Archetypal Psychologies

Reflections in Honor of James Hillman

Edited by Stanton Marlan

I was quite disappointed by this promising collection. Apparently Hillman’s biography is around the corner—we have an extract from it here. So this volume of essays, by a wide array of therapists, writers and thinkers who have been markedly influenced by Hillman, becomes part of a kind of consolidation and rounding up, which also includes the publication of a “uniform edition” of his articles and shorter works. Hillman declared in his last book, A Terrible Love of War, that he was done writing. He was always mindful—to put it mildly—of death, and the importance of facing closure, of using it to focus the construction of the soul.

So I guess I let my own expectations be carried away by this, and instead of the momentous gathering of ideas in Hillman’s “tradition” that I hoped for, Archetypal Psychologies presents more of an informal get-together, “honouring” Hillman a little more in friendly respect than in any notable attempts to creatively overturn things as Hillman himself did.

Wolfgang Giegerich flies the flag of terse, intellectually muscular polemic, making his contribution a stand-out; Raphael López-Pedraza’s short discussion of depth psychology’s relation to aesthetics is pleasingly to-the-point and insightful; and Patricia Berry’s pithy “rules of thumb” for analysis are fascinating fruits of long experience, and a refreshing example of a very “un-Hillmanian” approach.

There’s plenty more—filling nearly 500 pages—but even given my slightly distorted expectations, things are much patchier here than they perhaps might have been. It’s hard to recommend it as any kind of introduction to Hillman—his interview book and selected writings in A Blue Fire are still the best routes in. For Hillman aficionados and others interested in depth psychology, it’s certainly got some good insights to offer, and works as a “state of play” report from active proponents of archetypal psychology. However, don’t expect your world to be rocked.