Integrative Relational Feminine Jungian Therapy Essay

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Integrative Relational Feminine Jungian Therapy

I believe that we are living in a new world, where new ideas and institutions abound. This is however not to say that many of the past and indeed outdated paradigms do not remain. Particularly, the concepts of the masculine and feminine tend to evoke historical social constructs that are very difficult to truly reconcile without a complete reconsideration of the meaning of these constructs. On the other hand, the nature of the social dynamic today does not preclude healing via concepts that integrate Jungian psychology with the feministic view of the divine, particularly in the forms of Kali, as discussed by Woodman (1996) and Themis, as addressed by Shearer (in Huskinson, 2008). More importantly still, this healing occurs both on a collective and individual level. Collectively, the long-standing "battle of the sexes" may finally include the possibility of reconciliation, while the same reconciliation can occur within the split consciousness of the self.

The Battle of the Sexes: The Collective Split

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Feminism became prominent when women began to fight for their rights in a world where the masculine has taken dominance. It appears that, since women began to contend for the right to vote, all other female rights also became a bone of social contention. The right to enter the workplace, the right to build a professional career, the right to forego marriage until the age of 30, 40, or for life, and other such rights were generally the masculine domain in the Western consciousness. It is only during the latter part of the 20th century that these rights became gradually recognized not only by the law, but also by society in general.

Even today, women share experiences that are less ideal, precisely because of the tendency of masculine dominance within society. Woodman for example describes a dream in which a client was victimized by the masculine power: "She had, in effect, been forced to swallow the false, demonic spirit just as many today are being forced to swallow false masculine power, false spirit, in the home, at school, in the workplace. They, too are being told, this is God" (Woodman, 1996, p.74).

TOPIC: Essay on Integrative Relational Feminine Jungian Therapy Assignment

Unfortunately, this is an experience that many women still have within society. The woman who refuses to submit to a culture where the masculine dominates and the feminine is suppressed, tends to suffer as a result. Romantic relationships may for example be subject to the paradigm of masculine power, and end because the female partner refuses to subject her femininity to the masculine requirement. Familial relationships may also suffer, where the traditional patriarchal paradigm is challenged by daughters who refuse to marry and bear children in favor of building a business career.

According to Woodman, the masculine dominant paradigm has been in use for so long that it has pervaded the collective subconscious to the point where both men and women perpetuate it. Some women themselves for example value their traditional roles in the home so highly that they tend to level "snide remarks" at those who choose to challenge these roles. In this way, there is a split not only between the actual masculine and feminine as manifest in gender, but also between the ideal of the masculine social power as accepted by traditionally-minded men and women.

Both Sue Austin (2003) and Marion Woodman (1996) suggest that the social split has resulted in an individual split within the Self as well -- what Austin refers to as a "resistance to identity." Interestingly, both authors emphasize that this resistance is universally human, despite the fact that it manifests differently in men and women. It is a resistance that men and women could perhaps used to begin a reconciliation within the self, and subsequently both individual and collective healing can be achieved. First, however, the nature of the split and the symbolism behind this should be examined; mostly likely a painful process.

Masculinity and Femininity: The Individual Split

Psychoanalysts since Freud and Jung have referred to the capitalized "Self" to examine the individual psyche and his or her relationship with the surrounding world. Because the relationship with the self is paramount in the relationship with others, it is vital to examine how the Self suffers before either individual or collective healing and reconciliation can take place.

According to Woodman (1996, p. 22), and "enormous" split took place in the psyche with the loss of consciousness as a container for the process of transformation. With the rise of monotheism and the repression of the feminine divine in cultural consciousness, the feminine within the self was also repressed. Females became the representative of the "other," the unknown, and its associated darkness. According to some, this darkness manifested itself as "evil" in the collective consciousness and retained female repression for centuries. The perception of the powerful patriarchy has in this way repressed the matriarchy, but has suffered from neuroses as a result. Hence the social split between the male and the potentially powerful female, who is seen as a threat.

Importantly, Woodman shows that this split between the feminine and masculine energies also occur within individuals themselves. Individuals tend to be at war with themselves, as they attempt to repress that within themselves that they consider unacceptable in terms of individual identity. From birth, an individual is identified with either gender, except in very rare biological cases. This identity is perpetuated by the society within which the individual functions. Girls are for example expected to play with dolls, while boys are expected to play with cars and tools. This is further perpetuated by assigning certain clothing to children, where girls are dressed in pink and boys in blue. Since birth then, the split between the masculine and the feminine is printed into the subconscious.

So prominent is the split that even Freud mistook the intra-personal struggle within the female individual as based upon penis-envy, where it is considered better to be a man than a woman. The assumption here is then also that male sexual enjoyment is greater than such physical pleasure for females, who are expected to derive their joy from its effect: motherhood. On an individual level, it might be assumed that this could result in subconscious resentment, which Freud would in turn once again label as penis envy.

Within the modern male, there is also a type of wound that aches around the power of the patriarchy. Today, many men are for example engaged in caring for their children or indeed the children of others. This is not a generally accepted role for men in terms of Western culture. Like women, men in traditional roles tend to be somewhat negative towards those who work in such a capacity. Woodman (1996, p. 11) for example states that these men can be victim to both male and female patriarchs. A mother who considers traditional roles as important for example would raise her sons as "son heroes" who are fearful of what they consider feminine in themselves. The fantasy of the "hero" may for example be shattered when the son enters a usually female profession such as nursing, or should he choose a homosexual lifestyle. In extreme cases, some men find the female aspect in themselves so dominating that they choose to in fact become female by means of operations. Others live comfortably with the male and female aspect by using make-up, wearing females clothes, and accepting a female aspect only on a temporary basis. All these manifestations tend to be frowned upon by society as a whole; a further indication of the power that the patriarchy still holds.

According to Austin (2003), women have generally been regarded as "other" in social discourse. Within the consciousness of the self, what is unknown, dark and monstrous in the self is considered "other" and hence feminine. It is the reconciliation with this other that both Woodman and Shearer suggest as providing healing on both a collective and individual level.

The question is how healing can be obtained within the individual and subsequently within the collective of society as a whole. Woodman (1996) and Shearer (Huskinson, 2008) both suggest a reconsideration of the feminine divine archetype in order to reconcile the warring opposites within the individual and within society.

The Divine: Masculine and Feminine

The divine is probably the most powerful subconscious regulator of paradigms within society. It is the commonly accepted regulator of human life and law. Hence, the power inherent in the rise of monotheism has usurped the recognized power of the feminine divine, although it was unable to destroy it. The inability of the masculine divine to destroy the feminine is manifest in the many neuroses that individuals and society experience.

The drive to recognize the female in the male self and the male in the female self has resulted in a number of difficulties on both an individual and social level. Individuals find themselves at war with each other and with those around them. In order to stop the war and reconcile what appears opposite,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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