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Martin, E. (1991). McGlashan, A. R. (London). ‘Symbolization and human development: The use of symbols in religion from the perspective of analytical psychology’. Journal of Religious Studies, 25. December, 1989.. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(3):394-395.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(3):394-395

McGlashan, A. R. (London). Symbolization and human development: The use of symbols in religion from the perspective of analytical psychology. Journal of Religious Studies, 25. December, 1989.

Review by:
Edward Martin

This paper concerns the relationship between the symbol and the symbolised. The author takes as a starting point the heated debate which followed the Bishop of Durham's utterances concerning the symbolic character of the Christian resurrection story, which tended to polarise opinion between those who wished to affirm the literal facticity of the story and those who believed that the precise nature of the event was irrecoverable and irrelevant to the symbolic meaning.

In the first part of the paper the author distinguishes the different ways in which symbols are understood by the Freudian and Jungian schools. He cites the views of Ernest Jones (as the representative of Freudian orthodoxy) on symbols as a comparison between two ideas, of a kind which is alien to the conscious mind, and Jung's view that the symbol points to something essentially unknown and ultimately unknowable. McGlashan illustrates these differences in understanding symbolic material by reference to Jung's comparative analysis of the dream of a female patient in which someone gave her a wonderful, richly ornamented antique sword dug up out of a tumulus.

The author then proceeds to discuss how the ability of an individual to use symbols seems to depend on the way in which s/he has negotiated vital developmental crises in infancy. He illustrates this by reference to the mother/infant dyad and the infant's relationship to the breast. The ideas of Winnicott and Klein are set alongside a Jungian foundation and a synthesis is drawn between them.

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