A Primer on C. G. Jung’s Writings and Perspectives on Sexual Concerns and their Treatment
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A Primer on C. G. Jung’s Writings and Perspectives on Sexual Concerns and their Treatment

(These statements are paraphrased directly from Jung's writings on analysis, sex, and sexuality.)

On Human Instincts:

  • One encounters sexuality everywhere; thus in anything one is involved, their sexuality will appear too
  • No instinct rivals the spirit as strongly as the sexual instinct
  • Essential to give instincts their rightful place
  • Pressures to conform or deny natural instincts creates psychological splits between inner needs versus outer demands
  • Natural sexual instincts are reduced to widespread denial and repression
  • Psyche is formidable, hostile, and can even thwart one’s will; sexual instinct is often beyond human ability to expressly control or direct
  • Some psychic contents have an autonomous nature

On the Nature of Complexes:

  • Fear of complexes is a deeply-rooted prejudice; complexes are normal and basic parts of the psyche
  • Complexes are signposts to the unconscious
  • The erotic complex is omnipresent in the psyche, acausal, and paradoxical in nature
  • An erotic complex can dominate at the expense of other psychic material, then everything becomes sexualized and geared toward the sexual purpose
  • Every important affective event becomes a complex
  • The strongest feelings and symptoms are connected with the most powerful complexes
  • Denial of instincts and complexes increases power of the unconscious
  • Complexes and struggles manifest in places where one is most weak or less developed 
  • The presence of an erotic complex is certain even if denied by the patient
  • Must expect powerful emotions and difficulties to congregate around sex because it is where adaptation is least complete and where one faces the most challenges to natural expression

On Individuation:

  • Individuation and a new level of consciousness are possible through integration of the erotic complexes
  • Goal of wholeness is achieved through the union of conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche
  • Struggle in reaching wholeness is rooted in the conflict between instinctual nature and civilization
  • Must work out the problems of our moral aspects or risk repression

On Cultural Issues:

  • Cultural pressures are to blame for making struggles with sex difficult and universal 
  • Best opportunity for society is for each person to be in possession of one’s own personality
  • Culture must unburden itself from the erotic shame and guilt carried from previous centuries
  • Jung’s own contradictory statements demonstrate the challenges of overcoming cultural and moral biases, which are mostly unconscious

On Sexual Phenomena:

  • Essential to penetrate the deeper layers of the psyche common to all humans
  • Sexual struggles are deep driving forces that seek expression
  • How things are expressed by the psyche are not as important as what needs to be expressed
  • Repellent things belong to the psyche and are natural
  • Must place greater value on the roots of psychological problems than on surface expressions of symptoms
  • Psyche is purposive and directed
  • Should always search for the meaning of psychological phenomena
  • Disregarding psychological phenomena creates consequences, such as a split personality or loss of consciousness
  • Psyche communicates through powerful experiences, images, and symptoms
  • Sexual phenomena have multiple layers and meanings beyond universal or simple explanations
  • Psyche cannot be defined by categories or labels
  • The conscious psyche is always the smaller circle within the greater circle of the unconscious

On Spiritual Dimensions:

  • Spirituality and sexuality cannot be excluded from each other 
  • Sexuality is a creative power equal to the spirit
  • Grave consequences for ignoring the spiritual side of sex; one becomes unconsciously driven by instinct and it hinders individuation and development
  • Sexuality has numinous aspects
  • Numinous experiences simultaneously elevate and humiliate
  • Concerned with engaging the numinous not with the treatment of neuroses; the numinous ultimately helps release one from the curse of pathology
  • Sexuality is both divine and hellish; it compels one to experience forces beyond ordinary domains

On Treatment of:

