Sharing a scholarly paper comparing the psychology of James Hillman with that of his mentor, C.G. Jung, which touches on the Self, the Shadow, and Dreams among other topics. Do you agree with the author?

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  • I share the author's perspective having engaged the mentors who have continued developing the ideas of Jung and Analytical Psychology.  James Hillman is indeed one of these mentors, and provides insights to Jung's approach.  My perception is Hillman offers an approach that articulates the impact once the pioneer has discovered something, and the affect of the masses upon it through the years.  The masses have internalized the model of Self, and to some degree taming its power.

    Hillman experienced Jung in a therapeutic setting, and the proximity between them was minimal.  Jung being one who knows God through his journey of Individuation, and who had the courage to challenge the common view of his day.  The Western European civilized mind had repressed the primitive aspect of mind providing power in the personal and collective unconscious.  Surely this influenced their conversation, and shaped Hillman's view of Psychology.

    Personally I align with Jung, in that I've been raised in a Western World view influenced by two millenia of christian history.  I too had to question the social and personal value of religion.  I too need a God who provisions Soul as a bridge to understanding.  Hillman contributes to an approach that accepts that the image can be deduced to an explanation.  However, the explanation is incapable of restoring the image from itself.

    Hillman is challenging my world view to accept that Theology and Psychology are complimentary providing a "both/and proposition".  My current ambiguity rests in allowing Soul to be the container in which the archetypes exist.  Given their autonomous nature these archetypes present as poly (many) in nature. Thus, my tradition of monotheistic god in trinitarian form provide an angst where both have the freedom to coexist.

    I'm wondering if Soul and Self are synonymous, allowing that which is outside of my mind to be capable of apprehension.  Can my mind carry both views in a manner which allows for integration.  The power present in the image remains in the image.  My spirit can engage Soul to mature and use this power rather than abuse it.

    • From the last paragraph of your(4/24/16?) reply to Bonnie Bright’s post, “The Archetypal Psychology of James Hillman and the Integral Psychology of C.G. Jung: Comparisons and Contrasts”. “I'm wondering if Soul and Self are synonymous…”


      Are Soul and Spirit synonymous? MY short answer is, “No”.  Below find a few of the many words on soul, spirit, self, and psyche, by those quoted. I won’t include the notion of “image” (aka “archetypal image”), which is essential not only to Hillman’s ideas on the question, but to his whole view point. 

      People looking into the question from different points of view, will see different answers and even different questions. And will also see problems with the answers of others whose points of view (world-views?) are not alignment with their own. I think part of our cultural myth and cultural unconsciousness, is that we are quite open to entertaining ideas which are not in alignment with our own, even though we so often see them as “wrong”. The quotes below are for the most part, not in any particular order, but are in the order that I found them in my notes.



      From Sharp’s book Jung Lexicon - “Self”

      “Experiences of the self possess a numinosity characteristic of religious revelations. Hence Jung believed there was no essential difference between the self as an experiential, psychological reality and the traditional concept of a supreme deity.” Sharp

      “It might equally be called the "God within us."”[Jung, "The Mana-Personality," CW 7, par. 399.


      James Hillman:

      “Peaks and Vales: The Soul/Spirit Distinction as Basis for the Differences between Psychotherapy and Spiritual Discipline”

      Long ago and far away..., there took place in Byzantium, in the city of Constantinople, in the year 869, a Council of the Principals of the Holy Catholic Church, and because of their session then and another one of their sessions a hundred years prior (Nicaea, 787)[Ni-see-ah], we are all in this room tonight. 

      Because at that Council in Constantinople the soul lost its dominion. [“a domain, a territory”. Quote from The New Shorter OED]  Our anthropology, our idea of human nature, devolved from a tripartite cosmos of spirit, soul, and body (or matter), to a dualism of spirit (or mind) and body (or matter). And this because at that other Council, the one in Nicaea in 787, images were deprived of their inherent authenticity. 

      We are in this room this evening because we are moderns in search of a soul, as Jung once put it. We are still in search of reconstituting that third place, that intermediate realm of psyche—from which we were exiled by theological, spiritual men more than a thousand years ago: long before Descartes and the dichotomies attributed to him, long before the Enlightenment and modern positivism and scientism. These ancient historical events are responsible for the malnourished root of our psychological culture and of the culture of each of our souls. 

      What the Constantinople Council did to soul only culminated a long process beginning with Paul, the Saint, of substituting and disguising, and forever after confusing, soul with spirit.”

