Amazing Grace: Transcending the Frenetic or Paralytic Relationship Between Hope and Despair
C. G. Jung believed that religion’s—and by comparison, therapy’s—greatest gift was giving people what they need to live a meaningful life: faith, hope, love, and understanding. He called these “the four great gifts of grace,” which can both heal the suffering and liberate the soul of humanity.
We could all use a little grace right now, living in a time many of us experience as one of environmental chaos, cultural disintegration, and collective despair.
This presentation focuses on the gift of hope. And because we are depth psychologists and this is what we do, we’ll also look at despair, the shadowy sister of hope. Hope and despair are opposite affects, but are so entwined that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to untangle them. Instead, when faced with the tension of these opposites, Jungian theory reminds us to seek for the transcendent function, a uniting symbol that frees us from the freneticism of bouncing back and forth between two opposing affects, or the paralysis that comes with too much hope, or too much despair.
The presentation will end by offering the symbol of the mandorla as a way to hold the tension of these two affects and still take action on behalf of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr.’s vision of the beloved community.
Jennifer Leigh Selig, PhD. is an alum and is on the teaching faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She’s been an educator for 30 years, and is the author of many books, articles, screenplays, and a few bad poems from her early 20’s that are best forgotten. Her forthcoming book, Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Enliven Your Creative Life (Shambhala Publications), is based up on the principles of depth psychology, and co-written with fellow Pacifica alum Deborah Anne Quibell, PhD, and emeritus faculty member Dennis Patrick Slattery, PhD.