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Fleming, M. Ruck, C.A. (1979). A Mythic Search for Identity in a Female to Male Transsexual. J. Anal. Psychol., 24(4):298-313.

(1979). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 24(4):298-313

A Mythic Search for Identity in a Female to Male Transsexual Related Papers

M. Fleming, ED.D. and C. A.P. Ruck, Ph.D.

Myths give form to the feelings and experiences that are difficult to express in common language. They are the metaphors for the inexpressible, the incarnation of the spiritual or of the psyche. Myths trace the formative path that a culture has taken, and transmit meanings to the individuals who participate in the culture. Some people, however, do not seem at home in the world in which they are born, and seem to be deviants or anomalies. What happens to these alienated individuals, whose experience in life is not reaffirmed by the culture's presuppositions about the meaning, pattern, and worth of existence? For some of these people the answer is simply to reject the traditional beliefs, opting instead for some other religious or political ideology. Still others invent their own private mythology, an idiosyncratic system of beliefs and myths which play as dominant a formative rôle in their lives as does the traditional mythology in the lives of those from whom they are alienated. Such persons tend to expend great amounts of energy in defining and elaborating their private myths and they often attempt to ‘prove’ or express them in many ways that seem extreme to the outsider. In this extreme devotion to an idiosyncratic myth system, the individual behaves in ways that are often termed psychotic. John Weir Perry has pointed out that this is an inappropriate designation prompted by an incorrect view of the use and purpose of these mythologies (PERRY 8).

In the case presented here, as in the cases of twelve persons described by Perry, a personal mythology has superceded that inherited from the culture. The private mythical and cultural system has been evolved in great detail and serves the subject in several essential ways. The first is that it allows the patient to continue living in what would otherwise be a bewildering and chaotic situation. It also lends a sense of power and importance to a hopeless and frustrating experience. And thirdly, it provides a fragile tether to a ‘reality’ postulated by the primary culture to which the alienated person continues to relate in a marginal fashion. All three of these essential elements in the process of personal development are part of what Jung called ‘individuation’.


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