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The Inner Wellspring
am 8. Februar 2000
Reading the other customer reviews, I find it very interesting to see how different they are, and how different many of them are from my experience.
I was surprised to read the review on this page by the woman who believes we ought to read Jung first (or instead). My experience is the opposite; when I've picked up Jung's original works I've found them tough to follow, but this book I found very accessible and useful. I don't think the comparison between the Bible and a tv evangelist is at all fair. It's more like the difference between Strunk & White and the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED is wonderful, but Strunk & White is the one that is most likely to help you become a better writer.
Although I think of myself as a creative person, I tend to downplay that part of myself and to lead with my left brain, as it were. Reading this book I felt like I was being given a path to my inner wellspring. I felt that I had at last found water for a thirst I hadn't quite been able to identify until now.
This book is about one's inner life. It is not a how-to book, it's not political (except in the sense that the personal is political), and I didn't feel that it over-emphasized "what's wrong with you," as another reader put it. It does continually nudge one to think about what might be wrong: many many women are cut off from their own preferences, their own inner selves, because they feel pressured to conform with societal norms. Many societal norms are, in my opinion, quite damaging and inappropriate. It is very easy in American society to get the impression that women should be seen and not heard. Women are still encouraged to focus on how we look, to be compliant, to act ladylike and be nice even when we are being denigrated, and to stand by our man no matter what. We are encouraged to help others at the expense of our own happiness, and many many of us fall into this trap without even realizing it. We think it is normal to put ourselves last, and we lose touch with the shames and the fears that keep us from being happy, wiping the subject of happiness off the table with a dismissive hand as something that is too indulgent or not important.
This book helped me realize the ways in which I stand in my own way, and it gave me courage and inspiration.
The author is not only a Jungian analyst, but a storyteller. She is steeped in the traditions of storytelling from both the Latin and the Hungarian sides of her family, and I very much enjoyed the ways in which she uses this legacy of the storyteller as healer to make her points. I never thought of storytelling in this way before, but reading this book I found it to be true. (I feel that her stories have helped heal me.) I am a storyteller myself, of a sort, so for me the book was a kind of homecoming. If you have ever wondered why fairy tales seem so cruel and peculiar, you will find the answers in this book. Fairy tales have been mangled in the translation, but this author shows you where they came from and what they are really about.
While I am a huge believer in free-market capitalism, growth, business, and civilization (as opposed to back-to-nature Green-ery), I have tremendous concerns about the increasingly violent and impersonal nature of our society. This book shows you how to cultivate a healing, loving attitude toward the world without becoming a doormat--quite the contrary, it shows how love can give you more strength and power than you'll ever find in a boardroom.
Another review on this page criticized the book for not putting these issues into a broader context of one's life. It took twenty years for this author to distill her wisdom of storytelling and her knowledge of Jungian archetypes into this lovely, readable book. For me, that's quite an accomplishment. I'm more than willing to take it the rest of the way myself.