Pre-Congress Workshop Papers - Edges of Embodied Experience: The Moving Imagination

Joan Chodorow (Chair)
San Francisco, California, USA
Society of Jungian Analysts of Northern California – San Francisco


As time for the pre-congress workshop in Barcelona drew near, my colleagues (co-leaders of the workshop) and I prepared to explore with other IAAP colleagues a valuable form of active imagination. Our task was to approach Edges of Embodied Experience: The Moving Imagination both on a personal level and in relation to clinical practice. We created this special time and place to work with the psyche-soma connection from a depth psychological perspective.

In addition to the full-day Sunday workshop, we offered a 90minute workshop during the congress itself. As co-leaders, we are gratified by the continuing expression of interest in these workshops from colleagues in many parts of the world representing Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Since movement groups have special size and space requirements, we appreciate your understanding regarding the complications of confirmed lists, wait lists, and more.

The Sunday pre-congress workshop began in the auditorium with an introduction to the day and a clinical paper. Joan Chodorow offered a brief history of moving active imagination in Jungian analysis (Chodorow, 2003) and Wendy Wyman-McGinty presented her work on the evolution of thought from bodily experience. Following a period of discussion, we took a short break and entered the studio for a two-hour practical session. Joan Chodorow and Wendy Wyman-McGinty led the warm-up and invited participants to attend inwardly, allowing the ongoing flow of sensations, images and feelings to emerge in spontaneous movement. Movers were “held” by a circle of experienced witnesses (co-leaders of the workshop). As the inner-directed movement process gradually ended, participants were invited to stay “inside,” to reflect on their experience and to extract a repeatable gesture or movement theme that stood out for them. As far back as 1916, Jung wrote: “The difficulty that movements cannot be easily remembered must be met by concentrating on the movements afterwards and practicing them so that they shall not escape the memory.” (Jung, 1916/1957, p. 18) He also advised his analysands to “make careful drawings of the movements afterwards.” (CW 8, §171). The morning session included work in dyads, giving special attention to the mover, the witness and the dynamic of their relationship. We ended with drawing and/or writing about the inner-directed experience, followed by dialogue and exchange.

After lunch, the group returned to the auditorium, where Carolyn Grant Fay showed a video about her integration of Jungian psychology and the expressive arts. Two short clinical papers followed. Jacqueline Gerson considered the embodied countertransference, and Shayne Spitzer discussed implicit memory (a form of somatic memory). A two-hour afternoon session in the studio began with a warm-up led by Antonella Adorisio, followed by Tina Stromsted who continued to explore the moving imagination. Tina introduced her development of Marion’s Woodman’s work in triads, including music. Again, there was special attention to the inner experience of the movers and the inner experience of the witnesses, as well as the subtle and complex dynamics involving triadic relationships. The day ended with reflection, drawing, writing, dialogue and discussion.

Workshop papers in this section of the Barcelona Proceedings include abstracts of presentations as well as contributions by Marion Woodman and other co-leaders. These include: Growing a Mind: The Evolution of Thought out of Bodily Experience by Wendy Wyman-McGinty, Embodied Countertransference by Jacqueline Gerson, Kinaesthetic Active Imagination: A Clinical Picture by Shayne Spitzer, Trauma and the Death Mother by Marion Woodman, At the Threshold by Carolyn Grant Fay, Réflexions sur mes Interêts et Expériences avec le Mouvement Corporel by Renate Oppikofer, Moving Fluidly and Building Bridges by Antonella Adorisio, and Dreamdancing: Reinhabiting Your Body through Authentic Movement by Tina Stromsted. Anita Greene and Margarita Mendez participated as co-leaders, planning and joining the circle of experienced witnesses. However, their contributions are described in their own separate presentations (see “Contents” page): A Report from the Cellular Psyche by Anita Greene, and Body Symbolism Workshop: “From the Bones” by Margarita Mendez.

In addition to the papers I have named by our group of co-leaders, an increasing number of analyst colleagues are contributing toward an integrative understanding of psyche-soma in analysis. It is deeply rewarding to see this development, as analytical psychologists rediscover, explore and develop our understanding of the living body in analysis. As Jung described it: “In reality, there is nothing but a living body. That is the fact; and psyche is as much a living body as body is living psyche: it is just the same.” (1935/1988, p. 396)