Samuels, A: The role of the good-enough all-rounder in Jungian studies: “clinic and academy” revisted


Andrew Samuels


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Despite people active in both clinic and academy, there continue to be tensions approximating to splits (in the psychoanalytic sense of the word, including mutual projections) between these two broad groupings. This has been marked since the foundation of the International Association for Jungian Studies in 2002. At the inaugural conference at Essex, Andrew keynoted on the theme of ‘clinic and academy’, and uses this celebratory occasion to return to it.

From the analysts, they say that (i) academics can’t really feel or suffer complex emotions because they suffer from precocious intellectual development (a point taken from Jung, and also from Winnicott, who both wrote about it. (ii) Many concepts developed in analytical psychology are clinical in nature, or can only be appreciated if one has clinical training and experience. And (iii) whether the academics like it or not, analysts have special deep knowledge, even Gnosis.

From the academics, we hear that (i) analysts can’t really think systematically or rationally. (ii) Analysts assert things rather than argue them through. (iii) They misuse transferential authority in both the treatment and training environments. And (iv) their main research tool - the case study - is badly flawed and not scientific.

Dictionaries and thesauruses are not kind to the all-rounder (or all-arounder). They are said to be ‘generalists’, ‘jacks of all trades and masters of none’, and so forth. They are vocationally eclectic, and are not much praised for it. We need, in the spirit of the human sciences, seriously to interrogate these networks of prejudices, mining the gold buried in the shit therein.

Why does it is still seem hard for intellectuals to feel they have been treated justly by admissions committees when applying for clinical training? Doesn’t analysis need creative and original thinkers? Why do we demand such high academic standards to enter clinical training? Don’t we see how this works against the creation of a diverse community, for people of color and those with low incomes are effectively excluded? On the other hand, isn’t it time to redefine what we mean by academic excellence and academic research, opening wider the doors of the university?

In plain language, Andrew is saying in his paper that some people are better at one thing and some are better at the other. This is how he sees the field of Jungian Studies at the moment. Those in it who are entirely devoted to academic research may be better at that than those who many of their days in a clinical office. And vice versa. Yet maybe we need people who are distinctly average in both clinic or academy. Via such humility, we will lose something – but may gain a lot.

The paper is composed in the full knowledge that the binary –clinic and academy – is simplistic. It may be offensive – though possibly useful and heuristic - to those who play in both arenas. Andrew argues that, internationally, there is a serious turf war bubbling under, and the prize is legitimacy – meaning things to do with power, authority and influence. Hence, the audience is asked to enter a space in which absurd, overblown, exaggerated generalizations may be explored. Let’s not forget Theodor Adorno’s apercu that ‘In psychoanalysis, nothing is true but the exaggerations’.

Presenter Bio:

Professor Andrew Samuels is the first recipient of the C. G. Jung Award of the International Association for Jungian Studies, which he co-found in 2002. He was described by the editor of American Imago as ‘perhaps the most celebrated of today’s Jungian analysts’. Andrew is a Training Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology, in private practice in London, and was Professor of Analytical Psychology at the University of Essex. He was Chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy and the founder of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility. Clinically, Andrew draws on a wide range of approaches to psyche, including post-Jungian, relational psychoanalytic and humanistic ideas. But he roots his work in citizens' lived experience, and in what can be learned from therapy work carried out with political awareness. While Andrew does not disguise his background in progressive and left-wing politics and his commitment to diversity and equality, he remains open-minded and celebrates many different takes on social and political issues.

His many books have been translated into 21 languages, including: Jung and the Post-Jungians (1985); A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis (1986); The Father (1986); Psychopathology (1989); The Plural Psyche (1989); The Political Psyche (1993); Politics on the Couch (2001); Persons, Passions, Psychotherapy, Politics (2014); Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and Reappraisals (edited with Del Loewenthal, 2014). His latest books are A New Therapy for Politics? (2015) and Analysis and Activism: Social and Political Contributions of Jungian Analysis (edited with Emilija Kiehl and Mark Saban, 2016). A number of his articles, lectures and videos are available on: www.andrewsamuels.com

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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