Posts tagged sexual problems
an excerpt from Jung and Sex...

an excerpt from Jung and Sex...

"Jung’s main concern was to investigate sexuality primarily for its spiritual aspects and numinous meanings (1961/1989, p. 168), but he also believed in the importance of understanding its instinctual and physical aspects. Jung was trying to move psychology beyond the predominant reductionistic views of his time, attempting to expand the cultural and psychological meaning and value of sexual phenomena. This is an aspect of his legacy, however, that is rarely recognized.

"He believed many disorders affecting patients were mostly unconscious and 'unsuccessful attempt(s)' to cure themselves (1939/1966, p. 46) and he attacked moral establishments for placing blame squarely on individuals for their sexual problems. He also challenged early psychological theories and medical science that did similar injustices to sexual complexity. Jung’s views, particularly about Freud’s fixed theories of sexuality, more closely match many modern perceptions now, although Jung is seldom credited for challenging these ideas in such a progressive way at the time. Nearly a century later, there is still a need for treatments that recognize how symptoms can actually be valuable expressions of unconscious situations.

"Despite our understanding that many complex sexual issues generally have larger mysteries at their roots, large numbers of patients turn first toward medical providers or pursue various superficial solutions. This leaves many patients in the dark after various treatments, medications, and self-help methods fail. Cultural taboos and lack of social awareness remain harsh impediments to sexual expression. Many are unconsciously driven by splits between competing demands and they lack a path to awareness and integration. Many individuals require treatments that elucidate and address the complexities and conflicts unconsciously manifested in their symptoms. Jung detested the victimization of patients suffering from instinctual and unconscious problems, because it left them to struggle in the dark with no one in their environment helping them to understand or solve them (1939/1966, p. 46). He considered this a direct failing on the part of the medical community, science, and the culture.

"When working with patients with sexual concerns, I ask patients in the grip of an overwhelming attraction or compulsive erotic need, 'What makes these feelings so strong?' Their voices echo themes of connection, disconnection, uncertainty, emptiness, shame, anger, confusion, joy, liberation, and hunger. Culturally and clinically, how can we create space for Eros’ many ways of speaking? How can we unveil the mystery behind various symptoms and serve the real needs that live under the surface needs being expressed? How can we learn where Eros lives for the patient, how the symptoms serve, and discover what fuels these diverse expressions? Even in our modern age, much remains mysterious and concealed about our personal sexual struggles and expressions." Jung and Sex: Re-visioning the Treatment of Sexual Issues, p. 121.


For potential patients or clients, call or text (415) 644-3400 or email for free consultation (all messages returned within 24 hours).

20 Essential Perspectives from C.G. Jung on Sex and Psychotherapy

20 Essential Perspectives from C.G. Jung on Sex and Psychotherapy

Published by Routledge Mental Health, September 2017.

Edward Santana, author of Jung and Sex, reflects on the founders of psychotherapy and their critical focus on the mysteries of sexuality more than 100 years ago, as well as its vital role in mental health, both then and now…

"History reflects the harsh reality that many complex sexual symptoms throughout the ages have proven difficult to understand and treat. Humankind also has a terrible legacy of repression and ignorance about sex, the most perplexing and challenging of our basic instincts. Within the psychotherapy profession, this cultural symptom is reflected in the lack of sexual training and education in most of our academic institutions, despite the hunger of many clinical students for these critical topics. These impoverishments are further impacted by the limited amount of focus and offerings on sexual health from many of the profession’s largest associations. Despite the widespread prevalence of sexual concerns and their tremendous cultural significance, human sexuality remains largely imbedded in the unconscious dimensions of society—and unfortunately in the shadow of the profession. 

"More than a hundred years after the birth of psychotherapy, which had its roots firmly planted in rich explorations of sex and sexuality by Freud and others, there has been limited progress as a profession in integrating wider perspectives on sexuality from a diverse range of psychotherapeutic contributors. Despite some advancements, many respected leaders in the field of sex therapy and sex research agree that the current models of treatment require an important re-visioning and more extensive collaboration. My book, Jung and Sex, explores this essential bridging of perspectives and brings forward many of C. G. Jung’s essential contributions.

"Though not widely understood, Jung developed an extremely diverse and comprehensive body of work on sex and sexuality—ideas that offer important perspectives for contemporary psychotherapists. As an early defender of the numinous aspects of sexuality, Jung risked his entire professional career combating limited and reductive ideas about the nature of sexuality and libido. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse and its lingering trauma, he understood the powerful forces and painful extremes of sexuality. The erotic sphere was also at the root of Jung’s early discovery of the complex, which he tracked in psychiatric patients when erotic material suddenly triggered bizarre or defensive reactions. 

"Here are some of Jung’s perspectives on working with sexual concerns (from Jung and Sex, which includes a more extensive and specific primer of depth-oriented approaches to treatment):

  1. One encounters sexuality everywhere; thus in anything one is involved, their sexuality will appear too.

  2. Pressures to conform or deny natural instincts create neuroses and psychological splits between inner needs and outer demands.

  3. Fear of complexes is a deeply-rooted prejudice; complexes are normal and basic parts of the psyche.

  4. Sexual symptoms also reflect universal issues of the culture; many symptoms do not belong exclusively to the patient.

  5. Every important affective event becomes a complex; complexes are signposts to the unconscious.

  6. Denial of instincts and complexes increases power of the unconscious.

  7. Complexes and struggles manifest in places where one is most weak or less adapted.

  8. Individuation and a new level of consciousness are possible through integration of the erotic complexes.

  9. 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.

  10. Sexuality can express deep levels of the psyche’s symbolic, archetypal, and mythic elements.

  11. Repellent things belong to the psyche and are natural.

  12. Patient senses something repellent in their own psyche; the shadow is a difficult moral challenge to ego consciousness.

  13. Psyche is purposive and directed; symptoms have meaning.

  14. Psyche cannot be defined by categories or labels.

  15. Illnesses affecting patients are mostly unconscious attempts to cure themselves.

  16. All-simplifying theories serve an injustice to the patient and the soul.

  17. No single method of treatment; not mechanical or procedural work.

  18. Therapists must first know how symptoms help or serve their patients in some unconscious or paradoxical way.

  19. Main concern is being non-reductive toward the psyche; viewing the psyche as complex and teleological.

  20. Treatment goal is integration and rebalancing of inner conflicts through conscious awareness.

"As the world grows vastly in population and diversity, issues of sex and sexuality will only increase in severity and complexity for future clinicians. This is an important time for expanding collaboration among the therapeutic fields and for increasing focus within academic training programs. As Jung indicated, the erotic or sexual sphere is always problematic because it is where adaptation is least complete. To address these challenges, therapists can help lead conscious efforts to look beyond mere surface expressions of sexual difficulties and simple approaches to symptom reduction—to help forge deeper understandings of the great mysteries of sex and sexuality for our patients."

*For potential patients or clients, call or text (415) 644-3400 or email for free consultation (all messages returned within 24 hours).