      [JH, “Peaks & Vales”, from Hillman’s  book Puer Papers, p.54]

      “In the 10th session, 11th Canon, of the Church Council of 869, man was officially dichotomized into a material and an immaterial duality. The immaterial part merged soul with spirit. An essential distinction was lost. The elimination of soul had already been prepared in the Council of 787 (see above) with the taming of images. The lesson is clear; history recapitulates in psychology. Once the image is deprived of its autonomy and power, there is no longer experiential evidence for the ‘soul’ which then declines, without the image, into a mere (theological) concept without necessity.”

      [Hillman, Healing Fiction, p.141, footnote #62]


      In the main entry of “Soul” in Wikipedia

      A soul, in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object.[1] Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls; some attribute souls to all living things and even to inanimate objects (such as rivers); this belief is commonly called animism.[2] Soul sometimes functions as a synonym for spirit, mind or self.[3]



      Although the terms soul and spirit are sometimes used interchangeably, soul may denote a more worldly and less transcendent aspect of a person.[5] According to psychologist James Hillman, soul has an affinity for negative thoughts and images, whereas spirit seeks to rise above the entanglements of life and death.[6] The words soul and psyche can also be treated synonymously, although psyche has more physical connotations, whereas soul is connected more closely to spirituality and religion.[7]


      Of Hillman's use of the term "soul," Thomas Moore writes:

      "Hillman likes the word for a number of reasons. It eludes reductionistic definition: it expresses the mystery of human life; and it connects psychology to religion, love, death, and destiny. It suggests depth, and Hillman sees himself directly in the line of depth psychology, going all the way back to Heraclitus, who observed that one could never discover the extent of the soul, no matter how many paths one traveled, so profound in its nature. Whenever Hillman uses the forms [terms,  JC] psychology, psychologizing, and psychological, he intends a reference to depth and mystery."

      For Hillman, "soul" is about multiplicity and ambiguity, and about being polytheistic; it belongs to the night-world of dreams where the lines across the phenomenal field are not so clearly drawn. Soul pathologizes: "it gets us into trouble," as Moore writes, "it interferes with the smooth running of life, it obstructs attempts to understand, and it seems to make relationships impossible." While spirit seeks unity and harmony, soul is in the vales, the depths.

      In his magnum opus, Re-Visioning Psychology, Hillman writes of "soul":

      "By soul I mean, first of all, a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing itself. This perspective is reflective; it mediates events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment -- and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground.

      It is as if consciousness rests upon a self-sustaining and imagining substrate -- an inner place or deeper person or ongoing presence -- that is simply there even when all our subjectivity, ego, and consciousness go into eclipse. Soul appears as a factor independent of the events in which we are immersed. Though I cannot identify soul with anything else, I also can never grasp it apart from other things, perhaps because it is like a reflection in a flowing mirror, or like the moon which mediates only borrowed light. But just this peculiar and paradoxical intervening variable gives on the sense of having or being soul. However intangible and indefinable it is, soul carries highest importance in hierarchies
      of human values, frequently being identified with the principle of life and even of divinity.

      In another attempt upon the idea of soul I suggest that the word refers to that unknown component which makes meaning possible, turns events into experiences, is communicated in love, and has a religious concern. These four qualifications I had already put forth some years ago. I had begun to use the term freely, usually interchangeably with psyche (from Greek) and anima (from Latin). Now I am adding three necessary modifications. First, soul refers to the deepening of events into experiences; second, the significance of [which?] soul makes possible, whether in love or in religious concern, derives from its special relation with death. And third, by soul I mean the imaginative possibility in our natures, the experiencing through reflective speculation, dream, image, fantasy -- that mode which recognizes all realities as primarily symbolic or metaphorical.”



      “The soul is a deliberately ambiguous concept…  in the same manner as all ultimate symbols which provide the root metaphors for the systems of human thought. ‘Matter’ and ‘nature” and ‘energy’ have ultimately the same ambiguity; so too have ‘life,’ ‘health.’ ” 

      [Hillman, Suicide and the Soul, p47. and The Myth of Analysis, p23]


      Jung: “I have been compelled, in my investigations into the structure of the unconscious, to make a conceptual distinction between soul and psyche. By psyche, I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious. By soul, on the other hand, I understand a clearly demarcated functional complex that can best be described as a "personality".” 

