Chiron Publications Blog
Chiron Publications is pleased to announce the release of Wired This Way: On Finding Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Well-Being as a Creator by Jessica Carson.
Creators are wired complexly. In their lightest moments, they are passionate, ambitious, intuitive, and possess a host of other bright qualities. But entrepreneurial spirits are often victim of a darker side of their nature: they are particularly prone to mental health issues, stress-related illness, and other vulnerabilities of mind, body, and spirit. The media has breathlessly chronicled the peaks and valleys of today’s creators—glorifying their strengths and villainizing their weaknesses—not realizing that the light and dark within entrepreneurs are two sides of the same coin.
Wired This Way explores why the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual distress among creators is not an indication of brokenness, but of a rich inner complexity that’s prone to imbalance. A creator’s struggles and strengths are one in the same, and the solution doesn’t come from without, but from within. Using the wisdom of 10 creator archetypes found within the entrepreneurial spirit—the Curious, Sensitive, Ambitious, Disruptive, Empowered, Fiery, Orderly, Charming, Courageous, and Existential Creator—readers will learn how to integrate their light and dark qualities for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Rooted in psychology, neuroscience, mindfulness, and ancient wisdom traditions, Wired This Way is a user’s manual for self-understanding, self-acceptance, and self-care as an entrepreneurial spirit.
“If you are a parent, you read The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. If you work with founders, you should read Wired This Way. Jessica’s research in the field is a gift to the startup community; founders can identify themselves in one or more of the types detailed in the book and come to finally appreciate their blessed complexity. Founders will find relevant remedies that help them celebrate their strengths while acknowledging their liabilities. For those working with founders, use this playbook to identify a founder’s light, and support them with the appropriate tools so they can fulfill their destiny. Thank you, Jessica, for so many a-ha moments!”
— Osnat Benari, VP Product & Programming for WeWork Labs
Jessica Carson is a writer, speaker, teacher, and consultant. She is currently Georgetown University’s first Expert in Residence and the Director of Innovation at a major mental health organization. Previously, she held positions at a startup and venture firm, and was a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. She lives in Washington D.C. with her cat, Cleopatra.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: A God’s or Devil’s gift?
(an interview with Vladislav Solc, co-author of Dark Religion: Fundamentalism From The Perspective of Jungian Psychology for Vesmir magazine in Czech Republic)
I must emphasize, however, that the grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil. Sometimes the probate spiritus recommended by John cannot, with the best will in the world, be anything other than a cautious and patient waiting to see how things will finally turn out.”
Eva Bobůrková Interviewed Vlado Šolc
What are we experiencing today, can you describe it?
About 100 years have passed since the last major pandemic of the so-called Spanish Flu, which broke out in 1918 and claimed 50 million victims worldwide. Despite its disastrous impact, it took the WHO 30 years after that pandemic to establish a coordinated system of prevention and detection of global epidemics. Early intervention apparently prevented major spread of later respiratory epidemics such as Singapore (1957), Hong Kong Flu (1968) and later H1N1 (2009). Coordinated cooperation between governments and non-government organizations has been able to prevent the spread of Ebola, and to significantly mitigate the effects of classic influenza, malaria, or the Zika virus. However, the COVID-19 epidemic shows that mankind is not prepared for a virus that has a relatively long incubation time (5 days – 2 weeks), is highly infectious and shows a low symptom rate of the infected (95%). Again, nature has shown that even a virus whose mortality is – compared to the Black Death plague (1347-1351) which exterminated more than half of Europe’s then population) – is relatively low, yet it can disrupt even stable economies. Only with a few exceptions in the Pacific (Taiwan, New Zealand, or South Korea) the highly developed countries that boast of their advancement of science and technology have been surprised, or we should say humbled. This crisis has shown the importance of preparing for a possible global pandemic and how dangerous it is when science is not taken seriously! All of a sudden we woke up from big “Hollywood” fantasies of our readiness for biological warfare or alien invasions. Pandemic COVID-19 has brought about an inevitable confrontation with reality.
How do you see this confrontation as a Jungian Analyst?
From a psychological point of view, we are talking about confrontation with the shadow. We can say that the virus itself represents our collective shadow. It was there waiting in “pleroma,” scientists have been warning us about its potential for a long time, but we were paying little attention. Maybe we were even willingly ignoring it. The shadow, or what is part of us, but what we are not aware of, what we do not want to admit, we reject or minimize, does not cease to exist, but it causes unwanted and unexpected changes in our lives. And these have the ability to not only surprise, but also wake us up. The party is over, the waiter has brought a bill. All that what we had neglected and overlooked suddenly is now, in the face of loss and in the face of death so real… The ancient Greeks taught that pride (hubris) is followed by shame (aischyne), an encounter with suffering that naturally splits off the pain to protect ego. Hubris was taught to be punished by Nemesis, the goddess of righteous distribution. The one-sidedness, the adherence to the fantasies that everything is under control is now being quickly compensated by the sobering realization of our limits. SARS-CoV-2 set the mirror to our narcissistic belief that we are the masters of Nature to show us that we are actually a part of it. Compensation is a natural process purpose of which is to establish equilibrium by supplementing or replacing the loss of opposing energy. We observe it at both the micro and macro levels; for example in the water cycles in nature, or with the immune system, where infection by a pathogen causes a fever and the like. Carl Jung understands compensation as a fundamental tool of psychological growth. Humanity as a whole experiences a phenomenon of compensation, when it has no choice but to react creatively to the new state at the general, objective, level, as well as at the subjective, emotional level. We are willy-nilly forced into introversion – that is, turning our attention inward. For Asian countries, where meditation is part of daily life it is easier than for us westerners.
How does the current situation affect the psyche in general?
Every major loss inevitably brings about confusion, anxiety and dissolution of consciousness, the intensity is distributed over the whole spectrum, depending on the strength of ego organization and social support that he or she has available. Initially, shock ensues when a person loses the ability to think rationally and basically does not feel anything specific, s/he is paralyzed by physical manifestations of panic states, fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea. One may experience an emotional flatness, or conversely uncontrollable fluctuations of emotions and sleep problems. When you add a sense of abandonment to physical and social isolation, some people may feel as if their world was falling apart. In this period, we observe a post-traumatic reaction even with some healthy people. Emergency lines are flooded with phone calls from people panicking.
What happens next?
In the next stage, the psyche’s defense system is mobilized and ego-consciousness begins to cope with the startling reality. It is as if the ego sets to create its own, alternative, reality that gives the new experience a new meaning. The first impulse usually goes back to the past, where we have already dealt with something similar, we speak of regression. Often we see denial, rationalization, that is, an expounding without the presence of affect, banalizing, negotiation and other psychological maneuvers designed to avoid stress. But affect cannot be suppressed in the long run without being compensated by unconscious energies. The built-up pressure must be manifested in some way. Thus rage, anger and frustration arise. And anger as a rule seeks an object. One is looking for the culprit “responsible” for the situation by projecting his or her anger outward; at the same time regulating their own confusion to establish a sense of control through the process of projection. Or, conversely, one can turn his anger against him/hers self, which is then manifested as feelings of shame, or even deserved punishment (sinfulness).
Tragedies and disasters are nothing new for humanity..
Yes. Wars, pandemics and famines have been decimating societies since the beginning of the anthropocene era. Great tragedies also gave birth to ideas of divine vengeance. The supernatural beings had their own justice, and thus, to some extent, the weight of human control is removed from their shoulders. You see, the gods or God now holds the scale of judgement in their hands. I do not want to be misunderstood and reduce religious faith as a spiritual process to something merely profane. I am talking here about the process of projection and its return to the self as spiritual process par excellence. Jung calls it individuation. In relation to the supernatural being, humans become self-conscious and a moral mirror is thus established. Individual emotions are differentiated and given a unique, subjective meaning. It is our individual chance to come to terms with the world and its reality.
Now, thanks to coronavirus, more people are asking ontological and existential questions. We are going deeper, the pain is gently turning us into philosophers because we encounter an awe: Who am I? Where am I? What is my quest? Can I be better, should I be better? Many of us wonder if our relationship with Mother Earth can be healthier, holier. We have the opportunity to expand our consciousness, which occurs during tense situations. The Greek word apocalypse means revelation, revealing, uncovering, thus coming the Self into ego-consciousness. Through this process the Self reveals what had been hidden, the dark aspects of the unconscious.
So the parts of the Self are being revealed to us?
If we can look at the new reality with open eyes and accept it, we are actually recollecting ourselves and integrating “dark parts” of the Self into our ego via conscious relation and change of attitude. We are creating a new, more whole view of the world. A new imago dei. We write about this process in depth in our book: Dark Religion, Fundamentalism from the Jungian Perspective.
