Posted on November 4th, 2017
Again, I "accidentally" wandered into the Psychology section of Book People on any other Fall day. Stuck on what to read yet again, I wander the aisles looking for something to strike my fancy. Suddenly a golden halo appeared and I didn't look back, psychology was the perfect combination of self-help/philosophy/history/social norms that I'd been looking for. I thought I'd try to balance it out with two psych staples (Jung & Frued) with some more recent authors and work.
Man and His Symbols - Carl Jung
This was Jung's last piece of written work that was published before his death in 1961 and thus the most conclusive of his contributions to the field. The book is written in five different parts, each written by a different expert regarding a subtopic of the theme.
Part One discussed approaching the unconscious. Here Jung defined the function of dreams, discussed various archetypes, touched on the role of symbols, and largely concluded that the individual is equally responsible for interpretation as is the therapist. He argues that people that think they have rationality, simply don't know any better; "Our present lives are dominated by the goddess Reason, who is our greatest and more tragic illusion". In Part Two, Ancient Myths and Modern Man, Henderson details several patients' dreams and analysis to illustrate his various thesises, including the human complex, the notion of beauty and beast, and the importance of initiation. Part Three written by Franz tackles the process of individuation. This section was largely dominated by the detailed account of a young girls disturbed series of dreams and how they ultimately served as a premonition to her death. Part Four takes on symbolism in the visual arts demonstrating how visual artists realize the connection between their form of expression and physics and psychology. Lastly Jacobi closed the book with a chapter on symbols in an individual analysis.
Over all I thoroughly enjoyed this read and thought it walked a good balance between technical discussion and accessible information. I've since intentionally placed a journal at my bedside in perhaps a vain attempt to access my unconscious through my dreams.
The World Beyond Your Head; On Becoming and Individual in an Age of Distraction - Matthew B. Crawford
So to be honest, I really wanted to read Crawford's first book, "Shop class as a Soul Craft" but found that more in the philosophy category than the psychology one and thus decided against it....at this point though, the lines really are blurred and it probably wouldn't have made a difference. Regardless, Crawford's book I did read was a breeze and the content was easy to get through. The book opens with a note about attention being today's currency... yada yada, very basic stuff here. Part One focuses on "encountering things" and essentially dives into five different case studies, the most interesting of which was gamblers. The book then segways into how other people affect the notion of "self" before finally concluding with the best recommendations on how to go about being an individual.
Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality; The 1905 Edition - Sigmund Frued
Initially I was frustrated with the way this book was written. It prefaces Freud's work with 60 pages of introduction and analysis... in a 100 page book. Granted it was a great introduction and provided additional context for his work, but it annoyed me and I was too impatient. Instead, I jumped to the meaty part of the book that Freud actually wrote. As you can imagined, it was organized into three main subjects:
- The Sexual Aberrations
- Infantile Sexuality
- The Transformations of Puberty
Interesting points of discussion for me included that of "inversion" (loosely defined as homosexuality) and the different parts of life that can affect it, the extent that the development of inhibitions can affect one's sexuality, and how erogenous zones discovered in childhood affect adult sexual desires. Buy the book to read more!
On Creativity and the Unconscious; The Psychology of Art, Literature, Love, and Religion - Sigmund Freud
Diving into my second book by Freud I was eager to get my hands on the writings of someone who has so significantly changed history and shaped the future of this profession. The section of the book that discussed love was largely an echo of the book I'd just read, so was a nice reaffirmation of those principles.
Subliminal; How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior - Leonard Mlodinow
I must admit, I didn't get through this book. I was again ambitious selecting five books this month instead of the usual four. I lost motivation at this time. Maybe one day I'll read it, maybe one day I won't.