View from
The Center

Jordan Peterson and Carl Jung’s Worldviews Have Been Greatly Oversimplified

“With respect to McManus and Hamilton, who have admittedly produced a very interesting article, there are characterizations and theoretical points within their article that I feel need to be addressed.”

Introduction

As a practicing psychotherapist investigating political expressions of psychoanalytic thought, I was very interested to read Matt McManus and Conrad Hamilton’s recent critique of Jungian and Lacanian perspectives. I was also intrigued by McManus and Hamilton’s choice to assign, respectively, these thinkers to the “Right” and “Left” of the political spectrum. They did this, in large part, through their interpretations of how Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek have, in turn, drawn from each psychoanalyst’s work. With respect to McManus and Hamilton, who have admittedly produced a very interesting article, there are characterizations and theoretical points within their article that I feel need to be addressed. In particular, it is necessary to demonstrate more accurately the complexity of the perspectives held up as representatives (I believe inaccurately) of “Left”-situated or “Right”-situated expressions of psychoanalysis.

Although clear divisions of Lacanian thought into the “Left” and Jungian thought into the “Right” might make for an engaging—yet choppy article—there are a number of similarities between the two perspectives. There are also complexities internal to these perspectives that have to be eclipsed for this interpretation to hold. Especially noticeable in reading their article were the failure to acknowledge the left-wing Jungian streams of theoretical development (that have largely been ignored since Jung’s death), the equation of Peterson’s focus on “order from chaos” with the aim of Jungian analysis in general, and the erasure of theoretical similarities between Lacan and Jung’s perspectives. Also, I believe there were some inaccuracies regarding admittedly difficult aspects of Lacanian theory (the misrepresentation of the early infant’s relationship to the mirror stage, for example), as well as a degree of irony when the two authors (themselves influenced by Marxism) invoke charges about lacking evidence or unfalsifiability—when it comes to those with whom they disagree. However, I will sideline these later concerns in favor of primarily addressing the implicit characterization of Jungian thought as being inherently conservative or “right-wing” in analytic approach.

To a degree, I believe that the authors are aware and acknowledge partially the complexities of Jungian thought, and this causes some discomfort with the original premise of their piece. McManus and Hamilton take pains to differentiate and separate the decidedly un-progressive personal figure of Jacques Lacan (“Freud was not a progressive”) from the interpretations of Lacan’s interlocutors. These interlocutors were often the resolutely fashionable left-wing figures, who haunt the bookshelves and syllabuses of continental philosophy departments. These names include Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and, of course, the focal figure of their article: Slavoj Žižek. This highlighting of the development of Lacanian theory through its academic interpreters allows it to be positioned on the “Left,” within the topology of McManus and Hamilton’s article. 

Instead, when it comes to the supposedly “right-wing” orientation of Jungian analytical psychology, we are presented with a paucity of examples.

It is strange, therefore, that the Jungian analogue to psychoanalysis (analytic psychology) does not receive the same treatment. Instead, when it comes to the supposedly “right-wing” orientation of Jungian analytical psychology, we are presented with a paucity of examples. We are offered Jung’s alleged racism, his spurious personal actions during the Second World War, and his influence on Jordan Peterson as proof for their characterization of Jung as “right-wing.” It is important to note here that Peterson, while a renowned clinical psychologist, was not a trained Jungian analyst.  Žižek, on the other hand, is a trained (albeit not practicing) Lacanian analyst. As such, to use Peterson and Žižek as examples of their relative schools is already perhaps to overstate the point. McManus and Hamilton’s somewhat impoverished overview of Jungian thought may also be partly due to the acknowledged unpopularity of Jung within the academy. The authors are academics, rather than clinicians; so their seeming lack of familiarity with the outgrowths of Jungian theory can perhaps be forgiven. Who (outside the murky world of clinical psychoanalysis and psychotherapy) could be expected to know the permutations and arcane growths of post-Jungian theory? Instead, as they did in their piece, it might be easier to focus on the twin poisons of mysticism and racism, when it comes to Jung.

