As most of us know, our world and all of its species hangs by a thread with the threat of annihilation. Jung saw this, felt this, knew this and addresses the reality from the depths of the psyche throughout his writing. It is the seminal foundation of Jung's work with alchemy, as he illuminates the depths of the transmutations needed and possible for new consciousness to emerge.  

Namely the film, as a collective dream, brilliantly portrays many levels of the alchemical transmutations our world direly needs for survival:

1.  The sick context of our non-cohesive world today with each country's defense structures (literally and psychologically) aimed at each other and ready to respond independently to the threat of "the other" with mass chaotic destruction and violence; 

2.  This world reality is brought to a head as potential contact with "the great other," with the numinous, emerges full of danger and  possibility; (In the film this is portrayed as contact with unknown "Heptapod" aliens, reminiscent of Jung's deep psychological interest in UFO phenomenon.)  The film also portrays:

3.  The stretch into the unknown, the grace we feel as danger transforms (in the hands of our heroine and the alien other) into discovery of a new mutual communion where human consciousness expands and transforms;

4.  Between the bound in time and the eternal, the transcendent function  transforms ordinary consciousness beyond time space coordinates, (first depicted as the sentence structure in the linear conception of consciousness, and transforms in the heroine's hands, into the circle of past-present-future in the now as perspectives mutually informing one another other);

5.  A universal language of the heart  emerges (no longer the Tower of Babel mythic problem) and unites all beings in this new potential that brings the ability to navigate the warring of opposites differently from these changes in consciousness at the INDIVIDUAL and COLLECTIVE levels. 

6. The stretch of the transcendent bridge between ordinary human consciousness and " the great other" creates a transmutation our world direly needs. 

The potential outcome living as a possibility in the field of the imagination is writ large across the screen and into our psyches as we take it in.

Importantly the "other" here is pictured as heptapod aliens/ UFO phenomenon, yet is also relatedly known in various traditions that connect with the psychoidal mysteries as the primordial Divine Anthropos, the Ally,  Khidr, Atman Cadmus, and so on...    

In contact with this "other," human consciousness grows the capacity to become more fully human and to transcend political cultural identifications and both psychological and literal war/weapon defense strategies.

What emerges is the gift of transcendent communion with resonant new unity intra-psychically and intersubjectively among humans and the "other" in a subtle body permeating field whose language is love. 

As the genius of this film and our own dreams intimate, hands from "both worlds" are currently working on these possibilities.

Monika Wikman holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Analytical Psychology {the degree of a Jungian analyst} from the Research and Training Center for Depth Psychology According to C.G. Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz in Zürich, Switzerland. You can listen to her interview in Episode 24.

The Wounded Healer

Quotes from Jungian analyst and future guest Andrew Samuels on the BBC Radio 4 show In Our Time from Dec. 2, 2004.


AS: Let's imagine what you'd get if you went to see Jung. You'd certainly get somebody who knew he was a wounded healer. His ambitiousness, he knew about that. His crazy childhood, he knew about that. And I think he fashioned a really radical version of the therapy relationship out of these wounds. It was a much more equal relationship than the one that Freud established with his patients. It involved much more of a recognition that, in Jung's words, the doctor is in the treatment just as much as the patient is in the treatment. He said if anything positive happens in therapy it's because of the personality of the therapist not the techniques and theories. And modern therapists resonate with that. You heal because of who you are more than what you know and what you've been taught.

Your whole psychological life would be treated by Jung, responded to by Jung, very differently from the way Freud did. There's no on-high technical application of knowledge. There's no reading of the unconscious as a kind of bag of dirty tricks. And I mean dirty as in sexual repression, nasty, aggressive, destructive stuff. The unconscious is those things for Jung but it's also much more positive – a creative source that helps you live your life to its fullest extent possible. Your dreams are not attempts by your unconscious to deceive you. You can read your dreams much more easily in the Jungian vein than in the Freudian vein. If you dream about a king Freud might say, who is this king? If you dream about a king, for Jung he's going to say, which are the ruling or governing parts of your personality, where does your kingship reside? There's not an attempt to turn the images and symbols of the dream into something else.


AS: The idea of individuation is completely different from the idea of mental health or maturity. It is simply becoming yourself – different from other people, but never out of relationship with them. People often read Jung on individuation as saying you just have to become yourself. He doesn't say that. He says you have to become yourself in order to enter fully into relationships with other people. ...

