PLEASE NOTE: In order to survive in our niche market, we are obliged to raise prices on some titles, effective January 1, 2013. So now is the time to order at current prices! Thank you, we love our readers and their feedback.
Review by Roy MacSkimming
of The Survival Papers: Anatomy of a
Midlife Crisis (title 35; $25), and
Dear Gladys: The Survival Papers, Book 2 (title 37; $25) by Daryl Sharp, in
The Toronto Star, August 1989.
To discover what Jung was driving at, we can
plough through all 20 volumes of the Princeton University Press edition of his
collected works—a heavy trip indeed—or we can read The Survival Papers.
In these two short but extraordinarily pithy
volumes, Daryl Sharp has fashioned an introduction to Jung's thought that is
infinitely fresher and more readable than a conventional beginner's guide.
brings Jung's ideas into limpid and meaningful focus by showing them at work in
the successful treatment of a specific midlife crisis. The patient: a fictionalized
but fairly typical guy called Norman, who arrives one day in Sharp's consulting
room so distraught he immediately spills tea on his pants.
is married to Nancy. Norman sincerely believes he and Nancy have a good marriage,
a solid middle-class family life. He can't conceive of existence without her
and the kids. So why is he falling part—"on his knees," as Sharp puts
encouraging thing about Norman's dilemma is that he's asking that very
question. According to The Survival
Papers, hitting a midlife crisis is as normal as apple pie and potentially
a lot healthier, for it provides the stimulus to find meaning in what would
otherwise be pointless suffering.
And surviving the crisis is a matter of asking the right questions.
Norman is stuck in a serious conflict
between his illusions and his reality. He loves Nancy, idealizes their romantic
past. Yet in the here and now, she's cold and dismissive toward him, while
keeping him on the hook emotionally. She babies him and has a lover on the
side. Norman has lovers too, mostly on his sales trips away from home, but they
mean little compared to his obsession with what Nancy thinks and feels about
him. He lets her define his worth, submitting helplessly to the rewards and
punishments she metes out. No wonder he's miserable.
tempting to dismiss Norman as a spineless yuppie wimp, not worthy of a walk-on
in thirtysomething. But Sharp won't let
us get away with such condescension. Even Norman is capable of growing up. With the aid of his dreams, those messengers
from the unconscious, he can get beyond his persona, meet his anima, shake
hands with his shadow, withdraw his projections, do battle with his mother
complex and accomplish all the other tasks on the hero's journey. Poor old
Norman, after all, is Everyman.
Sometimes, though, we fear he won't pull through. The highs and lows of Norman's
journey toward individuation are the stuff of drama, his territorial gains and
retreats on the battlefield of self-knowledge a form of trench
warfare against an invisible and cunning
wears his learning lightly and with self-deprecating humor. To illustrate the
personality type that Jung called intuitive, for instance, and simultaneously
to show the difference between introversion and extraversion, Sharp gives us this description
of his friend Arnold:
“Arnold is always coming up with something
new. The Arnolds of this world, if introverted, build better mousetraps. As
extraverts, they sell them to cats."
In following Norman’s process, Sharp
succeeds marvelously in doing something few of his psychoanalytic colleagues
would care or dare to: demystifying the profession. He readily admits he
doesn't have all the answers for Norman and only serves as a guide in
suggesting where to look for them. By acknowledging his own humanity—frankly
identifying with Norman's traumas, because he's been there too—Sharp undercuts
the awe in which people hold their therapists.
On Divination and
by Mary Williams of On Divination and
Synchronicity: The Psychology
of Meaningful Chance,by Marie-Louise von Franz
(title 3; $25), in The Journal of
Analytical Psychology, Fall 2001.
this series of lectures the author calls on ancient divination practices of
primitives, on the use of oracles in ancient Greece and elsewhere, but
particularly on Chinese thinking, to show how modem mathematics and quantum
physics have sophisticated such ideas, and, of course, Jung with his theory of
her interest in numerology, von Franz shows how most methods of divination
depend on the archetypal nature of the natural integers. She discusses the
patterns made with them, as in geomancy, astrology, the I Ching, etc., and the appropriate
time which isolates the living moment in which the apparent miracle occurs,
that is, when an outside event coincides with the inner meaning.
Attention is also given to
divinatory techniques which do not depend on number as, for instance, throwing
bones or entrails on the ground and reading tea leaves. I agree
author's experience that such chaotic patterns are catalysts to help crystallize what the person
already knows intuitively.
reader is then introduced to the collective unconscious as a field of force in
which the archetypes are the excited points in it. The network of relationships
between archetypes points to the meaningful connections between them. The order of
revelation in time is also crucial, and may account for precognitive experiences. The unconscious
mind knows which archetype is constellated, and the outcome.
This short book has a big range,
its scholarship mediated by its clarity of style and
the progression of the lectures. A fine introduction to the subject, as we would expect from this author.