 10, p. 49).

I believe that by taking account of recent developments of both theory and technique, noting present-day understandings and misunderstandings, a coming to grips with this particular paradox may possibly engender new insights—and, probably lead to the emergence of some new paradox.

However, the existence of the paradox with which I am now concerned seems to point to the fact that neither concentration on the purely personal and individual nor concentration on the purely cultural, social or collective can really be sufficient to explain human behaviour and experience. The attempt to deny complexity and to take an oversimplified view of the causative processes is perhaps at the root of many present-day social theories and psychotherapeutic fashions. Thus there are the various techniques based on a denial of the existence of unconscious forces and of the importance of the individual.

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