Any thoughts on Depth Psychology and New Science perspectives on 'ghosts'?

I'm interested in alliance members' thoughts on the phenomena of ghosts - especially from Jungian and Groffian perspectives that are influenced by Quantum physics (I.e. post classical science). I recall somewhere that some Jungians theorise both an internal collective unconscious AND a kind of objective external imaginal dimension in which matter and mind coalesce ... the psychoid realm perhaps? Apparently Pauli the physicist and Jung discussed such issues and Jung saw the third coniunctio of traditional alchemy as the period when this more external dimension to the unconscious psyche freed itself of personal unconscious issues and gained increased access through active imagination to external independent entities that assisted in the merging of the human divine duality. Any thoughts/comments on these themes most welcome since I'm doing a talk to a group of writers in October on contemporary depth psychology perspectives on ghosts. You can reply here or email me at irvinehobson (at)

best wishes to all Depth Psychology members - truly an inspirational group of people!

Ian Irvine (Hobson)

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Comment by Mary Harrell on February 7, 2015 at 8:21pm

Hi Ian,

At some point, when you have time to write I would be very interested to hear how quantum notions of reality break down what you refer to as the schism between purely internal/imaginal and external psychoid perspectives on ghosts. I'm not sure I follow, as for me, I see depth psychology as being in the neither/nor realm, meaning that  the imaginal perspective (fluid rather than pure) is necessary for the experience of both an internal and an external (psychoidal) figure, even though they are quite different beings. I have not fully studied quantum notions as they relate to depth psychology though I am very interested and eager to hear.  You seem to have a great interest in this field and have valuable insights.  Thank you for your comments.  

Comment by Ian Irvine (Hobson) on February 7, 2015 at 7:37pm

Mary and Randy - many thanks for your fascinating responses. My talk went well last year but I remain interested in what DPA subscribers/contributors have to say on this topic. The schism between purely internal/psychic/imaginal perspectives and external/psychoid perspectives on ghosts is precisely what breaks down when quantum notions of reality enter the equation. Kind regards and thanks to all who have contributed so far - Ian Irvine (Hobson)

Comment by Mary Harrell on February 6, 2015 at 9:13pm

Hi Ian, If your interest in theories of ghost manifestations persists, you may be interested in exploring the section called "Unbidden Angel" in my forthcoming book, tentatively titled Imaginal Figures (Chiron Publications) in which I investigate a ghost who appeared for years; I explore, through the lens of Jungian psychology her level of reality, her intention and why I had a particular experience of her.  I came to see her as both the spirit-end of the Archetype of Death who broke through during years of loss after my own mother's death and also a figure described by Jeff Raff as psychoidal, meaning not an aspect of my psychology but a separate being.  I do support you in looking toward quantum physics to help explain the ability of imaginal beings-including what people refer to as ghosts- to move in a non-Newtonion space.  In Newton's view we live in a world in which material beings move through empty space. But in the world of quantum physics different rules apply.  As you know, space and time behave in ways that allow alternate realities to exist, and the imaginal realm, Corbin's imaginalis mundus, is a world in which such phenomenon occur, and have been recorded for centuries-see Ibn Arabi.  You will be very interested in Fred Alan Wolf's explanations in The Quantum Leap if you haven't already studied this.  Join me at  I do plan to speak about this idea in the future as my work on imaginal figures is far from finished.  I recognize your name and know we have been reading in similar circles.  The work you are doing is very important. 

Be well.   

Comment by Randy Westfall on June 22, 2014 at 7:46pm

Hi Ian, this is my first post. Thank you for piquing my interest about some of the subjects that are close to my heart. I have no real credentials, as I am just a layman with an obsessive interest in figuring out my reality.

Through my understanding of dream states and the study of psychology, I was able to assimilate an experience that became a focal and turning point in my life, as I am learning to accept these experiences as real. 

I had an archetypal dream that had  intense personal complementary effects to my conscious situation. The moment of change occurred when a ghost appeared to me. Rather than be scared, I was fascinated by the phenomenon and asked it to stay there so I could look closely at it. An archetypal experience followed, including an incredible story of the projection, tailored to fit my situation. 

I won’t post the dream here yet, but it reveals a lot about what I think are common ghost encounters, in the dream space. A lot of the archetypal energies manifest from “the world of the dead”. Whether we are perfectly lucid or not, we can discover meaning through the symbology and motifs revealed by the unconscious. This is as evident in my dream journal as it is in The Red Book, as Carl Jung had decided not to let any interesting character leave him until they told him why they appeared, in his active imagination sessions.

Despite very interesting anecdotal stories related by everyone, it is empirically evident that ghosts are real. Yet they are in this space between our ears, not out here in what we call the real world. Everything in our experience happens within psychic space, i.e. the psyche. They have a lot to teach us, if we will listen to the dead. I searched for ghosts very diligently, in some very scary places before I learned the truth about circular logic, magical thinking and participation mystique. I also learned to trust my inner experiences as real, in the sense that is appropriate to the ‘psychoid realm’, as you say. 

The constellation of unconscious contents are often activated by our experience of desolate areas, abandoned structures and the like. Once looked into, the phenomena follow the subject and are not specific to location, not really. It’s what the location does to us, subjectively, in our own psychic space that affects us so deeply. A lack of understanding can end in profound ignorance, so reflection is indicated.

I am aware of Jung’s and Pauli’s correspondence. What I can say about that is we are very fortunate for the pioneers of quantum physics and depth psychology to have gotten together as many did in the 20th century, including these two. The psycho-physical reality they talked about is realized by many in the modern world, and is indeed related to the alchemists’ endeavors from medieval times.


Comment by Ian Irvine (Hobson) on April 24, 2014 at 6:21am

Thanks Megan - lots of food for thought in your in-depth response. I'm thinking that you do feel thatbthere are both internal and external aspects to the phenomenon but that overall they present to consciousness on a continuum that needs to be honoured at each level/stage. I'm wondering how you might assist people to assess the difference between different types of ghostly phenomena along the continuum? 

Comment by Megan Kenner on April 24, 2014 at 4:56am
Hi Ian,
I work in the realm of transpersonal psychotherapy & psycho-shamanic diagnosis re spiritual crisis, mental illness,emergence. I studied indigenous metaphysics & quantum healing modalities along side psychotherapy. My experience with ghost/spirits is wide & varied & there are many kinds both Inner & outer realm.
From the basic projected disowned aspects of self like low level neurosis pollution,demonic fragmented schism schizoid, to ancestral spirits, collective archetypal cohorts,place memory,
dis-Incarnate humans or animals, psychic imprint, trauma imprint,
inter-dimensional & many more complex. But the undeniable correlation is that the relation to the ghost/spirt which the person is hosting or experiencing is a continuum /extension of relational process relevant to regaining wholeness for that person. It serves a definite purpose & there is always a pay off to hosting the interaction. There is no difference between another living human being or a ghost with respect to processing ones understanding of self. They tend to manifest when synchronistic consciousness is ready to more claimed eg spiritual duality journeyed more consciously.
The question most ask is are they real & what paradigm would you use to justify their validity... I have seen them since a child & there are multiple endless paradigms that's the trick & you keep adding to the library.
I would say foremost that it doesn't matter about justifying belief/quantum structure that's never ending & individual's about learning to honoring the inner/outer realms/reality that counts most & everyone's is real until it no longer serves the highest & greatest growth.
Hope that gives some grounds for further thoughts/feelings! ;)
Thx Megan
Comment by Ian Irvine (Hobson) on April 12, 2014 at 6:11am

Thanks for your input, Aleksandar - I'll follow up on the link.

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