The Ecocritical Psyche: Literature, Evolutionary Complexity and Jung

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jan 5, 2015 12:09:00 PM

A guest post by Dr. Susan Rowland. The following is excerpted from The Ecocritical Psyche: Literature, Evolutionary Complexity and Jung


"A psychologist, C. G. Jung was acutely aware of the difficulty of writing about nature. To him, the unconscious is how non-human nature inhabits human beings. Unfortunately, the non-human and the unknown psyche are territories resistant to everyday language.

Here is an example of Jung's use of nature as a simile, a kind of metaphor using `like' or `as':

The moment one forms an idea of a thing. . . One has taken possession of it, and it has become an inalienable piece of property, like a slain creature of the wild that can no longer run away.
(Jung 1947/1954/1960, CW8: para. 356)

Jung is looking at the nature of the psyche and how it can be captured in writing. After all, to write about the psyche is to fall into a trap. Only the psyche itself, meaning all the properties of the human mind, conscious and unconscious, can reflect upon the psyche. There is no standpoint outside the psyche from which to view it with scientific detachment. If there is a nature of the psyche, it is one in which we are always enmeshed.

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Posted in: The Psyche, C.G. Jung, nature, Engaged Humanities