The Pathologizing of the World Soul
The world, because of its breakdown, is entering a new moment of consciousness: by drawing attention to itself by means of its symptoms, it is becoming aware of itself as a psychic reality (Hillman, Thought, 97).
Does this statement resonate with you? Do you feel that sense of assent deep within that Hillman is absolutely right? Even though he penned these words in the early Eighties, he is right on the money. He saw it happening even then.
The world is in trouble, just as an individual in Jung’s heyday might have been plagued with symptoms of schizophrenia. And Jung, in his wisdom, would have pointed that person back to health with his amazing therapeutic ideas. In his day, the world was considered isolated from our concerns, something to be ruled over and dominated. In our day, however, the world is no longer separate from us, cold, dead, and material. It is just as much part of us as our organs or senses. But the world is breaking down. Although it has been occurring for some time, last year, 2016, brought us the stark realization that we may be living in the last days. Or, are we?
James Hillman has made the pathologization of the soul one of the main tenets of his archetypal psychology. The evil and ugliness we see in our world are psychopathologizations of the Anima Mundi, symptoms that provide clues as to her psychic state of affairs. According to Hillman, pathologization is “the psyche’s autonomous ability to create illness, morbidity, disorder, abnormality, and suffering in any aspect of its behavior and to experience and imagine life through this deformed and afflicted perspective” (Hillman, Revisioning, 57). If the Soul of the World desires to engage in metamorphosis, and we know she does, then, according to Hillman, she will autonomously create abnormal and disordered situations that will ultimately further her transformation. Isn’t that what we’ve been witnessing for many years now? These scenarios seem to be accelerating in their frequency, as well. Does this mean the World Soul is drawing closer to departing from the cosmic chrysalis?
Considering all of this, are the afflictions of the World Soul necessary for her individuation? Again, referring to Hillman, “without psychopathology, there is no wholeness; in fact, psychopathology is a differentiation of that wholeness” (Hillman, Revisioning 108). I think it is safe to say, then, without pathologization, there is no soul-making.
So, all the turmoil we are seeing, especially in the United States, today, will lead to the further metamorphosis of the Anima Mundi, something we are in desperate need of. At some point in the history of the world this may lead to an evolutionary leap in consciousness. That, in turn, may provide the means for establishing Utopia, which American progressives so eagerly crave, although I very much doubt whether that will ever be accomplished. As long the World Soul has a need for individuation, there will be a need for pathologization.
Hillman, James. Re-Visioning Psychology. New York: Harper Collins, 1975.
Hillman, James. The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World. Putnam: Spring, 1992.