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eamonnandrewsI sat down this morning with the intention to write about a seminar I attended Friday evening in London: the topic was "The Red Book". Those of us from a certain generation will no doubt be thinking 'Eamon Andrews' and his jumping out on poor unsuspecting celebrities to reveal their life stories. But that isn't the book I am referring to - this seminar was introducing the magnum opus of Carl Jung. I have found it a struggle to get going on the post. Maybe its the depth of the work and the awareness that I could not hope to describe or explain the text? Indeed, the speaker on Friday night started out by explaining she had spent 7 years studying the text in a book group! The material in Jung’s Red Book was created in between 1913 and 1930. It makes up over 400 pages of beautifully handwritten text and 53 stunning images. Many sources describe this work as Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious”, a period of his life that might well have ended up a psychotic event. It is interesting to consider what makes the difference between a breakdown and a breakthrough. Most psychological systems that embrace the transpersonal - like Jungian analysis and indeed Gestalt - explain the difference to be ‘support’. The therapeutic environment offers relational support in times of crisis; whilst for Jung, it was his creative endeavour that helped him create meaning.

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lonelinessI’m just back from a holiday in Sicily. A wonderful week in so many ways. The beauty of the country, the stunning backdrop of the Mediterranean, the charming narrow streets, and of course, the exquisite food. Hard not to enjoy especially nowing the cold snap had taken a grip back home! Yet there was also a sadness. Contrasting with what is a middle class holiday destination, the poverty was evident. Italy is struggling with its economy, and Sicily has been called ‘the refugee camp of Europe’ in recent months. It was hard to see the suffering of people; and hard to know what I could do to help my fellow human beings. I felt hopeless on many levels. There was one woman in particular that touched me. We passed her every day as we walked from our hotel in to the Old town. She had made “home” out of an old street-kiosk. Her aloneness struck me deeply.

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ambivalenceAt the end of last week’s blog, I said I’d share more thoughts about the emotional and psychological healing that can come through groups. I’ve had a busy weekend seeing friends and family, a really enjoyable and nourishing one, a weekend that could so easily have provided the fuel and content to talk more about groups and our need to have inter-personal relationships, to have community. But out of that busy-ness and time with others something more relevant came up; I changed my mind about my writing this week. And there could be no more appropriate an introduction to the topic of ambivalence.

After lunch on Sunday, I arrived on my sofa back home. I had the whole afternoon to myself, alone for the first time in 72 hours…”me time”, lovely. Yet, as I drank my coffee a multitude of ‘options’ started to flow through my mind as I pondered the question “what shall I do this afternoon?” On one hand, there was this moment of openness, space; and yet simultaneously there was also a little gremlin…a little voice making me decide. The pull “to be”, and the push “to do”. This is not new to me, and I imagine many of you have experienced a similar push and pull.

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