Psychology for Lawyers

c.g. jung, james hillman & active imagination


"[Psyche is a] realm of images . . . ."

--James Hillman, "Peaks and Vales: The Soul/Spirit Distinction as Basis for the Difference between Psychotherapy and Spiritual Discipline," in Jacob Needleman & Dennis Lewis, On the Way to Self Knowledge 114-141, at 114-115 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976)

"The realm of the imagination is central to psychoanalysis and Jungian psychology in particular. It is through the faculty of the imagination that we can access unconscious content, attitudes, ideologies and orientations that are typically hidden from consciousness."

--Archetypes, Applied Jung Lexicon, Centre for Applied Jungian Studies

"The dialogical approach [an "inner dialogue with imaginal figures] that Jung developed in . . . was subsequently elaborated into the method of active imagination, which became the cornerstone of Jungian psychotherapy.

* * * *

As Jung readily acknowledged, the dialogical approach is not meant for everyone. It is pointless, [Jung] suggested, 'to subject a simple soul who lacks nothing but a dose of common sense to a complicated analysis of his impulses, much less expose him to the bewildering subtleties of psychological dialectic; on the other hand, 'with complex and highly intelligent people we shall get nowhere by employing well-intentioned advice, suggestions, and other efforts to convert them to some kind of system.' The second type of person, Jung argued, can best be helped by providing them an opportunity in a genuinely dialogical situation to develop and express their own uniquely individual understandings of their difficulties.'"

--William E. Smythe, The Dialogical Jung: Otherness Within the Self, 3 Behav. Sci. 634, 640, 641 (2013) [online text]

"[A]ctive imagination is an effective tool that anybody can use to further assimilate and understand his or her own unconscious contents."

--Active Imagination: The Interior Vision, The Depth Coach, Blog [online text]


Pieter Middelkoop, The Wise Old Man: Healing through Inner Images 1-8, 140-147 (Boston: Shambhala, 1989)

Mary Watkins, Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues 1-5 (Boston: Sigo Press, 1990)

___________, The Characters Speak Because They Want to Speak, Spring (1983) [the essay, in a different version, appears in Mary Watkins, Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues 93-106 (Boston: Sigo Press, 1990)] [on-line text]

Class Video

Class Viewing: James Hillman: Jung and Active Imagination, DVD, 2007 [In the Hillman presentation there are frequent references to Jung's Red Book] [runtime of class presentation approx. 47 mins., end presentation when Hillman stops to take questions]

Course Resources

C.G. Jung's Red Book | James Hillman

Reference (Active Imagination)

Communicate With Dream Images, Don't Interpret Them
[13:07 mins.] [audio] [James Hillman] [using the language of the image; getting beyond the language of your own subjectivity]

James Hillman Lectures and Interviews
[1:25:45 mins.] [class presentation, begin at 0:32 mins., end at 2:14 mins., resume at 15:20 mins., end at 18:42 mins. (approx. viewing time 6 mins.)] [another possible end, at 23:56 mins.]

Reference (Active Imagination)

C.G. Jung: The Power of Imagination
[1:42 mins.]

Murray Stein on Active Imagination
[9:32 mins.] [end presentation at 4:30 mins.] [low quality video]

Complexes and Imagination
[46:06 mins.] [Verena Kast, training analyst, C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich, Switzerland]
[Kast comments on active imagination begins at 4:08 mins., end at 11:23 mins.] [Kast on complexes, at 11:23 mins.; a therapeutic application of Kast's ideas on complex theory begins at 14:08 mins.; end complex commentary at 23:10 mins.] [Complexes]

Jung's Technique of Active Imagination
[2:47 mins.] [Sonu Shamdasani, editor of Jung's Red Book, discusses Jung's approach to active imagination]

Jung's Theory of Active Imagination and the Shadow: A Conversation with Anna Guerra
[16:01 mins.] [Anna Guerra is a depth psychotherapist in private practice; she teaches at the Jung Center of Houston] [pointing out that Jung saw active imagination as central to psychotherapy] [focus on dealing with "images" and not "figures"] [reference to mindfulness]
[poor quality video] [transcript]

Active Imagination
[38:58 mins.] [audio of Jungian analysts talking about active imagination]

How to Learn the Active Imagination Technique
[2:12 mins.]

Depression and Active Imagination
[4:49 mins.] [Art Rosengarten] [on sandplay therapy]

Notes: James Hillman

James Hillman, "Peaks and Vales: The Soul/Spirit Distinction as Basis for the Difference between Psychotherapy and Spiritual Discipline," in Jacob Needleman & Dennis Lewis, On the Way to Self Knowledge 114-141 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976):

"Because our tradition has systematically turned against soul . . . [t]his has led eventually to a psychological disorientation . . . ." [115]

"The hatred of the image, the fear of its power, and of the imagination, is very old and very deep in our culture." [116]

"I want to remind you of Jung's position, from which I have developed mine. Jung's psychology is based on soul." [117]. "So, Jung said, if you are in search of soul, go first to your fantasy images, for that is how the psyche presents itself directly. All consciousness depends upon fantasy images. All we know about the world, about the mind, the body, about anything whatsoever . . . [including] the nature of the divine, comes through images and is organized by fantasies into one pattern or another. . . . Because these patterns are archetypal, we are always in one or another archetypal configuration, one or another fantasy, including the fantasy of soul . . . . 'The 'collective unconscious,' which embraces the archetypes, means our unconsciousness of the collective fantasy that is dominating our viewpoints, ideas, behaviors, by means of the archetypes.

Let me continue for just a moment with Jung . . . who says, 'Every psychic process is an image and an imagining.' The only knowledge we have that is immediate and direct is knowledge of these psychic images." [118]

"We are always in one or another root-metaphor, archetypal fantasy, mythic, perspective." [119]

"[T]he archetypal question is . . . who among the variety of figures of which we are each composed, which archetypal figure or person, is in this happening? What God is at work in calling us up the mountain or in holding us to the vales? For archetypal psychology, there is a God in every perspective, in every position. All things are determined by psychic images . . . . All things present themselves to consciousness in the shapings of one or another divine perspective. Our vision is mimetic to one or another of the Gods." [128]

"Without this archetypal component affecting our lives, there would be no spiritual drive, no new sparks, no going beyond the given, no grandeur and sense of personal destiny." [129]

Web Resources

Active Imagination

Jungian Therapy 101: Active Imagination
[Jason E. Smith, Heartsfire Counseling]

Dwelling Imaginally in Soulless Times: An Appreciation of the World of James Hillman
[Sylvester Wojtkowski]

Personifying Aspects of the Unconscious


Joan Chodorow (ed.), Jung On Active Imagination (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997)

Barbara Hannah, Encounters with the Soul: Active Imagination as Developed by C.G. Jung (Santa Monica, California: Sigo, 1981)

Robert A. Johnson, Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986)

Mary Watkins, Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues (Boston: Sigo Press, 1990)

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