I’d just finished The World Within the Group (2014) and had several lines of research and chapter drafts that did not find a home in that book. So, without too much of a leap, I thought, why not give birth to a new set of essays? The more I looked over what I had, I saw an emergent theme, that of human narration and voice, both within psychotherapy, and without, in the wider domain of culture. I just love the general idea that human beings are inherently literary creatures, whose motives, passions, and reasons are expressed in wonderful spontaneous metaphors, analogies, speech acts and stories. So, I guess, I granted myself ‘permission to narrate’, to explore such questions.
The Political Self explores how our social and economic contexts profoundly affect our mental health and well-being, and how modern neuroscientific and psychodynamic research can both contribute to and enrich our understanding of these wider discussions. It therefore looks both inside and outside—indeed one of the main themes of the book is that the conceptually discrete categories of “inner” and “outer” in reality constantly interact, shape, and inform each other. Severing these two worlds, it suggests, has led both to a devitalised and dissociated form of politics, and to a disengaged and disempowering form of therapy and analysis.
Jung’s Red Book records an extraordinary series of self-induced visions that Jung experienced between 1913 and 1917, together with his reflections and interpretations of them, which he continued to reinterpret and refine until about 1930. The book, which was only publicly published in 2009, takes us to the core of the personal experience on which Jung drew more circumspectly in his psychological works.
Following the talk I gave at the Freud Museum on October 6 to celebrate the publication of Portraits of the Insane. Théodore Géricault and the Subject of Psychotherapy, a couple of new thoughts have emerged, connections implicit in the book that I now feel I can make more explicitly. It is unsettling but satisfying too to have to acknowledge that writing and thinking are processes over which I have but limited control – like patient and therapist, who are similarly subject to larger processes.
I have been a psychoanalyst for about 45 years, and a writer all of my life. Conducted seriously, both practices impart a degree of personal pride that sometimes verges on self importance. Long ago, I began to be chastened of such inclinations with regard to the practice of clinical psychoanalysis: the non-negotiable price of growth as an analyst is a systematic diminution of omnipotence. Likewise with writing: you learn soon enough that you have overestimated the distance that talent, alone, will take you. All this is painful, but necessary, if you intend to persist.
Totem conveys spirit, a sense of the sacred. Freud attempted to get under the totem and explore psychic forces and pressures below the surface. Jung opened further depths in exploration of the sacred. Engagement with a sense of mystery that permeates existence lives in many quarters, including art, music, religion and depth psychologies.
Colin Wilson was born on June 26, 1931 in Leicester—the first child of Arthur and Annetta Wilson. At the age of eleven he attended Gateway Secondary Technical School, where his interest in science began to blossom. And, indeed, by the age of 14 he had compiled a multi-volume work of essays covering all aspects of science entitled A Manual of General Science.