The Wounded Healer

Quotes from Jungian analyst and future guest Andrew Samuels on the BBC Radio 4 show In Our Time from Dec. 2, 2004.


AS: Let's imagine what you'd get if you went to see Jung. You'd certainly get somebody who knew he was a wounded healer. His ambitiousness, he knew about that. His crazy childhood, he knew about that. And I think he fashioned a really radical version of the therapy relationship out of these wounds. It was a much more equal relationship than the one that Freud established with his patients. It involved much more of a recognition that, in Jung's words, the doctor is in the treatment just as much as the patient is in the treatment. He said if anything positive happens in therapy it's because of the personality of the therapist not the techniques and theories. And modern therapists resonate with that. You heal because of who you are more than what you know and what you've been taught.

Your whole psychological life would be treated by Jung, responded to by Jung, very differently from the way Freud did. There's no on-high technical application of knowledge. There's no reading of the unconscious as a kind of bag of dirty tricks. And I mean dirty as in sexual repression, nasty, aggressive, destructive stuff. The unconscious is those things for Jung but it's also much more positive – a creative source that helps you live your life to its fullest extent possible. Your dreams are not attempts by your unconscious to deceive you. You can read your dreams much more easily in the Jungian vein than in the Freudian vein. If you dream about a king Freud might say, who is this king? If you dream about a king, for Jung he's going to say, which are the ruling or governing parts of your personality, where does your kingship reside? There's not an attempt to turn the images and symbols of the dream into something else.


AS: The idea of individuation is completely different from the idea of mental health or maturity. It is simply becoming yourself – different from other people, but never out of relationship with them. People often read Jung on individuation as saying you just have to become yourself. He doesn't say that. He says you have to become yourself in order to enter fully into relationships with other people. ...

There's a certain 'intelligence' in the unconscious from a Jungian perspective. You know what you need to do in life. The problem is there's a metaphorical wall or curtain between you and your knowledge of what you need to do in life. Therapy attempts to lift that. So, the solution is not found in the interpretations – based on knowledge – of the therapist or analyst. The solution is found within the subject, within the individual, who knew it all along, didn't know that they knew it, and can be helped to see that they do know it.

Q: And that is individuation?

AS: I think so, yes.

Q: How is it different from Freud's view of maturity then?

AS: Well, Freud said maturity, like normality, were ideal fictions. And in a sense individuation is also an ideal fiction. We don't really talk about individuation anymore. We talk about individuating or the individuation processes or something like that. You can be quite mad and quite outside the social norms – quite a disreputable or idiosyncratic person – and be said to be individuating. It is very different from a kind of normative moralistic approach which I think is implicit in Freudian psychoanalysis – there's a right way to do sex, there's a right way to be aggressive, there's a right way to relate to people, and so on. That is missing in Jung's notion of individuation.

You can listen to the full interview here.

We will record an episode with Andrew Samuels in October 2016.

Transcribed by Laura London