Jung At Heart

A dream at the breakfast table

A few days ago I read Stephen Gyllenhaal's piece in Huffington Post in which he muses about a dream Sara Corbett, who wrote the long piece on the Red Book for the New York Times, offered. The dream as she related it is:

"This dream was about an elephant -- a dead elephant with its head cut off. The head was on a grill at a suburban-style barbecue, and I was holding the spatula. Everybody milled around with cocktails; the head sizzled over the flames. I was angry at my daughter's kindergarten teacher because she was supposed to be grilling the elephant head at the barbecue, but she hadn't bothered to show up. And so the job fell to me. Then I woke up."

So far so good. Interesting dream. And he talks about how one might make a film of the dream, using it as the image source. Also interesting. But then he starts into a critique of sorts of the response of the analysts Corbett was with when she had and told the dream:

But let's skip an intimate discussion with our journalist and simply recall what happened the morning after her dream as she encountered the Jungians with their tea and muesli: clever talk ("more to Martin than to me," she notes) of wisdom, feminine symbols, the Indian God, Ganesha -- but who among them actually took in the cinema of a sizzling decapitated elephant's head on a BBQ? Who allowed themselves to feel the betrayal that had unfolded and the ensuing anger? Who actually experienced the elephant in the room, aside from our dreamer?

Psyche Goes to the Movies, change

Things are all set to start with the film series. The first film will be shown at the Belfast Free Library here in Belfast, Maine on Sunday November 8 at 4 pm. Starting in January, the series will run twice a month and conclude in October.

One change -- the first film will be Don Juan De Marco  and we will proceed through that group of films first. It just seemed like a better place to start. So here are the first 7 films:

1. Don Juan De Marco 

2. The Caveman's Valentine 

3.  Now, Voyager

4. What Dreams May Come

5. Nobody's Child

6. Angel at My Table

7. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

On Sunday the 8th, I will post some thoughts about the film and encourage you all to join in.

Good News, In Treatment fans!

Our favorite television therapist will indeed be back for a third season, HBO announced today.

"HBO has renewed the Emmy®-winning half-hour drama series IN TREATMENT, which will begin production on its third season in New York in early 2010, with debut scheduled for later in the year, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, Programming Group and West Coast Operations, HBO.

    “IN TREATMENT is synonymous with inspired writing and brilliant acting,” noted Lombardo.  “This is the kind of show that could only flourish on HBO, and we’re proud to bring it back.”

    Gabriel Byrne (Emmy® nominee and Golden Globe winner for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama) stars in the series as Dr. Paul Weston, with additional cast members to be announced as they are confirmed."

Cheryl does a happy dance!


Neuroskeptic has a splendid post this week on the placebo effect. He ends it thusly:

The strongest meaning of the "placebo effect" is a direct effect of belief upon symptoms. You give someone a sugar pill or injection, and they immediately feel less pain, or whatever. But even this effect encompasses two kinds of things. It's one thing if the original symptoms have a "real" medical cause, like a broken leg. But it's another thing if the original symptoms are themselves partially or wholly driven by psychological factors, i.e. if they are "psychosomatic".

If a placebo treats a "psychosomatic" disease, then that's not because the placebo has some mysterious, mind-over-matter "placebo effect". All the mystery, rather, lies with the psychosomatic disease. But this is a crucial distinction.

People seem more willing to accept the mind-over-matter powers of "the placebo" than they are to accept the existence of psychosomatic illness. As if only doctors with sugar pills possess the power of suggestion. If a simple pill can convince someone that they are cured, surely the modern world in all its complexity could convince people that they're ill.

Therapist, Heal Thyself

I am often asked if it is required for therapists to have been in therapy. And most people are surprised to learn that except in the case of analytic training and a few other programs, it is not a requirement. In fact Casey Truffo cites a survey suggesting that 20-25% of therapists report they have never themselves been in therapy. And I have heard suggestions that therapy should be a requirement for licensure. 

I believe it is important for a therapist to have been in therapy and probably to return to therapy periodically throughout her career. Why? Because I need to be able to sort out my own personal issues from those of my patient and that is very difficult without having done work in therapy. Just as I cannot see my own back without a mirror, so too I cannot see my shadow and blind spots without benefit of the mirror of therapy. It is not a function of how happy one's childhood was because none of us come to adulthood without issues, without shadow. It is matter of the major importance of self-education, the kind that can only come, I believe, through the process of engaging in self-exploration with a good therapist.

A New Therapy Blog

Here's a new blog in Psychology Today's group:

Mr. Analysand

If you are interested in psychoanalysis from the patient's perspective, this looks like one to follow.

Ten Secrets

Last week John Grohol posted 10 Secrets Your Therapist Won’t Tell You. For whatever the reason, I seem to feel compelled to respond when I read these kinds of posts. So here goes with this one:

1. I honestly don’t know whether I can help you or not.

Of course this is true. Because whether or not the work we do will help a given person depends on both of us. I have no magic, no guaranteed solutions. What we do works through our relationship and the willingness of the patient to do her part of the work -- reflecting on sessions, acting on insights, be willing to show up and to say what comes to mind. 

Also of course, I wouldn't keep doing this work if I did not believe that I can work with most people with most problems. But I also know my limits -- so I don't work with children or couples, for example.

2. I’m not your friend, but I want you to open up to me anyway.

This is also true. And opening up in therapy is not the same as opening up to even the closest friend. Because I won't tell you what to do and I won't expect for you to listen as I open up to you either. The basic rule of therapy is to say whatever comes to mind. Friends are not so tolerant of that kind of talking, nor should they be. Friendship is mutual and reciprocal. Therapy is a whole different thing.

UPDATE: Psyche Goes to the Movies

Well, the library has agreed to sponsor my series beginning in November. So all of you within driving distance of Belfast, Maine, mark your calendar for Sunday, Nov. 8, when we will begin.

For those of you following along here, the first film will be What About Bob. So watch it between now and October 31 and I will post about it Nov. 1 and we can begin our discussion.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2016. All  rights reserved.