  • Illnesses affecting patients are mostly unconscious attempts to cure themselves
  • Analytic approach is symbolistic
  • All-simplifying theories serve an injustice to the patient and the soul
  • No single theory to explain the human psyche; no general criterion of judgment
  • There is no single method of treatment; it is not mechanical or procedural work
  • Profound experiences and conflicts, like sexual ones, evoke deep parts of the psyche, which explains the cautionary approach to engaging sexual issues in therapy
  • One can thrive and feel harmony only when instinct and spirit are balanced, otherwise imbalance creates one-sidedness and veers one toward neuroses or pathology
  • The main concern in treatment is being non-reductive toward the psyche; viewing the psyche as complex
  • There is a breaking point for the suppression of instincts that creates a split or neurotic individual, which is not usually conscious and requires support for realization and integration
  • Shadow aspects might produce violent responses from conscious positions of patients
  • The treatment goal is integration and rebalancing of inner conflicts through conscious awareness
  • Every situation requires the context of the individual
  • Expect high patient resistance, difficulty of treatment, and prevalence of sexual material; the unconscious erects significant barriers to treatment
  • Most patients are highly resistant to disclosure and create insurmountable obstacles to exploration
  • The patient senses something repellent in their own psyche; the shadow is a difficult moral challenge to ego consciousness
  • This work places extreme difficulties on the patient and the therapist; therapy is painful and challenging to both
  • Analyst or therapist must be appropriately trained and prepared by examining their own psychic contents
  • First duty is to keep close to the patient’s psychic material and not allow prejudice and subjectivity to distort emerging psychological phenomena
  • Important for therapists to open themselves to deeper and unknown experiences
  • A patient’s deviation into sex is sometimes used to escape one’s true problems
  • Therapists must first know how symptoms help and serve patients
  • Can never know beforehand what is what
  • Sexual issues may not have direct sexual aspect or direct means of treatment
  • Avoid attitude of a missionary out to cure patients and eradicate symptoms
  • Requires emerging crystallization of goals and a direction originating from the patient
  • Requires conscious attitude of cooperation and dialogue or the unconscious can be driven into opposition
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Implications of a Depth Psychological Approach for Patients

Potential Benefits:

  • Reduce the labeling of sexual dysfunctions and the pathology of categorically defined symptoms 
  • Help patients view their symptoms as potentially deeper aspects of the psyche or soul; remove stigmatizing perspectives regarding the surface expressions of psychopathology
  • Open up possibilities for viewing symptoms as important aspects of psychic expression calling for healing or attention from the unconscious 
  • Provide a view of the numinous or spiritual aspects in the psyche expressed through sexual symptoms
  • Assist development and growth through the process of integration and individuation by becoming conscious of inner struggles and conflicts raging within 
  • Develop understanding of deeper cultural and universal layers of the psychic situation 
  • Provide an approach to understanding the root causes of sexual issues that are beyond symptomatic appearances 
  • Develop greater awareness and consciousness of self and spiritual dimensions
  • Engage in mysteries of sexual expressions and desires by viewing them through wider perspectives
  • Recognize how diverse aspects belong on a spectrum of human complexity 
  • Work toward integration with the shadow and unwanted aspects to foster a greater sense of wholeness
  • Understand how disunity of the self creates psychic suffering and split personalities or dissociation
  • Potentially reduce reliance on pharmaceutical solutions or medical interventions
  • Provide individualized treatment approaches tailored to patients’ unique psychological positions
  • Offer archetypal, imaginal, and mythological perspectives to help patients understand layers of the psyche and to add collective context to the repellant or unknown elements of the psyche
  • Allow more room to explore a range of potential affective causes and how the unconscious is purposive and directed in its expressions of suffering

Potential Challenges:

  • Some might not be ready for or welcome the challenges of the depth approach 
  • Some patients might wrestle with a lack of answers or the uncertainty of a direction or method, which can increase frustration and impatience with the process
  • Difficulty coping with their own challenging psychic material, which creates feelings of confusion and more entanglement with the unknown
  • Experiencing greater vulnerability and feeling exposed on a level for which one’s conscious mind or ego is unprepared
  • Making the problem feel worse and more complex than originally thought 
  • Havingresistances and avoidance of sexual issues brought into awareness
  • Facing the possibility of intensifying a patient’s resistance, which drives the unconscious into greater opposition and fuels increased symptoms
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Get the PDF version here: Primer on C. G. Jung’s Writings on Sexual Concerns and their Treatment

 

Jung and Sex: Re-visioning the Treatment of Sexual Issues, Edward Santana, Ph.D.

Available at Amazon:  https://amzn.com/1138919152