In the middle of WWII, looking out over ‘the dense-smoke …[going] up like the dense-smoke of a furnace!’ (Genesis 19:28; Fox (1995) translation), Erich Neumann began to compose his first, published masterpiece, Depth Psychology and the New Ethic ([1948] 1969). Like ‘Abraham waiting, seeing, understanding that he has been naïve concerning the pervasiveness and reality of human evil.’ (Abramovitch 1994, p. 110), Neumann experienced an urgent need to confront evil. With the perspective that comes from being ‘removed from the immediate epicenter of the catastrophe …spared the fate of Sodom for a reason’ (Abramovitch 1994, p. 108) he became like Abraham a ‘survivor-witness’. He continued working on his manuscript through the post-war “cold war” period when “world destruction” was no longer an archetypal fantasy but an ever-present danger (Neumann 1969, p. 25). After the holocaust and with the threat of nuclear holocaust, Neumann understood that the confrontation with evil was at the heart of the depth psychology of ethics. He argued that “depth psychology” – that approach to the psyche which takes the unconscious seriously – had much to offer towards explaining how human affairs had gone so wrong i.e. to understand and explain the outburst of evil in our times. He also felt that depth psychology could point towards an evolution of ethical awareness that could in principle prevent such evil deeds from recurring. He called this new approach, “the new ethic”. The book had become his “survivor mission”.




To understand what Neumann’s new ethic, we must first consider what he meant by the

“old ethic”, which had failed so miserably in its task of restraining destructive forces.

The old ethic is familiar to us all from the Spiritual Teachings, such as, Ten Commandments. Its archetypal image is of the wise, good, devout hero acting as a person of immense self-control. “Who is the hero?” asks the Hebrew Sayings of the Fathers 6:3, and the answer is given, “The one who conquers his [evil] impulses.” The traditional ethic is based on the principle of restriction, whether in religion or the ethics of professional behavior (Abramovitch 2006a & 2006b). These restrictions, later codified into rules, are designed to govern all thought and behavior, in a universal manner. Everyone should aspire to follow the Golden Rule and obey the Ten Commandments. From Neumann’s point of view, the old ethic is firmly based on the denial of the negative and a triumph of the ego over the dark urges of the unconscious. The philosophy of the old ethic is based in turn, on the idea of spiritual perfection. It embodies an idealized, absolute and hence one-sided view of humanity. Moral life is seen as an endless struggle between our good and bad parts, as illustrated in the archetypal theme of the hostile brothers (Cain/Abel, Seth/Osiris, Balder/Loki, Jacob/Esau etc.) who represent the dual aspects of the human soul, the ego and its shadow. In the cosmic version, there is an endless conflict between opposites: spirit/matter, left/right, up/down and indeed God and the Devil. The good person aspires, in the old ethic, to be purely good. In Jungian terms, one might say that ego identifies with the collective values of the society and so denies his own shadow. In this process, the ego may lose touch with its own limitations and in attempting to become disembodied, pure spirit may become inhuman. Montaigne well understood this phenomenon when he said: “ They want to get out of themselves and escape from the man. That is madness: instead of changing into angels, they change into beasts” (Montaigne 1965, p.xiv). As a result, atrocities may then be committed in the name of some wonderful ideal. The Inquisition truly wanted to save the soul of its victims; the Nazis wanted to purify humanity; Cold warriors wanted to ‘save the world for democracy’. Dangerous idealists all!

Clinically, Neumann understood dreams of flying or becoming invisible in this light. He interpreted such dreams not in any sexual sense that Freud had emphasized, but as indicative that the ego/body was too far removed from the unconscious. Flying dreams suggested that the dreamer was “ungrounded”; being invisible that the dreamer was “unbodied”. Neumann, similarly, understood the same dialectic in the myth of Daedalus’ son, Icarus who with wax wings flies too high and close to the sun. When the sun melts his wings, Icarus crashes back down to earth, in a symbolic, uroboric suicide. (Neumann 1972; 1989). This myth illustrates the principle: Trying to fly too high results in a regressive falling back to the Earth, the unconscious, the Great Mother.

