“On The Psychology of Comedy in Difficult Times” & “On The Psychology of Pathology in Difficult Times”

INTERVIEW WITH
Dr. James Hollis

JANUARY 2021

Collage painting by Elise Chron

INTERVIEWER:
Constance Avery-Clark, Ph.D., Ph.D., CJSSF board member

CJSSF: Our organization’s theme is On the Psychology of Boldness in Hard Times. Your Friday night lecture, On the Psychology of Comedy in Difficult Times, reflects this theme. But we have already gotten some queries as to whether a focus on comedy is appropriate right now, given everything the nation and all of us as individuals are going through with the pandemic and the unnerving political situation. Why did you choose to zero in on comedy?

DR. HOLLIS: For two reasons: comedy is the shadow side of tragedy. Both comedy and tragedy are responses to the dilemmas of the human condition, and both represent a cathartic resolution of sorts, one through suffering, one through laughter. Secondly, comedy is found in all human settings, even the darkest, and the capacity to laugh is the capacity to transcend the victimage in which one might otherwise wallow.

 

CJSSF: How do comedy and Jungian psychology dovetail?

DR. HOLLIS: Central to both is a respect for holding the “tension of opposites.” The inability to hold that tension leads to one-sidedness, or possession by the suffering. Life is difficult, and then we die… and along the way, we manage to laugh at it all. If that is not a triumph of the human spirit, along with blues music, I don’t what is.

 

CJSSF: Our registered participants were not surprised by the subject of your Saturday workshop, On the Psychology of Pathology in Difficult Times. I think many of us these days experience ourselves functioning at a less-than-usual-efficiency level, even at a pathological level. You have picked the work of three specific poets on which you will focus to discuss psychopathlogy. Why do you think it is important to look to the work of others when faced with hard times?

DR. HOLLIS: These three poets will provide us with “case” examples of pathology, and provide some insight into how we might better address our own. Additionally, I will demonstrate how depth psychology can be helpful in moving through pathology to resolution.

 

CJSSF: When we take a Jungian perspective on just about any subject, it seems to me that the subject often turns out not to be the subject you thought it was going to be. For example, when you use the word “pathology” in your Saturday workshop, is it really “pathology”? For the Jungians, is pathology really pathology?

DR. HOLLIS: When we depathologize pathology, we begin to get at its roots and its dynamics, namely: a logical expression of a trauma, or a compelling idea, or a fixation of some sort. When this trauma, compelling idea, or fixations is examined through a different lens, it brings one to understand it and work with it at a deeper level than the superficial treatment plans of behavior and cognitive approaches.

James Hollis, Ph.D.

James Hollis, Ph.D., is a Zurich-trained and internationally acclaimed Jungian Analyst and author in private practice in Washington, D. C. Dr. Hollis recently retired as the Executive Director of the Washington (DC) Jung Society. He is also the former Executive Director of the Jung Educational Center of Houston. He has served as: professor of Jungian Studies at Saybrook University, San Francisco, CA; Senior Training Analyst for the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts; first Director of the Philadelphia Jung Institute; and President Emeritus of the Philemon Foundation. Among his many publications are numerous articles and 16 books (some of which have been translated into sixteen languages) including The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other; Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life; What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life; The Middle Passage; Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives; and his 2020 book, Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times

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Aventura, FL 33180-1529

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SEND MAIL TO:

Center for Jungian Studies
c/o Richard Chappell
20533 Biscayne Blvd Ste 104
Aventura, FL 33180-1529

Join Our Newsletter

ABOUT CJSSF

As a Not-For-Profit organization we exist because of the generosity of our friends, volunteers and donors. None of the work that we do would be possible without you.