The Very Idea(s) of James Hillman: Dreaming of a Black Dog and Sticking to the Image
The following article by Michael Vannoy Adams is a presentation delivered at the Montreal Jung Society, Montreal, March 15, 2013.
This presentation is about both the idea of James Hillman and the ideas of James Hillman. Hillman died on October 27, 2011, at the age of 85. That was, for me, a very sad moment, as I am sure it must have been for all those who saw, heard, and read him - and especially, of course, for those who knew him personally.
What does Hillman say about death? I ask this question in the present tense, for, to me, the very idea of James Hillman and the very ideas of James Hillman are still very much alive. "We do not die alone," Hillman says. "We join ancestors and all the little people, the multiple souls who inhabit our night world of dreams, the complexes we speak with, the invisible guests who pass through our lives, bringing us the gifts of urges and terrors, tender sighs, sudden ideas" (1992: 140). I very much like the idea that Hillman is now with those who, as he says, bring us the gifts of "sudden ideas." Hillman does not say that we come up with ideas - he says that ideas come to us. They are given to us, suddenly.
I knew James Hillman for 30 years. In contrast to many others who knew him much longer than I did, he was never my analyst, he was never my supervisor; he was never my teacher. He was my friend. Hillman likes the word "soul." I never have. He and I both, however, like the word "image." What interests Hillman, he says, is "a psychology of soul," but he immediately also says that what he bases that project on is "a psychology of image" (1975: xi). In this respect, Hillman was not my "soul mate" - he was my "image mate."
The title of a new book that I have written is For Love of the Imagination, which I have dedicated in loving memory to Hillman. In the book, I say: "Long ago I fell in love with the imagination. It was love at first sight. I have had a lifelong love affair with the imagination. I would love for others, through this book, to fall in love, as I once did, with the imagination" (Adams 2014: xiii). Hillman also loved the imagination, and that is one of the reasons, one of many reasons, why I loved him.
I consider the name "archetypal psychology" an infelicity if not a misnomer. I prefer the name "imaginal psychology." V. Walter Odajnyk persuasively argues that "imaginal psychology" is a much more accurate name than "archetypal psychology" for what Hillman advocates (1984: 43). Hillman acknowledges as much when says that the most important challenge of contemporary psychology is "the differentiation of the imaginal" (1975: 37).
The title of this presentation is "The Very Idea(s) of James Hillman" - not "The Very Image(s) of James Hillman." If Hillman is an imaginal psychologist, why "ideas" and not "images"? Although Hillman emphasizes imagination, he also appreciates ideation. He says that although each individual "has some talent," it is "rare" for any individual "to have more than one." What one talent does Hillman say he has? It is not imagination. "Mine," Hillman says, "is ideation" (1992: 145). At the "Festival of Archetypal Psychology in Honor of James Hillman" at Notre Dame University in 1992, I delivered a presentation with the title "My Imaginal Hillman" (Adams 1992). The title of this presentation could be "My Ideational Hillman."
The title of one of the most important books that Hillman wrote is Re-Visioning Psychology. It could, equally well, have been Re-Thinking Psychology. I do not mean that Hillman was a "thinking type." As I experienced him, he was at least as much a "feeling type." In Lectures on Jung's Typology, which includes essays by Marie-Louise von Franz and Hillman, the title of the contribution by Hillman is not "The Thinking Function" but "The Feeling Function" (1981). The title of the first book that Hillman wrote was not Imagination or Ideation but Emotion (1960). Think, however, if you will, of Hillman in a pose with his elbow on his knee and his fist under his chin.
When I think of Hillman, I think of a lecture that he presented several years ago. The title of that lecture, which I attended, was "Getting in Touch with Your Thinkings." Hillman presented the lecture at the New York Open Center. The title was a provocation, a deliberate contrast to the "New Age" slogan "Getting in Touch with Your Feelings." Hillman was a thoughtful Jungian. He was a thinking Jungian's thinker. He re-thought psychology - or at least Jungian psychology.
When Jung discusses thinking, he cites William James, who, as Jung says, differentiates between "two kinds of thinking." These are "directed thinking" and "non-directed thinking." Directed thinking is what Jung calls "logical thinking" (1911-12/1952, CW 5: par. 11). In contrast, he says that in non-directed thinking "image piles upon image" (1911-12/1952, CW 5: par. 19). Non-directed thinking is what I might call "imaginal thinking" - and this is the kind of thinking that Hillman emphasizes. It is thinking as imagining: thoughts as images.
