Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

Jungian Music Therapy: A Method for Exploring the Psyche through Musical Symbols/Musicothérapie Jungienne : Une Méthode D'exploration De la Psyché À Travers Les Symboles Musicaux

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

Jungian Music Therapy: A Method for Exploring the Psyche through Musical Symbols/Musicothérapie Jungienne : Une Méthode D'exploration De la Psyché À Travers Les Symboles Musicaux

Article excerpt

As a training candidate in analytical psychology at the C. G. Jung Institute in Küsnacht, Switzerland, I had the good fortune to speak with Carl Jung's grandson, Dieter Baumann, about Jung's personal experiences with music. It was interesting to hear firsthand accounts of Jung's tremendous sensitivity to musical material. His subtle level of responsiveness, which of course influenced his development of analytical psychology, has also had a profound and lasting effect on the evolution of all the creative arts therapies (Marshman, 2003). In fact, Chodorow (1997) suggested that creative arts psychotherapies (which include art, dance, music, drama, poetry, and sandplay) can be traced to Jung's early contribution. I undertook this qualitative heuristic investigation to further articulate this interface between Jungian depth psychology and therapeutic musical processes.

In 1913 Jung began to describe a process, which he eventually called "active imagination," that involved the amplification, interpretation, and integration of affect-laden images (Jung, 1961). Jung's process resulted in an extensive document that came to be known as The Red Book and was published in 2009. Exploring Jung's framework phenomenologically, I used an improvisation-based mode of inquiry for exploring meaning-making capacity through the sound-based amplification of emergent images from the psyche.

Jung (1966b) theorized the existence of energy that resides within the unconscious realm and posited that individuals can release this energy for conscious use by creatively manifesting it into conscious symbols. Through the description of an original psychodynamic method, archetypal music psychotherapy (AMP), and a brief survey of literature, herein I investigate how music-based symbolic processes can assist in constellating conflicting polarities towards a reconciling third way (i.e., tertium non datur) that leads to the integration and possibly the resolution of oppositional tensions.

Literature Review

Despite Jung's tremendous impact on the understanding and use of the creative expressive arts, his collected works explicitly mention music only a few times. His only documented interaction with music therapy occurred in 1956, when he requested a session with Margaret Tilly, chief music therapist at the Langley Porter Clinic in San Francisco. According to Tilly (1956/1977), Jung initially stated, "I have read and heard a great deal about music therapy ... but I never listen to music any more ... because music is dealing with such deep archetypal material, and those who play don't realize this" (p. 274). Tilly described their two-hour meeting as follows:

[Jung stated,] "I want you to treat me exactly as though I were one of your patients." I began to play. When I turned round, he was obviously very moved ... saying, "1 don't know what is happening to me-what are you doing?" And we started to talk. He fired question after question at me. "In such and such a case what would you try to accomplish-where would you expect to get-what would you do? Don't just tell me, show me"; and gradually as we worked he said, "I begin to see what you are doing-show me more." 1 told him many case histories ... He was very excited and as easy and naive as a child to work with. Finally he burst out with "This opens up whole new avenues of research I'd never even dreamed of. Because of what you've shown me this afternoon-not just what you've said, but what I have actually felt and experienced-I feel that from now on music should be an essential part of every analysis. This reaches the deep archetypal material that we can only sometimes reach in our analytical work with patients. This is most remarkable." (pp. 274-75)

Watts (1972) referred to this meeting in his autobiography:

Shortly afterwards, Jung's (musician) daughter (Marianne) said to Margaret, "Perhaps you don't realize that you did something very important for me and my father. I have always loved music, but he has never understood it, and this was a barrier between us. …

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