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This Jungian Life

Apr 29, 2021

In 1543, Andreas Vesalius dissected a corpse, thereby inaugurating a scientific attitude toward the human body. This new attitude taught us to stand aside from our identification and connection with the body and see it as a lifeless subject of inquiry. Such an approach brought obvious vital advances in science and medicine, but it also came at a cost. In the 20th century, philosophers such as Foucault and Derrida did for language what Vesalius had done for the human body. Their careful dissection of language laid bare formerly hidden assumptions and revealed the ways that language shapes our thinking. 

We are joined on the podcast by Dr. Bret Alderman, author of Symptom, Symbol, and the Other of Language: A Jungian Interpretation of the Linguistic Turn. We discuss alienation and dissociation that results from the Promethean project to deconstruct language and its meaning. 

Foucault, Derrida, and the other postmodernists contributed valuable insights to our understanding of the role of language in determining our assumptions. Still, their desire to sever the meaning of words from those things that words represent is symptomatic of a profound dissociation from our embodied, instinctual selves. Jung was aware of the perils inherent in such a project. "This rupture of the link with the unconscious and our submission to the tyranny of words has one great disadvantage: the conscious mind becomes more and more the victim of its discriminating activity, the picture of the world gets broken down into countless particulars, and the original feelings of unity, which we integrally connected with the unity of the unconscious psyche, is lost. This feeling of unity, in the form of correspondence theory and the sympathy of all things, dominated philosophy until well into the seventeenth century."

The ideas of the postmodernists have permeated culture in ways that are not always obvious. Current movements to redefine certain phenomena as social constructs are evidence of the inroads these philosophies have made. Though there are benefits to looking at this world this way, these ideas may also be giving rise to a "rootless consciousness."

Here's the dream we analyze:

"There are tarantulas stuck on my skin the way ticks would be. They are big and hairy. Strangely the tarantulas are hidden in small boxes, which hang on my body. So their legs are digging into my skin, but I can't see them unless I remove the boxes. My mother is helping me to remove the spiders, but they keep coming back. They don't crawl upon me but rather seem to be born from my skin. All of a sudden, my mother is gone, and I'm alone with some spiders still hanging on me. I can't remove them myself because I'm too scared to touch them. I am terrified and helpless."


Dr. Bret Alderman. Symptom, Symbol, and the Other of Language: A Jungian Interpretation of the Linguistic Turn.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams. (Movie).


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams:

You can contact Dr. Bret Alderman at