The Ethical Imagination : Exploring Fantasy and Desire in Analytical Psychology book cover
1st Edition

The Ethical Imagination
Exploring Fantasy and Desire in Analytical Psychology

ISBN 9780815378174
Published July 30, 2019 by Routledge
178 Pages

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Book Description

What do we do with our fantasies? Are there right and wrong ways to imagine, feel, think, or desire? Do we have our fantasies, or do they have us? In The Ethical Imagination: Exploring Fantasy and Desire in Analytical Psychology, Sean Fitzpatrick explores how our obligation to the Other extends to our most intimate spaces.

Informed by Jungian psychology and the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, Fitzpatrick imagines an ethical approach that can negotiate the delicate and porous boundary between inner and outer, personal and collective fantasy. Combining both theory and practice, the book examines theorists of the imagination, such as Plato, Coleridge, Sartre, and Richard Kearney, explores stories from contemporary culture, such as Jimmy Carter and New York’s "Cannibal Cop", and includes encounters in the consulting room. The Ethical Imagination explores how these questions have been asked in different ways across culture and history, and Fitzpatrick examines the impact of our modern, digital world on ethics and imagination. In this original examination of the ethical status of our imagination, this book illustrates how our greatest innovations, works of art, and acts of compassion emerge from the human imagination, but so also do our horrific atrocities. Fitzpatrick compellingly demonstrates that what and how we imagine matters.

Unique and innovative, this book will be of immense interest to Jungian psychotherapists, analytical psychologists, and other mental health professionals interested in the ethics, the imagination, and clinical work with fantasy. It will also be an important book for academics and students of Jungian and post-Jungian studies, philosophy, religious studies, and ethics.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements;  Preface;  Chapter 1: Introduction;  Chapter 2: Imagining the Imagination;  Chapter 3: What Do We Make of Fantasy?;  Chapter 4: Imagining Ethics; Chapter 5: Eating the Liver, Killing the tortoise: The Ethical and the Imaginal;  Chapter 6: A Dream of the Desiring Imagination;  Chapter 7: The Law of the (Imaginal) Land;  Chapter 8: Conclusions;  References;  Index

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Sean Fitzpatrick, PhD, is the executive director of The Jung Center, Houston, USA, and a psychotherapist in private practice. He received his doctorate in psychology, with a specialization in Jungian studies, from Saybrook University, USA.


"If there is one subject the modern and now postmodern world does not, and perhaps cannot, understand, it is the imagination. We have exiled this weird aspect of consciousness into the dry flatland of the imaginary and the meaningless. We also, frankly, fear it, and for some very reasonable reasons. So when should we trust it? What do we do with it? And how does it relate to our social norms and ethical concerns? Does it? Should it? Here is a most practical guidebook for our own imaginal lives, a kind of how-to manual that never dumbs down and always lifts up. The reader senses that she or he is walking through a dangerous but fascinating forest behind a trusted guide. We never quite get out of the forest, but we learn not to be so afraid of the teaming darkness that is all around us, that is in us, and that is us." - Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion, Rice University, USA, and author of Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions

"An essential and innovative contribution to understanding ethics and fantasy, this beautifully crafted book is a must-read for any serious student of depth psychology. The nuanced endeavor of ethical decision-making can prove treacherous without an in-depth understanding of the psychic factors at play. In his rich exploration of the ethical imagination, Fitzpatrick presents eight guiding principles for understanding the 'ethical gray zone' of the human psyche, shedding vital light on the sometimes harrowing path of individuation." - Carolyn Bates, PhD, Jungian analyst and co-author of Sex in the Therapy Hour: A Case of Professional Incest

"This beautiful book perfectly marries contemporary philosophy, psychological theories, and theological insights to help us talk about the imagination in ethical ways. The result is a work that explains and leads us through the complexities of ethics and one you will go back to over and over for reference. Sean paves a clear path to create an ethical imagination for all who seek to navigate this digital age fully and successfully. It is a unique combination of research, storytelling, and a provocative call to action." - Reverend Dr Wismick Jean-Charles, former Vice-President of Academic Affairs of the University Notre-Dame of Haiti and current Vicar General of the Montfort Missionaries

"While we, and the world, hold ourselves accountable for our behaviors, are we also accountable for the far more autonomous insurgencies of the imagination? Should we feel 'guilty' for what transpires in dreams, phantasies, projections, or do they open an aperture into a developmental dialogue with our fuller humanity? Sean Fitzpatrick undertakes a probing investigation of these questions and presents the reader with a most thoughtful set of lenses and concrete recommendations through which to see these dilemmas, engage them, and feel less separated from the rich complexity of our souls." - James Hollis, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and author