Dennis Slattery, Professor of Depth Psychology 

What's Jung got to do with it?

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  • Courtesy of Dennis Slattery

Dennis Slattery, a professor of depth psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., will join the Jung Society of Utah to speak about love, the history of Valentine’s Day and share some readings on Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Main Library from 6:30 to 9 p.m. In the picture above, Slattery is seated at the same desk that Carl Jung would work at in the morning.

What is Jung’s take on love?
In Civilizations in Transition alone, he lists a whole series of forms, such as love of one’s neighbor, Buddha’s sense of compassion, a love of mankind expressed in social service, parental love, etc. Interestingly, he wrote of conjugal love as an intermediary between spirit and instinct.

Why is Freud seemingly more renowned?
Humanities folks are pretty conservative and brittle, by and large. People began to attack Jung because of his mystical inclinations. Freud gained ascendency because he located all behavior in the body in dampened libidinal urges.

What’s the value of reading a poem to describe love?
The self-help industry has grown by leaps and bounds, and one fallout is that we continue to lose classics as markers of wisdom. Perhaps the deepest form of knowing is knowing by analogy—to know indirectly instead of directly. That’s what poets and artists give us—elaborate aesthetic expression.

What are the psychological impacts of sexual oppression?
If Jung is right, some equilibrium is necessary between spirit and instinct. Love may be what allows that to be maintained. If sexual oppression or love oppressed throws that off, that can be destructive.

How is sex therapeutic?
Sex is a healthy, normative, energic—Jung’s term—response between two people that serves that equilibrium. If it’s within the cultural framework and not taboo, then it satisfies and fulfills the absolutely essential psychic energy that makes up a human being.

In what ways is love destructive as a force or presence?
What Dante in the Middle Ages understood is that, within the myth, all seven forms of sin were manifestations of love. The soul, in sin, is moved to destroy itself by an act of love that is either inverted, distorted, excessive or diminished.

Is Valentine’s Day a cliche?
Maybe, a little distorted, and yes, it’s been commercialized. But, under that, there is something wonderful. For me, it’s one of the most authentic holidays. Something archetypal is tapped into on this day.

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