Another Greek myth that Neumann felt characterized the eternal conflict of the opposites was that of the Hydra. The Hydra was a horrible nine-headed monster that spat vile poison. Whenever one cut off one head, two more immediately grew in its place. Trying to kill of the evil parts, only gives them more libido. A violent attack against evil only feeds the evil and makes it stronger. Neumann often linked the psychological with the socio-cultural and vice versa, and we can see the appropriateness in this connection, at least. Psychodynamically as well as politically, we become contaminated when we seek to annihilate the dark side. “Israel’s policy of targeted killing acts out this myth, since cutting off Hydra’s heads, only makes them multiply (Baumann 2006). The anti-terrorist ideologues are trapped in the happy ending of the myth, in which Hercules by severing the true head of the Hydra destroyed the monster. They are unconsciously identified with Hercules, endlessly searching for that mythical “true head” but causing many more to grow in the process. Ultimately, theologians wisely decided that the ultimate victory over evil is to be found, not in this world, but in some truly idealized world to come.




Within the psychodynamics of the old ethic, psychic life revolves around repression and suppression. Repression may lead to a dangerous cycle in which shadow elements are projected outward, scapegoated and then destroyed. Suppression, in contrast, typically leaves the personality flat, with a loss of both creative and animal-like energy. From this perspective, Neumann understood the utility of Scapegoat Rituals, such as those described in the Old Testament in which “evil” is paraded, made conscious and consciously destroyed. (Neumann 1979a). Ritually destroying the scapegoat has a liberating effect since it releases the built up tension both in the individual and in the community as a whole.

According to Neumann, modern alienated mass man has forgotten and lost touch with these ancient purifying ritual that helped ease the relentless pressure of repressing our dark side. As a result, the tendency toward projecting the shadow onto unfamiliar “strangers” becomes more pronounced. Neumann, in his time, wrote about how minorities, POWs, Chinese, Blacks or Jews in turn became the focus of these shadowy projections. Likewise Fascists served as shadow figures for Communists and Communists for the Fascists. In contemporary scene the objects of projection have changed but the mechanism remains depressingly similar. The reason why “aliens” are so often the focus of such projections is that the shadow is alien to the ego. The less you know about strangers, the easier it is to project upon them. Psychologically, Neumann asserted, “ The fight against heretics, political opponents and national enemies is actually the fight against our own religious doubt, insecurity of our own political position and one-sidedness of our own national viewpoint.” (Neumann 1969, p. 52). This insight is based on Jung’s insight that conscious certainly is often compensation for unconscious doubt. The desire to wipe out our own doubt and ambivalence leads directly to the atrocious treatment of these groups. “All wars (and in particular all wars of religion) are breakthroughs of shadow on the level of action” (op. cit. p. 55).




Neumann proposed an evolutionary perspective on the development of ethical awareness in terms of three stages. The first stage is that of “primal unity” in parallel to the primal unity of mother and infant. In this stage, the group is responsible for the individual, and each individual is viewed as the incarnation of the whole group. Such a situation provides a profound sense of belonging and solidarity to its members. It also explains the logic of blood feuds. If the whole group is morally responsible for misdeeds and not the individual himself, then revenge and justice takes places based on group identity. As a result, the actual perpetrator need not be punished directly; anyone in his collective will do. The current cycle of suicide bombings and retaliatory responses in Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Sri Lanka etc. reflects this stage of primal unity. Perpetrators need not be punished; anyone from the opposite camp will do. The morality is pre-old ethic, since it is not right-and-wrong which is paramount, but loyalty to the group. (Abramovitch 2006c; Abramovitch 2006d).

