Sacred Disorder | Cliff Bostock's blog – 'Finally, I came to regard as sacred the disorder of my mind' (Rimbaud)

Archive for "Mar 21 2011"

A Jungian in Hollywood

My main work in the psychology field has been working with blocked artists of all kinds. It’s difficult work, not least because the block is so painful.

By the time most get to me, they have developed an elaborate system to avoid the pain — like drinking, having lots of sex and innumerable other compulsive activities.

A recent article in the New Yorker describes the work of a Jungian psychotherapist with blocked Hollywood people. The most interesting aspect of Barry Michels’ work to me is with the Shadow. I am always stressing to my own clients that nothing is going to change much if they don’t “embrace” the Shadow.

Of course, this is precisely the point at which many clients stop coming to sessions. This is so predictable that I try to bring clients to awareness of the Shadow slowly. It’s very difficult to convince anyone that by accepting their discomfort and pain, it becomes much more tolerable, even useful.

Here’s an excerpt from the article about nearly every writer’s problem:

By far the most common problem afflicting the writers in Michels’s practice is procrastination, which he understands in terms of Jung’s Father archetype. “They procrastinate because they have no external authority figure demanding that they write,” he says. “Often I explain to the patient that there is an authority figure he’s answerable to, but it’s not human. It’s Time itself that’s passing inexorably. That’s why they call it Father Time. Every time you procrastinate or waste time, you’re defying this authority figure.” Procrastination, he says, is a “spurious form of immortality,” the ego’s way of claiming that it has all the time in the world; writing, by extension, is a kind of death. He gives procrastinators a tool he calls the Arbitrary Use of Time Moment, which asks them to sit in front of their computers for a fixed amount of time each day. “You say, ‘I’m surrendering myself to the archetypal Father, Chronos,’ ” he says. ‘I’m surrendering to him because he has hegemony over me.’ That submission activates something inside someone. In the simplest terms, it gets people to get their ass in the chair.” For the truly unproductive, he sets the initial period at ten minutes—“an amount of time it would sort of embarrass them not to be able to do.”

Definitely read the article if you have problems with creative blocks. I certainly did in my early 30s, when I was given an advance to write a book I never finished. It was precisely exposure of my shadow that inhibited me.