"By emphasizing ideation," Hillman says in Re-Visioning Psychology, "we shall be assuming the passionate importance of psychological ideas." He says: "There seems to be nothing more astounding in the field of psychology than its scarcity of interesting ideas" (1975: 115). In Inter Views, Hillman says that "it seems that Jungians are not interested in ideas." He continues: "Many Jungians have the feeling that they have all the ideas they need; Jung gave them the ideas, all they need do is apply them or work with them. They are satisfied" (1983: 35). He says of these Jungians: "They simply live off Jung's ideas (or Freud's, for that matter) without working the field one inch further themselves" (1983: 36).
Jung had many, many ideas. Think of only some of them: archetype, complex, imago, ego, persona, shadow, anima, animus, self, personal unconscious, collective unconscious, compensatory function, prospective function, transcendent function, individuation, amplification, active imagination, introversion, extraversion, objective level, subjective level, psychic reality, psychic energy, symbol of transformation, and synchronicity. Is it any wonder that so many Jungians are satisfied with Jung's ideas and feel that all they need do is apply them or work with them? Hillman does not believe that Jungians should accept the whole of Jung. He believes that they should accept the parts of Jung that appeal to them and reject the parts that do not. Hillman has a take-it-or-leave it attitude toward Jung's ideas. He takes some and leaves others.
For Hillman, contemporary Jungian psychology is not ideation but ideology - that is, a belief system. In contrast to the many Jungians who are satisfied with Jung's ideas and feel that all they need do is apply them or work with them, Hillman says: "That's not how I work with ideas. I don't 'believe' Jung or 'believe in' his ideas. His ideas are valuable because they are so good to work with and" - Hillman adds - "against" (1983: 33). What does it mean to work both with and against Jung's ideas? It means not to be a conventional, conservative Jungian. It means, as I have said, not to do what so many Jungians do, which is "to repeat Jung, over and over again, in a rote, uncritical, uncreative way" (Adams 2014: 76). To do that is just imitation, not individuation, which Hillman defines as the imagination "to live one's oddity" (1983: 161). To work both with and against Jung's ideas is not to identify with them in a servile, slavish, or sycophantic way but to relate to them in a critical, creative, and, if I may say so, odd way. Surely, this is what Jung meant when he said: "Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian." I might even say that, for Hillman, individuation is imagination.
In "The Archetypal School," the chapter that I contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Jung, I quote a personal communication from Hillman. Before I submitted the chapter for publication, I mailed a draft to Hillman for comments. In reply, he said that he had not founded a "school." Schools of psychology were anathema to Hillman. "To set up a school creates immediately a new orthodoxy," he says in Inter Views. "We certainly don't need more orthodoxies - if anything, we need more heterodoxies" (1983: 33). Rather than found a school, Hillman modestly said that he had merely pursued a certain "direction" in Jung (Adams 2008: 109). What direction was that? That direction, I have emphasized, was toward the imagination (Adams 2012: 74).
In this respect, there is not just one Jung. There are at least two Jungs. I do not mean the "No. 1" and "No. 2" Jungs in Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963: 57). I mean two Jungs with radically different implications for the theory and practice of Jungian psychology. One of these is what I might call the "conceptual Jung." The other is what I might call the "imaginal Jung." Hillman, as I do, prefers the imaginal Jung to the conceptual Jung.
What do I mean by the "conceptual Jung"? I mean the Jung who replaces images with concepts. In contrast to this procedure, Hillman espouses "a psychology that's not conceptual" (1983: 2). What do I mean by the "imaginal Jung"? I mean the Jung who says: "To understand the dream's meaning I must stick as close as possible to the dream images" (1934, CW 16: par. 320). This is the Jung who says: "We have to keep it very simple and stick to the image" (2008: 332). In The Dream and the Underworld, Hillman says that this is "a method that Lopez-Pedraza felicitously calls 'sticking to the image" (1979: 194). For Hillman, to "stick to the image" (rather than replace it with a concept) is the fundamental methodological principle of archetypal psychology - or, as I prefer to say, imaginal psychology.
In a strict sense, to "stick to the image" is Jung's idea, not Hillman's idea. That is, it does not originate with either Rafael Lopez-Pedraza or Hillman but derives from Jung. It is Hillman, however, who promulgates the idea as a maxim. Had Hillman not emphasized the idea of sticking to the image, I would argue, it is quite probable that it would never have attained the prominence and the importance that it has in contemporary Jungian psychology. Before Hillman, to stick to the image was merely one idea among many ideas in Jungian psychology - and hardly a conspicuous idea. After Hillman, it assumed the status of a dictum.