Ethical advances in the second stage, Neumann argued, came exclusively from Great Individuals. (Neumann 1959a;1959b; 1979a; 1981). Inevitably they were the result of a personal revelation by a “Voice” of such a great individual, who acted as its creative centre, as a Self to the Group. These ethical revolutionary figures, whether Socrates, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, St. Francis, Baal Shem Tov and countless other figures, must first pass a moral test, like Abraham praying for to save the sinner at Sodom. Because they provide a radical new view, they are often seen as heretics, traitors or even outlaws. Instead of responding in kind, the ethical pioneer takes suffering upon himself and then gathers about himself a loyal group of devoted followers, who take upon the prescribed ascetic severity upon themselves. This inner group then imposes this new moral standard on all the tribe as the new collective standard. The mass of people accepts and submits to the new canon uncritically, often without having undergone any inner transformation. The new order does lead to a strengthening of the ego over the tyranny of the unconscious but heightens the conscious/unconscious split typical of the old ethic. Rationality, law, commandments and rules become the main bulwark against unconscious emotionality. In terms of the war on terrorism, unwanted parts of ourselves are projected onto the other group who are in turn despised. Atrocities, such as suicide bombings are seen as morally appalling but targeted assassinations are looked on favorably . If innocents are also killed, then rationality may allow the means to justify the ends.

Evil is something the other side does.

Over time such laws becomes rigid or even stultifying. The old canon does not provide psychic solutions either personally or collectively. Illness results from the loss of collective values and institutional procedures. Individuals fall sick because of a problem for which there is no longer a collective answer or procedure. They try to solve for themselves what society no longer solves for all (Erikson). Many of the problems of contemporary youth, i.e. drug use, suicide, anorexia, depression etc. reflect the breakdown of the collective values of the old ethic. (Woodman 1984; Steinberg 1989; Zoja 2000).

The third stage of ethical evolution is what Neumann called “the new ethic”.




What, then, is the new ethic?

At the core of the new ethic is the personal responsibility for the dark side, our unconscious. In this context, Neumann presented a dream in which a hunchback grabs the dreamer by the throat and shouts, “I, too, want a share of your life!” The goal is to grant that dark “hunchbacked” side a share in one’s life. In so doing, the ego must give up its innocence and its facile victim psychology. In anxiety dreams of being chased, the idea of the new ethic is not to flee but to turn around, confront and discover what this pursuing figure wants. The figure is threatening only so long as one flees. In art, literature, cinema and TV, our fascinating with profound psychopathology, from MacBeth to Roskolnikov, from Othello to the Silence of the Lambs reflects our own desire to know this hidden side.

The key commandment of the new ethic is to become conscious. Becoming conscious leads to psychic expansion. Undoing repression reduces the everpresent danger of murderous projection. Neumann summarized distinction between conscious and unconscious evil in the new ethic as follows:

The acknowledgment of one’s own evil is “good”. To be too good – that is, to want to transcend the limits of the good, which is actually available and possible, is evil. Evil done by anybody in a conscious (and that always also implies full awareness of his own responsibility) evil, in fact, from which the agent does not try to escape – is ethically “good”. Repression of evil, accompanied, as it is invariably is by an inflationary overvaluation of oneself is “evil”, even when it is the result of a “positive attitude” or a “good will”. (Neumann 1969, p. 114)

Neumann noted that the new ethic is generically different from sublimation in which evil is tricked into adaptation without taking responsibility for it. On the other hand, the new ethic firmly rejects punishment that similarly tries to exterminate, repress or suppress the negative and consciously renounces the dangerous yearning for a heaven on earth. He also felt that the new ethic affirms the Earthy and the Body. It accepts our own split nature and seeks to heal the splits of body/spirit, heaven/earth, masculine/feminine in a way that puts at the centre, not the ego, but the Self.




