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(2020). Encountering the Other: Jungian Analysts and Traditional Healers in South Africa. J. Anal. Psychol., 65(1):198-205.

(2020). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 65(1):198-205

Encountering the Other: Jungian Analysts and Traditional Healers in South Africa

Part 1: The history: Peter Ammann

This sketches the background to this project, starting from Jung's interest in African culture, critically reviewing his colonial, exploitative attitudes, while balancing this with his true interest and willingness to be changed by his encounter with the ‘other’. Vera Buhrmann pursued her interest in African healing traditions in a deeply respectful manner, but a reciprocal interest was lacking. When Peter met Nomfundo Mlisa, clinical psychologist and traditional healer with a keen interest in Jung, the project of true dialogue between Jungian analysts and African traditional healers was initiated.

Hogsback video excerpt:

Themes are umbilini/intuition, and dreams from African and Western perspectives. Descriptions are given by traditional health practitioners and Jungian analysts, outlining similarities and differences. A case is described in which the internal splitting effects of colonization is clearly demonstrated. A dream is shared and African and Western interpretations are offered. See

Part 2: The context: Fred Borchardt

Two contexts are highlighted:

1.   The social activist movement #RhodesMustFall, initiated on 9 March 2015. The protests were focused on the repression of indigenous thought systems by colonialism. Our project had to take into account how colonization impacted on indigenous healing systems. Our tool in this work is the analytical psychology of Jung, which offers a basis for entering into dialogue with other cultures.

2.   The discourse in Jungian circles about apologizing to people from African descent for the way in which they were described in Jungian literature.

Monkey Valley video excerpt:

Ester Haumann, Jungian analyst, in reflecting on the trauma of the Boer War in her immediate ancestry, poses the provocative question: how does it happen that the oppressed becomes the oppressor? It emerges that when trauma is unprocessed, it is repeated. Vella Maseko, African traditional healer and clinical psychologist, responds with concern about the pain of the nation in South Africa, and asks how do we, as healers, respond to this.


Part 3: The traditional health practitioner's stand and worldview: Nomfundo Mlisa

Jungian analysts and traditional healers have initiated critical dialogues based on diverse critical political as well as historical impediments that have impacted negatively on traditional health systems. This highlights the link between Jungian and traditional healing theory. A call for self-introspection through Johari Window theory across cultures is expressed to allow encounters with each other, within us and between us. The need for rainbow therapy is coined, making South African Jungian analysts and the traditional healers, pioneers in initiating a rainbow therapy.

Part 4: Conclusion: Renee Ramsden

This dialogue was conceived of as a small group of practitioners from both disciplines, who could get to know and trust each other. In the second conference a narrative approach was favoured, which worked very well. Both sides were able to describe their journeys towards becoming healers, and similarities were striking. The healing effect of finding common ground through respectful receiving of each other, was profound. Perhaps this could offer a healing pattern of relating which could function like an ecological ‘seedbomb’.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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