Jungian Psychoanalyst and author, Dr. Del McNeely, in her book, Mercury Rising: Women, Evil and the Trickster Gods, explains the value of the Trickster archetype.
The Trickster plays a critical role in psychotherapy, says McNeely. As an archetype of transition, the Trickster can guide the journey of “individuation” that is essential in psychotherapy. The Trickster mediates between the conscious and unconscious world, Dr. McNeely points out, a needed requirement in psychotherapy for truth and psychological growth.
In her book Becoming, she considers the issue that personal growth for the individual is being dismissed by both the profession and the medical industrial complex. What does she think are the main problems with today’s marketplace and the dismissive approach to individuals’ growth and development?
“I believe the more we uncover, the more light shines through onto the conscious world and the wider and deeper our vision becomes,” Dr. McNeely said.
“Medication can help us feel better, but it does not get us to any new information about our complex selves. Only talking and opening to new thinking can do that. After listening to my interview with Laura London, I wondered, ‘Did I get across the sense that individuating implies that one becomes, not more introverted and self-obsessed, but more aware of one’s responsibility to society?’ I do address this in the book, but I may not have focused much on it in the interview. A consequence of individuating is that one recognizes the importance of contributing to one’s fellow human beings with empathy, compassion, and active participation in society.”
Dr. McNeely recently heard an interview with a prominent psychiatrist who presides over an eminent medical complex, and he spoke for one hour about the problem of the shortage of Adderall and other anxiety reducing drugs. He talked about how this was attempted to be handled, how people could minimize their concerns until the drug was replaced, but Dr. McNeely said she was shocked he never once mentioned psychotherapy. This should be distressing she noted, in view of the many studies that show how talk therapy is much more successful than medication alone in treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, obsessive- compulsive, and other psychiatric disorders.
Does she have any ideas for how this can be remedied?
“You can’t accompany someone to a level of consciousness you have not attained yourself,” Dr. McNeely said. “There is great satisfaction in resolving a complex that has held power over you for years; to feel compulsions resolve and give way to conscious choices; to watch resentments and hatreds unravel and disappear in good will; to feel gratitude replace bitterness; to see a third solution to opposites that were impossible to resolve previously; to see the larger of several possibilities; to recognize old ego problems you have outgrown; to have a wider vision, a larger container for truth; to find attitudes soften and bodily tensions relax.”
And what is her advice to psychotherapists in today’s culture?
“Experience in depth psychotherapy should be part of every psychologist’s training. Enjoy the privilege of being present as people examine their souls,” said Dr. McNeely. “Psychologists should plan financially to include a sliding scale payment plan in which long-term patients can afford, as well as offering some pro-bono work for the benefit of the community. Enjoy gratitude. Psychotherapists know the value of Jung’s approach through clinical results, that is, watching people enlarge their consciousness and change their attitudes and behavior, transforming their suffering into psychological well-being.
“However, psychology’s fascination with behavioral techniques, made necessary by financial concerns and promoted by insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, has changed the nature of psychotherapy, and has attempted to dismiss the wisdom of Jung and other pioneers of the territory of the unconscious mind,” Dr. McNeely said.
Dr. McNeely is a founding member of the New Orleans Jungian Training Seminar, an organization that trains analysts as part of the Inter-regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and she remains on the faculty. She is also advisor to the C.G. Jung Society of New Orleans.
“I consider the society a valuable asset to our culture, as we try to present a vision of psychoanalysis to the public that is more than the Freudian model that was so popular in the mid-1900s. Freud and Jung both understood the importance of the unconscious.”
What have been some of the most satisfying experiences she has had in mentoring and training others?
“In practicing analysis this observation of Jung has brought me great satisfaction as I can watch person expand their range of awareness beyond their personal being and become more conscious of their connection to a larger reality,” Dr. McNeely said. “Most people begin analysis with uncovering their repressed early history (Freud) and continue on to discover the energetic center that Jung describes. This is a transformation that is very rewarding for me.”
Dr. McNeely is distinguished in the community for her books and plays. Among her publications, she has authored four books on Jungian psychology – Touching: Body Therapy & Depth Psychology; Animus Aeternus: Exploring the Inner Masculine; Mercury Rising: Women, Evil, & the Trickster Gods; and Becoming: An Introduction to Jung’s Concept of Individuation.
“I’ve also written a memoir,” she explained, “A Russian Lullaby, about my three years in the Soviet Union. And my one-act play, Visions of Genius, addresses the relationship between Jung, James Joyce, and his daughter Lucia. It was performed on the evening of March 18, 2016, to benefit the C.G. Jung Society of New Orleans.”
An Atheist, a Priest, and a Jungian Analyst Walk into a Bar, another one-act play, written and directed by Dr. McNeely, was performed in 2019, also as a fund raiser for the C.G. Jung Society of New Orleans. The actors, all volunteers, gave a staged reading at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans where the Jung Society programs are held.
The play puts forth ideas about many controversial topics in the public awareness today, explained Dr. McNeely. Examples are: the existence of God; the status of women; attitudes toward abortion, the clergy and celibacy; college politics; student disquietude; intolerance of different religions and races; the importance of imagination.
Dr. McNeely said in a previous interview with Laura London, “My books have come about when something in my life spoke to me and wanted to be expanded upon, like the Trickster complex, women’s poetry, etc. But I think my main object in writing and speaking is to convey the experience of contentment that comes when we expand consciousness and that connection to a larger self is made and felt.” She further stated in the interview, “That was a fundamental motive in writing Becoming. I feel so strongly that someone has to convey this message to young people. You can learn through talk-therapy to change most problem areas that cause trouble in your life. It takes longer but is in the end healthier and more rewarding than taking medications and drugs to change behavior faster. Find an analyst you feel compatible with and talk on a regular basis. Talk over your concerns, your feelings about the therapy and the therapist as well, your doubts, dreams, failures, pride, hopes, traumas, loves, losses … all.”
Dr. McNeely received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University and has held the Diplomate in Clinical Psychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology for over 50 years. She studied at the C.G. Jung Institute Zürich and completed her training as an analyst with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts in the United States.
How did she choose her career path?
“I began a lengthy psychoanalysis while in graduate school with a Freudian, the brilliant Ed Knight,” Dr. McNeely said. “I then applied for training at his suggestion but was turned down because the New Orleans training institute could not take another woman and non-MD at that time. But several years later I learned about the Jung Institute in Switzerland and realized it was even more to my inclination, and I was accepted there for training.”
“In graduate school of psychology at LSU, I had the good fortune of having some wonderful clinicians as professors, like Tom Richards, Joe Dawson, Paul Young and others. They taught that our best work required developing our most conscious selves. The therapist’s instrument of change is oneself. We were encouraged to seek therapy, to know ourselves,” Dr. McNeely said.
Where did she get her training in Jungian Analysis and what was it like?
“After spending a year in Zurich, I could not afford to keep living abroad and had to continue analytic training in the United States. Upon returning to the US, I learned about the newly formed, InterRegional Society of Jungian Analysts and continued my training there,” she said.
“The training usually takes about 6 years, but I spent much longer due to taking time off to marry and accompany my husband on his engineering job in the Ukraine. I was in training at the InterRegional Society of Jungian Analysts from 1974 to 1986. I found the material more difficult when I was first exposed to Jung’s ideas in Zurich, and so different from the Freudian and behavioristic programs I was familiar with.
“But then I began to love the readings and discussions, and never tired of doing psychotherapy and analysis. And observing the growth of consciousness in each person. Training included seminars and classes, individual supervision of case work, mentoring and examinations by committees who observed our progress, and continuing individual analysis,” Dr. McNeely said.