Neumann did not provide examples of how the new ethic might function clinically. He did, however, discuss dreams of two individual illustrating the psychic transition from the old to new ethic. The first a dream was that of a Jewish women:

I am in Jaffa. Suddenly there is crowd. I am separated from X and find myself surrounded by Arabs. An Arab grins and seizes hold of me, but many others rush up to him, tear him away from me and shout abuses and curses at him. ‘She is reserved for the King’ they cry.

A new situation. I am standing on a bridge. There is no one present except Arabs. I know that escape is impossible. I know that I am to marry the son of the Arab King. I reflect for a moment. I am very sad at being parted from X. But there is nothing I can do about it now. I think ‘There is no way out, so it’s really better that if I give my consent.’

A priest standing nearby says ‘We can only redeem those who become impure.’

Of course I think, one must become first impure, that is, dare to do something before one can be redeemed.

The priest then says, ‘Osiris is also to be found below’ (Neumann 1969, p. 109).

Neumann noted that this woman had a happy relationship with X, both emotionally and sexually. The dream, clearly, did not reflect some hidden sexual desires or a wish to escape from him. Rather, he argued, the dream reflects the woman’s own individuation process, pushing her toward an “inner marriage”. The path towards this inner marriage involves confronting her shadow and specifically doing something that feels impure and dirty. Arabs are typical shadow figures for Jews (and vice versa, “Jews” for Arabs) in that they represent symbolically the disenfranchised, inferior parts of the personality.

Note how the separation from her regular partner leaves her vulnerable to dangerous male, animus figures in the form of the first Arab who seizes her. His seizing of her might represent the danger of possession in which one is taken over by the dark side when ego and shadow merge and one engages in uncharacteristic immoral actions. Significantly, in the rest of the dream, it is Arabs who redeem her and reveal her destiny as one set aside for a higher purpose (“to marry the son of the King”). The realization of her higher destiny in turn brings about a key shift in her ego attitude (“There is no way out, so it’s really better if I give my consent.”). Instead of resisting and wasting inner resources – making the Arabs all the more frightening – she submits and accepts her own impurity. The cryptic phase of the priest ‘Osiris is also to be found below’ seems to point to the possibility of going deeper and ultimately of attaining a symbolic rebirth, symbolized by the Egyptian god of the Underworld, who himself underwent resurrection.

To amplify the need to enter the underworld, Neumann used a Kabalistic midrash, based on Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav’s re-reading of Leviticus 19:18 (“Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Lord” New JPS Translation). The word, reacha, usually translated as “your fellow” may equally be read as “your evil”. The passage may be reinterpreted to read: “If you love your evil, so too do I, the Lord, love it.” Neumann in this case, was deeply influenced by Kabbalistic teachings concerning the origin of evil and the possibility of repair that the most holy sparks are often to be found at the lowest, most impure level. In the realm of the new ethics, real evil lies in splitting good and evil; genuine goodness resides in wholeness.

Neumann went on to discuss another dream of a Jewish male dreamer with strong interest in Kabbala and other esoteric teachings. This dream, likewise, illustrates the psychodynamics of the transition from one ethic to another. Here is the dream:

There is a heap of letters, in front of me which have to be rubbed clean. After I have finished some of them, a large hand scoops them into the heap and is going to take them all away. I want to call out, ‘But the letters are not nearly all finished yet!’

I am standing in front a large book. Many of the letters are dark and dingy, but I am given to understand that I would find a way of seeing that, they, too, in reality, glitter and shine. They have shining side, but it is hidden. (Neumann 1969, p. 115)

This dreamer’s desire to rub all the letters clean may represent the idealized desire to live in an entirely pure and cleansed world so characteristic of the old ethic in which all dirt, disgust and drives are removed. The second part of the dream reveals the changed attitude in which the dark and dingy letter have a shining, if as yet hidden side, typical of the new ethic. The hidden quality of dark or seemingly evil is a necessary part of the individuation process. A secure individual needs to do “evil” against the collective values or conventional cultural canon. Listening to one’s own inner voice often puts one at odds with prescribed ethical duties. The individuated person must betray and Neumann used Biblical examples to drive his point home: Abraham deserted his father; Jacob deceived his father; Moses committed an impulsive act of murder; David became a notorious adulterer. Great personalities cast great shadows. They have outrageous potential for great evil as much as for great good.

