Madison Jungian Studies Program

            This is a program of courses and workshops to be presented by Dennis Merritt, Ph.D., Jungian analyst (Zurich).  Most of the material has been presented in Milwaukee or the Chicago Jung Institute but never within the context of a comprehensive Jungian studies program. Any or all of the program can be arranged to be taught anywhere in the country.

            The program will provide a solid foundation in the basics of Jungian psychology.  It is designed for the serious psychologically minded student of Jung, be they a layperson, psychotherapist, member of the artistic community or those interested in ecopsychology. Completion of the program will prepare one for the intermediate to advanced courses at Jung institutes in Chicago and other cities. 

            The focus will be on the basic elements of Jungian psychology, including dream interpretation, synchronicity and Jung's theory of archetypes.  Elements of other theoretical systems will be incorporated, including psychodynamic theory, Self psychology, Winnicott’s theories, and James Gustafson (University of Wisconsin-Madison Psychiatry Department).  James Hillman’s contributions to Jungian psychology will be noted.    

            After establishing the basic elements of Jungian psychology, the more subtle task of developing an archetypal perspective will be engaged.  This will be accomplished primarily by a study and practice at interpreting fairy tales, mythology and that classic archetypal text and compendium of Chinese wisdom—the I Ching.  With this foundation, the focus will shift to the theory and practice of dream interpretation.  The ecopsychological dimensions of Jungian psychology will be emphasized and the spirit in nature as it appears in film will be studied.  It will be important to examine the relation of Jungian theory to scientific discoveries about the unconscious, inheritance of psychological traits, brain functioning and psychoneuroimmunology.

            Participants will be encouraged to write out their dreams, keep a journal, participate in a spiritual practice and engage in some form of body therapy.

            Further courses may be developed to respond to the interests of the group.  Additional courses and/or a case discussion colloquium with a focus on dream interpretation could be developed for mental health professionals.

Courses and Workshops

Course:         Introduction to Jungian Psychology

The true history of the spirit is not preserved in learned volumes but in the living psychic organism of every individual.                                
-  C. G. Jung


This 8 week course for a total of 16 hours provides an overview of Jungian psychology as it applies to everyday life, relationships, psychotherapy, the arts and ecopsychology. Topics include:
•    archetypes and the collective unconscious
•    dreams
•    a psychological perspective on religion
•    psychological types (extravert, introvert, thinking, feeling, etc.)
•    structure of the personality (persona, shadow, anima and animus, and the Self)
•    the stages of life
•    synchronicity
            Topics will be illustrated with examples from case material, sandplay therapy, dreams, music, film, mythology, fairytales, alchemy, ethnology, the I Ching, astrology and Native American spirituality.  Videotapes include the BBC interview with Jung, a Native American tale illustrating the archetype of initiation, ecopsychology from a Jungian perspective, and transformational imagery and music accompanying a terminal confrontation with cancer.  Hillman and Winnicott will be discussed.  Participants will be encouraged to keep a dream journal.  Eight two-hour sessions.  See syllabus at the end of this section.

Course:               Dream Interpretation

The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends.
-  C. G. Jung

            Working with dreams remains a central element of the Jungian analytic process.  Dreams offer an unparalleled revelation of the unconscious processes that govern our worldview, attitudes and behavior.  We will discuss the nature and importance of dreams; archetypal, numinous and “Big Dreams"; and techniques of dream interpretation.  We will examine how dreams can help connect one to the land and find a path with heart in life.  Exploration of a series of dreams from a case will give participants practice in dream interpretation, illustrate how dreams guide the process of therapy, and reveal healing images in dreams.  Four two-hour sessions.

Workshop:        On Death and Life After Death: Jung’s Perspective

A man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it—even if he must confess his failure. Not to have done so is a vital loss.
-  C. G. Jung

             Bill Moyer’s ground breaking series, "On Our Own Terms", that aired in September, 2000 touched a nerve in the American psyche.  Issues around dying, death and life after death are forcing their way into the American consciousness.   Aging baby boomers are dealing with their parents’ deaths and their own aging process.  Jung has much to say to this generation as his psychology largely addresses second half of life issues and the spiritual depths of the human psyche.  We will examine the association between dreams, the collective unconscious, death and synchronicity.  The archetypal domain represented by the god Hermes will help elucidate these connections.  Jung formed his ideas about death based on his near death experience, synchronicities and dreams about death and life after death, and religious and cultural studies.  We will carefully analyze a video, Appointment with the Wise Old Dog, that superbly illustrates how dreams, music in dreams, active imagination and paintings based on these experiences helped a cancer patient undergo a profound psychic transformation that prepared him for death.  The video illustrates the role of the anima and the experience of the divine marriage, the mysterium coniunctionis, in the transformative process. By facing death we come to live life more fully.