Hillman worked against Jung's idea of a conceptual psychology and worked with Jung's idea of an imaginal psychology - and, in that process, he worked the Jungian field further than any other Jungian after Jung. "Without Jung," Hillman acknowledges, "I would not have been able to think any of the things I thought" (1983: 27). He says that he always says: "I'm just working further from Jung's thought" (1983: 27-8). Note the prepositions that Hillman employs in relation to Jung's thought - he works "with" it, "against" it, and "from" it in an effort to further it.
When Hillman discusses ideas, he mentions an "intimacy" between them and "visual metaphor." He says: "Ideas allow us to envision" (1975: 121). They also, I would add, allow him to "re-vision." The English word "idea" derives from the Greek word eidōs, which, Hillman notes, means "that which one sees" (not, he emphasizes, in an abstract sense but "in a concrete sense"), as well as "that by which one sees." (The verb eidō means "to see.") Ideas are both an end and a means to an end. Hillman says of ideas: "We see them, and by means of them." He says that "having ideas to see with and seeing ideas themselves" imply "that the more ideas we have, the more we see" (1975: 121). In this visual metaphor, to see is not to have "sights" but, as Hillman says, "psychological ideas, or insights" (1975: 122).
In contemporary English, perhaps the most common synonym for "idea" is "concept." For Hillman, however, ideas are not concepts. He likes ideas but dislikes concepts, for, to him, ideas are concrete and concepts are abstract. Among the many definitions of eidōs one definition is "image" - especially in the sense of "psychic image." For Hillman, "idea" retains that etymological sense, which he restores. In this sense, imagination is intrinsic to ideation. Hillman likes ideas to the extent that, unlike concepts, they are like images - concrete particularizations rather than abstract generalizations.
"I don't mean throw out all conceptual language," Hillman says, "but, generally speaking, conceptual language is where we're caught" (1983: 56-7). He notes that the language of dreams is not a language of concepts but a language of images. "The word in the dream is not restricted to conceptual interpretation because the word in the dream is not a concept," he says. "It's an image arriving out of the imagination" (1983: 57). Hillman says that "the dream speaks in images, or even is images" (1979: 55). When he criticizes interpretation, he criticizes a specific variety of interpretation, which I have called "conceptualization of the imagination" (Adams 2004: 49) - that is, interpretation that replaces concrete, particular images with abstract, general concepts. "Dreams call from the imagination to the imagination," Hillman says, "and can be answered only by the imagination" (1979: 55).
What do conventional, conservative Jungians do with an image in a dream? Hillman says that they replace the image - for example, "the dream's black dog" - with a concept - for example, "sexual impulses, mother complex, devilish aggression, guardian, or what have you" (1979: 122). Such Jungians are mere taxidermists. "A living dog," Hillman emphasizes, "is better than one stuffed with concepts" (1979: 123).
Psychologically, perhaps the most famous black dog of the twentieth century belonged to Winston Churchill. The black dog that belonged to Churchill was neither a real dog nor a dream dog. It was an imaginal dog - an example of what Alan Bleakley calls the "animalizing imagination" (2000). Lord Moran (Sir Charles Wilson), the personal physician of Churchill in World War II, kept a diary of conversations with Churchill. For two or three years as a young man, Lord Moran quotes Churchill, "black depression settled on me" (1966: 167). For many years, Churchill periodically experienced depressive episodes, which included suicidal impulses. In 1940, for example, Churchill says:
I don't like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible to get a pillar between me and the train. I don't like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second's action would end everything. (1966: 167)
Lord Moran diagnosed the recurrent depressions as hereditary. He says to Churchill: "Your trouble - I mean the Black Dog business - you got from your forebears" (1966: 167). Lord Moran notes that "Black Dog" was "Winston's name for the prolonged fits of depression from which he suffered" (1966: 167n.). Anthony Storr, a psychiatrist with Jungian sympathies, speculates that this personal experience of depression may have prepared Churchill to endure the vicissitudes of World War II (1988). In Australia, since 2002, there has been a Black Dog Institute that specializes in depression and other mood disorders.
Although Hillman never mentions the black dog of Churchill, he emphasizes "the doggedness of depression, depressive doggedness" (2008: 151). In contrast to "depression," which is, of course, a concept, "dog" is an image. Churchill does not replace an image with a concept, as conventional, conservative Jungians do - he reverses that procedure and replaces the concept "depression" with the image "dog," as Hillman would presumably do. Evidently, for Churchill, "black dog" conveys a much more specific, qualitatively distinctive, vitally accurate impression of the experience than does "black depression."