McManus and Hamilton reduce Jungian thought to the twin streams of the problematic proclamations of its founder and the fiery exhortations against progressivism leveled by its most “easy listening” popular exponent, Jordan Peterson. Yet, there are many broadly progressive and left-wing developments that have emerged from (and been influenced by) the Jungian field. Indeed, McManus and Hamilton mention the “Anti-Oedipal” work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari as being desirably progressive critics of Lacan. However, McManus and Hamilton fail to mention the tribute that these two thinkers pay to Jung in their 1980 book A Thousand Plateaus. Within A Thousand Plateaus work, Jungian archetypal theory is, indeed, referenced. Although described as insufficiently deterritorializing, Jung’s approach is seen by Deleuze and Guattari as being closer to the mark than the single all-encompassing Oedipal model employed by Freud. This refers to the Oedipal framework which, of course, Lacan based his entire theoretical edifice around in his “return to Freud.”

This Deleuzian connection runs deeper than this single mention in the Capitalism and Schizophrenia series. Deleuze further references Jung’s work in his 1968 book Difference and Repetition, and Deleuzian ideas expressed within this book are reflected theoretically in the work of the former Jungian (and creator of Archetypal Psychology) James Hillman. Hillman was originally a Jungian analyst, who guided studies at the Jung Institute in Zurich. His work—within books such as Re-Visioning Psychology—reflects a pluralist, deconstructionist, and anti-authoritarian turn within Jungian thought. There are also influences from the Sufi mysticism of Henry Corbin. Years before Jordan Peterson arrived on the scene, Hillman had already anticipated and argued against popular conservative interpretation of Jung. He did this by critiquing the over-emphasis on the monotheistic (“slaying-the-dragon-of-chaos”) Hero archetype, as well as the individualist ego later associated with it.

Hillman felt the over-identification with this archetype was inherent to Western culture’s excesses. And his own pluralist re-imagining of Jungian theory sought to mitigate this through emphasis on difference. He also railed preemptively against “Petersonian” reductions of archetypal imagery to evolutionary psychology and biological processes. Again, Hillman saw these as attempts to “slay” the power of the images of the unconscious, stultifying them by turning them into abstract scientific concepts. Furthermore, Hillman questioned the individualist basis of therapy, advocating for changes in the political and social world. As such, he anticipated many left-wing critiques of this individualism inherent in the profession, such as those articulated in Anti-Oedipus. As perhaps the most popular post-Jungian psychologist in the United States (apart from Peterson), it can hardly be said that Hillman was “right-wing” or conservative.

Further examples of radical attitudes latent within the Jungian model of analysis are plentiful. For example, the interpretation of psychosis as a “breakdown-to-breakthrough,” a spontaneous reorganization of the conscious self by the unconscious, also reflects and anticipates the anti-Oedipal promotion of deterritorialization, within the work of Deleuze and Guattari. The importance of Jung’s personal deterritorialization and “psychotic” breakdown to the creation of his system are most clearly illustrated via the posthumous release of the almost Lovecraftian esoteric tome called The Red BookThe Red Book features an articulation of the content of Jung’s breakdown, complete with psychedelic artwork and a hallucinogenic narrative of underworld figures. Jungian scholars such as Sonu Shamdasani and Hillman have held this as being far more foundational to the creation of his school than the influence of Freud, and the entire book can be held up as an instance of deterritorialization, par excellence. These elements do not a conservative form of psychoanalysis make. Far from the imposition of a “right-wing” order—or, slaying of chaos—this is a descent into the abyss of the underworld and a reforging of self and identity through deterritorialization and radical difference, in the vein of Zarathustra. 

To fail to present these elements of Jungian thought and characterize it as merely a vessel of Petersonian order is to exclude its essential origin myth. With the above points in mind, it becomes difficult to maintain the view of Jungian analysis as a “right-wing” perspective. Although the authors of the original article do pay some heed to the contradictions between Jung and Peterson’s interpretations, by excluding the “other half” of Jung (the many ways in which Jungian theory emerges from more of a Deleuzoguattarian upsurge of radical difference and otherness), a false image of theoretical conservatism is more sustainable. It is not my intention to hold up Jung as a progressive icon in opposition to McManus and Hamilton’s article—or to present him as a hidden “leftist.” Rather, I seek to highlight the ambiguities within his work and the more progressive tendencies of those of his followers who are not named Jordan Peterson—and who have had far more legitimate clinical (though perhaps less popular) impact.  