Recommended reading  C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Ch. 6-8, 10-11
Suggested readings        Marie Louise von Franz, On Dreams and Death
Suggested viewing:          Bill Moyers, "On Our Own Terms" (PBS)

Course:               SPIRIT, NATURE AND FILM

            How is the spirit in nature portrayed in film?  After a brief introduction to ecopsychology and the psychology of Carl Jung, we will explore several films that present different dimensions of the spirit in nature.  Arrow to the Sun is a children's film of a Hopi myth that illustrates the basic themes of our topic.  Ulee's Gold (that could be seen as a healing sequel to Platoon), A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer reveal the spirit in nature in contemporary American culture.  The Emerald Forest offers an indigenous perspective of the nature/human connection. The Secret of Roan Inish explores the natural roots of our Western culture, particularly through the Celtic tradition.  Participants are encouraged to view the films before class. Video clips and dream examples will be presented.  Four one and a half hour sessions.  See syllabus at the end of this section.

Course:              Jung and Ecopsychology

            Jungian psychology at its core exemplifies an ecopsychological perspective on the human psyche and on the human-environment relationship.  Jung was deeply connected to the Swiss land and his concept of God was intimately associated with the environment.  This course, based on the 4 volumes of my book, The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe: Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology, explores Jung’s life, his psychological theories, and the practice of psychoanalysis from an ecopsychological perspective.  The Greek god Hermes will be studied as a mythological base for ecology.  Jung’s concepts and the practice of Jungian analysis will be related to Native American spirituality and current Lakota practices.  A Jungian ecopsychological approach will be applied in a heart-felt and imaginal look at the Midwest environment.  Dreams, myths, Native American stories, the I Ching and Hillman’s “imaginal psychology” are used to explore Midwest weather, climate, seasons, land forms, water resources, flora and fauna.  The planet’s most successful multicellular life forms, the insects, will be examined in depth to illustrate how a Jungian ecopsychological approach can be applied in a comprehensive manner to one class of organisms.  The application of a Jungian ecopsychology to psychotherapy and the educational system will be discussed.  Six two-hour sessions.  Text: the 4 volumes of The Dairy Farmer's Guide to the Universe: Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology (volumes 3 and 4 in preparation).

Course:          Winnicott and Jung—A Hermetic Link

             D. W. Winnicott, a pediatrician and seminal member of the British psychoanalytic school, has a growing reputation as being one of the most important contributors in the development of the modern psychoanalytic focus on narcissism, object relations theory, self psychology and attachment theory.  Jung and Winnicott are archetypically linked by being exemplars of the energy of the Greek god Hermes.  Winnicott’s theories will be used to compliment and critique Jung and Jungian theory will be used to put Winnicott into an archetypal framework.  The ecopsychological dimensions of Jungian psychology will then be applied to Winnicott’s theories to help move object relations theory and self psychology into an ecopsychological framework  An archetypal framework for Winnicott’s theories and Winnicott’s complementation of Jung’s concepts will then  be used to develop a new psychoanalytic perspective on Christianity and incorporate basic Christian concepts into psychoanalytic practice.  Three two-hour sessions.  Texts:  A Jungian Bouquet (in preparation), A Winnicott Primer for Jungians (in preparation).


Workshops:                          Fairytales
Fairytales are the purest and simplest expression of the collective unconscious psychic processes…they represent the archetypes in their…most concise form.
 -  Marie-Louise von Franz

            Working with fairytales is one of the premier ways to develop an archetypal perspective that is central to Jungian psychology.  The archetypal viewpoint is invaluable in analyzing dreams, critiquing films, and interpreting cultural phenomena and artistic productions.  Three day-long workshops with small groups will discuss  four Grimm’s tales that illustrate many of the basic dynamics of the psyche seen from archetypal masculine and feminine perspectives. 

