Possession: Jung's Comparative Anatomy of the Psyche (Paperback) book cover


Jung's Comparative Anatomy of the Psyche

By Craig E. Stephenson

© 2009 – Routledge

200 pages | 28 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415446525
pub: 2009-05-18
Hardback: 9780415446518
pub: 2009-05-18

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

This illuminating study, addressed both to readers new to Jung and to those already familiar with his work, offers fresh insights into a fundamental concept of analytical psychology.

Anatomizing Jung’s concept of possession reinvests Jungian psychotherapy with its positive potential for practice. Analogizing the concept – lining it up comparatively beside the history of religion, anthropology, psychiatry, and even drama and film criticism – offers not a naive syncretism, but enlightening possibilities along the borders of these diverse disciplines.

An original, wide-ranging exploration of phenomena both ancient and modern, this book offers a conceptual bridge between psychology and anthropology, it challenges psychiatry to culturally contextualize its diagnostic manual, and it posits a much more fluid, pluralistic and embodied notion of selfhood.


"Craig Stephenson's Possession is a book I trust." - Marion Woodman, PhD (Hon), Jungian analyst

"Dr. Stephenson makes the remarkable and convincing argument that Jung's understanding of the phenomena of possession lies at the basis of his analytical psychology. Drawing on contemporary insights on possession from anthropology, as well as from psychology, and without subordinating either discipline to the epistemology or conceptual apparatus of the other, Dr. Stephenson re-theorizes how Jung's notion of possession may be used to open and illuminate the problematic space between society, patient and therapist in the therapeutic encounter." - Edward L. Schieffelin, Reader Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University College London, UK

"Craig Stephenson brings luminous insights to bear on murky, alarming and difficult terrain, and, in times of sharp conflict between various theologies and dogmatisms, opens a new horizon for thinking fruitfully about the complexities of consciousness and self. This is a rich and lucid book of striking sensitivity and thoughtfulness." - Marina Warner, Author of Phantasmagoria and Fantastic Metamorphoses; Professor of Literature, University of Essex, UK

"The book is a superb addition to the growing body of work on the cultural dimension of psychology as a discipline… This is an important book for the future of analytical psychology. It is also an invaluable resource for all those other disciplines that could gain so much from taking an intelligent look at Jung. Literature, history, anthropology, cultural studies, history of science, look here first." - Susan Rowland, Journal of Jungian Scholarly Studies, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2009

"In this book, Craig Stephenson, a Jungian analyst practising in Paris takes the concept of possession back to the middle-ages, deliberately invoking demonic imagery to reshape our thinking of possession beyond the dissociative characteristics of an individual psyche, bringing to the fore the religious realm, as well as cultural dynamics… In his exploration of possession, Stephenson has written a book for those with Jungian proclivities, as well as those highly critical of such proclivities, a book for anthropologists and historians as well as poets, a book to read not once but many times."Gretchen Heyer, Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 55, 2010

Table of Contents

Introduction. The Possessions at Loudun: Tracking the Discourse of Possession. The Anthropology of Possession: Studying the Other. Possession Enters the Discourse of Psychiatry: Recuperation or Epistemological Break? Reading Jung's Equivocal Language. Jung's Concept of Possession and the Practice of Psychotherapy. The Suffering of Myrtle Gordon: Cassavetes's Opening Night and Chaikin’s Open Theatre. Closing.

About the Author

Craig E. Stephenson is a graduate of the C. G. Jung Institute, Zurich, the Institute for Psychodrama, Zumikon, Switzerland and the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Paris, France.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General