Interview with Fr. Fred Fleischer,M.Div.
on “Reality, Dream and Soul:
In Jimmy P. Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian”
The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida is honored to present an interview with Fr. Fred Fleischer,M.Div., Jungian Analyst and Founding Analyst of CJSSF, which was conducted about his presentation on “Reality, Dream and Soul: In Jimmy P. Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian” on February 7, 2015 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stuart, FL. Before each of our events, the Center requests an interview with the presenter to get the word out about the upcoming opportunity to learn more about Jung’s Analytical Psychology and how it applies to ourselves and our world.
Fred Fleisher, M. Div., M.A., Jungian Analyst, received his diploma from the Jung Institute in Zurich and practices in Miami and the Bahamas. He is the Founding Jungian Analyst of the Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida. He is a senior training analyst with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and with the Florida Association of Jungian Analysts. He serves as the Assistant Pastor, Music Minister, and Organist of the Church of the Resurrection at Biscayne Park in Miami.
CJSSF: What was it about this film, Jimmy P, that made it feel right for a Jungian presentation?
Fr. Fleisher: Well, the first thing is that it is about psychoanalysis, not psychiatry or psychology. It is a model of what psychoanalysis is all about, how it works, how it incorporates the shadow not only of the analysand but of the analyst himself.
CJSSF: Jung made the long journey to visit the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. Why was Jung interested in indigenous or native peoples?
Fr. Fleisher: Primal people are closely connected with instincts and intuition, focused primarily on the nobility of their lives rather than power of money. By nobility, I mean the value of their lives is seen by them to be the strength of character by which they live their lives. They have their own culture but their values are primarily spiritual. In almost all primal cultures it is unthinkable that you own land. By primal, I mean people who have not been caught up in Western world values, which are primarily power and acquisition.
CJSSF: You spend half of your work week in the Bahamas. Are there “primal” people in the Bahamas?
Fr. Fleisher: In many of the island communities where amenities of civilization are not readily available, people still live a rather primal life,content to be farmers whose lives are not focused on money but on spiritual values and their ideas of what is right and good. In some of these islands still today it is a mark of honor not to have a lock on your house, nobody does. Certain shops stay open on Sunday, but there is nobody in them; and people can buy things and leave money. If a fisherman catches three fish he may take one and leave two on the dock for others who may need them. He would never think to sell them. That would not be noble.
CJSSF: Why would Dr. Menninger have picked Georges Devereux, an anthropologist, to work with Jimmy?
Fr. Fleisher: Since the culture of the Indians was so foreign to the Menningers, they thought they were missing something; and indeed they were. Menninger was overawed with how Georges alleviated Jimmy Picard’s symptoms. Because he was making progress Georges was given more and more time, and Menninger decided to find a justification for hiring Georges permanently.
CJSSF: The title of the book Devereux wrote about the analysis with Jimmy wasReality and Dream. Would you comment on reality, dream and soul in relation to Jungian analysis and individuation?
Fr. Fleisher: We only know reality through the lens of our own experience. We have to find a way for our souls to live and flourish in the reality we have to live in. Our souls, our true souls, reflect the divinity in ourselves from a Christian point of view – that is different for each individual. Dreams become the message and the messenger from the soul that say things are not working. There has to be a change so that some catastrophe does not come about and to solve the conflict between the truth of our soul and the reality we have to live in.
CJSSF: What is the importance of the dreams in Jimmy’s analysis? How do you feel about dream work in your own practice?
Fr. Fleisher: We have the image of a nameless, featureless, threatening white man in Jimmy’s dream. The important thing is to get the images to speak. They generally tell us exactly what is going on from the point of view of the soul. The analysis works so much more easily when you have clients who bring dreams, because there is the message, bam, right in front of you. Dreams are a guide and tool for understanding the conflict of the soul.
Interview by Teresa Oster, MS, LCSW & Chair, Treasure Coast Chapter