Ann Ulanov, Creativity and
Ann Ulanov is a Jungian psychotherapist in the school of Analytical
Psychology (Freud: Psychanalysis; Jung: Analytical Psychology)
1: Personal Madness
- Creativity and Madness places the individual within a larger
worldview of madness, especially of the madness of society
- This work is also Ann Ulanov's guide to Jung's Red Book, which
is a chronicle of Jung's own descent into madness in a world that was
going mad. Jung chronicled his inner journey from 1913-1916 in the Red
Book, a time when the world descended into World War I; he
drafted the original book from 1914 to 1917 but continued to work on it
- Ann Ulanov expresses her understanding in ordinary language, avoiding
- Creativity and Madness is divided into two parts. Part I
(Chapters 1 & 2) describes the character of and descent into
personal and collective madness. Part II (Chapters 3 & 4) describes
the creative path out of madness, each on her or his own, but also
inextricably addressing the larger social and cultural conditions.
Question: What is the relation between reason, emotion, and the body in
the experience of personal madness?
- Ulanov defines "personal madness" as the experience of dislocation:
physical, emotional, & intellectual; body, heart, & mind.
- Madness is a descent into an experience in which one has lost or does
not have access to a framework large enough to hold one's experience. It
is the loss of world, narrative, and ruling principle. Ego-consciousness
seeks a basic idea or principle - whether that is God, philosophical
Truth, or believe in 'oneself,' but in the experience of madness, what
had formerly seemed reliable, rational, and orderly disintegrates; one
"loses one's mind."
Chapter 2: Collective Madness
- Adaptation: Forms of psychotherapy that emphasize treatment of
symptoms, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, seek primarily to lead
the client to re-adapt to the existing way of thinking and doing. What
is one's view of the way things ought to be, begins to break up?
- Adaptation: What happens when our story, narrative, or ruling
principle concerning society starts to disintegrate, that "our ruling
principles are not ulimate truth but at best our constructions of
- Following Jung, Ulanov suggests that one must not dissociate from
external events that seem senseless and somehow incorporate them into
our inner lives meaningfully, personally (22-24). She gives the example
of recognizing one's consumerism as a door into our own dark side of
- Owning evil: Jung has a vision of eating a young girl's liver. He is
the agent of this evil act. He must own his collusion in this evil,
atone for his transgression, and reconnect with her, his soul, the anima
(32-34). In order to do this, the ruling principle of reason and
his vision of himself as the hero must be sacrificed, and in this, he is
assisted by evil, the vision of his transgression, its recognition,
leading him not to a new rational principle, but to loss of reason,
opening to mystery, awareness of body and emotion (32-36). This leads
not to the victory of good over evil, but rather the letting go of the
need for a final "Good" (37-38).
Guiding Question: What is the relation between personal madness and
collective madness? Must the experience of personal madness always be
seen in light of collective madness? What is the significance of time
in relation to the process of recognizing and becoming aware of how
collective madness relates to one's own situation? Is it a linear
process? Is it a time within a rational framework?
Chapter 3: Compelling
Guiding Question: How can the experience of losing one's mind be
positive, creative? How is this related to social, collective madness,
and how does the creative transformation of consciousness and psyche
fundamental psychological complex is the 'ego complex' of
vulnerability, anger, inferiority, and meaninglessness' (42-46).
- The path of individuation is not to get rid of or solve the
complex but to relate to it appropriately, creatively. It is a
relational pathway (44).
- Ancestor, reptition compulsion, and gap: Complexes invite one to
revisit one's history, the ancestors to one's present condition.
'Ancestor' can be seen as both literal and symbolic. The complex has
the power to pull us back in repeatedly, as though one is
'revisiting the scene of the crime.' This opens up a gap in one's
psyche, a gap that opens out on to the unknown, the abyss, mystery,
and filled with power (numimous, numinosum)(47-51).
- Gap becomes 'space.' The gap of the gaping abyss can transform
into the space of inner exploration and discovery (55-57).
- This space allow for the disintegration of the ruling principle of
ego-consciousness, the recognition of the darkness of the shadow, of
the dark side, and the transformation effected through the
constellating power of the unconscious channeled through
consciousness. Ulanov gives an example of a woman undergoing this
Chapter 4: Creative Return
- Creative Return to a healing, integrating consciousness can be likened
to possessing a child-like openness, curiosity, and relatedness without
abandoning adult discernment, reflection, and ability. This is the realm
of the divine-child, of God-in-human and the human-in-God (73-77),
- Ritual vs Repetition. The repetitive compulsion to revisit the complex
becomes transformed into a ritual practice that allows one to actively
reimagine one's world/psyche and transcend/tranform the tyranny of the
complex and rigid ego-consciousness (80).
- When ego-consciousness begins to relate to its own Shadow, dark side,
the complexes residing within, and the ego as the fundamental complex,
consciousness starts opening to the abyss within, begins to see the
space of creative inner awareness and relating. Instead of merely
revisiting the scene of the crime, one begins to find ritual practices
that relate and integrate consciousness and the collective unconscious,
the realm of the Inner Divine. Open to chaos and mystery, facilitating
the reconciliation of opposites, consciousness becomes the co-creator of
the inner cosmos with the collective unconscious, and this also becomes
related to the transformation of the outer world, of society and nature.
This is the unleashing of one's God-making capacity (85-86). This is the
process of individuation, of becoming a unique individual, of finding
one's voice and identity, and of become whole as ego-Self,
Guiding Question: Find an example of this process in Chapter 4. How might
this be related to what we have seen of Buddhist practice?