A polytheistic psychology and a Jungian tradition that attempts to focus on the psyche or soul, instead of the ego, in analysis of psychology. Developed by James Hillman in the latter half of the 20th century. Hillman attempts to recognize the "myriad fantasies and myths- gods, goddesses, demigods, mortals and animals- that shape and are shaped by our psychological lives."
"The dream work would include 'keeping the snake' and describing it rather than making it something other than a snake, such as a symbol of the penis. Hillman notes that '...the moment you've defined the snake, interpreted it, you've lost the snake, you've stopped it and the person leaves the hour with a concept about my repressed sexuality or my cold black passions' (p. 53). One would inquire more about the snake as it is presented in the dream and by the psyche. The snake is huge and black, but what else? Is it molting or shedding its skin? Is it sunning itself on a rock? Is it digesting its prey? This descriptive strategy keeps the image alive, in Hillman's opinion, and offers the possibility for understanding the psyche." (Wiki)
In this dream analysis Hillman would argue that you need to take into account the dream and the dream only. When symbols interfere with the understanding, then meaning is given to the dream, instead of meaning learned from the dream and given to the dreamer. If you were sitting with a psychiatrist, you have all the answers, the counselor's job then is to guide you to your own answers, not be taught representational mumbo-jumbo. Asking questions like: Are there other snakes in the dream, if so, is the black snake bigger or smaller than them? Is the snake full, hungry, digesting? Is the snake shedding? Where is the snake? On a tree? In the grass? This fundamentally boils down to the question, what kind of snake is it? This results in finding out the individual meaning of that one snake in that person's dream instead of assigning a generalization that Freud came up with. Finally this gives true development and understanding.
Soul is a perspective
"Hillman has been critical of the 20th century’s psychologies (e.g. biological psychology, behaviorism, cognitive psychology) that have adopted a natural scientific philosophy and praxis. Main criticisms include that they are reductive, materialistic, and literal; they are psychologies without psyche, without soul. Accordingly, Hillman’s oeuvre has been an attempt to restore psyche to its proper place in psychology." (Wiki) Soul is not a thing or an entity Hillman explains. Soul doesn't have substance, but it should be recognized as a viewpoint. This is in direct relation to his training with Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.
Dreams are real.
They "show ideas, beliefs, and feelings of which individuals are not readily aware, but need to be, and that such material is expressed in a personalized vocabulary of visual metaphors." (Wiki) These are things that are "known but unknown," in the cavity of the unconscious somewhere. Dreams are one of the main vehicles for the unconscious to express them.
So stop being a subjective hater! Well, none of you e2 readers are subjective haters or you'd be reading on wiki. But in any case, Hillman argues that this subjective material is what psychologists ignore, to their loss. Just because its hard to have empirical evidence on this field doesn't mean it holds less value.
James Hillman has wrote the following books and essays concerning this subject (Not all included):
- The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling
- Re-Visioning Psychology
- We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy--And the World's Getting Worse
- Dreams & the Underworld
- Archetypal Psychology: A Brief Account
- Archetypal Sex: Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture
- Insearch; Psychology and Religion
- The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays in Archetypal Psychology
Archetypal Psychology, Uniform Edition, Vol. 1 (Spring Publications, 2004)
And variously other skimmed Hillman books.