The Roman god Janus had two faces. They looked in opposite directions, representing dualities, especially beginnings and endings, past and future. Psychotherapy often begins by facing the past and understanding its influence on the present. Belief in the past as unalterably determinative, however, can imply that personal history is a single, all-powerful god—as if Janus fixed on yesterday. Jung took special interest in psyche’s purposive and creative energy—the face Janus turned toward the future. Incarnating our innate potential, which Jung termed the individuation process, is the process of engaging our capacity for growth and wholeness. Life’s road ahead has new possibilities, which is why we launch the new year in honor of Janus, for it is he who presides over all new beginnings.
HERE’S THE DREAM WE ANALYZE:
The Magic Gown
“I’m in a dress boutique, watching as teenage girls try on bright prom gowns. They giggle, twirl, and take selfies. I need a dress too because I’ll be attending the prom as a chaperone. I go into a private changing room that doubles as a small bedroom. The dresses hanging for me to try on make me think of Little Bo Peep. Reluctantly, I select the least offensive option, a ribbony mauve number. I’m sure it’s going to look ridiculous, but when I step into it, it becomes bespoke black lace, elegant and perfect. I want to send a selfie to my husband. I try to frame my image in the full-length mirror, but a bed is in the way, and I can’t move it or figure out the angles. Meanwhile, my husband texts sweet portraits of our dog who recently passed away.”
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