BJAA: working with difference as jungian analysts

In recent years several BJAA members have written papers exploring the unconscious forces at work in the consulting room in the areas of race, class, migration and sexual difference.

Current debates within the profession, postcolonial studies and the history of psychoanalysis in relation to totalitarian and fascist regimes call us to review our theoretical models and we need to make space to explore how these attitudes may still pervade.

The papers listed here attempt to explore unexamined prejudices that might affect our capacity to listen to the people we work with and hear their concerns – both conscious and unconscious – about conflicting messages in our culture about race, sexuality, class and identity.

For copyright reasons we are not able to include the full texts of all the papers listed.

Areas of difference

sexuality: a real body and a phantasy body

Elphis Christopher (2018)    

Response to Anne Zachary’s book ‘The Anatomy of the Clitoris – Reflections on the Theory of Female Sexuality’, Routledge 2018.

about Anne Zachary’s book

Anne Zachary contests and attempts to put right a century of psychoanalytical misunderstanding of the female body and therefore also of the female psyche. The central anatomical argument: that the biological structure and function of the male penis and female clitoris are in most significant respects the same. Their main differences of visibility and size arise from the necessity to arrange the female genitals to permit babies to be conceived and born.

about this response

Elphis Christopher shared a platform with Anne Zachary at the BAP conference, ‘A Century of Sex’ in 1995. Part of her presentation was included in Chapter 5 of Anne’s new book The Anatomy of the Clitoris.What follows is Elphis’ response to Anne’s talk at the bpf on 11.10.18 about her new book for which Elphis was a respondent.

about the author

Elphis Christopher is a retired medical consultant and specialist in psychosexual therapy, She is fascinated by Greek mythology, the unconscious and intrigued by Jungian concepts , especially the contra sexual archetypes animus and anima, the inner psychic couple (coniunctio) and the interface between body and mind, Elphis qualified as a Jungian analyst in 1990. She co-edited with Hester McFarland Solomon, “Jungian Thought in the Modern World” (2000) and “Contemporary Jungian Clinical Practice (2003).

‘mending the symbolic: when a place for male same-sex desire is not found’

Giorgio Giaccardi (2019)

To be published as a chapter in the forthcoming book: Sexuality and Gender now. Looking Beyond Heteronormativity, Tavistock Clinic Series, London: Karnac.

about this chapter

The chapter reflects on the problem of unsymbolised psychic experiences and the ensuing attempts at repairing this lack, by drawing on inputs from cultural studies and clinical practice, within a post-Jungian understanding of the process of individuation. In particular, the paper will consider some aspects of the process leading from a symbolic deficit to the formation of containers for male same-sex desire, as revealed by the kind of emotional experiences traversed, and the symbolic representations generated by gay men in the contemporary Western world, such as melancholy, rage, concealment, sentimentality, camp, excess, centrality of sex, appropriative identifications, communality of desires, and experiences of time.

‘same-sex desire through a post-Jungian lens’

Giorgio Giaccardi (2015)

about this paper

Homosexuality is a loaded word, scary or offensive to some, an object of fascination or pride to others. It acknowledges a bond between same-sex people that, particularly in the case of men and when sex is involved, has always triggered anxiety and a need for practical regulation or theoretical explanation. This short piece, published in the BPC Magazine New Associations, summarises Jung’s position on homosexuality as well as post-Jungian perspectives on same-sex desire, also drawing out some indications for clinical work with gay men.

‘problems of symbolisation and archetypal processes: the case of same-sex desire’

Giorgio Giaccardi (2019)

To be published as a chapter in the forthcoming book: Indeterminate States, liminality and borders, Routledge

about this chapter

This paper considers how a range of archetypal processes may be activated and shaped by the tension between same sex-desire and an heteronormative symbolic order, namely Senex/Puer, Persona, Anima, Father, Trickster, Pan, Shadow, as well as what may be seen as an archetypal tendency of the male psyche, not explored by Jung, towards forms of ‘communality’.

