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Life Arts    H4'ed 3/20/15

The Pursuit of Happiness (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) March 20, 2015: No doubt many liberal and progressive Americans see themselves as engaged in the pursuit of happiness, as do many conservative Americans.

In effect, Christine Hassler and Lissa Rankin, M.D., have written self-help books about the pursuit of happiness, based on their revised views of the pursuit of happiness after experiencing certain personal setbacks. Each author lives in California.

Dr. Rankin supplied the foreword to Christine Hassler's book EXPECTATION HANGOVER: OVERCOMING DISAPPOINTMENT IN WORK, LOVE, AND LIFE (2014, pages xi-xiii). In her foreword Dr. Rankins says, "Everyone on a hero's journey needs a mentor, and Christine is the perfect guide as you walk your own path" (page xiii).

In my estimate, all Americans should be on a hero's journey. On Dante's hero journey through the underworld, he had Virgil as his guide through Hell and Purgatory. Then he had Beatrice as his guide through Paradise. Figuratively speaking, Christine Hassler in her self-book EXPECTATION HANGOVER (2014) can be a guide through Hell, and Dr. Rankin in her book THE FEAR CURE (2015) can be a guide through Purgatory.

Each author's latest book may be of interest to liberals and progressives who are engaged in the pursuit of happiness. So I will highlight each book and comment on it by connecting it with certain other works I'm familiar with.

Christine Hassler's Book EXPECTATION HANGOVER (2014)

In the book MYSTERIUM CONJUNCTIONIS: AN INQUIRY INTO THE SEPARATION AND SYNTHESIS OF PSYCHIC OPPOSITES IN ALCHEMY, translated by R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed. (1970), the Swiss psychiatrist and psychological theorist C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), claims that "wisdom is the comforter in all psychic suffering" (page 246).

In her book EXPECTATION HANGOVER (2014), Christine Hassler recounts how her own psychic suffering prompted her to consider committing suicide at the age of twenty-seven. However, she says, "Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, a wave of unconditional love and compassion flooded over me. Time stopped. My pain was replaced with comfort" (page 4).

Perhaps this could be understood as an example of what Dr. Jung means by the spirit of wisdom emerging in the psyche as a comforter.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that wisdom did not exactly characterize Christine Hassler's life subsequently.

In her thirties, Christine Hassler says, "Everything I expected to make me happy had manifested, yet I still felt a deep sense of longing for something else" (page 5).

Dr. Jung discusses how "[t]he longing of the darkness [in the human psyche] for light" might be fulfilled. He says, "Everything in the darkness thinks, grasps, and comprehends by itself is dark; therefore it is illuminated only by what, to it, is unexpected, unwanted, and incomprehensible" (page 255).

M. Esther Harding, M.D. (1888-1971), perceptively discusses the darkness in the human psyche that Jung refers to in her book WOMAN'S MYSTERIES: ANCIENT AND MODERN (1971).

Whether or not Christine Hassler was experiencing longing arising from the darkness in her psyche that Dr. Jung writes about, she says, "The most notable fallout of this shake-up [prompted by her longing] was a divorce that catapulted me further into the Expectation Hangover, which became the most severe I had ever experienced" (page 5).

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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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