I will be presenting a paper entitled "Is There Room for Ruthlessness in Analysis?" at the spring meeting of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts in Boulder, CO on April 14th.
The paper is a meditation on the experience of ruthlessness in analysis. Much has been written on the analyst’s experience of the ruthlessness that emerges from the patient’s psyche but little about ruthlessness as a quality possessed by the analyst or reflected in the analyst’s activity.
Often it seems it is the passive-receptive-holding-maternal-containing-unknowing attitudes and activities which are valued and emphasized in our training, literature, and clinical dialogues. In today’s analytic world, might there not be a need for a reclaiming of the active-penetrating-paternal-phallic-disruptive-discriminating aspects of analysis? While most experienced analysts will endorse the importance of allowing the negative transference reaction to become embodied in an analysis, I wonder if we offer our analytic candidates sufficent guidance about how that might be engaged and survived. Has the Weltanschauung of Analytical Psychology, in regards to the analyst’s activity, become one-sided? Has a tension of opposites been lost in terms of our analytic stance, perhaps like the tension was lost when Freud and Jung parted ways nearly 100 years ago? It seems that ruthlessness, when it is acknowledged as an analytic quality, at best, is treated as an unwelcome dinner guest – sometimes tolerated but not valued or respected. My experiences have led me to the conclusion that a capacity for ruthlessness should occupy a space in our analytic sensibilities much like the capacity for patience, curiosity, awe, complexity, empathy, and openness to psychic reality.
The idea of analytic ruthlessness is examined via Jung's concept of the tension of opposites and a re-consideration of the concept of analytic authority. My paper will outline a theoretical, clinical, and archetypal rationale for embracing ruthlessness as a necessary and essential analytic quality, without which certain aspects of analytic experience would be left untouched and therefore unavailable for transformation.