From a broader cultural point of view, the new ethic combines positive aspects of

vicarious suffering of Christianity, the world affirming values of Judaism, as well as a

secular concentration on the importance of the Earth. (Neumann [1949] (1968);

Neumann [1953] (1994). In this sense, Neumann was a forerunner of ecological movement. From a depth psychological point of view, new ethical movements push humanity toward greater consciousness and awareness of our evils. Thus the ecological movement made us acutely aware of the evil done to the environment. Animal liberation movement has sensitized us to the evil done to animals. The “right to die” movement highlights the indignities perpetrated on the dying. In each case, a new ethic arose to expand our awareness and extend our empathy into new areas, just as in the past, great individuals called out against the evils of slavery, racism or anti- Semitism. Future movements will further expand our awareness in areas in which we are unknowingly insensitive.




Jung and Neumann each felt that dealing with shadow was a crucial part of any analysis.

Both recognized, however, that in dealing with shadow issues in treatment, there can be no fixed technique since a technique ‘means that there is a known and perhaps even prescribed way to deal with certain difficult or task’ (Jung letters I, p. 234). The shadow, in a sense will ultimately defeat any set way of working. Rather, one can perhaps speak about stages in confronting the problem of the shadow. Jung in a letter described this process:

If one can speak of a technique at all, it consists solely of an attitude. First of all one has to accept and to take seriously into account the existence of the shadow. Secondly, it is necessary to be informed about its qualities and intentions. Thirdly, long and difficult negotiations will be unavoidable. Nobody can know what the final outcome of such negotiations will be. One only knows that through careful collaboration the problem itself becomes changed…It is rather the result of the conflict one has to suffer. Such conflicts are never solved by a clever trick or by intelligent invention but by enduring them.

(Jung letters I, p. 234).

Dealing with the shadow is always an on-going process with no final victories, as promised by the old ethic. On must come to terms with the shadow over and over again.

One contemporary Jungian, following in Jung’s and Neumann’s footsteps described four distinct stages of coming to terms with the shadow:

recognizing the shadow
running from the shadow
facing the shadow
discovering the gold of the shadow

Wilmer (1987) illustrated these four stages via middle aged woman who dreamt:

“I am a princess swimming in an idyllic resort pool. Suddenly I am threatened by a dirty and angry street kid.” (Wilmer, 1984, p. 100-101). The dream confronts the dreamer with her unbalanced princess-like attitude as someone exalted and sensitive that others will take care as her due and she ‘does not have to lift a finger’. Her life attitude is depicted as if she is on permanent vacation as a fancy resort. Although Jung initially felt that the shadow was typically represented by a same sex figure, this street smart, aggressive youth does seem to epitomize everything she is not. Many contemporary Jungians (Kast, Douglas, Bosnak, Bly) claim that the shadow is not necessarily gender-based, as it appeared in the times of Jung or Neumann. The dream confronts her dramatically with a compensatory shadowy figure. In terms of the stages, she recognizes her shadow and is disgusted by him. Her first impulse is to flee, to get as far away from the street kid as possible i.e. to flee from the shadow.

“The first view of any monster has got to be unnerving. When we finally bring ourselves to see the shadow we project our own. We are literally appalled and overwhelmed by the shadow, the evil out there is so plain to see.” (Wilmer 1984, p. 101).