            Workshops open with an introduction to the Jungian method of fairytale interpretation.  Ample time is allowed to become thoroughly immersed in each tale.  Examples will be used from dreams and case material to illustrate the themes.

Workshop 1:    Cinderella

            The theme in Cinderella is universally known with over 700 variations worldwide.  Its undying popularity means it expresses the most common (archetypal) human experiences--the feelings of abandonment, worthlessness and being unloved.  It is a crucial fairytale for understanding the modern psychoanalytic focus on narcissistic wounds and its lay version, the wounded child.  Cinderella is important in many women’s psyches and as an anima figure for many men.

Workshop 2:    Iron Hans

            The Grimm’s fairytale “Iron Hans," popularized by Robert Bly’s book Iron John, tells a vital story for many men in a Christian  culture.  It deals with a shadow energy of Christianity—aggression—and how this suppressed dysfunctional energy can be transformed and integrated into the personality.  It is a good tale for illustrating the structure and processes of transformation in the psyche.  Dreams and sandtray examples will be used to put this fairytale into a modern context.

Workshop 3:    Rapunzel and The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs

             The Grimm’s fairytale Rapunzel, about the maiden with the long, golden hair, deals with issues of beauty and enchantment, innocence and pain.  It is a simple but powerful tale about love and idealism in the harsh realities of the world.

            The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs is a delightful Grimm's fairytale that complements Iron Hans.  It is concerned with issues of fate, luck, the mother complex and the saying: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you.

The I Ching: A Modern Day Sage

The I Ching is considered the oldest of the Chinese classics, and has throughout history commanded unsurpassed prestige and popularity…It has been considered a book of fundamental principles by philosophers, politicians, mystics, alchemists, yogins, diviners, sorcerers, and more recently by scientists and mathematicians.
 -  The Taoist I Ching

            Jung used the I Ching extensively, personally and professionally, beginning in 1919.  Although this 5000 year old book is pre-Taoist and pre-Confusionist in its origins, it contains elements of both traditions. It is a compendium of Chinese wisdom and philosophy and a book of archetypal images and transformative processes.  The main intent of the book is to help one live wisely like a sage.  The Chinese ideogram for the sage, “The Ear Listening to the Inner King,” could be said to express the process and goal of Jungian psychology.  The world view expressed in the I Ching is in many ways inseparable from the basic elements of Jungian psychology.  Answers from the I Ching often make reference to seasonal and other natural phenomena, helping us develop a symbolic connection to the land.

Workshop:        Using the I Ching as a Life Guide

            Through a process Jung called synchronicity one is able to put a question to the I Ching and get sagely advice on important questions in one’s life.  The workshop will focus on how to intelligently use the I Ching for personal guidance and spiritual development.  It is a particularly useful book for relationship questions. Use of the I Ching in conjunction with dreams and the therapeutic process will be discussed.  Participants will learn the ancient and therapeutic yarrow stalk method for consulting the I Ching and a group hexagram will be cast.  A fifteen minute video I made, Seasons of the Soul, will illustrate four basic concepts in the I Ching using examples from the climate and seasons of the Midwest.

Course:        The Wisdom of the I Ching

           As a group we will study several hexagrams in the I Ching that are particularly powerful from a depth psychological perspective.  These include such hexagrams as 29--The Abysmal, 48--The Well, 51--The Arousing, and 61--Inner Truth.  Group discussions of hexagrams illustrates how an archetype manifests in many different forms while maintaining a theme. It is a rewarding group experience to discuss hexagrams from such a profound book of wisdom. (4 sessions, 2 hours each session)


Introduction to Jungian Psychology
Session 1:  Introductions. Overview of the course. Jung's life, times and contributions. Relationship with Freud. Major differences between Jungian and Freudian theory and practice. Significant Jungian reading materials. Symbol dictionaries. Depth psychology. Proofs for the existence of the unconscious. Archetypes and the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious and religions, indigenous rituals, mythology, big dreams, fairytales and the I Ching. Active imagination and sandplay therapy. Journal keeping and dream journals are encouraged during the course.

Session 2:  Psyche. Consciousness. Ego. Archetypes and complexes. Levels of the unconscious: the personal unconscious, collective consciousness, the collective unconscious. The psychoid dimension of archetypes. Synchronicity. Psyche and soma. Basic elements of the personality: (1) the persona.