Race, Antisemitism, and Jung

Jung’s behavior during the Second World War is also put forward by McManus and Hamilton as to why Jungian analytic psychology should been regarded as an inherently right-wing articulation of psychoanalysis. While it is true that Jung performed ambiguous (often unacceptably complicit) actions in regard to Nazism—and made statements that even for the time and context would have been considered Antisemitic (See Stephen Frosh’s work on the subject)—he also worked in order to help Jewish colleagues escape from Nazi Germany. Jung also explicitly criticized the Nazi regime, once the explicit barbarity of it became more apparent. This, of course, does not excuse his earlier actions or his Antisemitism. However, again, we are presented with an ambiguity that has led to intense levels of soul-searching, within the Jungian analytic profession. Theoretically, as Hamilton and McManus point out, this profession has a vested interest in exploring and articulating the “shadow” not only of the individual client but also of the personality of Jung himself—and of Jungian institutions.

Jung and Jungian thought hold a level of ambiguity that McManus and Hamilton miss, either owing to their ignorance of its existence or as a result of misconstruing Jung’s complicated background for the convenience of creating a simple binary: Left or Right. 

Jung’s Antisemitism especially has been laid bare not only by Frosh but by the well-respected Jungian Analyst Andrew Samuels. Samuels, as one of the most prominent and high-profile Jungian thinkers, again shows the political ambiguity in Jungian thought. Samuels actually is far more deserving of the title of representative of this school of analysis than is Peterson. Samuels, for instance, has been the chair of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. He was also an advisor for the British Labour government and one of the first professors of Jungian Analytic psychology in the world. Samuels has also long been the pre-eminent voice in “political psychotherapy” of any denomination: promoting a very strongly pluralist, left-wing, and progressively-orientated approach to integrating these two fields. His identity as a Jungian is not in contradiction to his political identity as a leftist. Jung and Jungian thought hold a level of ambiguity that McManus and Hamilton miss, either owing to their ignorance of its existence or as a result of misconstruing Jung’s complicated background for the convenience of creating a simple binary: Left or Right. 

It is Jung’s initial—often deeply flawed or problematic—personal explorations around questions of plurality, difference, and race that allowed for post-Jungian theory to develop reflexivity around these questions, which Hillman and Samuels demonstrate. This evolution is even reflected in the tribute to Jung’s theory that decolonial pioneer Frantz Fanon makes in his 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks. This is the book where Fanon attributes his own theories around introjected racial consciousness as being inspired by those made by Jung. Although Fanon was a Lacanian by training (and emphasizes the constructed rather than inherent basis to archetypes in his appropriation of archetypal theory), still Fanon acknowledges that his work owes some debt to Jung’s original psychoanalytic exploration of “racial” consciousness. Again, my point here is not to excuse Jung’s racism by reference to Fanon. Rather, I aim to illustrate that even around the issues of race, Jung (and also his legacy in terms of post-Jungian analytical psychology) is far more complex than McManus and Hamilton imply. 

Peterson as Senex Possessed

Although McManus and Hamilton do mention in passing that Peterson’s work is an idiosyncratic rendition of Jung, it is perhaps not emphasized enough how Peterson’s over-emphasis on the aspects of order, the individual ego, and the heroic slaying of chaos moves away from anything resembling the aim of Jungian clinical work. What these aspects of Peterson perhaps would indicate to a Jungian analyst is a personality under possession of what is called a “Senex” archetype: This archetype is the “Grey old man,” the representative of established order. It is reminiscent of the image of Saturn devouring his children. While standing for repression, stasis and, conservatism, he rails against the attempts of the young to gain power and overthrow order. The Senex is often seen as being within an archetypal “complex,” in which it is positioned in conflict with the archetype of the Puer (the eternal youth). We can see Peterson falling into this complex through his position as the “substitute dad” of estranged Western masculinity. He follows this with father-like exhortations to clean one’s bedroom. Then, there is the mutual hatred between Peterson and the infantilized Puers of the social justice movement. Peterson’s theoretical reduction of the images of the unconscious psyche to biological and evolutionary explanations would also be likely seen by many Jungian thinkers as an example of a Senex possession. This results in an attempt to make concrete the fluid material of the unconscious. In this way, individuation and differentiation can take place and, therefore, fossilize the unconscious: ossify it in a form that is more socially and academically acceptable to “explain”—or, as Deleuze would have, “Oedipalize” it. 

