Eurotas Conference 2019



Dr. Helge Osterhold is a psychotherapist and integrative educator. He is an Associate Professor of East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, California where he teaches masters and PhD level courses in Jungian Psychology, Archetypal Psychology, the Psychology of Death and Dying as well as in Spiritual Counseling Skills. Dr. Osterhold is the author of The Body’s Code – Synchronicity and Meaning in Illness and Injury (Lambert Publishing, 2015). He maintains a private psychotherapy practice with a focus on life transitions.


“Cultural complex, death anxiety and individuation during the times of populism: a dialogue between Jungian Psychology and Social Psychology”

In these times of global uncertainty in relation to growing environmental, social, and cultural challenges, a trend towards political polarization, radicalization, and one-sidedness can be observed across the world. The rise of populism— with its political appeal through simple explanations and bold solutions to increasingly complex problems and its willingness to reject, alienate and scapegoat otherness— calls for a sustained psycho-social and psycho-spiritual engagement with these phenomena.

Jung’s vision of individuation, as a central task and possible path for individual and collective expansion of consciousness and wholeness, remains crucial for understanding and possibly mitigating, developments towards radicalization and division within and between cultures.
This presentation considers Jung’s ideas, as well as contemporary thinking in depth psychology, regarding insufficient individuation and cultural complexes in the collective and the individual, apply these ideas to current socio-political developments, and offer expanded possibilities for understanding current polarizations.

To further elucidate, Jungian thought is brought into conversation with the findings of a body of literature coming out of a budding branch in Social Psychology called Terror Management Theory (TMT). TMT posits that an underlying, typically unconscious, death anxiety is responsible for amplifying a sense of separation and otherness, as well as judgment and conflict between individuals and groups. Hundreds of studies published since the 1990s support this premise. This presentation aims to deepen the understanding of current cultural polarization phenomena as well as to collective healing and growth by synthesizing ideas from Jung and TMT research and to rekindle individuation as a counter to the trend of polarization, alienation, and conflict


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