"An Inquiry into Image," an important essay from 35 years ago, is a dialogue between Hillman and a "Protestor," an interlocutor who questions what Hillman says about images. In the essay, Hillman contrasts images not with concepts but with symbols. "I come from Zurich; for the past quarter-century I have lived in a world of symbols," he says. "They no longer hold my attention" (1977: 62). Why so? Hillman contrasts the "generality" of symbols with the "particularity" of images (1977: 64). He says that "there are no symbols as such, only images." Symbols, he says, "are abstractions from images" (1977: 65). He criticizes symbols on the same basis that he criticizes concepts. Both symbols and concepts are abstract generalizations, while images are concrete particularizations.
It should be no surprise when I say that there is not just one Hillman - there are at least two Hillmans. The first Hillman experiences the image "in a specific context, mood, and scene" (1977: 65). For him, the specificity of the context, mood, and scene is what constitutes the image as an image rather than a symbol - what endows the image with particularity in contrast to the generality of a symbol. This is the Hillman who "sticks to the image in its precise presentation" (1977: 68). The first Hillman is what I might call the "precision" Hillman. What interest him are "the actual qualities of the image" (1977: 69). From this perspective, the actual qualities of the image in a specific context, mood, and scene are the necessary and sufficient condition for a precise experience of the image. The second Hillman is what I might call the "proliferation" Hillman. This is the Hillman for whom the image is a point of departure for more and more images - not just one image but many images. In contrast to the Hillman who experiences the image in a specific context, mood, and scene, this Hillman asks what the image is like. "The operative term is 'like,'" he says. "This is like that" (1977: 86). The result of this procedure is that images proliferate. There are many images, none of which Hillman privileges over any of the others.
Consider the actual qualities of the images in the specific context, mood, and scene of a dream that Hillman presents:
There is a black dog, with a long tail, that shows its teeth at me. I am terribly afraid. (1977: 86)
In this dream, what I call the "non-ego image" is a dog that is black with a tail that is long and with teeth that it shows at what I call the "ego-image," which is terribly afraid. The "precision" Hillman would presumably stick to these images just as the dream presents them, but that is not what Hillman does in this instance. Instead, the "proliferation" Hillman asks what the images are like:
We simply ask the dreamer, "What is this dog, this scene, this fear, like?" Then we get: It's like when there is sudden sound and I jump with fright; like coming to analysis and expecting you to pounce on everything I say; like anger - sometimes I get so angry (or hungry) that I could savage anyone who gets near me; like my ulcer gets angry and hungry at the same time; like my mother used to look - her teeth; like going home after work in the dark and being afraid my wife will bark at me, jump at me; it's like dying - I'm so afraid - it's so vicious and low and degrading; it's like a film I saw when I was little with black dogs in it and I had to leave the movie theater I was so terrified; like the Jackal God, Anubis; like Mephistopheles in Faust; like when I get sexy - I want to tear into the meat and just eat and screw like a dog in the street, anywhere; it's like the dog was a snake with a long tail. And so on. (1977: 86-7).
A conventional, conservative Jungian might amplify the image of the black dog, might liken it to an image in some other source - for example, the black dog in Faust. In this respect, Jung quotes Goethe and says "the 'black dog scampers through corn and stubble' - the poodle who is the devil himself" (1911-12/1952, CW 5: par. 118). The devil, "in the form of the black dog," Jung notes, introduces himself to Faust as an intention with an ironically paradoxical effect: "Part of the power which would / Ever work evil, but engenders good" (1911-12/1952, CW 5: par. 181). In fact, Hillman does amplify the image in just this way - he likens the black dog in the dream to the black dog in Faust. He also, however, likens the image in the dream not only to that one image but also to many other images, none of which he privileges.