      (Jung, 1971: Def. 48 par. 797) [Also in Wikipedia]

      Where Jung differentiates a sharp distinction between soul and psyche (see Wikipedia), for Hillman and archetypal psychology, “psyche”, “soul”, and “image” (and “anima mundi aka the soul of the world, soul in the world, the ensouled world) are often used as equivalents. JC


      “For me, the psyche is an almost infinite phenomenon. I absolutely don’t know what it is in itself and know only very vaguely what it is not.” 

      [Jung, Letters, vol. 2, p.69]

      “Here it would be well to define “soul,” but I cannot, nor can anyone define it adequately.” 

      [Hillman, “On Psychological Creativity”, The Myth Of Analysis, page 22 para. 4]


      “Especially–this Neoplatonic tradition is thoroughly Western even if it is not empirical in method, rationalistic in conception, or otherworldly spiritual in appeal. This tradition holds to the notion of soul as a first principal, placing this soul as a tertium between the perspectives of body (matter, nature, and empirics) and of mind (spirit, logic, idea). Soul as tertium, the perspective between others and from which others may be viewed, has been described as Hermetic consciousness (Lopez-Pedraza 1977), as esse in anima (Jung [1921] CW 6, para. 66, 77), as the position of the mundus imaginalis by Corbin, and by Neoplatonic writers on the intermediaries or figures of the metaxy. Body, soul, spirit: this tripartite anthropology further separates archetypal psychology from the usual Western dualistic division, whose history goes back before Descartes to at least the ninth century (869: Eighth General Council at Constantinople), occurring also in the mediaeval ascension of Averroes’s Aristotelianism over Avicenna’s Platonism. Consequences of this dualistic division are still being felt in that the psyche has become indistinguishable from bodily life, on the one hand, or from the life of the spirit on the other. In the dualistic tradition, psyche never had its own logos. There could be no true psychology. A first methodologically consistent attempt to articulate one in a philosophical style belongs also within the parameters of archetypal psychology (Christou 1963).” 

      Hillman, Archetypal Psychology, UEJH V.1, 2013 ed., p.15-16.  ___, ibid, 2004 ed., p16-17.


      Psyche has come more and more to be used in an Aristotelian sense, as a set of objective functions bound to the biological life of the body. It can be described rationally and presented in textbooks of psychology. Soul, however, evokes a sense of privacy and inwardness.[JC, 10/21/15. By “inwardness” here, I see him meaning the inherent depth in any and all experience or being.] It reminds of religion, love, and death – though at the same time it is immediately given in the animated, personified relation with the world. I generally use psyche and soul interchangeably, trying to restore to psyche (and psychology) its ancient sense akin to soul and anima, [cf Suicide.., pp.43-47. And in essays on “Anima” in Spring 1973 & 1974. And RP, pp x-xi passim.] Despite this attention to the roots of the word psyche and its vicissitudes in signification, we cannot get to “what soul really means” by any means whatsoever – semantic, theological, etymological, anthropological. The word was and is symbolic, an image that cannot be grasped in its depth, as Heraclitus said. Psyche (or soul) is the subject of our experience, that which experiences, as Jung said, and is not an object of experience able to be defined. This ‘unknowable’ sense evokes that other prime unknowable, death.

      [JH, The Dream and the Underworld, endnotes beginning with the last paragraph (partial), p.212 — 213]

      “For Jung, binary oppositions were prominent and the theme of his last major work, Mysterium Coniunctionis, in which the tension of opposites animates the individuation process, the aim and intention of which seems to be the constellation of a larger center of personality capable of embracing divergences of the Soul. Jung calls this larger structure the Self. It is as if this Self has a purpose that exceeds our competing desires, and/or opposes or complements varying desires which can be glimpsed only from a perspective not totally identified with the ego or any other complex. One may then begin to differentiate the desire of the ego from the desire of other figures of psyche and from what Jung ultimately felt was the larger architect of the Soul.”

      [Stanton Marlan, Fire in the Stone: The Alchemy of Desire, p.8 “Inquiry into the Alchemy of Soul-making” “Look Inside”]


      The idea of self has to be redefined. Therapy’s definition comes from the Protestant and Oriental tradition: self is the interiorization of the invisible God beyond. The inner divine. Even if this inner divine is disguised as a self-steering, autonomous, homeostatic, balancing mechanism; or even if the divine is disguised as the integrating deeper intention of the whole personality, it’s still a transcendent notion, with theological implications if not roots. I would rather define self as the interiorization of community. And if you make that little move, then you’re going to feel very different about things. If the self were defined as the interiorization of community, then the boundaries between me and another would be much less sure. I would be with myself when I am with others. I would not be with myself when I’m walking alone or meditating or in my room imagining or working on my dreams. In fact, I would be estranged from myself.

