Sunday, September 05, 2010

Jean Shinoda Bolen Comments

Jean Shinoda Bolen, pictured in an earlier blog post wearing a Japanese robe, spoke at the IAAP Congress about circles with a spiritual center, with particular reference to the consciousness-raising circles of the 1970s that led to the women's movement. Bolen, who has written 11 books in addition to practicing as a psychiatrist and Jungian analyst, is a feminist and activist.

"Jungian stuff helps one to be a good activist," she said. However, each person has to answer for him- or herself whether a particular cause or creative project is appealing. For people in the second half of life, however that is defined, the cause or project should contain an element of fun related perhaps to the people involved or the project itself.

Jungians are big believers in life stages, and the second half of life is defined as that period when one has contributed to society and to the culture through reproduction and/or career, and one is freer to choose "meaningful" projects. Of course, it helps if one has independent means to do this, as Jung and many of his patients did. In today's world of economic crisis, it seems likely most people will be mainly concerned with economic survival into old age (this is my opinion, not Bolen's.)

Bolen also spoke of crone wisdom, the wisdom possessed by everyone who has been to the underworld (hell) and come back, perhaps from addiction through a recovery program like Alcoholics Anonymous, from grave illness or accident, financial ruin, etc. The underworld in mythology is the realm of the god Pluto, and contains many riches. These may include gifts rejected, feelings not acknowledged, and so forth.

In the first half of life, parts of the personality that don't fit into one's plans are cast off and go into the unconscious or underworld, but they can be reconstructed through analysis, or various recovery programs, religion or other means.

Bolen cited Lawrence LeShan's question for cancer patients contemplating how to use their remaining time: What would make you glad to get up, and still make you feel good at the end of the day? It is a good question for anyone, she said.


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