If we can hold our fears and anxieties present in consciousness, we can develop compassion. We can understand and develop the need to help others, to focus on solutions rather than on worries. We can start acting more rationally, asking ourselves what realistic options we have available, how to utilize positives and the like. If our consciousness embraces reality, reintegrates dark aspects of the Self and creates new meaning we are talking about the spiritual process of transformation. It is the acceptance of the fuller reality and mindful adaptation to it that is the goal of psychotherapy and analysis. If the ego is unable to do so, it can get stuck in primitive escape-fantasies cut-off from reality, then we are talking about lingering in a regression state. At the broader, social level, this is reflected in an increase in fundamentalistic, “apotropaic” coping approaches that we have termed Dark Religion (theocalypsis). These include calls for mass prayer similar to those in the Middle Ages for the defeat of the virus, the rise of conspiracy theories and other superstitions detached from reality.
President Trump was claiming until recently that covid-19 is a hoax…
Yes, the “hoax devised by the Democrats to deprive him of power.” Unfortunately, many of his followers truly believe this and refuse to follow the protective measures recommendations or orders. Donald Trump called the investigation of the Russian interference into elections a witch hunt, and he succeeded to avoid consequences because he countered every statement by a new lie. Victims of coronavirus cannot be concealed and their loved ones cannot be fooled. Thus, one of the unexpected side effects of a pandemic may be general awakening, sobering from the lies Trump has bet on, lies that have worked for him until recently. The reality of death cannot be avoided, lied away and that is why this pandemic will perhaps contribute to the rise of consciousness.
So are there any possible positive effects of the pandemic?
In the United States, where up to a third of the population deny or dispute science or where third of the population believe in bizarre conspiracy theories, an outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic may re-awaken the importance of science. In a country where a week of treatment on respirator could cost $70,000, the demand for health insurance, paid sick leave, and preventative care will undoubtedly become main topics of the upcoming elections. We began to understand more and more that homelessness is a health risk for the society as a whole.
I believe that many people will try to live more healthy, quit smoking and will cease eating meat. The field ecopsychology, which studies the relationship between humans and environment, will gain even more importance. We will study more in depth the zoonotic diseases and how human activity contributes to them. Questions of income inequality, international cooperation, climate change and the health of our planet in general are becoming the number one topics during the elections.
Plagues can change religious beliefs and behavior, but also reveal the need for social stability, interconnectedness of society, fair arrangement between rulers and workers. Pandemics have led to the development of hygiene, medicine and the industrial revolution in general. All epidemics have shifted society towards cooperation and improved the quality of life of the community. Even in this epidemic we can expect changes in this direction. Here I would like to quote Carl Sagan: “Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
What challenges is the pandemic presenting us with?
The pandemic showed differences in the efficiencies of the solutions various systems have utilized. Totalitarian regimes that were able to impose an immediate curfew, separated children from their parents, or even let whole families starve, got the virus spread under control more quickly… So called free, western countries are up against the challenges of their own way of being… It looks like the freedoms that we enjoy in democratic countries are a disadvantage in this case, so we will have to reach a compromise between security and some of the freedoms losses if we want to win over the virus. We can expect greater interconnection of technologies and electronic monitoring such as smart quarantines and the like. But in the US, people are already afraid of government monitoring, reluctant to provide their phone number or address. So we are facing a big unknown in this direction, no one really knows what the future will bring. The world will change, for sure, but whether better or for worse cannot be said at this time, because history is a process that flows beyond good and evil.
“But it is certain that delusional beliefs, conspiracy theories, or misleading religious ideas sometimes complicate the course of convalescence more than the virus itself.
For manipulations who use various -isms, mass solutions, or fundamentalist religious ideologies epidemics are a psychological breeding ground. Emphasis on education, self-knowledge are the most important antidotes against the decline of humanity. Carl Jung’s words have not lost their validity today: “We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger. And we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man … far too little. His psyche should be studied — because we are the origin of all coming evil.”
“Thanks to” the pandemic, scientists, doctors and economists have regained their respect. But new conspiracy theories emerged too. What makes people still want to create those and follow them even more passionately?
The human desire to understand reality and to attach meaning to it is instinctive and related to consciousness. Mythologies and ritual behavior tell of an ancient effort to understand the meaning of life. Conspiracy theories could be considered as attempts to decipher the hidden laws of reality. They typically arise when a force of reality begins to deviate from the ideas we hold about the world.
In times of crisis, dark imago dei, cruel images of reality emerge, with it an urge to produce some acceptable explanations. Conspiracy theories, like religions, satisfy the desire for meaning, order, and express the will to control that order. From a psychological perspective, we can understand conspiracy theories as religious theories of sui generis, through which the ego copes with the painful or inexplicable vicissitudes of life. The less I am willing and able to be conscious of negative emotions and relate to them, the more power the conspiracy fantasies gain. Conspiracy theories are defensive fantasy constructs that falsify reality through which ego can experience a sense of relief from anxiety and other otherwise dissociating affects. They give conspirators a sense of personal power and control over reality. In a way they allow redirection of aggression, hatred and other socially censored emotions into the “theory,” enabling them thus to better manage the heaviness of life. It is the disintegration of traditional religious systems in secular societies that created a new realm for their emergence. You can read more on this topic in the article Dark Religion and Conspiracy Theories, An Analytical Viewpoint.
How do the Americans, or specifically Wisconsinites, react to Trump’s initial denial of the now harsh reality?
The majority of the people respect the government orders. People have reduced their work and business, working from home if possible. But even here, America’s ideological divisions are manifested and many Trump followers do not trust the media and still believe his statements when he completely underestimated the seriousness of the epidemic. Trump has so far spread fictional quasi-scientific theories, refusing to wear a face mask, and encourages people to form their own opinions based on “gut feelings.” However, with the rise of the sick and dead, Trump’s popularity gradually declines. There is no doubt that his narcissistic approach does not help in a crisis, quite the contrary. He is internally divided and projects his internal conflict to the nation. He does not wish to unite Americans, he speaks only to his loyal part of the population – the part that mirrors him and that embodies the nostalgic vision of a Christian-fundamental, white, self-centered, fearful, nationalist and patriarchal country. Now he exploits pandemic and he is using it to further his sociopathic agenda of division and conflict. By its very nature, the United States will never be truly united politically and ideologically. The tough dialectical dialogue of opposites so typical for America is a source of progress and prevents one-sidedness, but Trump legitimizes irrational attitudes that divide opposites to the brink of dangerous conflict. By promoting the opening of the economy, lockdown, opposed the governors who ordered the proven social distance, he opened Pandora’s box, which most likely would not be closed by a rational dialogue.
But you are saying that Trump’s popularity is declining as the number of deaths increases…
In the article Donald Trump in the Mirror that I wrote for Vesmir, I expressed the opinion that Trump managed to appeal to his followers through rather “primitive” emotions of fear, anger and the feelings of entitlement. These emotions are now being projected onto “enemies,” such as migrants, foreigners, Hispanics, African-Americans, Democrats, environmentalists…you name it. Trump managed to awaken an authoritarian and nationalist instinct: on the one hand he puts himself in the role of savior and on the other hand he diverts attention from reality. Republicans have feared “socialism,” since McCarthy’s post-war era, and therefore remain stuck in magical thinking that Trump’s medicine will miraculously get them out of the crisis. Trump did not invent the division of society, but he is awakening old skeletons in the closets. He was able to evoke and legitimize “forbidden” emotions, which gave many people a sense of relief and an illusion of power. At the same time, they have trapped them like in a cult. Sticking to a leader can be compared to drug addiction, it is a variation of Stockholm’s abused person’s syndrome. Thus, his popularity may decline in proportion to the decline of power that Trump is now able to convey to Americans. The qualities that have brought him to power can turn into a catalyst of a fall in a crisis. In therapy of addictions, we commonly observe this enantiodromia brought about by exhaustion and crisis.
Thus far, we count mainly direct victims of coronavirus, sick, dead. Unexpected dramas also take place in isolation, in quarantine, behind closed doors. Will there be an unexpected amount of divorce, or a babyboom, or both when the pandemic subsides?
It depends on the entrance conditions. The crisis can have a very positive effect on relatively stable families. After the initial phase, an adaptation can take place, where people learn how to utilize neglected resources. This is a desirable aspect of the introversion mentioned earlier. Those families may now have more time to communicate, they are forced to solve problems without running away, now they have to focus more on themselves. They can use that unexpected time and space to develop creativity and tame their inferior cognitive functions. It is most important right now to accept one’s own emotions and feelings, whether it is fear, anger, hopelessness, and so on and to form a conscious relationship with them. And it’s happening, I’m already seeing it with my clients. Creative activity, the observation and relation to our dreams, the humor, the daily routine connected with physical movement, keeping the mindfulness of each other in a strained conditions, those are proven to be very beneficial attitudes these days.
Unfortunately, not all relationships, families are stable…
In families with unstable, predisposed individuals, or in families where there is domestic violence, trauma, the situation is quite the contrary. The crisis and forced isolation increase aggression in some people, and abused partners, especially in socially and economically impacted families, are even more dependent on the tyrant. We are seeing an increase of incest, suicide, bipolar disorders, but also psychotic breakdowns in people with predispositions and lose inner organization. For many people the situation during a pandemic is deteriorating.
