Dr. James Hollis is a psychologist who specializes in many areas, including mythology and defining one's self in midlife. The Jungian analyst and MFT that I was seeing a few years ago suggested Dr. Hollis's audiobook Through the Dark Wood: Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life. I found that much of it resonated with me, especially his insights on dream life, Jung's writings, and defining the Self.
As a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Dr. Hollis has been a serious student of Jung's writings for many decades, and I recently read an interview with him that was published in Science 2.0. Dr. Hollis brought up many important facts about Carl Jung that are often be overlooked by some members of the scientific community.
Jung considered himself an empiricist. According to Hollis, "Jung had worked on 67,000 dreams before he wrote a single paragraph on dream interpretation. By that time, he had something to say about how they work, how we might approach them, and what role they might be playing in our adaptive life journey." Hollis went on to explain that dreams are "manifestations of awareness that are compensatory to the limited purview of conscious life. To ignore such extra-conscious forms of cognition is not to be empirical or really conscious."
Today, Jung often ends up marginalized and all but left out of psychology textbooks and classrooms because in a world that values clear labels, Jung is hard to categorize. This is in a large part due to the fact that he chose to take seriously all experiences and phenomena (alchemy, UFOs, etc.) that his clients reported and to seek out why such symbols, concepts or experiences regularly occur. As Hollis put it, "He was not speculating on the 'reality' of flying saucers; he was asking how and why people throughout the ages would have such experiences."
I believe we have a lot to learn from modern science and dream studies, and yet many of these studies (see previous blog post for some examples) are also consistent with the theories and writings of early psychologists like Jung. So let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is something to learn from the great teachers of the past, present, and future – things that have not become obsolete with a new age or generation.