These are the last book reviews edited by Patricia Vesey-McGrew. Patricia is now deputy editor for the U.S. and has been replaced by Joe McFadden.
Teaching Jung by Bulkeley, Kelly
Article first published online: 28 JAN 2013
© 2013, The Society of Analytical Psychology
Journal of Analytical Psychology
Volume 58, Issue 1, pages 139–141, February 2013
How to Cite
Huskinson, L. (2013), Teaching Jung by Bulkeley, Kelly. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 58: 139–141. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5922.2013.02021_2.x
- Issue published online: 28 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 28 JAN 2013
Bulkeley, Kelly & Weldon, Clodagh (Eds). Teaching Jung. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. ix + 284. Hbk. £40.00
How can one teach Jungian studies? More specifically, teach Jung within a theological or religious context in the twenty-first century? As this meaty volume contends, it is a task fraught with difficulty, but which, if navigated successfully, richly rewards both students and teachers. If you are not frustrated at times, the consensus is that you are probably not teaching Jung properly.
This volume comprises a vast array of reflections and approaches to the task. Sixteen chapters are arranged in four parts: Part I, Different Educational Settings; Part II, The Interpretation of Religious Texts and Experiences; Part III, Jung's Life, Work, and Critics; Part IV, Jungian Practices in the Classroom and Beyond. Although these parts initially appear self-contained, there is considerable overlap in their themes and general intentions, apart from Part III which has less obvious pedagogical relevance. The majority of chapters collectively comprise a rich collage of snapshots of experiences of current teachers of Jung within a variety of contexts (including institutes of higher education, seminaries, and psychological/psychotherapeutic institutes) that highlight their valiant attempts to accomplish their tricky task.
Some chapters read as lectures in their own right, providing scholarship and critique of Jung's ideas and techniques of investigation (notably, Segal's lucid account of myth, Miller's chapter on common misreadings of Jung, Beebe's on Jung's scientific integrity, Rowland's on gender and Sabini's on nature). Others reflect on personal experiences of teaching Jung and give tips for teaching effectively (see especially, chapters by Stein, Weldon, Ulanov, Strickling, Ross, Taylor, Bulkeley and McCabe). Some provide more objective criticism of the different approaches adopted by teachers (such as Tacey and Ulanov). A number of chapters manage to combine these aspects in rounded commentary (particularly good are those of Burns, Stein and Weldon).
When traversing these different perspectives, as I read each chapter, I felt my disposition change accordingly. I tended either to feel like a student within a lecture or supervision, or like a colleague sharing and comparing personal anecdotes after a day of teaching. It was in part due to the sheer variety of perspectives within the volume, and those subsequently evoked within me as I read it, that the focus of the book seemed somewhat unclear. Ultimately, the book left me feeling like a fly on the wall of a hectic classroom of creative students each working on their own Jungian-inspired projects! Such variety can be a reward in itself; and, perhaps, the loose direction of contrasting voices is one of the volume's strengths. For me then, this volume not only attempts to describe but also embodies the dynamism that underpins Jungian studies.
There are, however, several discernible themes that run through many of the chapters and bring a sense of cohesion. One notable theme is the similarity between learning about Jungian ideas in the classroom and engaging in Jungian analysis in the consulting room; and, correspondingly, that teaching Jungian ideas is as much about the facilitation of the students' encounter with their own inner, unconscious horizon, as it is about charting the abstract terrain of Jungian concepts and theory. It is observed in this volume that a proper teaching of Jung should not serve ego alone, which would amount, as Miller contends, to a humanistic psychology; it must also serve the unconscious, for it is in this capacity that we address an authentic ‘depth psychology’ (p. 43).
This book asserts the primacy of ‘deep-learning’ over ‘strategic’ or ‘surface learning’. That is to say, a teaching that inspires transformation in the learner's attitudes and approaches to the material, rather than passively imparting facts and figures. The majority of these chapters assume self-transformation to be a positive notion, and its oft-cited sister idea, ‘the numinous’, as having only positive effect. And that it is, therefore, a goal of the teacher of Jung to awaken the unconscious within the classroom. Indeed, one author goes so far as to report with pleasure how her teaching elicited a supposedly ‘genuine spiritual awakening’ in a student and, similarly, enabled other students to ‘bring their whole selves to class’ (p. 249). But such assumptions trigger questions in my mind. For if teaching evokes the numinous within the classroom, shouldn't the teacher take measures to safeguard its containment, or at least its tremendum aspect (the evocation of sheer dread)? Transformation, as Jung himself was eager to explain, is a painful experience for the ego: a death or ripping apart of Dionysian proportion to allow for its more wholesome re-configurement. Is it really the teacher's job to attempt to bring about ruptures of unconsciousness—of religious experience even—within often unsuspecting students? Is it even ethical to do so? If it is, shouldn't teachers undergo similar intensive therapeutic or pastoral trainings as Jungian analysts or the clergy to help their students contain and assimilate such experiences? I certainly do not downplay the talents and importance of the teacher who is able to facilitate ‘deep learning’ in the classroom, and to the student who is able to receive such teaching. I do wonder however, whether there ought to be prescribed or even prescribed boundaries to the depths of ‘deep learning’ sought.
A key discussion point of the book is how one does manage or harness the tensions between teaching the concepts of Jungian ideas and facilitating their non-rational effects? How can one effectively manage and incorporate the numinous within the (secular) academy? These questions cannot be answered easily, especially bearing in mind that Rudolf Otto (from whom Jung took the term ‘numinous’ to characterize the nature and dynamics of the unconscious) insisted that the numinous cannot be taught or even conveyed to those who have not had such experience.
Refreshingly grounded responses to these issues come from David Tacey, who warns us of the hazards of ego-inflation, an all-too-common symptom of teachers of Jung, who assume they themselves instigate the numinous and any inspiration that results (p. 17). Relief comes also from David L. Miller, who reminds us that successful teaching of depth psychology requires a certain failure, that psychoanalytic transformation is, in the words of Freud, the turning of ‘hysterical misery into common unhappiness’ (p. 44). And by the same token, if educators manage to facilitate the unification of personality, their students will, in the words of Jung, ‘never quite lose the painful sense of innate discord’ (ibid.). The teacher of depth psychology is, I like to think, one who does not seek to provide answers, but facilitates within their students the courage to keep asking questions.
Generally, this rich array of approaches will impress and delight. But to those who find it too flavoursome, I suggest dipping into it according to one's mood. I particularly recommend this work to students of Jung, if only to reveal to them how the ‘other half’ approaches their teaching. The student may take solace or fright in the knowledge that Jungian ideas are as challenging for their teachers as they may appear to them. In this respect, this book dissolves the dichotomy of teacher and pupil, making students of Jung out of us all.