And with respect to the baby boom: in times of economic instability, fertility usually declines, on the other hand, during crisis, sexual instinct increases with aggression. The resulting figures will probably be broken down by economic and social status. In any rate, all the effects will be felt later, for example the unemployment is a strong risk factor for depression and suicide. On the other hand, to mention something positive, the work related accidents and the number of car accidents have dropped significantly.
Are we now a part of an unplanned social experiment, as Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari put it?
Harari is a very intuitive thinker. He is probably right that in times of uncertainty and fear, the powerful will try to consolidate their positions and gain additional tools of manipulation. But the Homo Sapiens experiment has been happening continuously. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe was ruled by religious fanatics, during a great crisis Hitler seized power, after the war the Communists… We must not fall for naiveté and, even in difficult times, we must carry the torch of the Greek ideals of democracy and freedom of human spirit. But we must not succumb to paranoia either, because that is precisely the way to losing our freedoms. The cure for paranoia is individuation, i.e. self-knowledge and at the same time acceptance of reality, with everything that it entails!
How is the current situation manifested in your practice? Do you have cases that are directly related to the pandemic?
Clinics have been experiencing an enormous increase in new patients interest in therapy. This is related not only to physical and social isolation and to the anxiety from the unknown, but it is also related also to the loss of work, or fear of impending childbirth but also the death of loved ones. The crisis affects all my existing clients. We are all going through the change. It depends on our conscious attitude how much we will benefit from this change, and whether SARS-CoV-2 will be a gift or a curse.
- Jung, C., G., The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales, CW 9i, (1945/1948), Princeton University Press.
- Jung, C. G., 1969. Psychology and Religion: West and East. Volume 11. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Merritt, D,: The Dairy Farmers Guide to the Universe: Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology, (2012), Sheridan, Wyoming: Fisher King Press.
- Sagan, C., Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, (1994), Ballantines Books.
- Šolc, V., and George J. D., (2018), Dark Religion: Fundamentalism from the Perspective of Jungian Psychology. Ashville, NC: Chiron Publications
- Šolc, V., Dark Religion and Conspiracy Theories, An Analytical Viewpoint, (2020), Taylor & Francis.
 C. G. Jung, “The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales,” CW 9i, par. 397.
 The Greek word nemesis (Νέμεσις) can be translated as just indignation, jealousy, or vengeance— more literally, distribution. It is related to nemein, meaning to distribute, allot, apportion one’s due, from PIE base *nem- “to divide, distribute, allot, to take” (cf. O.E., Goth. niman “to take,” Ger. nehmen; see nimble). When nemesis is written using a lowercase “n”, as is sometimes seen in literature or literary criticism, the word connotes a sense of retributive justice. The general sense of the word nemesis means “anything by which it seems one must be defeated” (Harper, 2010). The term corresponds to 1) feelings of doing something arrogant or inappropriate while acting in hubris, but it is also a 2) subjective experience of retribution for doing something arrogant. Nemesis can be also found in literature as the feeling of an envying god. Etymologically, the original concept of the word nemesis derived from the feeling one has toward the other when they are doing something wrong. It originally meant something between fear, awe, shame, guilt, blame, but later it was applied to the concept of divine retribution (Murray, 1924, p. 85).
 Apocalypse: Late 14 c., “revelation, disclosure,” from Church L. apocalypsis “revelation,” from Gk. apokalyptein “uncover,” from apo- “from” (see apo-) + kalyptein “to cover, conceal” (see Calypso). The Christian end-of-the-world story is part of the revelation in John of Patmos’ book “Apokalypsis” (a title rendered into English as “Apocalypse” c.1230 and “Revelations” by Wyclif c.1380). Calypso means the opposite of apocalypse. The Greek word calypso (Greek: Καλυψώ, Kalupsō, Kalypso) Καλύπτειν (kalyptein, “to cover,” from which apocalypse is also derived) means “the concealer” (lit. “hider”, from Greek kalyptein “to cover, conceal,” from PIE *kel- “to cover, save,” root of English Hell.
 Theocalypse or theocalypsis (theocalypsis, Greek: θεόκαλυψις) describes all phenomena of religious possessions. The word theocalypse (theokalypsis) is presented here to describe the process of: 1) religious inflation by 2) the Self, with 3) the simultaneous creation of specific ideology 4) and/or the presence of accompanying archetypal image-symbol (Imago Dei) referring to a supreme, transcendent being. Theocalypsis = Inflation + Archetype of the Self + God Image. The word theocalypse, theocalypsis, or theokalypsis would then mean to “hide behind the god”; to believe one knows god’s intentions and thoughts and to believe one is acting in God’s name. Psychologically, this term can be conceived of as an ego being eclipsed by the energy of the Self justified by religious imagery, terminology and ideology. (author, Dark Religion, p. 248.)
 Sagan, C., Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, (1994), Ballantines Books.
 1959 BBC interview with C. G. Jung.
Who is Jung?
Jung’s Relevance Today
Personal Impact of COVID
COVID Dreams and Efforts to Help with the Pandemic
| (An Interview with Murray Stein, Ph.D by Rev. Dr. Robert S Henderson) |
RH: We have entered a strange time. Covid 19 has turned the world upside down. In the many interviews you and I have done, we have always had a lot to say. Is there something about this pandemic that has left us speechless?
MS: Yes, it has left almost everyone speechless. It is such a surprising development in the global community that “black swan” is almost not sufficient to name it. But even if left speechless for a moment, we can think about it. It has been called a “pandemic,” which means it affects everyone on the planet.
The sense of “pan” (“all,” across the board!) is strong, and it underscores the connectedness of everyone. Usually we think of the “anima mundi” as a loving presence, like a mother, that connects people, but in this case it is the shadow that is connecting us. This is a big surprise!
Still, the pandemic is bringing a sense of community to many people, and they are feeling, in addition to anxiety, a sense of mutuality and responsibility for one another. What I do has an effect on my neighbor, and so we must become more conscious of our everyday decisions and actions. All the individuals on earth are being called to responsibility.
RH: If you feel “black swan” is not sufficient, has another image come to you?
MS: The image that comes to my mind is an Umbra Mundi, a “world shadow” hovering over us and infecting our psychic lives. I see this shadow spreading over the globe like a solar eclipse. The alchemical term for it is nigredo. The sun is covered by the shadow of death. It is the familiar stage that signifies the beginning of significant transformation. We are being asked to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It is biblical. The question is: will we be able to use this experience for individuation? Or will it just pass like a bad dream of the night that when we awake we are happy to be free from?
RH: What is the first step like of this walk?
MS: Typically the first step means to enter fully into a state of “confusion,” with the intention to explore the question, “where am I?” Individual finds themselves in something like a dark wood like Dante at the beginning of his journey into the Inferno. They are searching for a way back or out, for something solid, for something they can count on to give them light and hope and a sense of direction. There is anxiety here in this dark place, sometimes bordering on panic, and there is often a sense of impending catastrophe if the way back is not found, and quickly. This is our time.
People are wondering: Is this the end of the world as we have known it? Is this the Apocalypse? No one knows the answer. We are all in the dark, groping, searching. But the important thing is to look around within this space. There are no answers “out there.” No one knows the future. Perhaps a guide will appear, someone like Virgil or Philemon.
We might ask, too: What does the unconscious say? what is its response to this crisis situation? I have seen a number of dreams that indicate “death.” Death means the end of the story as it has been told. So we step into the valley of the shadow of death and proceed from there. There is no other way out.
RH: We are asked to stay at home which can be a huge challenge for many people, especially with so many cancellations of work, school, concerts, sporting events. What are we to do with so much time at home?
MS: Usually people have complained about not having enough time to record their dreams, to do active imagination, to read Jung’s Red Book, and so on. Now with time at our disposal, why not make good use of the opportunity? This crisis will pass sooner or later. 18 months is the outside guess right now until a vaccine can be developed and distributed. Then the pace of activity will quickly accelerate and return to high speed. Put this period of time into perspective and use it creatively.
The challenge will to learn from this experience and to carry the learning forward afterwards. What can we extract from this slowdown and enforced period of isolation that will help us to find a wiser pace and balance in life for when the doors are opened and we can walk and run freely again? I suggest we consider this time a precious moment in our lives for looking inward, for introversion, and for practicing centroversion, the mindful circumambulation of the greater self.
RH: What is Umbra Mundi and what are we learning from it?
MS: Umbra Mundi is a companion to Anima Mundi. Anima Mundi is the soul of the world, the divine within material cosmos. Umbra Mundi is its shadow. You could say it is the dark side of God, as Jung and many of his students have written about this unpleasant topic. Because it is archetypal it infects everyone.
Its most essential features are invisibility, universality, and numinosity. Because Coronavirus moves among us invisibly, is found on all continents, and strikes us as awesome and powerful, it represents the Umbra Mundi. We don’t know who has it or if we have it ourselves. It is everywhere, in all parts of the world, and it instills fear in the collective psyche, which we all feel. Moreover, as Rudolf Otto says about the numinous experience, it is awesome. The perception of Umbra Mundi makes us shudder. It is a mysterium tremendum et fascinans, and it infects us with a mysterious terror and sense of vulnerability. We are not in control, and it is cold and relentless.
