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Depression in Older Adults Today and Dante's DIVINE COMEDY

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) September 14, 2014: In her book PSYCHIC ENERGY (1947), M. Esther Harding, M.D. (1888-1971), a Jungian psychoanalyst, discusses Dante's life and poetry -- and makes an extraordinary claim about the celestial rose imagery in Dante's DIVINE COMEDY.

C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist and pioneering psychological theorist, and his early followers, including Dr. Harding, were deeply interested in the comparative study of religion. In addition, Dr. Jung became interested in studying alchemy.

In her lengthy book, Dr. Harding incorporates Jung's ideas and terminology, including material from Jung's study of alchemy as well as material from the comparative study of religion. Her book is an intelligent and fluent exposition and amplification of Jung's thought -- far more lucid than anything Jung himself wrote. (Even though he was a remarkably articulate and knowledgeable person, he was not a gifted writer -- as Dante was.)


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Young Dante projected his anima archetype on to a young Italian girl named Beatrice.

This projection on to her inflamed a divine passion in him for her -- the kind of divine passion that is commemorated in the Song of Songs. For young Dante, young Beatrice was "it."

No doubt many young men have projected the anima archetype in their psyches on to young women who as a result of the projection became "it" for them.

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No doubt many young women have projected the animus archetype in their psyches on to young men who as a result of the projection became "it" for them.

However, young Beatrice married somebody else. Subsequently, she died at a relatively young age. As a result, young Dante's passionate love was frustrated by Beatrice's marriage and death.

No doubt many young men who also projected the anima archetype in their psyches on to young women have experienced rejection and frustration.

No doubt many young women who have projected the animus archetype in their psyches on to young men have experienced rejection and frustration.

Concerning rejection in romantic love, see Susan Anderson's book THE JOURNEY FROM ABANDONMENT TO HEALING (2000).

Subsequently, young Dante married somebody else and had children with her. However, because of his political activism, he was exiled from his hometown and his wife and children.

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No doubt many people marry partners who were not the first loves in their lives.

During his exile, Dante wrote the DIVINE COMEDY, in which he commemorates his youthful love by naming a certain woman character in it Beatrice. The character named Beatrice serves as the guide for the character named Dante. Beatrice serves as Dante's guide in Paradise.

Earlier, a character named Virgil serves as Dante's the character's guide in touring through the Inferno and Purgatory. Virgil the guide represents the Wise Old Man archetype in Dante the poet's psyches.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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