Working Papers

Articles/chapters by Christian McMillan (Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies: The University of Essex) pending acceptance:


  • Title: Jung’s ‘passive holism’: the psychoid and the rhizome in the work of Jung and Deleuze (Mar, 2018)

In ‘On the Nature of the Psyche’ (1947/1954) C. G. Jung addresses the problem of the boundedness of the psyche, i.e. its status as ‘whole’ and he introduces the notion of the ‘psychoid archetype’, which forms ‘a bridge to matter in general’ (para. 420). The concept of the ‘problem’ from Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition (1968) and the ‘rhizome’ from Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s collaborative work A Thousand Plateaus (1980) will be used to re-imagine the kind of holistic modality peculiar to this ‘bridge’.

Jung’s use of the term psychoid has been traced back to the neo-vitalist biological holism of Hans Driesch. Although Jung distances his use of the term from Dreisch considerably (ibid, para. 368), it is important to recognise two aspects that concern its genesis; neo-vitalism and holistic organicism. For Jung the whole is the Unus mundus or ‘one-world’ (1955-55, para. 664); it is the psychoid unconscious. That ‘psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world’ (para. 418) or ‘two aspects of one and the same thing’ suggests that they are both actual whilst in an asymmetric relationship to the ‘one-world’. This asymmetric relation is built upon ‘irrepresentable, transcendental factors’ (ibid.). Whereas for Driesch the ‘whole’ organism is exhausted through its bodily wholeness (an ‘enclosed vitalism’ which places the force of life in the relations of the whole), Jung’s ‘transcendental factors’ (or archetypes) refer to ‘problems’ which are transcendent yet immanent to their actual solutions.  In contrast to an ‘active vitalism’ (active holism) in which a force or principle infuses and lives through matter attendant to forms of self-maintenance and boundary formation, Jung’s ‘passive holism’ refers to ‘transcendental factors’, the ‘psychoid’ and an unus mundus which insist beyond any bounded or identifiable beings activity. Psychoid problems exceed any single actualisation and the whole is fundamentally open.

Perhaps a more apt model to characterise the ‘passive holism’ of Jung is that of the rhizome, one of Deleuze and Guattari’s signature concepts from A Thousand Plateaus. Recently this term has begun to make an appearance in the Jungian literature (Bishop, 2008; Colman, 2011; Henderson, 2014; Cambray, 2017) partly drawn from Jung’s own deployment (1952, p. xxv; 1937, para. 120; 1942, para. 242; 1961, p. 4). At the same time there has been a return to an ‘active holism’ in Jungian studies via a renewed engagement with autopoiesis (e.g. Colman 2015; 2017), gesturing to a potential split between the active and the passive that this paper seeks to articulate. The rhizome presupposes no centre of unification and it affords ‘transversal’ communication between different forms of ‘life’. Is there psychoid-life? Not the life of the bounded body but life as such? As Deleuze Guattari suggest, ‘there are also nonhuman Becomings of human beings that overspill the anthropomorphic strata in all directions’ (2004, p. 554). The kind of holistic connections presupposed by a rhiomzatic model of ‘psychoid-life’ will inform the reading of Jung and Deleuze that I offer in this paper.

  • Title: Jung and Deleuze: Enchanted openings to the Other: a philosophical contribution (Feb, 2018)

This paper draws from resources in the work of Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) to critically examine the notion of organicism and holistic relations that appear in historical forerunners that C.G. Jung (1875-1961) identifies in his work on synchronicity. I interpret evidence in Jung’s comments on synchronicity that resonate with Deleuze’s interpretation of repetition and time and which challenge any straightforward foundationalist critique of Jung’s thought. A contention of the paper is that Jung and Deleuze envisage enchanted openings onto relations which are not constrained by the presupposition of a bounded whole, whether at the level of the macrocosm or the microcosm. Openings to these relations entail the potential for experimental transformation beyond sedentary habits of thought which are blocked by a disenchanting ‘image of thought’ that stands in need of critique. Other examples of enchanted openings in Jung’s work are signposted in an effort to counter their marginalisation in some post-Jungian critiques and to signal their potential value from a Deleuzian perspective.

  • Title: Jung and aesthetics (Jan, 2018)

Jung appears to have had a troubled relationship with the philosophical discipline associated with aesthetics. A discipline whose origins are often credited to the German philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714-62), aesthetics is commonly concerned with the nature and appreciation of art, beauty and taste. This preoccupation with ‘beauty’ is responsible for some of C.G. Jung’s (1875-1961) resistances to aesthetics and what he regards as the lack of ethical and moral obligation that aesthetic engagements convey. In this chapter I critically reflect on Jung’s encounter with Joyce’s (1882-1941) Ulysses upon which he wrote a monologue (1932). Jung’s encounter is used as a vehicle to examine some of his assumptions regarding the nature of moral and ethical obligations in relation to aesthetics. Given the German origins of aesthetics as a discipline and its important influence on post-Kantianism, I draw upon two detailed studies of Jung’s engagement with aesthetics (Bishop, 2008, 2009; Kerslake, 2007) in order to illuminate the vistas that Kant and post-Kantian’s opened up concerning the ‘depth’ of the synthetic genesis of experience as well as the transformative ethical potential of aesthetic encounters. With respect to Jung’s aesthetic ‘encounter’ with Ulysses and its philosophical dynamics, I refer throughout to the work of Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) who was not only influenced by Jung, but who wrote extensively on Kant/post-Kantianism, ‘modern art’, sensation, and ethics thus bringing together the two themes of this chapter; the modalities of synthesis engendered by an aesthetic encounter and the extent to which this sits uncomfortably (not incompatibly) with Analytical Psychology.

  • Title: Esse in Anima: The problem of Grounding between Jung and Deleuze

(A significantly revised version of this article was submitted to the Journal of Analytical Psychology in June 2017. It was not accepted. It is under revision for submission elsewhere)

DRAFT of July 2016: not for citation in any publication.



The author investigates an immanent reading of grounding in Jung’s conception of the ground through an examination of the way in which Jung employs esse in anima (soul). Grounding concerns the “gap” between experience and its conditions. Transcendent, transcendental, immanent and immanent-genetic accounts which deal with the problem of the “gap” (or ‘constitutive finitude’) are evident in Jung’s work on the grounding of psychic experience. My argument is undertaken through an engagement with the philosophical thought of Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) with specific reference to his critical re-working of Immanuel Kant’s notion of the Idea. The essay begins by asking why a process of grounding needs to be undertaken by Jung and some of the problems that this process might entail (i.e. determining the ground from the side of the conditioned). The second half of the essay attempts to address how Jung potentially avoids some of these problems through his use of esse in anima. Rarely has the thought of Gilles Deleuze and Jung been aligned in this way. However, doing so may be of value when situating Jung’s thought within a post-structuralist context whilst drawing from elements within his thought directly. I borrow extensively from the work of Paul Bishop (2000) and Christian Kerslake (2002, 2007, 2009) to help forge a path between Jung and Deleuze as both in their respective studies have mined resources in Jung’s work which make this possible. Scholarship which explicitly addresses the notion of a ground in Jung’s depth psychology is scare although not non-existent. Robin McCoy Brooks (2011) and John Dourley (2011) examine “foundationalism” and “ground” respectively. Brooks’ critique is orientated from a philosophical perspective whilst Dourley considers the religious and esoteric heritage from which Jung drew inspiration when attempting to characterise his notion of the ground. Whilst I consider Jung’s foundationalism to be problematic my conclusions differ from those offered by Brooks. Dourley’s findings can be used to support both a transcendent and immanent conception of the ground but they do not challenge the form of identity.