We are living in what seems like a sci-fi world at the moment, and the challenge is to accept this as a reality and not brush it aside and dismiss it as fantasy. It has happened so fast. The Umbra Mundi invaded our unstable world unannounced and silently, and it threatens to undo the delicate fabric of our collective life on a global level.
What are we learning from it? This remains to be seen. I have no doubt that we have been handed an opportunity for a vast transformation of consciousness on a general collective level. Many people are talking about that possibility. On a deeper level, there may be a transformation afoot in the collective unconscious. I take this appearance of Umbra Mundi as synchronistic. It was predicted by astrologers. It is timely, and we have to discover it’s meaning. This will emerge over a long period of time.
Remember that we are at only the beginning of the Aquarian Age. Jung thought it would take 600 years for the new God image to come fully into view. This passage through the valley of the shadow of death is a transit and it will take time. We aren’t used to thinking in such a long term perspective. We want a fix and we want it now. Maybe the first lesson to learn is patience. A new humanity is being born. Its brain cells have not yet been fully formed and interconnected. It’s just barely creeping into sight.
RH: As you said, this is a time now for introversion. After all your years of clinical work, teaching, and study how do you understand introversion?
MS: Introversion is defined by Jung as libido (i.e., interest, attention) directed to the subject rather than to objects. It is self-reflection, looking in the mirror. When we reflect on our feelings, our thoughts, our presuppositions, in other words on our subjectivity, we are operating in the introverted mode. When we direct our attention to objects, people, events around us, we are in the extroverted mode. What isolation does to people generally is to get them to pay attention to how they are reacting to things, how they are feeling about what is going on around them, to become aware of what they are thinking – their emotions, thoughts, fantasies – and by introverting they become more aware of themselves as subjects.
In Jungian style “inner work,” we use the mode of introversion also to gain access to the unconscious, which is a huge part of the inner world, in fact the larger part by far of the two domains, consciousness and the unconscious. Ego consciousness is small by comparison with the unconscious. In fact, the unconscious is immeasurable and includes personal, cultural and collective (i.e., universally human and perhaps even cosmic) dimensions.
Reflecting on our dreams as images of the unconscious and not as representations of the object world leads us to consider the factors underlying our conscious subjectivity, factors that we call complexes and archetypes. We also use active imagination to explore the “inner world” of the psyche.
The benefit of intensive introversion along these lines and using these methods is that we can establish a connection to the inner world of the psyche that is as strong as our connection to the world of objects that are available to the senses. Extroversion leads to knowledge of the outer world, introversion to knowledge of the inner world. What we try to create is an equivalence, or a balance, between our relation to the inner world on the one hand and to the outer world on the other.
This achievement is highly unusual in our basically extroverted cultures today. People are much more trained and habituated to attending to the surrounding world – using all the media available to us especially in our presently isolated condition – and tend to fear and avoid taking a look inward at who and what they are. In fact, this is one of the causes of the panic that is running through the world today, especially in Western societies. The inner world is the unknown and the unexplored.
People from Asian cultures who have grown up with Buddhism are much more adept at introversion than most Western people are. Meditation is a form of introversion. It withdraws attention from the outer world and lets go of thoughts that tend in that direction (i.e., our daily obsessions and ruminations). The West is catching on, and meditation centers are quite popular nowadays.
Another form of introversion is prayer. If one prays to an invisible power like God or the Saints, one is for that period of time withdrawing attention from the sensate world of objects and directing it to an archetypal image or presence. In Jungian work we encourage our clients to work with their symbolic images in a similar way – to attend to them, to speak with them, to listen to them. Active imagination can be compared to meditation and to prayer even though there are some differences.
RH: Jung said “a man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it— even if he must confess his failure.” During this crisis I imagine a lot of people are thinking about death. What is your view of death and life after?
MS: My view is that after death we continue to exist in the form of a subtle body, in a symbol realm. We become symbols, which are real in that realm and impact this one in certain ways. There is some interaction with the material realm, for instance in the form of dreams or visions and synchronistic events.
From this side we have glimpses and hints. From that side it seems there is something similar. The windows are somewhat open between these two dimensions. Both exist in the same unified reality.
This is ancient wisdom shared by humans in many cultures old and new. Only our standard modern world view does not include this other aspect of total reality. Jung of course knew very well of this reality, and that is why he could say he did not believe (in God), he knew – this is the total reality that he experienced personally and writes about in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections and other texts. We will experience it too if we pay attention to dreams and visions and take note of synchronicity, especially around death.
In times like these we are living through right now, people frequently experience revelations in their dreams that tell them about this reality, which extends beyond this life, and not only after but beyond in an encompassing sense.
A big dream, as Jung calls it, offers gnosis, knowledge of a symbolic world that underlies, surrounds, and is infused within the one we know in the physical body and with our senses. We are held and contained in this larger reality. That’s why the Psalm writer says what he does as he walks through the valley of the shadow of death. He knows that he is in secure hands.
My views are based on experiences I’ve had in my personal life and ones I’ve walked through with analysands.
RH: It is near the end of March (2020) and the number of people infected by the coronavirus and who have died around the world have skyrocketed and we have not yet hit the worst. And yet about half of our country feel Covid 19 is a hoax. What is it about the shadow that invites such denial?
MS: Denial is a defence against painful thoughts and feelings and is a sign of underlying anxiety. The shadow of optimism is fear of imminent catastrophe. Most of us want to look on the bright side, to look forward to growth and health and prosperity.
Americans are known for their optimism, which can be a strength and a virtue or a refusal to acknowledge the tragic aspects of life, which are repressed and then become shadow. The pandemic is a test of the collective ego’s capacity to accept reality and to act accordingly.
To my limited knowledge, every country in the world has failed this test so far, with the possible exception of Taiwan. I live in Switzerland, a country famous for its good order and effectiveness, but the authorities here failed to register the threat of coronavirus, which was in unobstructed view right across the border in Italy. They were slow to act in accordance with that available knowledge, so now this “safe country” has the highest percentage of infected residents in the world. America is on the verge of a tsunami of desperately ill patients flooding the hospitals, and the president is promising it will all be over by Easter. This is immoral because he and everyone around him knows this is a false assurance.
But people will believe it because it plays into their defenses against overwhelming anxiety about the shadow of death hovering over the land. In addition, the shadow of a Great Depression looms and threatens the foundations of the country’s economic well being. Denial causes one to act too little and too late. The virus doesn’t hesitate to exploit this psychological weakness.
Murray Stein is a graduate of Yale University (B.A. 1965), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.1969), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. 1985). He received his Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich in 1973.He had a private practice in Wilmette, Illinois from 1980 to 2003 and was a training analyst with the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago. Since 2003, he has lived in Switzerland and is a Training and Supervising Analyst with the International School of Analytical Psychology/Zurich. He currently has a private practice in Zurich, Switzerland.He is a founding member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts, and he was 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 ISAP Zurich (2008-2012). He is the author of In MidLife, Jung’s Treatment of Christianity, Transformation: Emergence of the Self, Jung’s Map of the Soul, Minding the Self, The Bible as Dream and other books, and he is the editor of Jungian Psychoanalysis. Murray and his wife, Jan, have three children, Hal, Sarah and Christopher, and four grandchildren.
Rev. Dr. Robert S. Henderson is a Poet, Jungian Psychotherapist and ordained Protestant Minister in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He and his wife, Janis, a psychotherapist, are the authors of the three-volume book, Living with Jung: “Enterviews” with Jungian Analysts. Many of their enterviews have been published in Quadrant, Spring Journal, Psychological Perspectives, Jung Journal, and Harvest. Correspondence:244 Wood Pond Road, Glastonbury, CT 06033. E-mail: Rob444@cox.
BTS released the video to accompany their song “Black Swan” last week to rave reviews. The video, the second from their latest album “Map of the Soul:7”, features shots of the members of the band dancing on a dimly lit stage juxtaposed with film of the band in more static poses, all set against the backdrop of Los Angeles Theatre. The song and video continue the development of the theme of soul work that characterize the band’s recent releases.
My connection with BTS began when they turned their artistic attention to matters of the soul. I cannot pretend to fully understand the details of the BTS experience, although I appreciate the beauty of their work. Everyone experiences the journey of the soul differently, and works of art like “Black Swan” are perhaps the best way to capture both the individual and collective nature of that journey.
While each of us takes an individual path to deeper knowledge, we often travel similar territory along our journey. The shadow, or part of our personality that is concealed from the world and, often, even from ourselves, is a common feature of this inner landscape. Frequently the shadow forms itself in opposition to another element of our psychic landscape, the persona, which is the part of our self that we display for others. In “Black Swan”, Suga, Jungkook, and Jimin dance in the foreground while their shadows dance different movements along the walls of the Los Angeles Theatre, emphasizing the opposition between shadow and persona. Lyrics like “Do your thang with me now, What’s my thang, tell me now?”, make explicit the tension between the self that is known and the shadow self.