The Protestor in the dialogue with Hillman questions this proliferation of images. "I hear you saying more equals good," the Protestor says. "The more you can say about that dog, the better it is." The Protestor says that Hillman's method of proliferating seems no different from "Freud's method of associating" or "Jung's method of amplifying." All of those methods, he says, seem to depart from the image of the black dog in the specific context, mood, and scene of the dream "which is your very concern to stick to" (1977: 87). Are not "some two or three" of the images to which Hillman likens the black dog in the dream "more relevant" for the dreamer, the Protestor asks, than any of the others - "his mother's teeth, say, or Goethe's Mephistopheles" - or are all of the images "equally good?" (1977: 88)
I prefer the first Hillman, the "precision" Hillman, to the second Hillman, the "proliferation" Hillman. I do not consider images, the more the better, all to be equally good. An infinite regress of images does not appeal to me. I prefer the Hillman who values quality over quantity and who sticks to the image in a specific context, mood, and scene. This is the Hillman who says of animals in dreams: "To find out who they are and what they are doing there in the dream, we must first of all watch the image and pay less attention to our own reactions to it." In this instance, the dreamer would watch the black dog to find out what it is doing there in the dream (showing its teeth) and would pay less attention to his own reaction (terrible fright). "Then," Hillman says of the image, "we might be able to understand what it means with us in the dream" (1979: 148).
In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin observes that, evolutionarily, humans are emotionally expressive much in the same way that other animals are. Among the emotions that he discusses in detail is anger. One of the ways that humans express anger, he notes, is to show their teeth. "This retraction of the lips and uncovering of the teeth during paroxysms of rage, as if to bite the offender, is so remarkable, considering how seldom the teeth are used by men in fighting," that Darwin asks a doctor "whether the habit was common in the insane whose passions are unbridled" (1955: 242). The doctor affirms that this is so and, as an example, mentions "an insane lady." Darwin describes the way the woman expresses anger:
At first she vituperated her husband, and whilst doing so foamed at the mouth. Next she approached close to him with compressed lips, and a virulent set frown. Then she drew back her lips, especially the corners of the upper lip, and showed her teeth, at the same time aiming a vicious blow at him. (1955: 242)
Other animals also show their teeth to express anger. In this respect, Darwin specifically mentions the dog: "When a dog is on the point of springing on his antagonist, he utters a savage growl; the ears are pressed closely backwards, and the upper lip is retracted out of the way of his teeth, especially of his canines" (1955: 116). Hillman, too, describes "the curled lip and bared teeth of the sudden dog jumping at you" (2008a: 154). In humans and other animals, the conical teeth between the lateral incisor and the first premolar are canines, but so are dogs and other carnivorous animals (wolves, jackals, foxes, and coyotes) canines, or canidae. Darwin provides an illustration in which a dog angrily shows his teeth (1955: 117):
John Rowan also provides an illustration that he entitles, simply, "Animal" (1993: 55):
In the dream that Hillman presents, a black dog with a long tail shows its teeth at the dreamer, who is terribly frightened. The non-ego image expresses an emotion - anger - and the ego-image reacts (as ego-images almost always do) defensively. The two most famous defenses are "fight" and "flight." In this instance, the defense that the ego-image employs is another "f-word." The defensive reaction of the ego-image is (a terrible) "fright."
In the vast majority of dreams, the ego-image is anxious and suspicious (even paranoid or phobic) rather than curious and inquisitive in relation to non-ego images. In this dream, it never occurs to the ego-image to inquire why the non-ego image shows its teeth. That the black dog shows its teeth to the dreamer is just a fact, but why? What non-ego images do not do in dreams is as important as what they do. In this dream, the non-ego image does not attack or bite the ego-image. Even if the black dog did attack or bite the dreamer, however, the question would still be the same: why?
Jung says of animals in dreams that how they appear "depends on the attitude of the conscious mind." He says that "if it is negative towards the unconscious, the animals will be frightening" (in this instance, terribly frightening), while, "if positive, they appear as the 'helpful animals' of fairytale and legend" (1911-12/1952, CW 5: par. 264). Apparently, in this instance, the attitude of the conscious mind is so negative toward the unconscious that the ego-image just assumes that the black dog is not a helpful animal but a harmful animal - not "man's best friend" but perhaps even his worst enemy - and, as a result, reacts with fright. Rather than pause and reflect, ponder and wonder, and ask (for example, in active imagination) the black dog why it shows its teeth, the dreamer just reacts defensively.
Why does the black dog in this dream show its teeth? "When a dog approaches a strange dog or man," Darwin observes, it reacts with anger (1955: 50). He notes that "the canine teeth are uncovered." When, however, "the dog suddenly discovers that the man he is approaching, is not a stranger, but his master," Darwin says, the dog reacts with affection. He notes that "his tail, instead of being held stiff and upright, is lowered and wagged from side to side" (1955: 51). Darwin provides an illustration in which a dog affectionately wags his tail (1955: 55):
Perhaps the most famous image of a dog wagging its tail is Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by the futurist painter Giacomo Balla, who depicts emotion by motion.
