Cohen, B: How Jung's Erotic Relationship with Three Ex-Patients led him to the Rosarium Drawings, his template for healing in psychoanalysis


Betsy Cohen


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Carl Jung’s Psychology of the Transference (CW 16, 1946) explains the foundational importance of the relationship between the analyst and patient. He offers eleven woodcuts from the 16th century alchemical Rosarium Philosophorum as his template for healing in analysis. He shares no personal reasons for choosing these drawings. My paper explores some personal reasons, particularly his own Eros.

In my research, (2015) studying the entirety of Jung’s 236 case examples, I discovered that in only eight does he discuss his relationship with his patient. Jung writes that the analyst and patient are symbolic of the archetypal King and Queen in the drawings. I address how Jung tends to separate the archetypal and personal psyches as either/or, rather than both/and.

Jung delineates symbolic stages of analysis, without describing the everyday struggles, the nitty gritty existential reality of a clinical encounter.

His personal erotic experiences with Sabina Spreilrein, Maria Moltzer, and Toni Wolff propelled Jung to flesh out an alchemical metaphor for Jungian psychoanalysis. I explore these three relationships to illustrate that Jung found the Eros, mutuality, unconsciousness, and container he was seeking for self-awareness and his own analysis. In “Marriage as a psychological relationship,” he justifies the need for this container in a marriage, as well as his need for someone outside the marriage.

Presenter Bio:

Betsy Cohen, LCSW, Ph.D., analyst member and faculty at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, is the author of The Snow White Syndrome: All about Envy (MacMillan, 1987). She was on 120 TV and radio shows, including Oprah! She’s also published in The Jung Journal on “The Intimate Self-Disclosure,” “Emmanuel Levinas and depth psychotherapy,” “Jung’s Answer to Jews,” “Dr. Jung and his patients,” “The Flexible Frame: holding the patient in mind” and “The Skinless Analyst: mutual transparency in psychoanalysis.” Her paper, “Tangled Up in Blue: A revision of complex theory,” is in Why and How We (still) Read Jung (J. Kirsch and M. Stein, Eds.), Routledge, 2013. Her current interest is exploring how ancient wisdom, particularly the erotic dialogues of Plato and the Song of Songs, could be incorporated into contemporary relational Jungian psychotherapy.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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