The genius of BTS is to present these elements and the tension between them in vibrant, living form. “Black Swan” isn’t beautiful because it explains the landscape of the soul; it’s beautiful because it shows the landscape of the soul. It presents the universal elements of that landscape in a way that demands identification from the audience, which provides the viewer with the opportunity to exclaim, “Yes, that’s the way it is for me!” Perhaps most importantly, BTS is dedicated to using the experience of their art to improve the lives of those who listen, encouraging their fans to do their own soul work, to become their own advocates.
We here at Chiron Publications are grateful to BTS for bringing the ideas of Jungian psychology to a new generation. We believe that the process of making the world a better place begins with the soul work we each can do to become more whole human beings. This work is unique to the individual, however, when exploring the soul, it is often helpful to have a map. Dr. Murray Stein, who wrote the book who inspired the BTS album “Map of the Soul”, has been drawing such maps for years. His latest, “Map of the Soul: Shadow”, is now available at Chiron Books. Click the link below to access free samples of “Map of the Soul: Persona”, “Map of the Soul: Shadow”, along with the Korean version of “Map of the Soul:Persona”:
Don’t miss Dr. Murray Stein’s discussion of the latest album on Speaking of Jung:
Episode 53: Shadow Interlude
Episode 54: The Ego
Episode 55: Seven
We are delighted to announce the 2019 Zurich Lecture Series for this coming October. ISAPZurich in collaboration with Chiron Publications will co-host the event. Please see ISAP Zurich’s page for updated details at: www.isapzurich.com/en/current-program/zurich-lectures/
ISAPZURICH and CHIRON PUBLICATIONS present
Mark Saban, MA
“Two Souls Alas…”
Jung’s two personalities and the creation of analytical psychology
Oct 4 & Oct 5, 2019 | Zurich, Switzerland
Friday, October 4, 5:30pm – 9:00pm: Reception, Lecture & Dinner, Zunfthaus zur Schmiden, Marktgasse 20, Zurich
Saturday, October 5, 10:00am – 3:30pm: Lectures & Discussion, Zentrum Karl der Grosse, Kirchgasse 14, 8001 Zurich
Jung’s difficulties with what he describes as his ‘two personalities’ dominate the first few chapters of MDR. As a child, Jung tried to alleviate his feeling of inner division by repressing one or other of his two personalities, but he eventually realised that in order to live a full and fulfilled life he had to, first, maintain contact with bothpersonalities (even though they conflicted), and, second, find ways to enable each personality to engage dialectically with the other.
This experience constellated an important insight: that psychological transformation – and therefore the process of individuation – depends upon a dynamic engagement with the opposites and the tension between them. Only in this way can a continuous process of psychic balancing be enabled, and one-sidedness avoided.
This idea runs like a red thread through every period and every aspect of Jung’s psychology. We see it in his early work on the complexes, and we see it played out in that dialogical meeting between personality 1 and personality 2 which Jung describes in MDR as his ‘confrontation with the unconscious’. Central to individuation, it runs through Jung’s ideas on the ‘transcendent function’ and on typology and achieves fruition in Jung’s magnum opus, Mysterium Coniunctionis..
Because the logic of the two personalities is fundamental to analytical psychology it has the capacity to provide a unique critical tool when turned back toward Jung’s psychology itself. Applied in this way, the reflexive critique immediately shows up an endemic one-sidedness in Jung’s psychology whereby the themes, motifs and ideas associated with personality no 2 dominate, while the themes motifs and ideas that come with personality no 1 are persistently ignored or rejected.
For example, when we focus on the particular opposites, inner vs outer, and look at the ways in which Jung dealt with them in his life and in his work, what becomes apparent is a striking failure to maintain the logic of the creative and transformative dynamic he had developed. Instead, Jung one-sidedly identifies the inner realm with psychology itself, and thereby eliminates the outer as proper object for psychological attention.
This has meant that, despite Jung’s own pioneering work with transference and counter-transference (work that depends upon a relational – inner/outer – dynamic), analytical psychology has, on the whole, been marred by a persistent and problematic reluctance to engage with the outer other. This has led, among other things, to a long-lasting difficulty in dealing with, or even properly acknowledging, the psychosocial dimension.
This problem has become increasingly apparent as the relational, social and political realm becomes recognised more and more as active within, and critical to, depth psychology. By properly highlighting the logic of the two personalities we can begin to redress this imbalance with an acknowledgment that the collective unconscious may be encountered not only through intrapsychic relations with inner others, but also through extra-psychic engagement with the outer collective and outer others.
Mark Saban is a senior analyst with the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists and a lecturer at the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He co-edited Analysis and Activism – Social and Political Contributions of Jungian Psychology with Emilija Kiehl and Andrew Samuels (Routledge 2016) (Finalist American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis Book Prize, Nominated Gradiva Award for Best Edited Book).
Recent articles include, ‘Secrete e Bugie. Un’area cieca nella psicologia junghiana’, Rivista di psicologia analitica, 2017, n. 43 Volume 95. and ‘Outside-In: Jung’s myth of interiority ambiguated Or – Knowing me, Knowing Jung – ahah!’, Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2018, 63, 3
About the Zurich Lecture Series
The Zurich Lecture Series in Analytical Psychology was established in 2009 by the International School of Analytical Psychology Zurich (ISAPZURICH) and Spring Journal Books to present annually new work by a distinguished scholar who has previously offered innovative contributions to the field of Analytical Psychology by either:
- bringing analytical psychology into meaningful dialogue with other scientific, artistic, and academic disciplines;
- showing how analytical psychology can lead to a better understanding of contemporary global concerns relating to the environment, politics, religion; or
- expanding the concepts of analytical psychology as they are applied clinically
Each year, the selected lecturer delivers lectures over a 2-day period in Zurich based on a previously unpublished book-length work. Chiron Publications publishes this work as a new volume in the Zurich Lecture Series, of which Murray Stein and Steve Buser are co-editors.
By Anna Milashevich
In this essay, I explore manifestations of the anima and animus in the business world, as well as contributions these archetypal energies make to our understanding of business creativity. These archetypes emerge in groups, collectives and domains such as business, and many individuals participate in them in one way or another – now from anima energy with projections, fantasies and ideas, now from animus patterns with know-how and more rational approaches. Thus, it is useful to understand the mutual relationship between anima and animus in terms of syzygy. In Jungian psychology, the term syzygy denotes a pair of psychological opposites whether in conjunction or opposition (Jung, CW9ii, paras. 20-42).
Syzygy contains many possible relational combinations. My argument is that a relatively stable functional syzygy between anima and animus is required to generate creativity in business and bring about an adequate execution of the project. This is the ultimate source of analytical imagination so crucial in the business world. This syzygy comprises a state of creative tension (neither outright conflict nor merger) where the differences are in dialogue with each other and working dynamically together, while preserving the necessary distinctions of their specific natures. The ideal functional syzygy is one that uses analytical imagination to offer novel answers to concrete problems in demand.
I will start with a brief overview of the Jungian understanding of the anima and animus and then move to the main part of this essay, which is the business application of these concepts. I will use start-up culture to illustrate my points and will end by shifting into a ‘case-study’ of Pinterest, a successful start-up company, to underpin the practical importance of syzygy for the business domain.
Anima and animus in Jungian psychology
Jung used the term ‘anima’ to denote the unconscious ‘feminine’ component of the man’s psyche and ‘animus’ for the ‘masculine’ aspects of the woman’s psyche. This classification, however, raised some concern even in his times; in today’s world, where gender is conceived of in somewhat different and more flexible ways, we would say that everyone has both an anima and animus. In this light, as some commentators (Samuels, 1985/2006, p. 212; Lopez-Pedraza, 1989/2010, p. 151; Young-Eisendrath, 1997/1999, p. 225) point out, these concepts can be viewed as metaphors for unconscious energies, arguably without losing their essence.
Importantly, Jung himself used the terms anima and animus to designate certain patterns of related psychic phenomena. According to him, the anima and animus contain attributes that are lacking from our conscious attitude, and thus indicate a more unconscious level than we realise consciously. Jung sees these archetypal factors as a doorway to the deeper levels of the inner world and as offering access to the collective layers of the unconscious (CW9ii, paras. 20-42). This applies both to individuals and to communities and collectives, such as the business domain.
