The self-deceptive ego

My current excursion into ego theory started from an instance of perspective reversal in which Hillman suggested that “the shadow casts me”, that is, we might understand the ego as a projection from the shadow (in its original Jungian understanding).  But we would be mistaken if we construed this narrowly, as the view that the ego is a projection only from the shadow. In Hillman’s thinking (as in...

Shadow reversal and ego theory

I have started to look at Hillman’s suggestion that the ego, rather than casting a shadow, is itself cast by the latter; and I have noted that this suggestion comes within a larger endeavor on his part to re-interpret the whole notion of the ego. Let’s dive a little deeper into Hillman’s account of the ego, then. 1. The ego is one of multiple complexes that exist within an individual human being...

The language of having

If we want to take perspective reversal seriously, we have to revise some of the language we use. Rather than saying, for instance, I “had” a dream (or fantasy) we should say “I was in a dream”; similarly, when we describe our experience, we should say “in my dream I saw …”. In other words, we would speak about our dream experience as if it happened to us when we (metaphorically) went there...

Having and being had, and the relationship between theory and practice

Jung and Hillman both frequently make a move I have called “perspective reversal”: they make us aware that, while we believe that we “have” our dreams, actually the dreams “have” us. (And what goes for dreams goes for psychic items in general.) But in some respects Hillman is even more radical than Jung (or at least he presents himself that way). He is more radical, first, in what purpose he...

Dream people, projections, and perspective reversals

Under the Jungian assumption that even in waking life we frequently do not interact with the real people in front of us but rather with something we project into them, we might treat the figures we encounter in dreams in just the same way — we might take the stance that “that they are fundamentally fantasy-images cloaked in after-images”, as Patricia Berry puts it (Echo’s Subtle Body, 46)...

Dream images and projections

If someone I know appears in a dream, what is going on? This is a large question, of course, and any answer will depend on what dream theory in general we subscribe to. In the tradition we’re looking at, which basically starts with Freud and Jung and has been continued and developed since (most notably perhaps in Hillman’s early work around The Dream and the Underworld), one thing is clear: if...

Projections, patterns, and depth

In our lived experience we navigate both an external world of objects and a subjective stream of psychological states. This is how the surface of reality presents itself to us. But both the external world of objects and the subjective stream of psychological states have a certain depth to them: they exhibit recurring patterns.

Projection, spirit, and self-knowledge

The problem with projections is two-fold: partly, they falsify the object; and partly, they contain pieces of the subject’s own personality which should be recognized as such and integrated. Or, to put it differently: projections complicate both knowledge of the outer world and the inner world — knowledge of the soul, or self-knowledge.

The spiritual mirror, eros, and Narcissus

When I wrote about projection and the mirror of Narcissus last week, I realized there is a hidden connection between some of the topics I recently discussed: the neo-Platonic mirror theory of eros, and Jung's notion of spirit.

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.

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