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Asper-Bruggisser, K. (1983). Five Reflections on the Beginning of Analysis. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(1):1-15.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(1):1-15

Five Reflections on the Beginning of Analysis

K. Asper-Bruggisser, Ph.D.

I. The ‘Container’

C. G. Jung saw the chemical changes described by the alchemists as analogous to the psychological process of transformation (JUNG 10, JUNG 15, p. 196). The beginning of the alchemical work was termed massa confusa, nigredo, chaos and prima materia (JUNG 10, par. 334), while the goal itself was seen as the treasure ‘hard to attain’, paraphrased as the ‘philosophical gold’, ‘stone’, or ‘elixir of life’ (Ibid., par. 335).

Wherever Jung does not resort to alchemical symbolism in trying to elucidate psychological processes, as in his essays in The Practice of Psychotherapy (Coll. wks, 16), he described the beginning and end of the work from the point of view of multiple energies. In these essays he sees neurosis in terms of a damming up of life energies (JUNG 7, par. 84), and defines the goal of therapeutic work as the release of their free flow. This free flow he equates with a state of fluidity, change and growth (Ibid., par. 99). Participation in life and a sharing of life is to replace its denial. The alchemical treasure corresponds with a trend towards individuation, and its aim of self-responsibility (JUNG 8, par. 43), self-exploration (JUNG 11, par. 81), and the fullest possible fruition in each individual (Ibid., par. 229). In this process the therapist plays the rôle of an empathic participant:

In other words, the therapist is no longer an agent of treatment but a fellow participant in a process of individual development (JUNG 8, par. 7).

The Jungian method implies going along with the phenomena without premature evaluation. Jung says:

There is no medium for psychology to reflect itself in: it can only portray itself in itself, and describe itself. That, logically, is also the principle of my own method: it is, at bottom, a purely experiential process…. (JUNG 13, par. 42).

The relationship between analyst and analysand is understood by Jung to be a dialectical one (JUNG 14, par. 239). Jung's emphasis on the fact that both analyst and analysand are involved in the process has unfortunately often led to the erroneous assumption that both parties play similar rôles from the very outset. In his paper, Flexibility in analytic technique, Louis Zinkin perceptively worked out the difference between the parts played by analyst and analysand.

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