There's a certain 'intelligence' in the unconscious from a Jungian perspective. You know what you need to do in life. The problem is there's a metaphorical wall or curtain between you and your knowledge of what you need to do in life. Therapy attempts to lift that. So, the solution is not found in the interpretations – based on knowledge – of the therapist or analyst. The solution is found within the subject, within the individual, who knew it all along, didn't know that they knew it, and can be helped to see that they do know it.

Q: And that is individuation?

AS: I think so, yes.

Q: How is it different from Freud's view of maturity then?

AS: Well, Freud said maturity, like normality, were ideal fictions. And in a sense individuation is also an ideal fiction. We don't really talk about individuation anymore. We talk about individuating or the individuation processes or something like that. You can be quite mad and quite outside the social norms – quite a disreputable or idiosyncratic person – and be said to be individuating. It is very different from a kind of normative moralistic approach which I think is implicit in Freudian psychoanalysis – there's a right way to do sex, there's a right way to be aggressive, there's a right way to relate to people, and so on. That is missing in Jung's notion of individuation.

You can listen to the full interview here.

We will record an episode with Andrew Samuels in October 2016.

Transcribed by Laura London

Lara Newton

Lara Newton at the front door of the Psychology Club Zürich.


1.  Remember when I said something about candidates working with a tutor on a paper, and the tutor helps the candidate to recognize their own complexes in relating to the material, etc.? Actually this kind of learning is huge in Jungian training. The candidates are often being shown by the analyst(s) how their complexes might get between themselves and their understanding of or recognition of the "other" (which will eventually be the analysand).

Over and over again in Jungian training, the analysts are helping the candidates to look at their own psychological experience of the "academic" material, of each other, and of the training analysts. We as candidates basically work out our complexes and complexed reactions to psychological circumstances and psychological material for years, during our training, so that once we have graduated as Jungian analysts we are able to recognize our own complexes at the very early stages of their activation. We also are able to recognize the alchemical gold or treasure within the complex, and thus use that recognition in our work as analysts. The complexes of our analysands and their transformation are the focus, and our own complexes need to not get in the way.

There is no academic program anywhere that offers what Jungian training offers. It would be impossible.

2.  In CW vol. 14, Mysterium Coniunctionis, paragraph 359 is where Jung actually remarks that water "kills and vivifies." My bad, I said "drowns."

3.  When speaking of the brother-sister relationship, I referred to a quote from Jung that I said I was paraphrasing (or at least I said that I knew I wasn't quoting it verbatim). Here it is, from CW vol. 12, Psychology and Alchemy: in paragraph 436, Jung says, "The brother-sister pair stands allegorically for the whole conception of opposites."

4.   In Deirdre of the Sorrows, Lara writes: "the story is also a tragic romance. Such romances always carry a deep significance for the people who hear them. Love that is fated to occur, no matter what obstacles stand in its way, and that is equally fated to end tragically, speaks to us of a psychological necessity. We must look closely at the nature of the lovers, what brings them together, and what tears them apart, in order to understand that necessity." ~L.L.

5.  Toni Wolff's essay, Structural Forms of the Feminine Psyche, discusses four feminine "types":  mother, hetaira, amazon, and the medial woman. I would say that Deirdre embodies the hetaira and the medial woman.

6.  Maria Prophetissa is sometimes referred to as the Mother of Alchemy because she is the first known female alchemist, and she is referred to with deep reverence by such alchemical greats as Zosimos of Panopolis. He also called her the Sister of Moses. These are considered to be metaphorical names, placing her in a position of profound authority where the Great Work is concerned. We don't know when she lived, but it is considered to have been one or two generations prior to the time when Zosimos lived (he was the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century A.D.). Some of this information can be found in The Jewish Alchemists by Raphael Patai.

UPDATE: JUNE 25, 2016

7.  You had asked me if people could have a brother or sister complex even if they didn't have a brother or sister. I answered with information about this experience being archetypal, but there is another more experiential answer I'd like to add. Often girls or boys during early adolescence will experience a different kind of relationship with someone of the opposite sex. They may call it "platonic," or they may say they "can talk to him/her about anything." Sometimes they even say, "he's like a brother – the brother I never had." The brother-sister archetype has been awakened and a complex will form. The energy is waiting in the unconscious to be activated, as all archetypal energy is. 