Possession of the personality through an archetypal complex such as this is far from the aim of individuation in the Jungian sense. With more integral interpretations of Jung as seen in the works of Hillman, Samuels, or even from Jung himself (within The Red Book), individuation is, instead, articulated as being the differentiation of self via bringing forth radical difference from the unconscious. In holding Peterson as an exemplar of Jungian thought, a caricature of analytical psychology as conservative can be promoted. However, this cannot be sustained if any sort of faithful account of Jungian theory is provided. 

It might be said that in trying to cleanly divide Jung and Lacan into Right and Left political positions, it is almost a replication of the Senex-Puer complex that I identified Peterson’s work as suffering from. Admittedly, there is perhaps some attraction in framing the perspectives of complex, ambiguous thinkers in this way. It allows one to frame one’s preferred perspective as either that of a righteous rebel or, alternatively, a defender of order. The truth is that—much like Lacan—underneath the unipolar portrayal of Jung by McManus and Hamilton, an ambiguous figure lurks. There is a figure who is sometimes conservative but sometimes radically “other.” There is a figure who emphasizes individuation and differentiation—but also the influence of collective archetypes. There is a figure who saves his Jewish colleagues but promotes theories of Aryan supremacy. Jung is a profoundly complex figure. As such, there must be a reckoning with him—in all of his ambiguity—throughout the academy before his form of psychoanalysis can be labelled “right-wing”.

Nick Opyrchal is a psychotherapist in private practice. For his M.A., he researched the intersection between Lacanian and transpersonal perspectives in psychotherapy. His current doctoral work investigates the intersection of identity politics and the transpersonal within psychotherapy.

30
Leave a Reply

avatar
4000

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Benjamin Perez
Guest
Benjamin Perez

My 2 cents. Almost no one is an evidence-based truth seeker. Nearly everyone is a meaning-making tribe finder. When left wingers insist that Jung and/or
Jordan Peterson are “right wing,” even if they honestly believe that, that’s telling us more about them than it is about Jung or Peterson. Antisemitism isn’t “right wing”: there are left- and right-wing versions of it. Racism isn’t “right wing”: there are left- and right-wing versions of it. The sooner that more on the left can discover, acknowledge, explore, and come to terms with their own shadows, the sooner they can start generating more light than heat. Jung wasn’t “right wing”; he was Jung. Peterson isn’t “right wing”; he’s Peterson. (If this were the McCarthy era, Peterson would likely be advocating healthy doses of chaos, to counteract the unhealthy levels of order, making him “left wing,” right? Right…)

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

I actually very much agree with you here re: racism. I think that is partly what I was trying to highlight in that Jung cannot be put in this bracket easily or reduced to Nazi based purely on what he said in the early days of the regime.

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

also for reference I do not think that Peterson is a fascist, and I do not identify purely with the left, hence this being a view from the ‘centre’. I think that Peterson though makes changes to Jungian theory which make it more conservative than it otherwise would be and wanted to present alternative views which are more from actual Jungian analysts to show the ambiguity.

James
Guest
James

Peterson was accused of sneaking Jesus into the debate. I sense here that the author sneaked a jab at Peterson underneath the guise of redeeming his Jung mentor from the right.

Why characterize Peterson as the get old man? The representation of order? He spoke many times that the right place to be is one foot in order and one foot in chaos.

The article was long winded and roundabout just like many of those that are critical of Peterson. The author claims to have more legitimate clinical experience. You have no way to prove that and even if it was true, what an obnoxious, self righteous thing to say to someone you’ve never met.

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

You have misread – I have not said that I personally have more cliical experience than Peterson at any point in this article. I have said that he is a renowned clinical psychologist but not a Jungian analyst so is not a good exemplar of this school of analysis and there are other better people to represent the school.

Dainius
Guest
Dainius

Dear Mr. Opyrchal, I would beg to differ that Andrew Samuels best represents Jungian thought today, given that his lineage is of the Michael Fordham/SAP (UK) line. Dr. Michael Fordham was heavily influenced by Winnicott and Object-Relations theory, and was himself turned down for training as an Analyst by Jung in 1934; he did not consider himself to be a Jungian. Gerhard Adler left the SAP in 1977 because of Michael Fordham’s increasing Object-Relations modifications to Jungian theory, and Adler’s own loyalty to what has become known as the Classical School which maintains that the Self and dreams are indispensable aspects of Jungian practice. Few would dispute Dr. Marie Von Franz being Jung’s spiritual/intellectual heir, and even she, perceiving the Winnicott/Fordham Object-Relations creep in Zurich in the 1980s, first protested, and then left altogether, founding the The Research and Training Centre in Depth Psychology in 1994 (See Kirsch’s book). Object-Relations theory is not Jungian; while Andrew Samuels may be a good representative of the Developmental School, he is entirely not… Read more »

