So, What Did You Expect? Personal and Depth Psychological Issues in Elections

Andrew Samuels

It’s not a good idea to give a presentation on politics without some reference to its context. I don’t only mean the context of what we can call ‘the Trump election’, whatever the result, which is on and in everyone’s minds, but rather the context of the here-and-now, in this room tonight. Please allow me to do that before moving on to summarise the contents of this presentation.

This is the latest event in a long series. We seek to see how (and if) depth psychology and Jungian analysis can provide understandings of the political events of the day, coupling the spirit of the depths to the spirit of the times. The moving geniuses of this current enterprise have been Steve Zemmelman and Tom Singer and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude which I hope we will express in a moment.

Steve is a new friend. But there’s a bit more I want to say about my old friend Tom Singer’s contribution to the ‘Jung and politics’ game over twenty years and more. This role has truly been scene-shifting, whether as a theorist or as an impresario and facilitator. Tom and I have become correspondents, or should that be co-respondents?, agreeing and sparring, as we work out the lines of what he has so felicitously called an ‘inner sociology’. He is a credit to the San Francisco Jung Institute.

There’s a slightly wider Jungian context, too – and I want to say something about it, even though I realise that not everyone here is a Jungian analyst, therapist or psychologist.

In 2004, in a keynote at the Barcelona Congress of the International Association for Analytical Psychology, I said that we had witnessed a ‘political turn’ in Jungian analysis. I believed Jung would have silently approved of this development which has greatly intensified in recent years, given what he wrote in 1946 of ‘the analyst’s duties as a citizen’.

To fulfil the civic duties Jung mentioned requires contemporary Jungians to pay empathic attention to our relations with all of our fellow citizens and not just those who seem familiar. We may need to unlearn some (but not all) of the theories we have been taught. And, in an appropriate and relational way, we, in our moment, will find ourselves taking up a certain distance from what Jung, in his moment, wrote about Others.

Read So, What Did You Expect? Personal and Depth Psychological Issues in Elections in its entirety.