Some of these processes are illustrated through letters and poetry of the Italian intellectual and artist Pier Paolo Pasolini. Although many of his views on same-sex desire, being not only inscribed in the heteronormative order but somehow also buttressing it, have subjected  Pasolini to much criticism by the gay movement, his sensitivity and lucidity have translated into verses and reflections of great perceptivity and insight on the themes of being outside the symbolic order on account of one’s desire, both in its more romantic and melancholic form as a youth and in its highly sexualised state as an adult.

about the author

Giorgio has a particular interest in the topic of male same-sex desire, with a focus on the process of symbolisation and in integrating an archetypal approach with insights from critical theory and the humanities to advance analytic understanding of how subjectivity develops around same sex desire in a collective consciousness still largely permeated by heteronormative assumptions.

He is a Senior Member of the BJAA/bpf in London & a Member Analyst of the Associazione per la Ricerca in Psicologia Analitica in Milan.

migration: issues of identity and language

‘migration as an unconscious search for identity: some reflections on language, difference and belonging’

British Journal of Psychotherapy, 33, 2,159-176

Grazyna Czubinska (2017) 

about this paper

The author addresses some issues regarding patients who relocate and who struggle with adaptation to a new reality. She argues that emigration is a complex psychological phenomenon that requires a therapist to pay special attention to the issue of language, difference and identity, and suggests that the issues of different culture and language in analytic psychotherapy need to be considered as part of a wider cultural context to which we all belong, rather than a specialized area of interest. The paper illustrates, through the clinical example of an East European male patient, that the psychic work of emigration can be understood as a process of integrating splits between pre- and post-migration selves. The author concludes that the analyst needs to let herself be involved as a ‘real person’ to reach the non-interpretative aspects of the patient’s psyche through a mutuality of shared experience to promote a change.

about the author

Grazyna studied philosophy and language before coming to the UK from her birth country Poland in the seventies. She worked as an assistant editor for a publishing office and a translator for the British Refugee Council before training as a psychotherapist. She has a multicultural practice and has always been interested in different cultures and how different social context affects our psyche and influence our identity.

Recently she became interested in a link between early infant development and social/political behaviour. Her new paper called “Difference- is it hated or desired? – reflections on Totalitarian state of mind” awaits publication.

She is a Senior member of BJAA/bpf.

‘cultural homelessness: a challenge to theory and practice’

Psychodynamic Practice Vol. 22 No. 2, Routledge

David Henderson (2016)   

about this paper

This paper explores the experience of culturally homeless persons, who have lived in multiple cultural frameworks before the age of 14. They “live in a framework that may include experiences, feelings, and thoughts that do not belong to any specific cultural reference group… they lack a cultural home. They may experience a strong yearning to ‘go home,’ but home is no one place.” The lack of the experience of having been unconsciously embedded in a coherent cultural and linguistic matrix has consequences for how we might conceptualise their ego development. I want to develop the idea that these people have multiple egos, because their early experience was nurtured and shaped in a multilingual, multicultural matrix. The gap between egos is a deficit, if you like, but it is not the result of splitting, repression or dissociation, or even of unconsciousness since the culturally homeless client is likely to be extremely attuned to these gaps.

What challenges does this mode of being pose to psychoanalytic theory and practice? A therapist who is working with a normative theory of psychological development, attachment, psychopathology, psychic structure or the analytic process is in danger of failing to recognise a fundamental aspect of these persons’ lives. The therapist may be tempted to diagnose the patient as being borderline, an as-if personality, psychotic, autistic, or even having multiple personality disorder. While there may well be aspects of the personality that are consonant with these descriptions, these diagnoses may constitute a category mistake. As Jung observes, “the patient’s difficulty consists precisely in the fact that his individual problem cannot be fitted without friction into a collective norm; it requires a solution of an individual conflict if the whole of his personality is to remain viable. No rational solution can do justice to this task, and there is absolutely no collective norm that could replace an individual solution without loss.”

about the author

David has lived in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the USA and the UK. In addition to his very stimulating private practice, he enjoys walking Bo, the Labradoodle, and following the fortunes of the Manchester United Red Devils and the Duke University Blue Devils. His research interests include the Freud/Jung relationship, psychoanalysis and religion,  apophasis and psychoanalysis, Jungian theory, Bion and the philosophy of Deleuze.

