JUNG/DELEUZE (1): schizophrenia, individuation, and alchemy

It is a mistake to see Jung as a disciple formed by Freud who then broke away to found his own school by modifying the doctrine he learned. Jung was influenced by Nietzsche and Bergson, and he had his own ideas (including about psychic energy) and reputation (he worked with schizophrenics at the Burghölzli Clinic before he contacted Freud), which was why he was such a good « catch » for the movement. Further he had done his experiments on word-association and theorised their results in terms of complexes (Lacan’s signifiers are in a line of succession from this work). Jung’s training and initial work was mainly with psychotics, contrary to Freud’s lack of experience in this domain. A major objection that Jung had to Freud’s theory concerned his far too narrow concept of psychic energy which was part and parcel of a reductionist vision of the psyche.

Deleuze’s statements about Jung are inconsistent, and not a good guide to seeing the affinities that exist between his thought and Jung’s. A few points of convergence:

1) using schizophrenic production as a better guide to the nature and structure of the unconscious than neurosis

2) the discernment within psychosis of a process of subjectivation (individuation) that can be a dynamic of psychic breakdown or of breakthrough to wider and freer consciousness

3) a relativisation and desubstantialisation of the ego as just one complex (assemblage) and perspective alongside a multitude of other complexes and perspectives making up the psyche

4) a non-reductionist approach to symbols and their interpretation, refusing to to limit the analogical play by imposing the Freudian grids as the ultimate « real » interpretation, but respecting their transversality (amplification, deterritorialisation)

It is the alchemical Jung that is the most interesting and that presents the most affinities with schizoanalysis. It is in the books on alchemy (which stem from his « breakdown », as Jung himself always emphasised) that we see all the animal becomings and molecular processes that Deleuze and Guattari discussed. Jung was very clear that alchemy is not just in the texts but is ongoing in our individual and collective psyches, and that dream imagery and artistic productions (painting, literature, we can add cinema) are the privileged workshop and observatory of the psychic (= « desiring », in Deleuzian language) production.

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11 commentaires pour JUNG/DELEUZE (1): schizophrenia, individuation, and alchemy

  1. Ping : JUNG/DELEUZE | Research Material

  2. dmfant dit :

    as a clinician who has worked with many folks with schizoid thought and affect disorders I’m always perplexed by the notion that such folks are undergoing anything like a « breakthrough to wider and freer consciousness » when they are in fact generally and deeply trapped in very restrictive/rigid/claustrophobic worlds of experience, so if we take away the Romantic aspects of these ‘poetic’ project-ions of folks like Jung/Guatarri/Laing onto these experiences is there really much reason to privilege aspects of human-being/doing like « dream imagery and artistic productions »?


  3. terenceblake dit :

    No such claim is made by Jung or Deleuze. Noone is advocating that being enslaved by an unconscious content is a superior form of awareness. Jung is very unromantic about these matters. The encounter with the unconscious can lead to the dissociation of the personality and to total incapacitation. At the same time it can lead to the progressive integration of contents that go beyond the strata of the neurotic unconscious that Freudian analysis gives access to. So I think that individuation is the key term. Psychosis contains one fragment of the individuation process, the access to more than personal contents, but there it leads to pathology rather than freedom. So I see no ambiguity and no romantic complaisance.


    • dmf dit :

      I think that you are still confusing the actual disordering physiological mal-formations with other forms of more able-bodied non-conscious functions (the term schizo is than misleading at best and to many ill folks offensive), but leaving that aside why not follow Hillman (at his phenomenological best in Re-Visioning) and say that what we are interested in is what is gripping, moving, etc., and as Freud/Rorty show there is part of our everyday/democratized poetic dwelling that can attach to (be possessed by) literally any aspect of (and or object/fetish in) our experiences given the right conditions.
      Not unlike Emerson’s divinity school address warning against the institutionalized worshiping of spent/deadened idols/metaphors and the vital need to attend to present/living intensities:


  4. terenceblake dit :

