Birds, beasts and babies - images and imagination
‘In 2012 I completed a two-year infant observation course with the Jungian section of the British Psychotherapy Foundation. I observed a baby in his home each week from birth to two years in order to build up a picture of his developing inner world and relationships and deepen my understanding of the human psyche.
My experiences with baby Max have left me with a belief that images and imagination play a central part in connecting us to the deeper levels of the psyche, that this connection is there from the beginning, long before language is available, and that this has implications for the consulting room and indeed for our own personal journeys. Jung wrote, ‘The psyche consists essentially of images.’
I was awarded a prize by the British Journal of Psychotherapy for an essay based on my experiences during this observation. My paper, ‘Birds, Beasts and Babies – Notes from an Infant Observation’ was published in the Journal in November 2014. In this seminar, I shall be presenting my paper to you and invite your response. I shall then bring an image and a story for you to reflect upon and ‘play’ with ‘imaginatively’, and we shall see what emerges amongst us.
The judges commented on my paper:
‘The title of this paper might suggest that this was going to be a straightforward account of an infant observation. In fact, it is a most moving meditation on a two-year relationship with the infant Max and his mother and family. Trying to describe what the author has done with her observation is to trample upon the author’s poetic imagination, such as her description of the three birds that make their appearance at different times in the narrative. But what seems certain is that the author has handled most thoughtfully and sensitively the way she has imagined Max’s inner world developing. She also beautifully illustrated the relationship between Max and his mother that seemed like a model of good parenting.’
I shall also bring my copy of Carl Jung’s (very large) Red Book for you to look at. This contains his record of a long period of intense introversion, soul searching and confrontation with his unconscious as he ‘actively’ engaged with the inner images which emerged during this time. The book, which was only brought into the public domain in 2009, contains some amazing artwork. He entered this process intentionally and in order to do so he realised that he needed to recover the emotional tone of childhood. He recalled that as a child, he used to build houses and other structures, and he took this up again. These experiences, which began in 1913, provided the foundation for all his subsequent work. We may not have time to talk about this as much as I would like but I hope at least to arouse your curiosity.’
This event is organised by Sussex Counselling and Psychotherapy.
For more information and booking go to their website at http://sussex-counselling.uk/index.php
About the host
Sally McLaren is a psychotherapist in private practice in Horsham. She is currently in the final stages of further training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy with WPF Therapy in London. She has a particular interest in the work of Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl G Jung.