She hates the rejected part of herself that he represents. Through working on the dream, the dreamer can to understand that she and the street kid were in the pool together, as in the alchemical bath. She is now ready to face her shadow and realize that he is an aspect of herself. Ultimately, she may discover the golden qualities of the shadow (assertiveness, expressiveness, self reliance etc.) that she may claim and integrate into herself




Neumann’s most accessible and poetic work discussed the psychic development of the feminine, using the myth of Amor and Psyche (Neumann 1971; 1994). Continuing in his spirit, I want to describe how Psyche confronts her shadow. Amor and Psyche meets Depth Psychology and the New Ethic. The remainder of the article describes Psyche’s case study and her transition from ethic old to ethic new.

The story of Psyche begins with the problem of personal and collective inflation. The ravishingly beautiful Psyche – the Marilyn Monroe of the ancient times – has caused people to neglect the shrines of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Aphrodite, enraged at this rejection, orders her son, Amor (in Greek “Eros”) to punish Psyche by marrying her off to an ugly beast of man. Amor, betraying his mother (his necessary disobedience) falls in love with her. He has her conveyed to a fantastic palace where all needs are taken care of by unseen forces. In the dark, she has wondrous nights of love with her unseen bridegroom, the God of love, who has forbidden her to look upon his face or see him.

In her bridal chamber, she loves and is loved, unconsciously, never seeing the object of her love.

Psyche, at this point, could be said to be living in a shadow-less state. She is naïve, childlike, innocent and most important for our purposes, entirely unconscious and unaware. Elsewhere, Neumann did note that some women (but not men) can thrive in such a harem-psychology wholly contained within the Great Mother. But from the point of view of consciousness, Psyche is literally in the dark. She is also pregnant.

The shadow enters the plot via Psyche’s two jealous older sisters. They are each married to repulsive, elder men in a loveless marriage – in a psychic state which Neumann called ‘the slavery of the feminine in the patriachate’ – rather similar to what Aphrodite had in mind for Psyche. Both sisters are intense man-haters and succeed in evoking this man-hating stratum in Psyche herself. They insidiously and repeatedly suggest that Psyche’s mysterious husband is actually a disgusting snake, whose head must be cut off. Psyche, for the first time, finds herself in a conflict that is expressed in the simple word, “In the same body, she hated the beast and loved the husband.” Gentle, self-effacing, devoted Psyche is possessed by her shadow, her own latent unconscious aggression.

Psyche’s determination to murder her snake-husband and cut off his head, gives Psyche ‘a certain independence’. Suddenly, she sees her existence in the palace as a ‘luxurious prison’ and she yearns for human companionship. Her home has become her prison. Her initial encounter with the shadow is the beginning of her long journey toward self-discovery and a higher feminine consciousness. Breaking the taboo, as we all must do to grow, she comes into conflict and conflict is the motor of development, just as the expulsion from Paradise is necessary for the development of consciousness.

Now she is ready to “see” her husband. First, she makes love to him. Then, with Amor asleep, she lights the oil lamp, takes the knife hidden under her pillow and approaches the sleeping figure. Suddenly, illuminated, she recognizes the sleeping figure as a god and falls in love with him; or rather loves him truly for the first time. She is no longer a passive victim but an active loving women. As she gazes at her love, a drop of oil falls from her lamp, wounding and waking Amor. In one tragic glance, Amor understands what has taken place. Now that he is “seen” he must abandon her. He cannot resist saying an elaborate, “I told you not to listen to your evil sisters, never to see my face.” He leaves her with the curse that his absence will be sufficient punishment for her. Having finally gained him, at that moment, she loses him.

Alone and abandoned, Psyche is overwhelmed with self-recrimination, guilt and despair.

It is the dangerous phase of flight from the shadow. She experiences the exquisite pains of separation and promptly makes a serious suicide attempt, trying to drown herself in what Neumann called a ‘uroboric suicide’, an attempt to return and reunite with the state of primal union, the uroborus. The river, however, takes pity on her and throws her up on the banks close by healing herbs. There, she meets a mental health professional, in the form of a wise old man, Pan (a very grown up version of the young trickster). Pan is a simple shepherd whose long age and life experience has taught him much. He quickly diagnoses Psyche’s love sickness, shows her the path of safety and a way, not easy, to regain her lost love. Pan, also, helps her face her own destructiveness.