Session 3:  Basic elements of the personality: (2) the shadow, (3) the male contra-sexual archetype (archetype of the soul)--the anima.

Session 4:  Basic elements of the personality: (4) the female contra-sexual archetype (archetype of the soul)--the animus. (5) the Self. Comparisons of the Jungian Self to the self of Self psychological theory and Winnicott's True and False Self. The Self and religion, spirituality, spirit animals and Native American spirituality.

Session 5:  (3 hours)  Videotapes
Face to Face -- John Freeman's BBC interview with Carl Jung (1959).
Arrow to the Sun -- Hopi tale illustrating archetypes of the transformation of psychic energies and the transcendent function.
Seasons of the Soul -- Archetypal motifs in the weather and climate of the Upper Midwest, illustrating the ecopsychological dimensions of the psyche.
Appointment with the Wise Old Dog -- Archetypal motifs and transformational imagery presented by dreams and active imagination in dealing with a terminal illness (cancer).  The theriomorphic form of God (God as a Dachshund).

Session 6:  The stages of life. Fantasy, play and the child. The mid-life crisis. Psychological types: introvert, extravert, thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation types. Typology in marriage, careers and relationships and way of being in the world. The Grey-Wheelwright Psychological Type Survey. Begin dreams and dream interpretation.

Session 7:  Interpretation of the psychological type survey. Conclude dream interpretation. Big dreams and numinous dreams. Use of dreams in therapy and analysis, finding a path with heart for one's life, discovering one's spirit animals and connecting one to the land.
Session 8:  Jungian theory and practice in relation to ecopsychology and Native American spirituality. The concept of a spirit animal and a sacred environment. Sacred topography as illustrated by recent discoveries in Wisconsin's prehistoric past (2000 to 5000 years ago). The nature of religion from the perspective of Jungian psychology. Jung and Eastern religion. The symbolic experience of religion. The spiritual dimension of psychotherapy illustrated by the alchemical process.

Film, Nature, and Spirit Syllabus

Session 1:  Ecopsychology.  Deep ecology.  Spirit and soul.  The ancient Greek concept of the gods.  C. G. Jung’s connection to the land and its affect on his theories.  Alchemy and ecopsychology.  Spirit animals.  James Hillman and the Anima Mundi.  Dreams and the land.  Arrow to the Sun (video)—a Hopi tale illustrating the archetypal in initiation, messenger animals and other Native American concepts.  Appointment with the Wise Old Dog (video)—sacred animals, music and transformative processes in the dreams and active imagination of a man dying of cancer.

Session 2:  The Emerald Forest—the indigenous connection to the land.  Drug-induced altered states and spirit animals.  The plight of indigenous peoples and the land.
The Secret of Roan Inish—a Celtic tale from our Western tradition of the connection to the land and sea.   The divine child and the connection to nature.

Session 3:  Ulee’s Gold—a healing sequel to the movie Platoon.  Archetypal energies represented by bees, Demeter and Hermes.  The archetypes of the father and redemption. The positive and negative elements of bees in Ulee’s Gold and Arrow to the Sun.  The younger granddaughter Penny in Ulee’s Gold as the divine child and healing element.  Healing energy of the feminine and the anima.  A River Runs Through It—archetypes of the two brothers, rivers and fishing.  Taoism, water and the I Ching.  Christianity, Hermes, the frontier and boundaries.  The archetype of wilderness, structure and non-structure in nature and human life.

Session 4:  The Horse Whisperer—the girl and her horse: a metaphor for what gets crushed in a fast paced, technological society.   The anima and animus.  The archetype of the city mouse and the country mouse.  The horse in Lakota Sioux spirituality and the I Ching.  Alchemical motifs and metaphors for our relationship with nature in the “new” approach to training horses.  Seasons of the Soul—video illustrating the spiritual and psychological elements of weather, climate and the seasons of the upper Midwest.  The metaphoric dimensions of weather in the film Magnolia.  The symbolism of “raining frogs.”  Analysis of The Governess to illustrate how color, landscape, natural sounds, weather and other aspects of nature help develop the film theme.

Madison: (608) 255-9330 ext. 5
Milwaukee: (414) 332-7400

Fax:             (608) 255-7810



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