      And “others” would not include just other people, because community, as I see it, is something more ecological, or at least animistic. A psychic field. And if I’m not in a psychic field with others–with people, buildings, animals, trees–I am not.

      So it wouldn’t be, “I am because I think.” (Cognito ergo sum, as Descartes said.) It would be, as somebody said to me the other night, “I am because I party.” Convivo ergo sum.”

      [Hillman, We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy And the World’s Getting Worse, p 40]

      Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

      “… Whatever its cause, the authors conclude, alienation is certainly exacerbated by therapy's definition of the self, drawn from the Protestant and Oriental traditions, as "the interiorization of god . . . the inner divine." Hillman contends that the self can be defined more accurately as "the interiorization of community." "And if you make that little move," he writes, "then the boundaries between me and another would be much less sure . . . . So it wouldn't be, 'I am because I think.' (Cogito ergo sum, as Descartes said.) It would be, as somebody said to me the other night, 'I am because I party.' Convivo ergo sum .”

      [Book Review: “When the Cure Becomes the Problem : WE'VE HAD ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY: And the World's Getting Worse, by James Hillman and Michael Ventura”, 5/31/15, LA Times]

      Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. His most recent book is "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.”

      The differences between  “self” and “soul” compare with the distinctions we made in part one between spiritual and psychological creativity. The former moves toward transcendence and abstraction; the latter, psychological, requires involvement. Page 207 paragraph 2

      ... The soul’s confusions and pains need words which mirror these conditions through imagination. Adequate descriptions of the soul’s states will depend less upon the right definition than upon accurate transmission of style.”  

      [Hillman, The Myth of Analysis, page 208, Paragraph 1]

      Mythos & Logos
      Dedicated to the promotion of existential-phenomenological literature, philosophy, and psychology, as well as psychoanalytic theory, perennial philos…
      • Hi Joe,

        Thank you for the feast.

        My current circumstance is standing in the ambiguity, allowing the concoction to dissolve and form a new creation.  This process is the Soul's perogative, and the gods say, "Hold on thight".  Some of the quotes reminded me of my readings in the past, while others added to the process.

        Until next time,


        • Polytheism and Monotheism,

          Jung being the son of a minister, had in his experience found it necessary to assimilate the God concept his father ignored.  I could be projecting into his conclusion based upon my experience, however it seems to me he reconciled the Mono & Poly dilemma.

          James Hillman has introduced me to the premise that as a human my Soul is polytheistic by nature.  I've been working to assimialte these concepts that initially present as incompatible.  The ability to assimilate rather than compartmentalize the concepts.

          I find the psychological space available just between sleep and awake provides my mind the opportunity to allow the concept, image, and power to resonate.  The presence of both sides that on the surface appear unreconcilable.  The ability to dance rather than do battle, to reconcile rather than remain conflicted, and to allow my journey the opportunity to go just a little deeper.

          I'm convinced this is the tactic to allow the gods to reside in their common abode.  Neither needs to anhilate the other, but discover ways to operate in harmony.  The monotheistic and polytheistic are presenting as powerful forces, and left irreconciled can create great discord.  

  • Speaking of dropping into a void: It could also be called "slipping away". I am an engineer and as such don't know much about the number of mental patients who claim to be Napoleon. Hillman's approach is perhaps too overwhelming and intense. For instance, Castaneda's followers haven't returned from the void. It might be just my interpretation, but Hillman's approach is in a way similar to Zen Buddhism outcome-wise but with a totally opposite method: Zen monks choose to eliminate or overcome images rather than accept them. For instance, there is a koan (a question necessary to "answer" on a way to satori) "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" When you "hear" that hand, when you become (Shape-shift like shamans?) a hand clapping with itself, you are in a strange space (an intense awareness of the present moment and its flow) where a realm without images and a realm saturated with images are more similar than they should be.
  • So reading Johnston on HIllman and Jung, I am appreciative of his contrasting the differences between the two with such a clear line...I'm not sure that I agree however that Hillman's lack of an all cohesive Self as such necessarily means dropping into a void archetypally;instead my sense is that Hillman suggests the phenomenon of Self is not so much a psychic entity as an experience of multiplicity.

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