Presumably, the dreamer would like for the black dog in the dream to wag its tail rather than show its teeth, but, as Jung says, dreams depict "the inner truth and reality of the patient as it really is: not as I conjecture it to be, and not as he would like it to be, but as it is" (1934, CW 16: par. 304). What this dream indicates is that the ego-image and the non-ego image - as they are - are not on familiar terms. This is why the black dog does not wag its tail but shows its teeth at the dreamer. To the black dog, the dreamer is a stranger, and so, to the dreamer, is the black dog. In this sense, the "unfamiliar" is a synonym for the "unconscious." The black dog, which is unfamiliar with (or unconscious of) the dreamer, reacts with anger, and the dreamer, who is unfamiliar with (or unconscious) of the black dog, reacts with fright.
A dog is a Canis familiaris, and a familiaris (or "familiar") is a spirit often embodied as an animal and held to attend, serve, or guard a person. As an example, Jung mentions the black dog in Goethe: "A parallel to the dog-spirit is the poodle in Faust, out of whom Mephistopheles emerges as the familiar of Faust the alchemist" (1955-56, CW 14: par. 177). In this dream, however, the black dog is not at all a familiar. The black dog is just as much a stranger to the dreamer as the dreamer is to the black dog.
Once it is obvious that the ego-image and the non-ego image are "estranged," the dreamer has an opportunity to consider how they might be "familiarized." The question is: how might the dreamer engage the black dog more effectively? This does not mean for the dreamer to be a "master" and the black dog to be a "pet." A non-ego image in a dream is not an animal that is domesticated and kept for the pleasure rather than the utility of the ego-image. The purpose of psychoanalysis is not for the ego-image to train non-ego images to obey commands or perform tricks. (That would truly be "the tail wagging the dog.") Rather, psychoanalysis is an opportunity for "familiarization" between the ego-image and non-ego images.
Hillman says that he began to collect animal dreams in 1958. If so, he collected them for more than half a century. Hillman mentions two dominant themes in these animal dreams: "the dreamer trying to eradicate the animal" and "the dreamer seeing the animal as more dangerous than it turns out to be" (2008a: 184). The animal dreams that dreamers recount to me confirm what Hillman says. These dreamers almost always react defensively with "fright" and then with either "fight" or "flight." They just immediately assume that the animals in these dreams are dangerous and, as a result, tend either to attack or to escape. These dreamers do not stick to the image to ascertain precisely why the image does what it does in the dream and how they might engage the image more effectively - that is, more familiarly - than they do.
What I might call the "danger assumption" toward non-ego images is what is so problematic about the ego-image. In this respect, Jung says that the unconscious is "a natural entity" that is "completely neutral." The unconscious is not intrinsically dangerous. "It only becomes dangerous when our conscious attitude to it is hopelessly wrong," Jung says. "To the degree that we repress it, its danger increases" (1934, CW 16: par. 329). Or, as I prefer to say, non-ego images are only assumptively dangerous and then only to the extent that the ego-image is defensive (and, as Hillman notes, the non-ego image frequently turns out to be less dangerous than the ego-image immediately assumes it to be, or, I would add, not dangerous at all). The dangerousness of non-ego images is, ironically, a function of the defensiveness of the ego-image. The one is directly proportional to the other.
In the dream that Hillman presents, the ego-image reacts defensively to what it assumes is a dangerous non-ego image. The black dog shows its teeth at the dreamer, and only then - after it does this - is the dreamer terribly frightened. Jung, however, reverses this sequence of events. He argues that the conscious attitude of the dreamer toward the unconscious is always already defensive - that defense occurs not after but before danger. The ostensible dangerousness of the non-ego image is the result of the anticipatory defensiveness of the ego-image. From this perspective, were this dreamer not always already so terribly frightened of the unconscious, the black dog would not show its teeth at him.
Several years ago, a prominent Jungian analyst confided to me that he aspired to rival Hillman as "the top dog" of Jungian psychology. I was no competition, he said, for I was "the dog that walks alone." The ambition of the Jungian analyst impressed me and amused me. The description of me as solitary was accurate. If Jungian analysts are dogs, black or not, in a pack, I do prefer to walk alone - but if I were to walk with any other dogs, it would be with Jung and Hillman, sometimes showing my teeth, sometimes wagging my tail, and - to be precise - always sticking to the image, the actual qualities of it, in a specific context, mood, and scene.
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