Several years ago, I arrived at a building, and I thought it was empty. To my surprise, I ran into a man from another country (Mexico). I asked him if he was by himself. He said, “No.” Then, he added, as a clarification, of who else was with him: “My soul and I.”
I was struck by the beauty and the wisdom of his comment, and I found out, later on, that his response was a cultural and popular phrase from his native land. I believe his comment (“My soul and I”) is an archetypal experience that highlights the primary and fundamental direction that Jungian analysis needs to take during and after the time of Coronavirus.
Coronavirus has forced individuals to ‘stay home’; it has compelled people to distance themselves from others; governments from around the world have implemented “social distancing” measures in public places, and the streets of major cities from around the world are somewhat empty. During this pandemic, people are forced to spend more time alone, at home. Solitude has increased world-wide. Individuals are noticing they are forced to be by themselves, at home, unless they distract themselves with electronic gadgets. Silence is more noticeable as well as the absence of other people. Therefore, Coronavirus is leading us to a spatial, temporal, emotional, and spiritual space of “My soul and I.” It is a space of possibilities and terrors.
I believe the archetypal sentence, “My soul and I”, has laid out the path that Jungian analysis needs to primarily pursue during and after the time of Coronavirus: the exploration, cultivation, and the caring for the Ego-Self Axis or “the soul and I.” In a letter to P.W. Martin, Jung (1945) stated, “...the main interest of my work is...the approach to the numinous…[which] is the real therapy…[and] as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology.” Furthermore, Jung delineated the relationship between images, soul, and the Divine, and emphasized the centrality of the Divine through working with images from dreams, active imagination, and synchronicities. Therefore, in time of Coronavirus, it is important that both analysts and analysands focus, during analysis, on those images (Soul) for ‘releasing’ the individual from pathology.
A teleological analysis of the Coronavirus and the compensatory function of the psyche provide, also, additional arguments for emphasizing more, during analysis, the relationship between the individual and his/her soul images, and less so the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship (Of course, this does not mean that the therapeutic relationship is not clinically important, nor does it mean that coronavirus has only a positive side). To begin with, a teleological analysis of the Coronavirus shows that this virus is leading people, world-wide, to distance themselves more from others, to be more by themselves, and to be more “with their own soul.” Coronavirus is archetypally changing the one-sidedness and over-emphasis on the relationship between analyst and analysand by creating a necessary relational distance, which has forced analysts-analysands to use virtual meeting platforms.
Similarly, the virus is sending an environmental message. According to a research at Columbia University, at an environmental level, the virus has triggered a 35% decrease in traffic levels, a 50% drop in carbon monoxide emissions as well as a decrease in one of the most serious pollutants -Nitrogen dioxide- for global warming.
Furthermore, the compensatory function of the psyche, through the coronavirus, is correcting the one-sidedness in Jungian analysis of historically over-emphasizing transference and countertransference issues. After Jung’s death and the death of the early generation of Jungian analysts, like Von Franz, Hannah, Harding, etc, subsequent generations of Jungian analysts have systematically let go of conducting analysis the way Jung suggested in which the analysis of dreams, the practice of active imagination, the identification and use of synchronicity were the fundamental core of analytic practice. Instead, new generation of analysts have focused and over-emphasized the importance of the analytical relationship, borrowing heavily from Freudian and Post-Freudians theoretical and therapeutic frameworks, and confounding psychoanalysis (Post-Freudians) and Analytical Psychology (Jung) as well as blurring their own professional ideas with Jung’s ideas. Rather than calling their new clinical ideas by the use of their last name (i.e “Tabordian ideas”, “Doeian ideas”, “Smithian ideas”, etc), they have called their ideas “Jungian”, thus contributing further to the disappearing of Jung’s central idea in Jungian analysis: the approach to the numinous.
It is my belief that psyche is compensating, through coronavirus, the historical one-sidedness of over-emphasizing the importance of “the analytical relationship” by creating a ‘physical distance’ between analysts and analysands and a ‘social distance’ in the practice of Jungian analysis in order to integrate more, again, Jung’s original emphasis on the Divine, the centrality of dreams, active imagination, and synchronicity, with the help of isolated individuals who are, now, in closer contact with their soul at home, thanks to the solitude, and silence of the ‘social distancing’ and the “lockdown.” It is a new opportunity to emphasize and balance, as Jung did, the sacred images that come from the relationship between “My Soul and I.” As Marie L. Von Franz said: “The individuated person lives in the world of active imagination.” Coronavirus has prospectively delineated, and in a compensatory way, the future of Jungian analysis.