Shifting Shadows : Catherine Kaplinsky

Shaping Dynamics in the Cultural Unconscious (English). Catherine Kaplinsky (UK)

Shifting Shadows :
Shaping Dynamics in the Cultural Unconscious

Catherine Kaplinsky

Jung has suggested that wars, social upheavals and religions are ‘but the superficial symptoms of a secret psychic attitude unknown even to the individual himself, and transmitted by no historian..’  (Civilisation in Transition, Para 315)   With a focus on South Africa and some dream material,  I would like to explore this further with particular emphasis on the cultural unconscious and the emerging theory of cultural complex.  While there is an extensive literature on the dialectic interplay of the personal and archetypal shadow, as well as the idea of a moral complex,  there is a growing sense also of  group and cultural shadow dynamics.

Different cultures demand the repression of different aspects of the self  and have different ways of actualising a moral code.  These repressions are part of what make up a cultural complex which is dynamic and shifting.  The ‘secret psychic attitude’ is partly made up of conflicts between personal, group and cultural shadow dynamics and inevitably plays a part in historical change.  In turn, historical change plays its part in shifting these dynamics.  The process is dialectical.

In the analytic setting via the transference and counter-transference, we are familiar with what is being repressed in relation to shadow dynamics, complexes and obsolete defences. Such dynamics relate to themes of  boundary, identity and otherness which in turn, reach back to early infantile strivings as well as forward in the service of unfolding.  Central to this dynamic is the absorption of cultural attitudes – including that which must be repressed, allowed in or defended against.  Major political shifts -historical change - inevitably effect cultural dynamics, ‘secret psychic attitude(s)’ and shifting shadows.

Catherine KaplinskyBiography :

Cathy Kaplinsky was born in India and brought up in South Africa.  Her family were politically exiled till 1991 in the UK.  She has two children and lived in Kenya for four years. She is a Professional Member of The SAP, and has formerly been a member of SAP Council and an Assistant Editor of The Journal of Analytical Psychology.  Currently she is active in the SAP Training programme and the Russian Revival programme in Moscow. She is also a Training Analyst for the BAP (Jungian Section).