Jung describes the anima as the projection-making factor in the psyche, which, like the ancient Indian Goddess Maya, creates illusions (CW9ii, para. 20). The ego consequently gets caught up in a web of projections that stem from this unconscious source, which represents the power of Eros. Jung writes that the anima is ‘the glamorous, possessive, moody, and sentimental seductress in a man’ (CW9ii, para. 422) and that ‘[s]he intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologises all emotional relations’ (CW9i, para. 144). The anima brings in feelings of excitement, fascination and the desire for union, if not total merger. She creates a version of reality in which we want to believe and participate and in this respect is every successful con-man’s greatest accomplice (Konnikova, 2016). It is due to the impact of the anima that we feel an immediate and deep connection to certain people, ideas or projects. Thus, we may become intoxicated by the speech of the charismatic orator, fall in love with a film star or envision a certain version of ourselves or the future – none of which may be grounded in our reality. The impact of the anima bypasses our ability for independent thinking and critical judgement due to a strong and immediate emotional affect. The animus, on the other hand, is associated with Logos, i.e. structure, discipline and independent thinking (Jung, CW9ii, paras. 20-42). We could say that the animus pulls the psyche in the direction of abstraction, reality-testing and the creation of order. However, the animus also has a tendency to become dull, judgemental and one-sided. Its constructions can be as illusory as the fantasies of the anima. Both are driven by unconscious energies that dissimulate as reality. However, as I will argue, both are necessary for creativity and execution in the business domain.
It could be argued that the anima and animus as principles broadly capture and contain the multiplicity of archetypal characteristics inherent and active within the collective unconscious. Specifically, the anima (with its lunar energy) empowers Eros and the forces of relationship, while the animus (with its solar energy) drives structural factors and empowers Logos. Thus, for example, the shadow, puer aeternus and mother, with their relatively undifferentiated and marked lunar qualities featuring raw emotion and imagination, draw energy from the anima principle, while the solar orientation of the more differentiated archetypes such as the persona, senex and father draw their resources from the animus principle with its orientation toward structure. These archetypes then use the energy in their own characteristic ways. The syzygy, which combines the anima and animus in a larger composite totality, provides space for a variety of positions in the relations among the anima and animus oriented energies and opportunities for switching between different paradigmatic positions. Behind the syzygy lies the overarching ‘archetype of archetypes’, the self, which guides and controls all distributions of energy among the various archetypal patterns.
Manifestations of the anima and animus in the business world
The concepts of anima and animus can be instructive in addressing the current ‘execution gap’, which, according to many commentators, is endemic in our culture (Mankins and Steele, 2005). The term ‘execution gap’ refers to the gap between the setting of a strategy or goal based on a certain idea/vision and actually achieving it. This is often expressed in terms of ‘from X to Y by when’ (McChesney, Covey and Huling, 2012, p. 299).
I will use the notion of the anima archetype to refer to the workings of imagination and the spontaneous emergence of ideas and images related to a product, while its counterpart, the animus archetype, leads toward execution by introducing know-how, experimentation, ordering, estimation of markets and the possible structure of implementation. Thus, the anima picks up and introduces the unconscious knowledge of a business idea, while the animus, as the ordering agency, has unconscious knowledge of the market as well as how to make this idea work. It is my hypothesis that it is the ‘functional syzygy’ (i.e. a state of creative tension between these energy polarities where the differences are in dialogue with each other and working dynamically together, while preserving the necessary distinctions of their specific natures) that brings strategy and execution together and potentially integrates them into a whole. Through its dynamic presence in each, the syzygy effectively bridges the dichotomy that is responsible for creating both the theoretical and practical chasms between these two business concepts.
Strategy is about forward-looking vision and ideas (i.e. the anima), while execution, being about structural implementation, is shared by the animus and ego. In the absence of the functional syzygy, when the animus and anima are not adequately relating to each other, there is a divide between strategy and execution: strategy is unrealistic and inflexible, while execution lacks motivation and is sterile and over practical. This strategy orientation is often cited as one of the major reasons for the execution gap (e.g. Leinwand and Carmichael, 2016), while lack of motivation on the execution side is another (e.g. McChesney, Covey and Huling, 2012, pp. 6-8).
In this theoretical account, the ego shares the function of execution with the animus by following up on animus’ constructions. It is important to point out that the ego does not organise or structure execution; it rather implements the organising factors that the animus comes up with. Organising and structuring are creative acts. Jungian psychology holds that creativity fundamentally derives from the collective unconscious (Jung, CW15, para. 130) and that the ego is crucial for the realisation of creativity within time and space. Jung also stated that ‘the ego stands to the self as the moved to the mover, or as object to subject’ (CW11, para. 391), while emphasising that the self needs the ego in order to have presence in the time and space realm. The latter view has been further elaborated by many Jungians. For example, Edward Edinger (1972) introduced the term/concept ‘ego-self axis’. In this context, it is worth emphasising the difference between true reality-testing and what could be called ‘pseudo reality-testing’. It is often assumed that the ego, as the centre of consciousness, does the reality-testing. However, the principal function of the ego is to determine what enters the centre of consciousness, and thus, as pointed out above, the ego only implements what the archetype, with which it currently identifies more, comes up with. For example, when the ego is under the influence of the anima or puer, it may ‘think’ that it is engaged in reality-testing, while in fact it is only protecting a certain idea/fantasy from reality (i.e. pseudo reality-testing). For the ego’s reality-testing to be genuine and effective, a connection with animus’ energies is necessary. Thus, it is the ego and animus together that constitute the reality principle, which is essential for execution of a project.
When the anima and animus are working together as functional syzygy, this syzygy becomes available to both strategy and execution. It brings imaginal strategy and concern for the real world together and integrates them into a whole, thus making strategy more realistic and flexible and thus more in touch with execution. The functional syzygy contains both the anima voice, which whispers, ‘Yes, let’s do it! I am excited’, as well as the animus voice with its reassuring message, ‘I know where we are going’. This syzygy activates and motivates the ego, which then implements what the syzygy comes up with. The anima side of the syzygy creates a pervasive strategic attitude capable of supplying the necessary motivation to sustain the project through the everyday whirl of business routines while the animus side directs the project to move ahead, to change and possibly become something entirely different as that execution proceeds. Without this functional syzygy, all motivational tactics would be merely short-lived. Thus, through this syzygy, strategy contains within it the execution aspect (through the animus and its connection with the reality-principle), and execution contains the motivating strategic aspect (through the anima and its deep connection with unconscious creativity), meaning that the presence of the syzygy narrows the execution gap.
Start-ups as an example of the syzygy in action
The impact of these archetypes can be illustrated using the example of start-up companies, which I use because the dynamics of start-up culture demonstrate the patterns in the execution gap particularly vividly. That is to say, they exhibit the divergence between inspiration and vision (largely in the form of a new idea) and execution in a characteristically acute way. As the driving force behind the current trends of western economic development, start-ups are promising yet demanding and risky enterprises: research shows that at least 75 per cent of start-ups fail, with investors losing all their money in 30-40 per cent of cases (Cage, 2012).
There are no hard and fast rules to defining a start-up, and hence the definitions are many and often conflicting. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘start-up’ as: ‘the action or process of setting something in motion’ or ‘a newly established business’. Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, defines a start-up as ‘a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed’ (as cited in Robehmed, 2013).
Contrary to these definitions, co-founder of an influential start-up accelerator Y Combinator, Paul Graham, states that start-ups are defined in terms of exponential growth (Graham, 2012) and it is this that distinguishes a newly founded business from a start-up. For example, what distinguishes Google from a barbershop is not that its founders were extraordinarily hard-working or lucky or both; the difference is that the barbershop cannot scale up, while Google has the ability to attract a large market and thus experience high growth rates. Thus, Graham identifies two conditions necessary for a start-up: 1) a product with a large potential market; 2) the ability to reach and accommodate this market.
An equally useful definition is offered by Eric Ries (the acclaimed pioneer of the lean start-up movement, a modern business strategy helping start-ups to allocate their limited resources efficiently): a start-up is ‘a human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty’ (2001, p. 8). Apart from emphasising the human element in start-up culture, the definition also specifies that the key factor required for their development and operation is extreme uncertainty, which includes not only market conditions but also lack of awareness of who their customer is, what their product will be or which obstacles they will have to overcome. It is these features that distinguish start-ups from what could be called more traditional business models and which are responsible for significantly redefining business operations. By presenting a formidable challenge to well-established companies (e.g. smartphones vs. Nokia), the start-up mentality with its emphasis on continuous innovation has integrated itself into the very matrix of the business domain. The amount of time for which a company can hold on to its earlier innovation has shrunk considerably, making even the most well-established businesses heavily dependent on innovation to ensure their future survival. For example, John Hagel of Deloitte’s Centre for the Edge (2002) states: ‘It’s not only getting harder and harder to generate profits, but it’s getting harder and harder to maintain market position – even when you are the very largest companies in the U.S.’.
My argument is that the concepts of anima and animus are useful tools for understanding the unconscious psychological structures behind start-up activity that contribute significantly to success or failure. Thus, it is important to see how they pull the psyche in certain directions (i.e. how we identify with these archetypes). As mentioned earlier, Jungian psychology states that creativity comes from sources deep in our collective unconscious. The anima acts as a gateway to this deeper level and is present each time we have an inspired idea, a so-called Eureka moment, such as ‘it would be great to do this’ or ‘I can see how I can make what exists better’. It inspires us, opens up a range of possibilities and energises and excites us so that everything seems possible and within reach. We could say that the anima makes us fall in love with an idea and thus pulls our psyche in the direction of heightened, even wild, imagination and creative energies. This process of idea-formation is important, since, although it may appear (albeit not necessarily to us) that we lose touch with reality in such moments of inspiration, this is when our ideas become conscious, begin to take shape and come alive. What, however, might equally happen at this initial stage of idea creation is that we get caught up in an idea and even become sick with it. We can see this happening particularly often with start-ups. The idea can seduce and enslave us, as in the case of identification with our idea.
