Existential Coaching & Jung

What do existential coaching and Jungian Analysis have in common? Dr. Hudson’s own journey toward existential coaching has taken him through extensive Jungian analysis and the life lessons of career, marriage, divorce, parenting, parental loss and retirement from surgery. During his over five years in Jungian analysis he came to understood why Jung felt that most of the people who came to him were not mentally ill but searching for meaning in their lives. 


This is exactly the experience of the existential coach, who begins with the assumption that the client is normal  and not  ill. This empowering view can lead to change in the client in many areas including career, relationships and life in general.  An existential coach does not simply help you achieve your goals  but helps you define your values and make your goals and values align.


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The following is modified from the an article written by Mark Vernon for the BBC on the 50th anniversary of Jung’s death.  It is available in full at: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-13645959

Those that look outside dream, those that look inside Awaken

Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung died 50 years ago today. Alongside Sigmund Freud, he is arguably one of the two people of the 20th century who most shaped the way we think about who we are...

Have you ever discussed whether you were introverted or extroverted? Undergone a personality test on a training course? Wondered what lurks in the shadow side of your character? Carl Jung is the person to thank.

The Swiss psychologist devised a series of personality types. He coined introvert for someone who needs quality time on their own and extrovert (although Jung spelled it "extravert") for the person who never feels better than when in a crowd. Personality tests, such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, draw directly from them.

The shadow side of your character is that part of you which is normally hidden, but sometimes leaps out, catching you unawares. Why is it that the calmest people curse and swear when driving in traffic? Why is it that upright citizens sometimes commit crimes of passion? Jung had an answer - we all carry a shadow...

So what might Jung make of our psychological wellbeing today?

He would see signs of progress. Take the way we worry about the care of children. In the last 50 years, attitudes towards parenting have shifted markedly. Psychologists now widely recognize that children do best when they receive the dedicated attention of their mother or other primary carer from an early age.

This has much to do with the work of British psychotherapists like John Bowlby. But Bowlby's "attachment theory", as it is called, was anticipated by Jung. While Freud spoke of incestuous passions in his infamous Oedipus complex, Jung had a very different point of view.

Alternatively, consider the way that our culture tries to tackle ageism and cares about older employees. That again is absolutely right, Jung would say.

"The afternoon of life must have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage of life's morning," he wrote. For a culture with an aging population like ours, Jung offers a vision of the glories of growing old, seeing it as a path to wisdom rather than a decline into senility.

We shouldn't despair over our mid-life crises, he thought, but seize them as the chance to find new vision and purpose.

Modern neuroscience has done much to back up Jung's understanding of the unconscious too. It confirms that emotional intelligence as well as reason is vital when making decisions….

An integrated personality is what we should seek. It's the rounded character we love in our wise grandmother or someone famous who has become a reflective national treasure….

Jung would spot the high levels of mental illness in modern society as well, marked by the boom in prescribed anti-depressants and other drugs in the years after his death. He would see that even politicians and economists are becoming concerned that while a nation's material wealth can grow inexorably, it does not appear to deliver true happiness or fulfillment.

There are many factors that contribute to these trends. Jung was gripped by those that are psychological and reasoned that such concerns - real or imagined - arise in large part when we become disconnected from our spiritual side.

He argued that while modern science has yielded unsurpassed knowledge about the human species, it has led, paradoxically, to a narrower, machine-like conception of what it means to be a human individual….

It is as if people are suffering from "a loss of soul". Too often, the world does not seem to be for us, but against us.

Towards the end of his life, Jung reflected that many - perhaps most - of the people who came to see him were not…mentally ill. They were, rather, searching for meaning.



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Coaching for Physicians

The Leader in Specialized Coaching for Healthcare Organizations and Physicians

Patrick A. Hudson MD, FACS, Board Certified Coach, 2900 Louisiana Blvd. NE Ste E-1, Albuquerque, NM 87110, USA    Telephone: 505-280-4284  
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Dr. Hudson does not practice psychotherapy, counseling or psychiatry and works only as a coach.
If you suffer from an emotional or psychiatric problem he can help refer you to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
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