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

Dear Dainius Thank you for your thoughtful comment, I am aware of the differentiation in the schools of post-Jungian thought. I offer Samuels and Hillman merely as two examples of figures showing development in post-Jungian theory in contra to the original article, which positions Peterson as being representative and indicative of it’s ‘right wing’ orientation. Although you are right that the developmental school integrates object relations theory especially in regard to early life, and the archetypal school diverges towards archetypal psychology other than focus on the Self by the classical school, they still currently represent legitimate Jungian streams of analytical psychology, and I do not think that this would be debated by anyone except the most die-hard dogmatist. I am not saying that Samuels is (if you will forgive the pun) the archetype of all Jungians in all permutations and outgrowths of Jung’s theory. I do believe however he would be a better exemplar than someone who is not a trained analyst at all in any of the main streams… Read more »

Dainius
Guest
Dainius

Dear Mr. Opyrchal, Thank you for taking the time to reply. I suppose I think it important for schools to self-identify, as before I started doing the research myself, I was under the illusion that analytical psychology had *not* fractured. Presently, it seems that the Developmental School is by far the largest and most influential, but I would also argue that they are more divergent than the Archetypal School is from the Classical, dominating the IAAP and Journal of Analytical Psychology. In case you or your readers are interested, I direct you or them to Issue 59, 2014, of the Journal of Analytical Psychology, which reprinted Adler’s explanation as to why he had to leave the SAP and form the AJA. A few short excerpts: “‘We have something more than differences in method and interpretation…we have a basic problem…of fundamental divergences of approach, an epistemological problem resting on metapsychological premises. This is not merely a question of technique but the much more decisive problem of first principles’. “In a clinical… Read more »

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

Dear Dainius Again thank you for a very valuable response and for sharing your knowledge with other readers, and also for your personal account of difficulties and observations working with the different schools, I think that it would further help to educate people who are not familiar with the ways in which analytical psychology has fractured since Jung, how important some Jungians view those fractures as being, and how fraught internal politics are even between similar approaches claiming lineage from the same source. Unfortunately one of the hallmarks of psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic schools in general is this fractitiousness, and as you are aware, this has been the case and remained so since Freud. I am slightly outside of the bounds of the conflict as to being a transpersonal and integrative psychotherapist so have no particular allegiance to any of the different Jungian schools in particular, yet draw on their theory, I see all three as valid evolutions, and unlike you I have had quite a good experience of working with… Read more »

Dainius
Guest
Dainius

Dear Mr. Opyrchal,

What a pleasure it is to engage in civil discourse, on the Internet, of all places! I wish you luck in your endeavours, and a believe that your writing and work is of value.

Spectemur agendo,

Dainius Sileika

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

Dear Dainius
The same to you – absolute pleasure to have your informed contributions added, thank you for taking the time to write and to discuss these differences, good luck to you for the future!
Best wishes
Nick

John McElroy
Guest
John McElroy

Calling Peterson “right wing”, is hilaruous to me. A self proclaimed classic liberal, Peterson has merely held a mirror to the faces of the left, who left him behind. Going so far off the deep end that not only can’t they see their shadow, but can’t see two feet in front of themselves. But that’s just my layman’s view after hearing a few of his lectures and reading a few bits here and there. And I am not intimately familiar with Jung or Lacan, though I do work in the mental health field and would likely benefit from reading both. But I have yet to hear any ratuonal critique of Peterson’s work. There is no shortage; however, of those who have attempted to mischaracterize, misquote, or in the case of the article mentioned here, use vague generalizations to connect him to some historic or political figure with whom they found fault. I’m no psychoanalyst, but I know bullshit when I see it. And you know he has the academics afraid… Read more »

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

who is the historical or political figure you are saying i am connecting him to?

Dan
Guest
Dan

I enjoyed this read. However I think it’s a mistake to characterise Peterson primarily as Jungian thinker at all. As you’ve said, he’s a renowned clinical psychologist, and the study is his school of thought. He often makes references to the known frameworks abstracted by Jung and Nietzsche in his books to conceptualise something observable or useful in practice, not to provide an analytical reading.

