Jung and the Transcendent Function in Music Therapy

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In this chapter, I examine Jung’s notion of the transcendent function and his method of using art media to create and to freely fantasize in the context of analytic treatment. Whilst Jung did not consider the possibilities of using music in this way except very briefly and much later on in his life—nor indeed did he consider music in his writings at any length—for some clinical practitioners it has made sense intuitively to extend his ideas in the context of music therapy practice.11 As Chodorow has commented ‘Jung’s analytic method is based on the natural healing function of the imagination, so there are obviously many ways to express it. All the creative art psychotherapies (art, dance, music, drama, poetry) as well as Sandplay can trace their roots to Jung’s early contribution'. I will present some historical background to approaches to music-making in music therapy and show how there is a parallel to be found in Jung’s idea of free art-making as a way of accessing the unconscious. I consider Jung’s understanding of the distinct art “product” that is created within therapy as embodying both the conscious and unconscious. I discuss this within the context of current music therapy practice and consider the role of free improvisation in Jungian terms as a dynamic experience of the unconscious, ‘the Unknown [sic] as it immediately affects us’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusic—Psychoanalysis—Musicology
EditorsSamuel Wilson
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)9781317092650
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Cite this

Darnley-Smith, R. (2018). Jung and the Transcendent Function in Music Therapy. In S. Wilson (Ed.), Music—Psychoanalysis—Musicology Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315596563