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Sherry Salman's book DREAMS OF TOTALITY is worth engaging with (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) April 14, 2015: In her wide-ranging book DREAMS OF TOTALITY: WHERE WE ARE WHEN THERE'S NOTHING AT THE CENTER (2013), Sherry Salman, a Jungian psychoanalyst who holds a Ph.D. in neuropsychology from the City of New York, discusses dreams of totality. It can be instructive to consider certain points she makes.

In the book THE THEOCONS: SECULAR AMERICA UNDER SIEGE (2006), Damon Linker has alerted progressives and liberals to the threats posed by certain American Catholic conservatives. In Sherry Salmon's terminology, those theocons are having dreams of totality.

In the Muslim world today, the armed radicals in ISIS are also having dreams of totality. For a clear-sighted discussion of Islam today, see Ayaan Hirsi Ali's new book HERETIC: WHY ISLAM NEEDS A REFORMATION NOW (2015).

So at least certain dreams of totality can be dangerous for other people who do not buy into them. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to consider the nature of dreams of totality -- one's own personal dreams of totality and group dreams of totality.

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Group dreams of totality are an integral part of many religious movements and can be an integral part of certain political movements -- as, for example, the Nazi movement in Germany. In American culture at the present time, both major political parties are far too fractious to be characterized by a unifying group dream of totality.

Group dreams of totality aim to establish an in-group versus an out-group. The in-group form by a group dream of totality constitutes what Maurice Friedman (1921-2012) characterizes as a community of affinity -- that is, a community of like-minded people. In contrast with communities of affinity, Friedman suggests that we today need communities of otherness, in which the people are not necessarily like-minded. So group dreams of totality are anathema to the formation of communities of otherness.

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JUNG'S CLAIMS ABOUT THE SELF

Sherry Salman quotes something that C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist and psychological theorist, wrote, she claims, late in his life in a letter in 1957 to Miguel Serrano, responding to an inquiry Serrano had made: "'I believe that the thing I call the self is a dream of totality'" (quoted on page 3).

In note 2 on page 13, Sherry Salman claims that she is quoting from page 50 of the 1966 edition of Miguel Serrano's book C. G. JUNG AND HERMAN HESSE: A RECORD OF TWO FRIENDSHIPS.

However, in my copy of the revised and enlarged 1997 edition of Serrano's book, I did not find any letter from Jung to Serrano in 1957.

But in Serrano's lengthy record of what Jung said in his first interview with him on February 29, 1959 (pages 62-71), Serrano quotes Jung as making the following statements:

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"'So far I have found no stable or definite center in the unconscious, and I don't believe such a center exists. I believe that the thing which I call the Self is an ideal center, equidistant between the Ego and the Unconscious, and it is probably equivalent to the maximum natural expression of individuality, in a state of fulfillment or totality. As Nature aspires to express itself, so does man, and the Self is that dream of totality'" (quoted on page 65; all capitalizations have been supplied either by Serrano or the publishing house).

To paraphrase, Jung's conceptual construct "the Self" expresses and represents the vision/dream of individual "fulfillment or totality" -- in short, the ultimate goal of individual psycho-spiritual development.

For Jung, the goal of psychological integration in the second half of life involved what he termed the Self. He uses this conceptual construct to refer to that with which one communes when one communes with the unconscious, after one has worked to free one's ego-consciousness of so-called shadow contents in one's personal unconscious by integrating those contents in one's ego-consciousness.

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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; Ph.D.in 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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