    I do not make use of the term « schizo » here, I compare Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis to Jung’s alchemical analysis. I make mention of the point of view shared by Jung and by Deleuze and Guattari that schizophrenia includes a fixation on more than personal, collective, unconscious contents, irreducible to the Oedipal grid of interpretation. Neither perspective denies that schizophrenia is a pathology, neither romanticises schizophrenia. We can fall prey to fixation on or possession by any image, and this is explicitly argued by Deleuze and Guattari. Jung thinks that all images are alchemical in terms of their operations and their potency. « Alchemy » in the sense of the traditional texts is just the vastest codification of such images, and is an open system. This is the point of Jung’s openness to Joyce’s ULYSSES, in which the archetypal is presented in the ordinary. So on this point Hillman is not innovating, but continuing Jung’s mature thought. The value of the metaphor of schizophrenia is very limited, of use mainly in the polemic with official Freudian psychoanalysis. That is why in non-pathological contexts Deleuze and Guattari prefer to talk of the cosmic artisan and Jung of the alchemist, as metaphors for taking care of living intensities.


    • dmf dit :

      this « schizophrenia includes a fixation on more than personal, collective, unconscious contents » is a Romanticization of schizophrenias and inaccurate to boot so yes please let’s talk instead of artists and alchemists as metaphors for taking care of living intensities…


  5. terenceblake dit :

    (1) there are more than personal, collective, unconscious contents, and
    (2) artists and alchemists are metaphors for taking care of living intensities
    say the same thing in different words, as intensities, according to Deleuze and Guattari and to Jung, are not usefully interpreted in terms of an explanatory grid based on the ego’s awareness of psychic contents and on the oedipus complex. So still no proof of the « romanticisation » charge.

    You yourself talk about being « trapped » or being « possessed », synonyms for fixation. So no disagreement there.

    You say above that any aspect of our our experience may lead to poetic dwelling or to possession, which is precisely what Deleuze and Jung say. But you want to treat schizophrenia as an exception to your general thesis, which is a contradiction.


    • dmf dit :

      well we just disagree about 1 if you’re are asserting actual collective-contents/experiences, but yes we can, potentially, make a poetic use of any-thing ( and any-one) but I’m saying that Jung wasn’t seeing/saying that these were just metaphors (Stengers, Hillman, Wittgenstein, all point out that Freud didn’t discover how dreams work rather he applied poetic devices to them and than created a new form of criticism/literature all while claiming scientific objectivity, Jung’s active imaginings of some deep/transcendent/Selfish unity between patient’s images, alchemy, cave-paintings,physics,etc are similarly not divinations/discoveries but his idiosyncratic artistic creations which may or may not serve others as perspicacious presentations) and out of respect for the actual and often very difficult lives of people who are suffering from various injuries and or mal-formations (short-circuits?) I’m simply asking that we use other terms, so not a contradiction but an ethical plea.


  6. terenceblake dit :

    Jung is clear that with the Red Book experience he left the confines of science, and that the scientific aspect of his later works was just a mask, i.e. a metaphor, to translate some of that experience into terms comprehensible to his contemporaries. He also made it clear that he preferred the language of alchemy, which is richer and more explicitly metaphorical.

    You are not going to make your opposition between collective contents and poetic use work, as poetry is not a personal affair. Poetry speaks across the gaps as it is more than personal. Lots of things are collective: language, social roles, emotional reactions. That does not mean they are universal. You are still in contradiction, because you cannot enclose intensities in ordinary language – that way lies stereotypes. Nor can you avoid mediation, including conceptual and terminological mediation, as there is no direct, immediate, transparent apprehension. Sometimes to describe what is closest we need the biggest detour to break out of our socially conditioned reflex perceptions and judgements.


  7. Ping : JUNG/DELEUZE (2): Shadow, Anima, and Self as conceptual personae | AGENT SWARM

  8. Ping : BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MY WRITINGS (10): Deleuze and Jung (and Hillman) | AGENT SWARM

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