This unconscious identification can manifest as all types of defensiveness in relation to the idea, including the refusal to put it to vigorous reality testing. This may lead to inadequate research, lack of customer development interviews or badly designed questionnaires whose purpose is to support one’s own point of view rather than to get to the bottom of the situation. There is no interest in whether the product meets market needs, and instead a rather common temptation is to begin thinking that ‘first we will make something and then we will see how it can bring profit’. There may be a certain determination and rigidity of attitude: the idea is great and it must work. Here, the inspiring person may use the example of Twitter, which was also unprofitable for a long time (Smorodnikova, 2014).
At later stages, when it becomes apparent that the market is not responding, this rigidity contributes to the temptation to start adding further features to the product in order to perfect it. In contrast, an alternative to this behaviour is to pivot, which is a common practice in start-ups. Pivoting usually occurs when the current business model is not working and the founders thus resort to plan B. It is often the result of desperation, arising out of the urgency to change things before the resources run out. However, it is also about attuning to the voice of customers, and, by aiming to deliver the product that they want, forgoing initial preferences about expanding or changing the target markets (Ries, 2011, p. 149). Being in the grip of the anima means that new possibilities are overlooked and no pivots are undertaken; thus, the project loses momentum. As a result of this unconscious identification with the anima, we move further and further away from reality and begin to like our idea and vision more than the market, its users and their problems.
What is important at the stage of idea-formation is that one does not become seduced by the anima and cling to the inspired idea at all costs. Separation (i.e. individuation) is called for at this point. A degree of strong anima identification would be inevitable and even desirable in some cases, but it is the dynamic of identification that becomes a problem. Compared to normal jobs, start-ups take up days and nights of their founders’ lives and involve foregoing a stable income amongst other sacrifices that significantly affect the quality of life. A degree of strong identification ensures the required 100 per cent commitment, perseverance and even stubbornness. The other side of this identification, however, is that it can, especially under certain unfavourable circumstances, quickly spin out of control and drag a person with it. The idea in the head may become bigger and stronger, drawing more and more resources towards itself. It takes on all the time, effort, emotions, mental ability and finance and thereby becomes the centre of one’s life. In its demand for complete dedication, as in the case of a possessive lover who stops at nothing short of complete ownership of the object of desire, it might eventually suck all the blood and exhaust the life-force, throwing a person into an abyss of despair and self-deprecation. The short history of start-ups has already witnessed many painful examples of this happening, including cases of suicide (Carson, 2015).
What are the roots of this identification? The anima presents us with a brilliant idea, which has vast potential. Most importantly, however, it represents us in potential, where we stand for something that we are not at the moment. In that respect, it gives us a new identity. When we are presented with an idea by the anima-muse, we are suddenly removed from our mundane lives and transformed into the owner of some precious jewel or a hero galloping off on some glorious mission (slaying dragons, saving princesses and acquiring kingdoms). The anima ensures that all this will feel real, as it is not only the source of creativity in giving us ideas, but is also the master of grandiose illusions and deceptions.
One of the most damaging aspects of the anima is her tendency to whisper sweetly in our ear that we are special and that our ideas matter. Once the ego takes up this anima suggestion and locks it, as a sacred treasure, in a safe, that precious idea begins to dictate directions. Much of what the anima says or does in the background is barely detectable by the ego, which then suffers intolerably: on the one hand, there is a belief that guides all its actions, while on the other there is reality which often does not match this belief and instead requires a very different set of skills and resources.
The negative aspect of the anima with its powerfully charged conviction that the idea is everything features prominently in the start-up environment. If we look at the chart below, we can see how this anima-inspired Silicon Valley version of the Cinderella story can go bust: by far the top reason for start-up failure is a lack of market need for the product.
Top reasons for the failure of start-ups
(Source: CBinsights, 2014, The Top Twenty Reasons Startups Fail)
This single factor accounts for at least 42% of failures, followed by running out of cash (29%), issues within the team (23%) and being outcompeted (19%). However, looking at the chart, it is possible to say that fascination with the idea not only features prominently in the first item on the graph, but is also implicit in most of the other factors responsible for failure, such as running out of resources or burning out.
The observation that clinging to pet ideas could, in fact, kill start-ups and often effectively destroys the lives of their founders, points to the insight that the idea itself is not the most significant aspect of a successful start-up; what matters is how it is executed and how the eventual product is received by the market (Cooper and Vlaskovits, 2013, p. 4). The reason many start-ups die is because business creativity does not comprise an aspect of the self-exploration or self-realisation process (as it does in art, for example), but is primarily concerned with satisfying the rather specific needs of the market.
Thus, whereas the first encounter with the anima can be overwhelming, it is important to have a second and more conscious encounter. The anima does not operate in a linear fashion, but in terms of emotionally charged images. It is volatile and in need of containment. The animus, on the other hand, brings a drive toward order, rationality, reality-testing and know-how. It is responsible for the drive toward the structured development of an idea and therefore pushes for market research and will generally act to check the idea against market reality: is the market big enough? Is there a need for this product? How may the incumbents respond to our intervention? In the modern world, where almost everything imagined can be built, the animus interrupts the anima’s self-inspiring chatter: ‘Until we figure out whether we can build a sustainable business around the idea, it is not worth spending any resources on it’.
Thus, the animus interferes with the state of unconscious identification with the idea and with all the fantasies built around it. While the anima comes from the realm of the Mothers and can draw us back into the world of images and potentials (Jung, CW15, para. 159), the animus is connected to the Father principle and in that sense it, like the father, breaks the connection between the realm of the Mothers and the new-born idea. The animus introduces the necessary ‘third’ into the dyad. Ideally, its energy removes the idea from the realm of the Mothers while not entirely destroying the ego identification with the anima/idea. In this way, it adds energy in the form of structure and order and brings logical direction to the idea, thus helping it to form, develop, mature and scatter the seeds further.
Quite often what is needed is both big vision and small-scale steps. Here, the animus may break the anima’s vision into its component parts and conduct a vigorous testing that separates facts from assumptions. The animus’ emphasis on the scientific approach and experimentation works together with the anima’s vision, hopes, fears, intuition and judgements. Thus, the functional syzygy can channel the anima’s creativity into its most productive form. The animus’ productivity is not about efficiency, but about aligning the business idea with the needs of the market. The functional syzygy is an example of what could be called ‘analytical imagination’.
When the anima and animus are working together as the functional syzygy, work has meaning and thus the ego can sustain the necessary motivation throughout the project. It is this syzygy that activates and motivates the ego. The ego, being responsible for the actual execution of the task, mobilises the necessary resources to contain and persevere through the difficulties, and essentially allows for work to be conducted efficiently. It is not a perfect equilibrium, even once established, since the ego will still inevitably identify slightly more with the anima on some occasions and with the animus on others, thus causing the syzygy to change its character configuration or even collapse.
What is most important is that the ego does not claim creativity for itself. Instead, it invites further creativity and development. When a certain vision of a product is conceived, there is no insistence on how to use it. The developers look carefully to observe its actual usage patterns in the business environment, and they are flexible enough to pivot when a major pattern becomes evident.
To conclude my argument, I would like to use the story of Pinterest to illustrate the workings of the anima and animus and their syzygy. The story of the company, like every story, is multidimensional and thus cannot be captured fully by any single narrative. What follows only claims to show the relevance of the anima and animus archetypes as important determinants in the formation of the company.
In the spring of 2012, Pinterest became an overnight success. Now, with nearly 73 million users worldwide, over 500 employees and an office in San Francisco, Pinterest, after displaying extremely high growth rates over the previous three years, was valued at $11 billion in June 2015 (Wikipedia, n.d.). The company was founded by Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra in 2009 and the initial idea for their start-up came from Ben Silbermann’s interest in collecting things. His own childhood hobby, which he still holds dear to his heart, was collecting butterflies. Thus, he wanted to create a website that allowed people to explore and share their hobbies. At the core of his idea was the creation of virtual photo boards organised around one’s interests (Shontell, 2012). Following the basic logic of a butterfly collector, every time one sees a stimulating image online, all one has to do is to press the Pin-button for the image to appear on one’s board.
Silbermann’s idea for the company was derived from something he felt passionate about and this passionately held image was the source of his inspiration. At an early stage of business creativity, the animus served as the structuring agency in conducting the research and organising the founders’ ideas. As Silbermann said, ‘collecting tells a lot about who you are’, but there was nowhere on the web to share that side of one’s personality (as cited in Panzarino, 2013). The founders spotted a gap in the market that other social networks, including big incumbents such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others, had overlooked.