8.  When talking about Deirdre, I spoke of one part of the myth but didn't remember it fully. It is the scene when Deirdre has not yet met Noise (her true love), and she sees her foster father slaughter an animal. Here is the correct sequence: she sees the animal's blood on the snow, and a Raven flies down to drink the blood. She says, "I could love a man with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as the Raven." Her foster mother then says, "the warrior Noise is such a one." And Deirdre said she would not rest until she saw him.

Listen to Lara's interview in Episode #19

An Opportunistic Infection

by Robert Magrisso, M.D.

The Republican Party has been a sick, dysfunctional body for a long time. Denying reality and living within a narrative of its own creation, it cannot really participate in national governance and it cannot recognize its own illness. Donald Trump is the opportunistic infection that comes in the terminal phase. A weak bacterium that normally lives innocuously in the colon suddenly becomes a pathogen when the body is so weakened. It is political sepsis we are witnessing. I hope we have the strength as a nation to resist but it will require some painful soul searching on the parts of many who seem to have lost their souls.

Every physician knows that when the body is weakened by disease, very often the final, terminal illness is an opportunistic infection. The immune system, which protects against the myriad of bacteria, viruses and fungi to which we are routinely exposed, but can easily fight off, is so weak, that otherwise innocuous bacteria becomes potentially lethal.  In the 1970s when I was doing my internal medicine residency, one rotation was at a VA Hospital.  The veterans who had started smoking during World War II had so much lung cancer that there was one ward just for lung cancer patients.  It was always full and there would be deaths daily. As trainees, we routinely did so called “fever work ups” on patients with a fever.  This included blood cultures, which were looking for bacteria in the blood stream.  Almost everyone who died of lung cancer, had positive blood cultures terminally.  They technically died of sepsis due to pneumonia rather than the lung cancer itself.

I bring this up because Donald Trump has seemed to me to be an opportunistic infection, infecting the Republican Party and, by extension, our entire body politic.  The Republican Party has been ill for a long time.  One could date the nomination of Sarah Palin for Vice President of the United States as one clearly visible sign.  Her incredible unqualifiedness, born out by subsequent history, was like seeing visible skin rash reflecting deeper pathology.  President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney may go down as the worst executive pairing in modern history.  The Tea Party wing of the party is reactionary in the extreme, having no ideas to meet the challenges of the 21st century, interconnected world in which we live but simply reacts against anything the Democrats support.  Ungrounded in basic facts, lost in narrative of their own creation, they have nothing constructive to offer any thinking person.  The business wing seems only interested in preserving and extending its power and using that power to keep intact or extend its share of the pie.  The disconnect between what the party says, its rhetoric and its actions is so great as to make one seriously wonder if mental illness diagnoses apply.  At some point, the people who voted Republican were going to realize this and they weren’t going to move to the Democratic Party. 

So we have a weakened party.  We have a dysfunctional government due to this weakened party.  There is no sound leadership in the party.  The nominees for President did not, in my opinion, include a single qualified person.  This is the weakened political body, a body susceptible to an opportunistic pathogen.  Donald Trump is someone who never in the past would be taken seriously as a presidential nominee.  He is like the bacteria in your colon.  They have a place, a necessary place in the scheme of things but not in government.  He is a self promoting businessman of questionable success, an entertainer, an insult artist, a narcissistic joke actually.  But now, he is dangerous to the weakened political body and he can’t be stopped.  Taking his script from the demagogue playbook, he has preyed upon the fears, distrust, betrayals of people.  When I read how the Republican leaders have tried and failed to stop him, I can’t help but think that they have been the disease that has weakened the body.  Even if one is a “liberal” or Democrat, one needs a strong, relevant Republican Party.  A party who has serious ideas, who really cares about the people of this country, who is aware that the world has changed and is not trying to turn back time with different ideas than the Democrats would be great. 

Hopefully, the American people as a whole are a healthy enough “body” that can destroy this pathogen and new health can be restored.  However, how many other nations have had demagogues take power when their political body was sick?  Just as having an opportunist terminal infection is the oldest way to die (think of the time before antibiotics), getting a demagogue to take over is the oldest political solution of a diseased body politic.

Robert Magrisso, MD

This paper was referenced by Dr. Tom Lavin in Episode #17

Special thanks to Dr. Magrisso for allowing publication of his paper on this website.