Sunday, March 2, 2014

Massimo Giannoni: Relational Aspects of Analytical Psychology

"We can pose for analytical psychology two fundamental questions that Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) have already posed for other psychoanalytic theories: (1) What is the main goal and motivation behind human action? (2) Does analytical psychology contain a two-person or a one-person conception of therapy and of development?

The first question is easy to answer. The main motivation for human action postulated by Jung is a striving for self-realization, presupposing an innate capacity for the self-regulation of the psychic apparatus analogous to that which has been called “self-righting” by Lichtenberg, Lachmann, and Fosshage (1996). This commonality contributes to the indubitable affinities that can be seen between certain aspects of analytical psychology and self psychology (Jacoby, 1990; Fosshage, 2000). This “individualizing” motivation, as presented by Jung, has received some confirmation in empirical research (Lichtenberg, 1983; Stern, 1985, 1995) and is in harmony with some post-Freudian psychoanalytic theories, for example, those of Guntrip (1961), Kohut (1984), and Winnicott (1989). In the past, the Jungian hypothesis of a fundamental motivation toward the development of the self was in sharp contrast with classical Freudian theory, which hypothesized sex and aggression as primary drives in conflict with the environment (Giannoni, 1999). Today this theoretical aspect of Jungian psychology not only does not prevent a dialogue with contemporary psychoanalysis, but rather facilitates it, especially with self-psychology (Giannoni, 2003).

The second question, whether analytical psychology adopts a one-person or a two-person conception of the development and therapy, is a more difficult and controversial one. In many writings Jung (1931, 1935a, 1946) stated that therapy is certainly interactive and that the involvement of the analyst is indispensable. The concept of “psychic contagion” is presented as prerequisite to any real change in the patient, and the psychotherapeutic relationship is compared to the combination of two chemical substances that are irremediably altered when combined, giving rise to a new compound. This metaphor is perhaps not far from the concept of interpersonal relationship expressed by Goethe (1809) in Elective Affinities. (Goethe was one of Jung's favorite authors, one with whom he himself felt a special affinity.) It is interesting to quote Jung himself when he claims that psychotherapy is a two-person matter: “In the treatment there is an encounter between two irrational factors, that it is to say, between two persons who are not fixed and determinable quantities but who bring with them, beside their more or less clearly defined fields of consciousness, an indefinitely extended sphere of non-consciousness” (Jung, 1931, p. 71). So we draw the conclusion that transference is viewed by Jung not as an intrapsychically generated phenomenon, but as contributed to by both analyst and patient.

Alongside this two-person aspect of Jung's idea of transference we find a markedly one-person theoretical conception of the development. Jung's theory of development, called individuation, states that a person develops his own individuality according to a predetermined plan within himself and without any particular environment responsiveness (Jacoby, 1990; Fosshage, 2002); Jung (1943) said: “The meaning and purpose of the process is the realization, in all its aspects, of the personality originally hidden away in the embryonic germ-plasm; the production and unfolding of the original, potential wholeness” (p. 110). We can answer the second question by asserting that both options (two-person and one-person) are present in Jung. Moreover, Jung's theory of development contains many one-person elements, whereas his clinical practice is more relational (Giannoni, 2000)—this gap between theory and clinical practice warrants further investigation."  (pp. 608-609)


Massimo Giannoni (2003). Jung's Theory of Dream and the Relational Debate. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Vol. 13, pp. 605-621

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