“A Gathering of Writings” : An interview with Murray Stein by Rob Henderson

    “A Gathering of Writings”
                   (An interview with Murray Stein by Rob Henderson)
RH:  Your Collected Works are being  published. How did you decide what to include?
MS: I must correct you, Rob. They are my Collected Writings, not Collected Works. Steve Buser, the co-owner of Chiron Publications, suggested this project, and I found it attractive as  an opportunity to bring together all my scattered pieces of writing into one place. Basically, this will be a collection of everything  I have published in Jungian psychology. There is  no selection involved.
RH: When did you begin your writings and what inspired to have them published?    
 MS: Ever since junior high school I’ve taken pleasure in writing, although it took me quite a long time to gain enough skill to publish anything. That would begin in graduate school at Yale Divinity, when I first published a Jungian piece, a review of James Hillman’s little book, Insearch. A while later I worked for and with Jim at Spring Publications in Zurich and began publishing my own work in the annual Spring Journal. Jim also enlisted me as a translator of Karl Keréni’s book, Hermes, Guide of Souls and some other works. I have to thank Jim for his strong encouragement of me as a writer. I’ve been publishing works ever since leaving Switzerland in 1973. Now as I approach my 80th birthday this year, I look back and find quite a lot of writings in the long trail behind me. I have to give Jim Hillman credit for getting going on this path of becoming a writer. Writing was also his passion, and many people admire his elegant style if not always his ideas.
RH: What impact has writing made to your life? 
MS: I’d say, quite a large impact, Rob. First of all, writing has been a way for me to clarify my thoughts. This has brought me quite a lot of benefit. When I write, I ask myself: does this make sense? If not, I rewrite until I can understand my thought. That’s one impact, i.e., benefit, to me personally. It helps me to think clearly.  Second, I have received quite a lot of echo from my writings. People send me messages, sometimes critical, sometimes complimentary. Either way, I feel I have reached them. This gives me the feeling of being in contact with other thinking  minds. That’s an impact/benefit. Another impact has been recognition. In this field, the practitioner receives relatively little recognition, working as we do with people one at a time. Writing extends the range widely, and incidentally also brings new students into the field. Writing is a kind of megaphone. Of course, the nature of communications has changed dramatically in the course of time, and the impact of books and articles published in journals has declined while the impact of blogs and social media communications has exploded. I continue to prefer the written word, on the page, in the hand, but I fear I’m a fading minority. 
RH: Bringing all your Jungian writings together feels like a wonderful way to honor your 80th birthday. What are some of the things you have learned about yourself with this project?
MS:  It’s a work in progress, Rob. I’m a little more than halfway through, I believe, and I continue to ponder the question you ask. One thing I’ve realised is that all of my writing has been deeply contextual, that is, embedded in specific contexts. I’m not a writer who works out of pure scholarly interest or free imagination. I write for specific audiences and usually upon request. For example, my most widely read book is Jung’s Map of the Soul. The original impetus for this was a course I taught at the Jung Center in Evanston, Illinois as part of the educational program. At the time it occurred to me that the students were in need of what I announced as “a deeper view” into the basics of analytical psychology. The result was a series of lectures to a class of ten or twelve students. Afterwards, one of them said to me, why don’t you publish that? She told me that she had made a tape of the lectures and discussion and volunteered to transcribe the recording.I accepted her generous offer and worked from the transcription, and this is how the book came into being. It was the same story with In MidLife. First it was a series of lectures on  the midlife transformation process to students in Chicago and then in San Francisco. Jim Hillman heard about it and offered to publish the lectures as a book if I would write up my lecture notes. I did and this is how In MidLife came to be. As I look back on my writings over the years, I relive the history of the books and papers, and without exception I am addressing a specific audience. The result is that I am realising how important students and audiences have been in the creation of the body of work that I am calling my Collected Writings.


MURRAY STEIN, PhD, is a graduate of Yale University (1965), Yale Divinity School (1969), and has a doctorate from the University of Chicago (1985). In 1973, he received his diploma from the C. G. Jung Institute in Zürich. He had a private practice in Wilmette, Illinois, from 1980 to 2003, and was a training analyst with the C. G. Institute of Chicago. Since 2003, he has lived in Switzerland and is a training analyst with the International School of Analytical Psychology in Zürich (ISAPZurich). Murray is an ordained minister (retired) in the United Presbyterian Church. A founding member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, he was also the first president of the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts (1980–1985). He is a former president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (2001–2004) and a former president of ISAPZurich (2008–2012). 

He is the author of several books, including The Principle of Individuation: Toward the Development of Human Consciousness, In MidLife: A Jungian Perspective, Transformation: Emergence of the Self, Jung’s Map of the Soul, Jung’s Treatment of Christianity: The Psychotherapy of a Religious Tradition, and Minding the Self: Jungian Meditations on Contemporary Spirituality, and he is the editor of Jungian Psychoanalysis. 

ROBERT HENDERSON is a Jungian pastoral psychotherapist, a poet, an ordained Protestant Minister  in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He and his wife, Janis, a psychotherapist, have had many interviews published in Psychological Perspectives, Quadrant, Harvest, Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, and Spring Journal, and are the authors of the three-volume book of interviews conducted by email, Living with Jung: “Enterviews” with Jungian Analysts. Correspondence: 244 Wood Pond Road, Glastonbury, CT 06033. Email: rob444@cox.net.