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The Collective Unconscious in the Age of Neuroscience: Severe Mental Illness and Jung in the 21st Century
Durschslag, Hallie B.
Routledge / Softcover / 2020-07-01 / 1138057363
Archetypal (Jungian) Psychology / Neuroscience
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The Collective Unconscious in the Age of Neuroscience brings the connection between C. G. Jung’s theory of a collective unconscious, neuroscience, and personal experiences of severe mental illness to life. Hallie B. Durchslag uses narrative analysis to examine four autobiographical accounts of mental illness, including her own, and illuminate the interplay between psychic material and human physiology that Jung intuited to exist.

Durchslag’s unique study considers the links between expressions of the collective unconscious, such as myth, fairy tales, folk tales, and ‘big dreams’, and the experiences of those diagnosed with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder. The author’s personal narrative account of a psychotic episode is at its heart, bringing both an intimate foundation and exceptional insight to the book. With reference to neuroscientific and genetic research throughout, The Collective Unconscious in the Age of Neuroscience highlights gaps in depth psychological notions of etiology and treatment, highlights patterns of collective material in the qualitative experience of these genetic and biological disorders, and explores how the efficacy of pharmacological treatment sheds light on Jung’s theoretical model.

The Collective Unconscious in the Age of Neuroscience will be essential reading for academics and students of Jungian and post-Jungian studies, consciousness, neuroscience and mental health. It will also provide unique insight for analytical psychologists interested in severe mental illness and the collective unconscious.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1


Opening the Door

Defining Severe Mental Illness

Jung and Severe Mental Illness

The collective unconscious.


The challenge of inconsistencies.

Research: Background and Methodology

Initial research questions.

Narrative analysis.

Impressions and extrapolations.

Structure the Book

Moving Forward



Chapter 2


Methodological Choices

Methodology and Procedures

Method as path.

Narrative analysis.

Narrative analysis and the hermeneutic tradition.

Data Collection and the Path into the Work

Initial review of the literature.

Personal narrative.

Other autobiographical accounts and the addition of personal field text.

Second review of the literature.

Data Analysis

Researcher Reflexivity


The wounded researcher.

Ego defeat.

The Embrace of Qualitative Research in the Natural Sciences

Ethical Considerations

A Hermeneutic Homage


Chapter 3

The Importance of Diagnostic Distinctions


Scientific Advances

Divergent paths of research.

Medical model.

Depth psychology.

The end of Jung’s legacy.

Diagnostic Guides



Recent trends: RDoC and PDM.

Framing the Dilemma: Personal Onset


Depth psychology.

An example of complementarity.

A Move into Collective Material

Moving Forward



Chapter 4

Thematic Alignment in Psychosis

Stripping Down Terminology

A brief mention on Jung’s position in the field.

Anton Boisen.


The hero.

Supra-Individual Constellation

The theory of actuality.

Other reflections.

Eschatological content.



Chapter 5

The Personal Narrative of Psychosis

The Naturally Occurring Variable


Thematic Analysis


Thematic Analysis using Perry’s Categories.

Cosmic conflict, national reform, and new society.

Initiation to qualify for leadership.

Apotheosis, national reform, and new society.



The Challenge Moving Forward



Chapter 6

The Brain and Pharmaceutical Actions

The Difficult Dilemma of the Brain

The Brain: Action over System

Physiological focus.


Pathways and Communication






Y-aminobutyric acid.

Monoamine neurotransmitter system.

Example: Dopamine pathways.

Therapeutic Targets in Antipsychotic Medications

Pharmacological Action of Mood Stabilizers

Electrical stimulation.

Mood Stabilizers: Lithium and anticonvulsants.

Moving Forward



Chapter 7

Radiating Outward and the Collective Unconscious

Continuing the Hermeneutic Circle

Brain as Transformer Station

Consideration of energy.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).



The objective psyche.

Eranos 1951.


The Non-synchronicity Synchronicity: Foreknowledge

Jung’s visions of World War I.

My own delusions.

A Return to the Intrapsychic Dilemma

The psychodynamic argument.

A return to the collective.

Subjective mud.



Chapter 8

From the Transpersonal to the Suprapersonal: Individuation and the Unavoidable Dilemma

The Problem of Spirit

The Suprapersonal



Abaissement du Niveau Mental

A spectrum of connection.

Medication and 2003.


Medication and 2010.

Flying without a safety net.

A Different Challenge


Chapter 9

Reeling in the Net and Readying it to be Recast


Psyche, Psychoid, and Science.

Readying the Net

Synchronicity and the implicit connection to individuation.

Empirical contributions.

Clinical challenges.


About the Author:

Hallie Beth Durchslag, Ph.D., is a Jungian-oriented psychodynamic psychotherapist who has presented both in the United States and abroad on severe mental illnesses and their connection to Jung’s theory of a transpersonal collective unconscious. She is based in Ohio, USA, where she teaches, writes, and maintains a private practice.

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