Join the "Depth Discussion" about Hillman's Notion of Eros & Psych — July 11, 2013

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The therapist/and/or analyst must first evoke and/or make a place for Eros to be comfortably expressed and revealed within the consulting room, as a modeling experience.  I've found that via  demonstration by example of m y own Eros that  my patients absorb and hopefully later begin to express that energy within and outside the session. . I've 2 stones on my desk. One says  Trust  the other Eros. When Eros is liberated and demonstrated within the therapeutic relationship permission is  given to spread that good infection.  The   generation of  that kind of atmosphere is in and of itself the first step toward the pursuit of creativity outside the consulting room.  I refer the reador to an exceptional book by Robert M Stein , "Incest and Human Love."  In it he has a section on Eros and how damaging the blockage of it  in childhood is at the root of many difficult psychological issues later on. How can  one write one sentence on such a profound and ultimately creative subject?

This is   great idea  by the way.

well said.

I'm irritated each time I hear or read the words "Eros" and incest in psychological discussions. Eros (and of course incest) means first and foremost (perverted) sexuality. I would be much happier if there was a single word for the "need to be cuddled and appreciated physically and mentally". If someone's parent(s) is a scumbag, it's not unfulfilled incestuous fantasies that drive that person to self-destructive and spiritually lazy behavior (and chronic inability to find the common language with his/her spouse).

The union of Psyche and Eros happens within creative scenes and their equivalents where individual minds create something transpersonal and creative beyond individual personalities and talents.

Perhaps this is too simplistic, but I find the most deep connections to be made in Na-church. The combination of Nature and the place where one connects with their own Spirituality - church.


I  couldn't agree more.  Nature contains all and has everything in its origins,, atmosphere, and reproductive cycles. Eros is everywhere there in all  of its myriad forms.

Because my standard go to is nature I'll offer another venue that works well for me for tapping into the energy flow between Psyche and Eros. It's Improv, which as I've encountered it seems to lubricate the gears of active imagination. 

Apprenticed for a bit with a longstanding improvisational actress type who opened an "Improv Sanga" in my neighborhood and offered both workshops and drop-in times. Her language and mine at the time, wasn't about psyche, but in retrospect great flow of somatic energy, psyche and eros.

Also, I can recommend an old friend's book, "Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up," by Patricia Madsen. She taught at Stanford and elsewhere for many years and this is a collection of her cumulative insights, reflections, and yes wisdom, concerning living life, improvisationally. 

Interesting to reflect on how the psychopathologies and complexes are allowed free entry into the improv space and are usually the greatest sources of authentic and engaged performance--that's usually where the juice is.

I like the approach described by Judith Harte, who writes, “When Eros is liberated and demonstrated within the therapeutic relationship permission is given to spread that good infection.” The consulting room is a place to learn new ways of relating that can be lived elsewhere. But Eros also includes dark Eros (I love Thomas Moore's treatment of it in his book of that name), which, if neglected, emerges in us in controlling and sadistic ways of relating to self and others and the world. Such ways of relating are just as much a problem outside the consulting room as inside. So the demonstration of Eros needs to be in touch with the dark side of helping and relating.

Yes, Ian there needs to be a place for and ownership of the dark face of Eros.  In the horoscope there is a point of Eros and also Hades/pluto. Both of these points have a dark face that when fully confronted and integrated participate in the process of psychoastrological transformation. This can  also happen in the consulting room of a psychotherapist,  when and if a patient commits to a process in which his/her darker side is owned and ultimately integrated within a process of psychotherapy.  Yes, I love Moore's book on the subject as well.

How can we fit this owning of the dark face of Eros with the union between Psyche and Eros? Our destructive urges seem to work against relating; I don't think Moore believes we should hope to overcome such urges - instead, we need to live the necessary aggression and violence of e.g. education or therapy less literally. On the other hand, perhaps no relating is possible without dark Eros - there must be separation if there is to be connection, and we can't have a union of Psyche and Eros if they don't at times have independent modes that work against each other.

Fascinating....I'm curious Judith, where in the horoscope is the point of Eros and Hades/Pluto?

Their yoga mat/meditation room.

The second question brings to mind Jung's statement: "The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."  His description of the the "building game" he had the courage to allow himself to play in Memories, Dreams, Reflections was certainly an embodiment of this statement. I think the combination of play and that sense of inner necessity/foreboding(!) are probably good clues about what to do. Such as taking up improv, as Mark Sipowicz suggests!

I have a friend who indulges, quite happily, in trips to used clothing stores to create outfits that seem to express a new side of herself that may be wanting to come into being.It's a low-cost, low-risk method of trying on something new and seems to be a first, pre-articulate step for her in her journey.

Another friend has a penchant for creating elaborate city walking tours which involve some planning but mostly spontaneous discoveries. Once in a while I've been invited along on more formalized "tours" that resulted from these explorations. One I recall particularly began with viewing some stone gargoyles atop a building, a trip to a museum to look at one particular painting and, after many other intriguing diversions, ended up at a church for derelicts with alcohol problems. It struck me afterwards that he had mapped out a psychological journey, beginning with passing the gargoyles and ending with a resolution that, since he had a drinking problem he adamantly claimed he could fix himself as well as a distinct dislike of religion, may have been the psyche's way of pointing him in another direction. It was all done very playfully, but the entire walk was accompanied by some very rich conversation that the different stops triggered.

My own experience with psychological play began when an artist friend insisted that everyone could be an artist, a statement with which I disagreed. She insisted that I grab whatever I had around, lipstick, mustard, eyebrow pencils and just let my hand paint whatever it wanted. I felt extraordinarily silly but went ahead and did it. The resulting art work spoke to me in some fashion and I ended up buying paints and finding that whenever I felt stuck with a problem, a dream, or in the fiction I was writing (my "serious" art form,) I could just  "let my hand" paint and I would frequently get unstuck.  I also discovered a minor talent for art that gives me great joy as long as I refuse to take it "seriously."

So, I think those elements--play, taking some awkward fascination seriously, especially at the risk of feeling silly, and taking concrete, though tiny steps, may be some of the elements in unleashing the creativity of the psyche. 



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