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

Hi Dan, very glad you enjoyed, yes I agree with you on this, this is why I what I was replying to in the original article which used Peterson as exemplary of Jungian analysis.

D Iversen
Guest
D Iversen

Great essay. I’d like to read a Jungian analysis of today’s far Left. The far Left seems so unaware of its shadow it’s no wonder Peterson constellated so powerfully. I’m fascinated when he talks about the devouring mother archetype. Understanding the far left using political concepts tells us very little it seems to me.

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

Thank you very much – I think that you are right, there is a real lack of awareness of shadow on both sides of the culture war, to the point that it is almost dangerous. As a result it is not surprising that Peterson got to the prominence that he did but as I mention in the article I think perhaps he is subsumed within the problem itself rather than operating as a transcending principle as Jungian theory would hope to achieve. Hopefully I will write something on this more in the future not specific to Peterson or Jung.

ThisSideofX
Guest
ThisSideofX

The MPs obvious oversimplification touted by numerous commentators and many academics is the propergated division between that which is right and that which is left. The oversimplified discussion of who are what is more important and which side supposedly has the upper hand. The old story continues about who or what is more important, the sun or the moon, the left hand or the right hand while missing the simplest of facts. All are only appendages to a greater body which itself is found within a greater consistently changing environment. The simplest reality about all analogies and psychological discussions to which all studies should attempt to find some form of clarity is if the left purpose is to pick the nostrils and the rights purpose is to scratch the arse or visa versa?

Josh Ward
Guest
Josh Ward

Senex is a forced pejorative here. Peterson routinely literally mourns for other’s struggle to find individuality. That isn’t a man in possession. That’s a man who has been humbled and striving to make a difference Even if it means to some being misunderstood.

Mark Forman
Guest
Mark Forman

Just a quick note of appreciation for this well done piece. I plan to share it on Twitter and Facebook..

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

Thanks very much Mark, much appreciated

Heather adams
Guest
Heather adams

So anything that is about the the red book is a psychological breakdown..lis what I’m getting from everyone…
I beg to differ

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

The Red Book is breakdown, but a breakthrough as well, I honestly think so much of Jung’s system originates there, it is an amazing work.

Heather adams
Guest
Heather adams

As any ever investigated these experiences to be true

Heather adams
Guest
Heather adams

I know little about him, but I saw the pictures and I understood, I’ve read only excerpts from the book..how can the dates be exact but 102 later in one episode, and the exact dates of my life
But I am sure that I’ll be made out to some but job that’s why I’m forthcoming

Heather adams
Guest
Heather adams

I’m meant to say not

CrowsTakingOff
Guest
CrowsTakingOff

Did you know that Jung explicitly identified himself as conservative? That’s probably relevant lol

Tunaberry
Guest
Tunaberry

Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

This story gives one a clear idea of what JP’s framework of looking at the world is like.

Jessica Britt
Guest
Jessica Britt

As you note here, I have been struck by Peterson very limited perspectives on Jung, Clearly he is not a Jungian Analyst and I suspect, he has not gone through a Jungian analysis … I find his use of Jung’s work quite intellectually limited , though I appreciate he has introduce Jung to a new audience.. if in a fairly superficial way. I am always struck by the feeling that Peterson sees the shadow, has touched it, and then backed away and wants to control it via conventional means of hierarchy vs. truly entering the underworld of alchemy… that Lacan or Jung’s work, exploring different facets of the psyche, get reduced to politics misses the point and purpose of their work, attempting to understand and liberate the mystery of human consciousness … it takes a certain love of truth, to be able to go beyond any reification, even the useful Reifications of the myths, of the gods. To tolerate the void of no images at all … in general the… Read more »

Nicholas Opyrchal
Guest
Nicholas Opyrchal

Thank you, I agree actually both with your comments around alchemy and the way that politics reduces the perspectives of Jung and Lacan, your comment on alchemy also reminds me of the work of mystics such as Simone Weil. I agree also that Peterson serves a purpose for society in promoting Jung to a new audience and probably even in the substitute father role performs a useful service for some people psychologically. I do not want to suggest he is all bad, but like you say limited and not a good representative of Jungian analysis owing to this.