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I have recently started my first novel which is heavily influenced by ideas in Jungian psychology. I have most of Carl Jung's books and am constantly fascinated by how his ideas can inform and inspire writers.
Last weekend, I also met up with Jungian psychotherapist and dream analyst, Jeremiah Abrams, who I met first on Twitter. He is doing some workshops and seminars in Australia over the next few months on Self Development and also Writing workshops, so I have also included his video and information below as he is an expert on the areas I can only briefly touch on.
Here are 5 ideas from Jungian psychology that writers can use:
Please take these as a set of ideas meant to inspire creatively, and not proposed as any form of truth. They are also my thoughts, and I am not a trained or professional Jungian psychologist, so please do further investigation if you are interested.
- Synchronicity. One of Jung's key concepts is synchronicity, that some coincidences can be meaningful and almost meant to happen. It is similar to the idea of serendipity, where fate brings people or circumstances together. In recent years, synchronicity can be seen in the Law of Attraction movement where the Universe allows certain things to happen that fit into a plan as opposed to random events. Can you use synchronicity to bring your characters together?
- Archetypes. Archetypes can be seen throughout literature as they represent the core ideas and themes of human life and experience. Archetypal events include Birth, Death, Journey or Quest. Archetypal people include Wise Old Woman, Mother, Father, and can include Villain or evildoer. The whole of human existence is bound up in these archetypes and story-telling reuses the same themes. What archetypes are you using in your story?
- The Shadow. The Shadow side of us is everything that is dark and hidden. Many of us try to hide this part and push it down, denying it is there, but only by embracing our shadow side can we truly be whole. It is said that horror writers are the most normal people because they write out all their dark humanity (I'll include dark fantasy and sci-fi there too!). The rest of us keep ours bottled up. Those murderous thoughts, dark dreams, evil ideas and surprisingly wrong unconsidered actions. Surely they cannot come from ourselves, as we are nice people – polite, kind and always appropriate. But writers have the opportunity to express this dark side in our writing. You can dress it up in a character within fiction and it is no longer you, but it is still out there. How can you express your shadow side in your writing? Have you fully explored the shadow side of your characters?
- The Collective Unconscious. This is the idea that we all inherit thoughts and consciousness that we share across all humanity, the shared beliefs and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society. (Wikipedia) I see this as helping us with core themes across our books that everyone understands, for example, the struggle between good and evil. What are the core themes in your book? Can you express them in only a few words that everyone could understand?
- The meaning and importance of dreams. Jung believed dreams to be a way in which the unconscious expresses itself. Archetypes manifest in dreams as well as situations the individual needs to deal with, but may not be aware of consciously. Can you incorporate dreams into your story? Can your own dreams give you ideas?
If you are interested in learning any more about Carl Jung, I would recommend starting with his own book, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
Here is some more information on Jeremiah Abrams, and a quick video we made below:
- Jeremiah Abrams is the author of 4 books, including The DreamTime Journey, Reclaiming the Inner Child and The Shadow in America: Reclaiming the Soul of a Nation. He is also involved in a project about the end times, the Eschaton.
- He is currently in Australia running Psychological Development and Writing workshops in Sydney, Byron Bay and Brisbane (Sept-Nov 2009). Click here for more details, or email Jeremiah directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
- We talked specifically about DREAMTIME JOURNEY: The Path Of Direct Experience–A Shamanic Inner Journey (3 CDs with booklet)
available on Amazon.com. Entering the Dreamtime can help a writer find their true narrative voice. Your authentic voice can provide a lot of content, self diagnostic information and inner guidance
There is a loud background noise in the video but hopefully you can still get a sense of who Jeremiah is and what The Dreamtime Journey is about, as well as a bit about his Australian workshops.