When she is discharged from his care, one can immediately see how her aggressiveness is coming under conscious control, with Psyche taking her first step of facing the shadow. She travels to her older sisters in turn. She tells each the story of what has happened: lamp, razor, wound, exile. She only adds one significant lie that reveals how well she now understands their jealous intent. Psyche says that Amor ordered her to leave but added, “I will marry your sister with all due ritual.” Unaware how each is now being manipulated by their trickster sister, they believe her wild story, rush off and leap to their death.

Psyche is able to act with clever defiance in the world, but her sufferings have only begun. Amor’s mother, vengeful Aphrodite learns that her son has loved and impregnated ‘the harlot Psyche’ whom she then captures and torments. Aphrodite, finally gives Psyche four impossible tasks, which can be seen as stages in the therapeutic process. In the first three task, she must first sort through an immeasurable jumble, retrieve a golden fleece and bring icy water from a high summit – all well beyond her mortal powers. In each task, helpers, in the form of ants, a reed or a bird, help her accomplish the task. These helpers may be understood as inner powers of Psyche’s unconscious. In the final fourth task, Psyche must act on her own. Aphrodite, weary of watching over her ailing son, still recovering from the oil wound, orders Psyche down to the underworld to retrieve one day’s worth of beauty from the Queen of the Underworld in a casket. Psyche, overwhelmed by the task, relapses and once again becomes acutely suicidal. Another therapeutic presence shows her a way to descend and return from the realm of the Dead. Initiations help develop ‘ego stability’ which for men, usually involves enduring pain, hunger, thirst etc. In the feminine sphere, it characteristically takes the form of resistance to pity. In the journey to Hades, she is told, she will meet a donkey driver, a corpse and a weaving women but she must not help them in any way. In this way, she must overcome her feminine tendency toward eros and caring. Instead, she must incorporate aspects of the masculine: hardheadness and single-minded dedication. She is capable to seeing through the guile of hostile powers. Having survived her encounters with Aphrodite, symbol of upper feminine, she is now able to encounter and enter into an alliance with another lower feminine. She receives Persephone’s beauty in the special casket and returns to the realm of the living.

Having returned to the surface, passed all the tests, received the magic container from Persephone herself, Psyche becomes inflated and overconfident – or is it one more necessary betrayal? Instead of handing over the box to Aphrodite, she opens it herself to make herself more beautiful for her ailing lover. What she discovers is no beauty but only an infernal and deadly sleep, illustrating once again the dangers of inflation. The story continues on to a happy ending. Amor who realizes that Psyche is his true love, gets Zeus to approve their marriage, make her immortal and his wedded bride. Psyche gives birth to a child whom we call “Pleasure”.

Psyche comes to gradually acknowledge her own shadow, whether it was envy, destructiveness, or pity. By integrating her own evil, she becomes an individual who can live according to the new ethic.




Neumann’s search for the new ethic is not without its critics. His entire approach is elitist and even anti-democratic. He looked down on the people as a collective mass trapped in a primitive, group psychology. True innovators in every field, ethics, art, literature, science, whatever were and always will be, according to Neumann, individuals. Jungian analysis shares that elitist bias in practice, if not in theory. Again, individualism may be good for art, but it is often at the cost of community. Elsewhere (Abramovitch 1995), I have suggested that the Jungian world is passing through a transition from a prophetic toward a rabbinic, legalistic in which Codes of Ethics and not the Inner Voices determine what is right and what is unacceptable. The old ethic may be based on suppression and repression, but at least it took a strong stand against bad behavior. What safeguards are there against self-deception in the new ethic? A sexually predatory analyst could, in principle, seduce his analysand knowingly and with full knowledge of the horrendous impact on his patient (Anonymous 2005) and he could claim he was operating under the new ethic. The Ethics Committee could punish and expel him but he still might maintain that the committee was scapegoating him using the ideology of the old ethic. The wayward analyst might even accept his punishment yet justify himself, that his perspective had as much truth as the Institute, in these dismal post-modern times.