He is a member of the BJAA/bpfand also a Senior Lecturer in Psychoanalysis at the Centre for Psychoanalysis, Middlesex University, where he is one of the organisers of the Jung/Lacan Dialogues.

class: a subtle but invisible force

‘you were not born here, so you are classless, you are free!’

Journal of Analytical Psychology, 61, 4, 465-480

Emilija Kiehl (2016)     

about this paper

The unconscious impact of differences in culture and social class is discussed from the perspective of an analyst practising in London whose ‘foreign accent’ prevents patients from placing her within the social stratifications by which they feel confined. Because she is seen by them as an analyst from both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the British psycho-social fabric and cultural complex, this opens a space in the transference that enables fuller exploration of the impact of the British social class system on patients’ experience of themselves and their world. The paper considers this impact as a transgenerational trauma of living in a society of sharp socio-economic divisions based on material property. This is illustrated with the example of a patient who, at the point of moving towards the career to which he aspired, was unable to separate a sense of personal identity from the social class he so desperately wanted to leave behind and walk the long avenue of individuation. The dearth of literature on the subject of class is considered, and the paper concludes that not enough attention is given to class identification in training.

‘barbarians at the gate: racism in the shadow of tolerance in the neoliberal cultural complex’

In: ‘The Analyst in the Polis: proceedings from the second conference on analysis and activism-social and political contributions of Jungian psychology’, eds. S. Carta, A. Adorisio & R. Mercurio. Rome: e-book

Emilija Kiehl (2016)      

about this paper

In the neoliberal ideology prevalent in the today’s Western societies that see themselves as free, democratic and tolerant, racism is considered a thing of the past – a product of   outgrown, primitive beliefs and attitudes on their way out from civilised societies. On the helm of the evolving civilisation, the Western liberal leads the way to an ever more progressive society, gaining ever greater moral high ground at every step. A question is, where did the emotions that fuelled his past attitudes to the Other go? In my paper I briefly re-visit some of the now seen as obsolete views on race in the liberal Western societies and trace them forward to the present time where they continue to serve the same psychological and socio-political purpose as they have always done.

about the author

Emilija’s interest in socio-political and cultural matters goes back to her childhood. Memories of lively discussions among her parents, grand parents and extended family are still vivid, and this aspect of the life of the psyche has been interwoven into her thinking as a Jungian Analyst. Emilija has worked as published translator of works by, e.g.: Noam Chomsky, Harold Pinter, Arthur Miller, John Updike, Christopher Lasch, Scott Peck, and others.

She is a Senior Member of BJAA/bpf, a former Chair of BJAA & is currently BJAA representative on the Executive Committee of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP).

race: how do we think about race today? A developing discourse

race, power and intimacy in the intersubjective field: the intersection of racialised cultural complexes and personal complexes

Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2019, 64, 3, 367–385

Ruth Calland (2019)    

about this paper

This paper presents work with a biracial young woman, in the context of a predominantly white Jungian training organisation. The patient’s relational difficulties and her struggle to integrate different aspects of her personality are understood in terms of the overlapping influences of developmental trauma, transgenerational trauma relating to the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean, conflictual racial identities, internalised racism, and the British black/white racial cultural complex. The author presents her understanding of an unfolding dynamic in the analytic relationship in which the black slave/white master schema was apparently reversed between them, with the white analyst becoming subservient to the black patient. The paper tracks the process through which trust was built alongside the development of this joint defence against intimacy – which eventually had to be relinquished by both partners in the dyad. A white on black ‘rescue fantasy’, identified by the patient as a self-serving part of her father’s personality, is explored in relation to the analytic relationship and the training context.

