Saturday, October 1, 2011

Roger Brooke - Phenomenology and Analytical Psychology

"Firstly, phenomenology is descriptive. The phenomenologist is "obsessed by the concrete" (van den Berg, 1972, p. 76), the perceptively refined articulation of our experiential world. Phenomenology does not concern itself with theoretical construction, casual explanations, or metaphysics, but with the meanings of phenomena as they directly occur. Its aim is to speak of the fundamental structures of psychological life in a way that does not violate the integrity of experience. This heart of the phenomenological approach was Jung's insofar as he consistently refused the direction of psychoanalytic or psychophysiological reductionism, and insisted that the structures of experience be taken on their own terms whether they be lived, imagined, or dreamed.

Secondly, in order to be properly descriptive the phenomenologist has to give up his or her theoretical and philosophical prejudices. This is the "phenomenological reduction," which has been described as "the return to our most original experience of our most original world" (Luijpen, 1969, p. 115). Here we can recall Jung's persistent attacks on rationalism, materialism, and the prejudices of psychoanalysis, and his reasoned return to pre-Renaissance language, which expressed more clearly the structures of our primordial experience (e. g., Jung, 1931). Moreover as Merleau-Ponty (1945) said, "The important lesson which the reduction teaches us in the impossibility of a complete reduction" (p. xiv). This reminds us of Jung's insistence that all knowledge is typologically, historically, and psychologically contextual, and there is no Archimedian point above our existential situation from which we can reflect in perfect clarity.

Thirdly, within the open stance of the reduction, the phenomenologist seeks to articulate the essences of the phenomena, that is, to allow his or her mind or perception to range over the many particular forms of a phenomenon in order to elucidate its essential structure and meaning. Significantly, phenomenologists recognize that the inherent ambiguity and opacity of human existence is such that the essences of human phenomena reveal themselves even as they recede endlessly beyond one's conceptual grasp. This recalls Jung's method of amplification of archetypal themes and his assertion that, even as archetypal images do not point to something other than themselves, their ultimate cores of meaning can never be finally grasped but only ever approached. Further, this revealed-concealed ambiguity binds phenomenology to the hermeneutic circle of understanding, for the revealed and articulated cannot state for all time the nature of the concealed. Jung too binds his method to this circle in his insistence that phenomena need to be continually reinterpreted anew.

Finally, the intentionality of consciousness-broadly and deeply defined, thus including unconscious experience and fantasy-is presupposed in any phenomenological analysis. Intentionality most simply means that consciousness is always "consciousness of something"; it is always relational. However, it is important not to think of this relationality as a sort of connecting link between two fixed and distinct poles. Consciousness does not link subject and object in the way that light links a camera and the world. Rather, intentionality refers to that irreducible occurrence of fundamental openness within which both the world and one's identity as someone come into being. It needs to be added that that openness is not a psychological vacuum but an imaginal matrix (Avens, 1982; Murray, 1986). Intentionality is thus the imaginal precondition for personal identity and the world's disclosure, it is not their derivative. Intentionality recalls Jung's analysis of psychological types, his insistence that even introversion is a way of revealing the world for the consciously introverted person is "unconsciously" extraverted, and his claim that fantasy is the irreducible participant in all psychological functions, even sensation. It is fantasy that consciously and unconsciously weaves one's attitudes and functions into the patterned fabric that is existence, and one's sense of self, others, and the world emerge out of this imaginative existential ground." (pp. 526-527)

Roger Brooke (1996). Analytical Psychology and Existential Phenomenology: An Integration and a Clinical Study. Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 83, pp. 525-545

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