Episode 28, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube


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“It's one thing to have anxiety, it's something else to have an anxious life. It's one thing to have fear (and) something else to have a fear-driven life. And those are the enemies of our journeys: fear and anxiety.”

Today's episode of Keep Talking features James Hollis, author, psychoanalyst, and one of the world's most prolific Jungian thinkers. During the conversation, Jim talks about his life, the ideas of Carl Jung, listening to and honoring one's autonomous psyche, the importance of insight, courage and endurance, modern life and society, men in therapy, the different stages of marriage and relationships, and how one might live more wisely. In addition, Jim gathers his experience as a psychoanalyst to explain various challenges people face in their transitionary phases and how to navigate them effectively.

About James Hollis (quote from James’ website):

“Dr. James Hollis is a Washington D.C. based Jungian psychoanalyst and the author of seventeen books.”

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Time Stamps:

(00:00) Intro
(00:48) Get to know James Hollis
(01:48) James’ transition from academia to psychoanalysis
(07:13) The decision to pursue psychoanalysis as a full-time profession
(11:53) Gathering the courage to pursue psychoanalysis full-time
(19:17) What about Jung’s work or psychology resonates with James profoundly?
(31:10) James’ process of helping people navigate transitionary phases of their lives
(42:25) The most pressing issues Jim sees facing Americans
(49:18) The primary blockers to growth and self-healing
(52:42) Discerning the difference fears you should avoid and fears you should face
(57:55) Exhausted relationships vs. relationships that need some endurance
(01:09:57) The ratio of men vs. women seeking counsel and therapy and how it’s changed over the years
(01:14:15) Why most men tend to suppress their innermost emotions
(01:20:43) Joseph Campbell’s concept of the ‘hero’s journey’
(01:26:25) How to live a more examined, authentic life


“Why has your own psyche autonomously withdrawn its approval and support from the places in which you wish to invest this energy? What is it asking of you?”

“(When talking about psychoanalysis) We're not just talking about your behaviors, we're not just talking about the thought processes that have you make one decision versus another, we're certainly not talking about the biological process, per se, although we include all of those functions. We're talking ultimately about meaning, what does it mean to be a human being? What is the meaning of your life? Are you experiencing it in a meaningful way? And if not, why not what blocks your way?”

“Happiness is being in the right relationship to your own soul at a given moment.”

“We can mobilize energy and service to tasks, and we often do and have to, and that's marvelous. But if you keep doing that in the wrong direction, it leads to burnout, depression, self-medication, and so forth.”

“Sleep research tells us that we average six dreams per night, that's 42 a week. No one remembers that many, but it's very clear: if you stay and pay attention over time you begin to realize something inside of you is commenting on your life.”

“We can go through anything, we can bear anything if we experience it as meaningful, and yet the most outwardly rewarding of things quickly becomes stale and boring, and loses its energy, when we're in a sense spending our energies in the wrong place.”

“The more immature or the more threatened the ego, the more doubt has planted its black flag, and the whole enterprise feels shaky.”

“Anxiety is part of being a human being; it alerts us. But when it governs your behavior, it can produce some pretty strange creatures.”

“It's one thing to have anxiety, it's something else to have an anxious life. It's one thing to have fear (and) something else to have a fear-driven life. And those are the enemies of our journeys: fear and anxiety.”

“When the last child leaves the person, the parent who's been very involved in them often sees a part of their own whole drive away.”

“If I'm expecting my partner to be the source of my sense of self, then that's something I'm not taking care of. That's not her business. It's my business.”

“Being an adult is not an easy thing. It's not solved by hanging around so you have a big body or a big role in life. It's about understanding (that) I am, in the end, wholly responsible, no matter what happened in the past, I am responsible for the choices that are spilling out of me on a daily basis, and for the consequences that begin to pile up on my children and upon my the world in which I live.”

“Some doubt is healthy, but too much paralyzes and cripples every day; the heroic (summons) is your summons to show up as best you can.”


Books Mentioned:

Documentaries Mentioned:

People Mentioned (Quotes from Wikipedia)

  • Carl Jung – “Carl Gustav Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Jung's work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, psychology and religious studies.”
  • Joseph Campbell – “Joseph John Campbell was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience.”
  • Sigmund Freud – “Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Freud was born to Ashkenazi Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austrian Empire.”
  • Emily Dickinson – “Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Little-known during her life, she has since been regarded as one of the most important figures in American poetry. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, into a prominent family with strong ties to its community.”
  • Oscar Wilde – “Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s.”
  • Charles Dickens – “Charles John Huffam Dickens FRSA was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.”
  • Groucho Marx – “Julius Henry 'Groucho' Marx was an American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. He is generally considered to have been a master of quick wit and one of America's greatest comedians. He made 13 feature films as a team with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born.”

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