Episode 194 – MR. GRINCH ON THE COUCH

Dec 23, 2021

Dr. Seuss’ case history of the Grinch presents him as “uncheerful, unhealthy, unclean.” We hope that adding an analytic perspective will be helpful in understanding this clinical condition. Alfred Adler would note the inferiority complex underlying the Grinch’s defensive attempt at superiority and power, and Melanie Klein would detect infantile rage and envy. Freud might diagnose the Grinch with Thanatos, the death drive, evidenced in his sadistic attack on Who-ville. Additional obsessive-compulsive traits impelled him to steal every toy, treat, and tree. Dr. Jung’s archetypal perspective notes the absence of eros, affirming Dr. Seuss’ summation of the Grinch’s disorder: “his heart was two sizes too small.” Fortunately, the community of Who-ville provided treatment: demonstrating that “Christmas came just the same” grew the Grinch’s pinched heart three sizes that day. No matter how you celebrate this holiday season, we—and the Grinch–wish you irresistible moments of joy.

Here’s the dream we analyze:

“My male housemate and I were on a train, being taunted by two teenage boys. The train stopped in the middle of a grassy clearing in the forest, near a cliff-face. As we were leaving the train, the two boys rudely brushed past us, and then I lost my temper and, in a heavily-worded outburst, told them to get lost. They then ran away toward a corner in the cliff-face. At that moment, an old man appeared from behind the train, with a hunting rifle, who I felt was on my side. The old man was dressed as a hunter with a European hunting hat and had a dog following him. He chased after the boys and disappeared around the corner. When I caught up with them, the boys had run up to the top of a hill and were standing there with an old woman and a dog of their own while we watched with the old man from the bottom of the hill. I somehow knew that the woman was the old hunter’s wife of many years and that the two loved each other deeply. There was a brief standoff. Then suddenly, one of the boys took out a handgun and executed the wife, taunting the old man. He then shot the old man’s dog. The old man broke into tears of heartbreak, then retaliated by shooting the boys’ own dog before vowing to get revenge on the boys themselves. My housemate and I were standing on the sidelines watching the conflict. I woke up, feeling uneasy before either side won the coming battle.”

REFERENCES:

Dr. Seuss. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! https://www.amazon.com/dp/0394800796/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_3DKX1HK491XGEA6A314E

RESOURCES:

Learn to Analyze your own Dreams: https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/

3 Comments

  1. Simcha

    Fabulous. Thank you! I didn’t expect the Winnicott twist at the end!

    I still wonder: Why does the Grinch wear a Santa costume?

    From a plot point of view, he’s a thief disguising himself, in case he’s spotted (which he is by a young girl). But does his disguise have another meaning from a Jungian point of view (or a Marie-Louise von Franz fairytale approach)?

    It’s a bit like the Big Bad Wolf dressing up as Granny – why bother when the Wolf could have just instantly devoured Little Red Riding Hood? So why does the Grinch bother dressing up as Santa?

    Reply
  2. marie

    A bit off topic but I’m curious if you’ve read Kingsley’s Catafalque and what you think of it?

    Reply
  3. Mamie Allegretti

    Hello Marie,
    I really liked Kingsley’s Catafalque, and I agree with a lot of his points. However, I think you have to have read a lot of Jung and a lot about Jung to understand it. I think you also have to be well-read in esoteric studies, too, in order to understand a lot of Jung’s thinking. This is because Jung is at once a carrier and reinterpreter of gnosticism – the direct experience of what, historically, has been called the Divine. This book made me think a lot about what Jung means to me and what his message really was. To me, Jung is such an embodiment of the tension of the opposites, of the paradoxality of our nature. He was a man who walked his talk. He was literally a man who walked between two worlds in so many ways. He was a man of contradiction and ambiguity, and that’s what makes him so delightful and frustrating. I especially enjoyed Kingsley’s defense of Jung as a prophet. And, in Kingsley’s definition (p. 255), Jung was a prophet. But the problem doesn’t lie with prophets as Kingsley defines them. It lies with those who give their gold to the prophet and don’t see it in themselves. I always think that the greatest quality of a teacher is to encourage you to find your OWN way – not to imitate or parrot what some guru says – but to encourage your own self development. This is one of Jung’s greatest gifts. And, of course, the paradox in doing this is that you are influencing and changing humanity as a whole. Think of the story of The Rainmaker. Kingsley also discusses what others have talked about (McGilchrist, and others), namely the glorification of reason and science as the only ways of knowing and how those are leading to the destruction of western civilization. Kingsley does criticize many Jungian analysts for their refusal to see Jung as a mystic and a prophet. This got me thinking about how Jung’s ideas are spun to serve a certain ideology which often wants to portray him as only a scientist to make him palatable to “science” and taken seriously. But I would then ask WHY people are drawn to Jung. Is it because he was ONLY a scientist who studied the psyche or are there deeper spiritual reasons? This is one of the things I love about Jung – precisely that he doesn’t fit neatly into any category. He walks between worlds on many levels. It also made me think of how much of Jung’s work hasn’t yet been published and how much of Jung we don’t understand because we are reading him in English and not German. I believe we are missing a lot of the flavor and subtlety of what he was trying to say because we don’t have access to him in his native language which carries so much meaning. We also lack is prodigious intellect that was grounded in language, philosophy, and esoteric studies which are not usually included in our education nowadays. I would have liked Kingsley to discuss the relationship between Corbin and Jung in more depth. I believe they understood each other so well because they had both experienced the imaginal world (not imagination as we think of it). Gary Lachman’s book Lost Knowledge of the Imagination is a good start to understanding this imaginal world. Anyway, just some ideas here. I hope they were thought provoking!

    Reply

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