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Peters, R. (1989). Samuels, A. (London). ‘Pluralism and the post-Jungians: A reply to Peter Bishop.’ Spring. 1988. J. Anal. Psychol., 34(3):295.

(1989). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 34(3):295

Samuels, A. (London). ‘Pluralism and the post-Jungians: A reply to Peter Bishop.’ Spring. 1988

Review by:
Roderick Peters

It is not easy to review this article because it is part of a pre-existing exchange. Samuels wrote Jung and the Post-Jungians, Bishop wrote a paper in Spring called ‘Post-Jungianism and the place of Archetypal Psychology’, and the piece under review is Samuels's reply. Under an appreciative cover Bishop angrily attacked Samuels for swallowing up archetypal psychology into post-Jungianism. Beginning with an expression of gratitude, Samuels's reply is spirited, pacy, punchy, and pluralistic.

Between some entertaining ripostes the more important statements in Samuels's reply deal with the post-Jungian vertex and the pluralistic attitude. He claims that ‘if the debates within analytical psychology today seem important to you on a visceral level, then you are a post-Jungian. Post-Jungians dispute.’ This is their shared vertex, the key terms of which are ‘interaction’ and ‘relativity’. Both are regarded as reactions to perceived ‘deficiencies in classical Jungian clinical technique.’ In the second part of the reply Samuels advances pluralism as an ‘attitude (or ideology).… to hold the tension between claims of and tendencies toward unity and claims of and tendencies toward diversity’. He advances his vision that the arguments within the individual analyst, or within a given school, or between schools, are one and the same manifestation of plural psyche. ‘Texts of psychological theory can constitute for us what alchemical texts constituted for Jung,’ he writes.

This is a powerful vision, and one which encourages tolerance for the higher sake of what I would call the desire for psychic wholeness—which brings me to my two final remarks. First, Jung's concept of wholeness was antithetical to perfection; Samuels seems to me to have taken it as equivalent to perfection inasmuch as both are seen as ideals to be relinquished by post-Jungians. I do not think Jung intended wholeness in this way. And second, Samuels gives the following instances for the post-Jungian vertex term ‘relativity’: ‘archetypes in the eye of the beholder, a dethroned self, and democratic individuation’. They (all being papers by Samuels) made me realise how much post-Jungianism is Samuelism. Well, fair enough.

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