Times of great despair often bring forth great hopefulness. Neumann truly believed that the new ethic would assure that cry of many survivors: “Never Again!” Neumann’s survivor mission, judged by contemporary standards seems wildly over-optimistic. Sadly, since WWII, atrocities and genocides have multiplied. Neumann, I believe, might respond that it only shows how little humanity has accepted it collective shadow and tendency toward a genocidal impulse. The old ethic is alive and murderously kicking. Individuals may attain the new ethic, but can communities as a whole? Consider James Hillman’s well know diatribe, We have had one hundred years of therapy and the world is not a better place. Analysis makes us more aware of shadow issues.

But ability to deal with one’s own evil does not necessarily equip one to deal with evil out there. Will I better be able to talk a suicide bomber out of his mad act, at the conclusion of my analysis?

During the intifada, I was part of a small group of Israelis and Palestinians who met regularly in each other’s homes in Ramallah and Jerusalem in what we called a “dialogue group”. The opening stages of developing Eriksonian balance between trust and mistrust revealed the divergent sensibilities of the two groups. The Israelis favored a step-by-step trust building approach, beginning with simple, almost trivial acts and with the idea of gradually moving to higher risk and exposure. The Palestinians would have none of it. First of all, they demanded recognition for their suffering and the injustices they had suffered. Once they received such affirmation, there was no need for step-by-step trust building because a basis for personal trust and personal relationships were already established.

I particularly recall one Palestinian man, much younger than me, but who looked much older. He had served a long prison sentence in Israeli jail as a member of a banned “terrorist organization”. He had renounced violence one day in prison when speaking with his jailer about “the children”, saying that there must be a stop to the endless cycle of killing. When the group spoke of the holocaust, he wept. When we heard stories of life under the occupation we wept as, for example, when parents preferred their adolescent sons to be in jail, because at least they knew they were “safe”. The members of the group had not committed any atrocities, but in this special, safe setting we were able to acknowledge the evil that was being done.

Neumann felt strongly that by digesting our own evil, a fragment of the collective evil is invariably also digested as well. Instead of scapegoating, one takes on “vicarious suffering”. By assuming responsibility, evil itself is decontaminated. Neumann felt we are partners in the work of “tikkun olam”, repairing the world. Neumann would, I believe, agree strongly with Martin Buber: “The person who can make peace with himself, can make peace with the entire world.”



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Journal of Analytical Psychology, in press.

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Neumann, E. (1969). Depth Psychology and a New Ethic. Translated by Eugene Rolfe.

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Neumann E. (1971) Amor and Psyche—The Psychic Development of the Feminine: A Commentary on the Tale by Apuleius. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series.

Neumann E. (1972). The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series.

Neumann, E. (1979a). ‘On the Psychological Meaning of Ritual’ Quadrant: journal of C.G. Jung foundation for analytical Psychology. 9(2): 5-34.

Neumann, E. (1979b). Creative Man: Five Essays. Translated by Eugene Rolfe. . Princeton: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series.

Neumann, E. (1981). ‘The Mythical world and the Individual’ Translated by R.T. Jacobson. Quadrant 14.

Neumann E. (1989). The Origin and History of Consciousness. Translated by R. F. C. Hull. London: Karnac.

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Wilmer, Harry (1984). Practical Jung: The Nuts and Bolts of Jungian Psychotherapy.

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Marion Woodman (1984). Addiction to Perfection. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Zoja, Luigi (2000). Drugs, Addiction and Initiation: The Modern Search for Ritual. Einsiedeln, Switerland: Daimon Verlag.