The story of Pinterest can be looked at as the process of how Silbermann’s ‘problem’ (i.e. a lack in the current social media market which addressed his personal interests) became the problem of many other people (including those who may not previously have been aware that they had this ‘problem’). As Silbermann states: ‘There is a lot of value in helping people to discover things that they did not know they wanted’ (as cited in Simonite, 2013). To his comment it could also be added that the other side of the Pinterest story is that its founders did not know or could not foresee what kind of social network they would eventually create and are still creating. Anima dynamics lie in the emergence and persistence of a large and somewhat vague image or idea, which in typical fashion appears in the fog and requires a great deal of time and effort to take form in the real world. ‘It would be great to have a website for people to collect things’ is the idea indicating the anima’s motivating presence on the scene. This arises out of an earlier passion – collecting and pinning butterflies – and now becomes generalised and enters the business environment. However, there is more to the anima’s story. The anima brings with it the unconscious knowledge of all the other ideas that will eventually, given time and space, sprout from the first. The anima is generative and it is therefore crucial for creativity to respond positively and say ‘Yes’ to the anima, allowing it to bring its potential children into the world. Saying ‘No’ not only prematurely kills the idea itself but also aborts its potential children. However, it is also important to treat this image/idea not as a call to immediate action but as a call from the depths that opens the door to new possibilities. The anima brings with it a great deal of uncertainty, which it is important to tolerate without either succumbing completely to the pull of the collective unconscious that it elicits, or defending against it.
With its unconscious knowledge of the market as well as its possession of unconscious know-how, the animus is the appropriate mental structure to pick up and deal with the question marks posed by the anima. These question marks are just what are needed for market research, experimentation, the ordering of ideas and other activities involved in separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff. It is this syzygy that allowed for the remaining unconscious ideas (the children that the anima could deliver into the real world if it were adequately supported by the animus structure) to find their rightful place in the Pinterest story. At the core of this functional syzygy is the principle of co-creation: the founders’ creativity was matched by and combined with the users’ creativity. This combination allowed for often unexpected discoveries of other business venues, such as search engines, commerce and market and social research. Thus, for example, Pinterest demonstrated a strong correlation between pinning and buying relative to other social media websites, including commercially-oriented ones (Samuel, 2012). It is unlikely that the founders expected to see such a correlation, but by building features around it (e.g. tracking and other website links that brands can use for sale analytics), they clearly found a way to take advantage of it.
One of the most important aspects of Pinterest’s commercial success was that it offered a non-aggressive trading model. The team at Pinterest tapped into the emerging patterns of what some commentators refer to as the ‘gift economy’ (Bonchek, 2012), a phenomenon that came together with social media where the emphasis is not on product promotion as such but rather on building a relationship with clients, as well as facilitating people’s need to create relationships with each other. When the anima is well contained within the syzygy, through its connection to Eros, it becomes about relating and relationship. It gives rise to what could be called ‘imaginative empathy’, which gives emotional depth to a relationship and can also find an appropriate metaphor for it. The animus then, through its connection to Logos, gives direction to this metaphor and ‘translates’ it into a mode of relating, which is appropriate for a business project. Sohrad Vossoughi of HBR (2013) attributes this ability of Pinterest to drive engagement and commerce – and, importantly, to link the two together – not just to their functional features, which are next to flawless and are made to meet high aesthetic tastes, but to finding and utilising the right metaphor. One of the key aspects of Pinterest’s success in this area is that it rather brilliantly and effectively reintroduced the concept of the bazaar to the modern world. Pinterest converted this metaphor into a wide array of tools that link browsers and retailers and by so doing offer customers a sense of control, the possibility to explore the things they like at their own pace, multiple paths for discovery and the ability to co-curate with friends and other like-minded strangers (ibid).
The presence of the functional syzygy is also seen in its provision of motivation and perseverance during the long and difficult periods when the project was not picking up. It took approximately two exhausting years after presenting the product to the market for it to gain momentum. There were significant problems with funding all along the way, with 200 users when it was launched and only 10,000 users nine months later (Shontell, 2012). From most angles, it did not follow what could be called a typical start-up success path. What follows below shows this dynamic of syzygy in operation.
Silbermann’s initial idea for the company was to create a social platform where people could share their personal interests in an emotionally engaging and visually pleasing way. Thus, he had a certain vision of what kind of product he wanted to create. Right from the start, his team was passionate about the project and paid a great deal of attention to every single detail of the design. In Silbermann’s own words: ‘We were obsessive about the product. We were obsessive about all the writing and how it was described. We were obsessive about the community’ (as cited in Anderson, 2012). This obsession with detail was evident in many of the founders’ decisions. Thus, contrary to logic, and with virtually no users, he had his web-designer create 50 functional versions of the website’s basic layout, which differed in image size by fractions of an inch (Simonite, 2013). They spent months working on the design. Here, we see a strong identification with the anima at a point where to do so could potentially have been destructive. However, because the anima was paired with the animus at almost every step of development, that did not happen. Once the product had been launched and had a small number of users, Silbermann personally wrote to the first 5000-7000 users asking for their opinions and advice (Anderson, 2012). This syzygy between the idea and a proactive reality-check approach is something that the eventual Pinterest investors picked up on and responded to. Thus, one of the early investors, Brian Cohen, commented that he could not but marvel at how open and engaging the team was to advice and input from investors, clients, partners and designers: ‘I used to see him [Silbermann] in New York just taking out small rooms to meet with customers. I’d never seen anything like it’ (as cited in Ulanoff, 2012). Cohen pointed out that such ‘non-myopic behavior’ was at the core of the company’s success.
Months passed and the product failed to scale; however, they remained faithful to their idea. The anima did not allow them to abandon the project. It is here that we see how a certain strong degree of anima-identification (strong attachment to the idea, but without a blind fanaticism) can be helpful and constructive. As Silbermann himself admitted, he could not bear to tell others that ‘he and his project’ had failed (as cited in Lagorio-Chafkin, 2012), and this made him persevere when he would otherwise have given up in light of how much energy and other resources the start-up was using.
However, passion for their project did not stop them from trying to sell it at one very low point, the problem being that no one wanted to buy. It might have seemed only rational from the ego’s point of view to shelve the idea and treat it as an ugly duckling at some moments of disappointment that, despite all the effort, it had not turned out well. Here, the animus-mentality with its straightforward thinking that does not leave things in limbo actually came to the rescue. The animus does the research, weighs the odds and delivers the verdict: yes or no. After rethinking their situation in light of some new information, the founders decided that the project still had some potential. The breakthrough arrived in March 2011 with the launch of an iPhone app, and by the end of that year the company had topped over 10 million users and become one of the 10 most popular social networks (Pinalytics, 2014).
In this essay, I have shown how the Jungian concepts of anima, animus and their syzygy can be applied to the business domain and justified my hypothesis that the functional syzygy is required to bring about business creativity by demonstrating the relevance of this syzygy for the execution gap, characteristic of the start-up culture and a key issue on the current business agenda. I used a practical example of Pinterest, a successful innovative start-up, to underpin my hypothesis. On the example of the anima and animus, I also showed that the archetypal model, when used appropriately, can be helpful in containing the unconscious projected contents in the business world while these contents are consciously explored.
 Eros is the principle of love and life, which underpins connectedness and relationship between people (Young-Eisendrath and Dawson, 1999, p. 316).
 Logos is the principle of rational discrimination. Jung defined Logos as ‘the dynamic power of thoughts and words’ (CW9ii, para. 293).
 This hypothesis finds support in the works of Jungian theorist Erich Neumann. Neumann (1960/1989, pp. 320-382) wrote about the Vital Principle, which is the original manifestation of all diverse forms of creativity. The Vital Principle is pregnant with unlimited potential. It is always accompanied to varying degrees by the Ordering Agency, as both are at the centre of creation and existence. The Ordering Agency shapes, structures and maintains the boundaries of all the things that the Vital Principle is capable of producing. Its principle function is thus chaos prevention and excess elimination. Neumann also adds the third factor to his model of creation, the Directing Agency, whose function is teleological orientation. These three dynamically different factors form the Trinity, which is at the core of all activities taking place at all levels of existence. Neumann’s theory of creativity is complex, but what is relevant for my hypothesis is that, as Murray Stein suggests, the two aspects of the self, the Vital Principle and Ordering Agency, could be identified as the anima and animus respectively (2017, p. 125).
 This classification finds support in Stein’s interpretation of Neumann’s work (footnote 1). Stein writes: ‘Anima is the Vital Principle, the source of energy and imagination and fantasy; animus is the Ordering Principle, executing its will through the ego function’ (2017, p. 125).
 This perspective contrasts sharply with Freud’s famous statement: ‘Where id was, there ego shall be’ (1933/1973, p. 112) and emphasises that Jungian/post-Jungian psychology has a far more positive view of the unconscious than psychoanalysis and its modern variations.
 Jung stated: ‘The creative process has a feminine quality, and the creative work arises from unconscious depths – we might truly say from the realm of the Mothers. Whenever the creative force predominates, life is ruled and shaped by the unconscious rather than by the conscious will, and the ego is swept along on an underground current, becoming nothing more than a helpless observer of events’ (CW15, para. 159).