about the author

Ruth is a professional member of the British Jungian Analytic Association (BJAA, part of bpf), working in private practice in London. She teaches on the Psychotherapy Today course at the British Psychotherapy Foundation. She runs a peer support group for therapists working with dissociative identity disorder in private practice. She is a member of The Relational School and The European Society for Trauma and Dissociation, and is also a professional artist.

a review of the Ninth Andrew Samuels lecture for Confederation for Analytical Psychology African American Jungian Analysts – on Culture, Clinical Training / Practice and Racism

Originally commissioned and printed for publication; in New Associations, Issue 27, Winter 2018, The British Psychoanalytic Council,

Jane Johnson (2018)        

about this review

It was a new, and profoundly stirring experience for the author, as a white person, trained in and belonging to predominately white psychotherapy institutions, to be part of a gathering of around 150 delegates where black and Asian therapists were well represented, and where thinking about, and creative engagement with, the emotive and often painful issues of culture and racism in clinical training and practice was led by black therapists and analysts. This CAP conference, organised by Andrew Samuels and Ruth Williams, addressed important issues for Jungian analysts, but also for all those working in depth psychology, relating to the cultural wound of colonialism and slavery and the implications for therapeutic work if the unconscious transgenerational transmission of this legacy goes unrecognised.

about the author

Jane’s interest in difference and social inequality first found a focus in the feminist movement of the 1970s, and then in Masters research into Jung’s idea of the animus. Using theories of racism to understand gender difference sparked her continuing interest in understanding the implications of being white, and a member of a more powerful social group.

She is a psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst working in private practice in Hampshire and a past Director (2008-2017) of the MSc Psychodynamics of Human Development (Birkbeck College & bpf). She gives seminars on Cultural Diversity, Racism and Difference for the bpf and for the BJAA clinical training.

‘between fear and blindness – the white therapist and the black patient’

In: Lowe, F. (Ed), Thinking Space: Promoting Thinking About Race, Culture and Diversity in Psychotherapy and Beyond, London: Karnac

Helen Morgan (2014)

about this chapter

This chapter is an attempt by a white psychotherapist to consider issues of racism and how they might impact on the work in the consulting room. There are two main features of this first statement that I want to emphasise by way of introduction. The first is that I intend to explore questions of difference in colour, and not issues of culture. This is not because I believe that matters of cultural differences in the consulting room are not interesting, or that culture and race are not often conflated, but, rather, that there is something so visible, so apparent, and yet so empty about colour that to include a discussion of culture can muddle the debate and take us away from facing some difficult and painful issues. A black patient may come from a culture more similar to my own than a white patient, yet it is the fact of our colours that can provoke primitive internal responses that are hard to acknowledge and face.

about the author

Helen recalls no reference being made to racism in her analysis, supervision or seminars while training in the 1980’s. This seemed strange given her experience of working in the public sector where the matter was very live indeed. Her puzzlement led her to explore the subject in more depth and thence to a series of papers on racism in analysis, supervision and organisationally.

She is a is a Fellow of thebpfand is a training analyst and supervisor for BJAA, a former chair (2004 – 2008) of the British Association of Psychotherapists and chair (2015 – 2018 of the British Psychoanalytic Council. She has written and published a number of papers on the subject of racism in the analytic setting.

‘Jung & racism’

Jane Johnson & Helen Morgan

about this paper

During 2013-15 a number of BJAA members came together to share concerns and work on their responses to the issues raised in a paper written in 1988 by Farhad Dalal entitled Jung: A Racist, published in the British Journal of Psychotherapy. The work of a small reading group was presented to a larger meeting of around 25 members where participants engaged with their personal responses to Dalal’s challenge, and where they also discussed the implications for clinical work and training.

The research and thinking done during this period are summarised in an article ‘Jung and Racism’ by Jane Johnson and Helen Morgan. The article (with 2018 revisions to take account of developing theory) is an introduction to the significant questions for Jungians in relation to the racism in Jung’s writing and to the way post-Jungians have thought about this. It also outlines developments in Jungian theory that contribute to understanding the phenomenon of racism.