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    Kwame Scruggs: The Power of Myth in Urban Youth Development

    enJune 06, 2024

    Podcast Summary

    • Myth and Psychology in Counseling Urban YouthUsing myths in counseling can lead to objective discussions and understanding, allowing for effective communication and healing with inner city youth

      Myth and psychological perspectives can bring healing and understanding to various aspects of life, particularly when working with inner city youth. Kwami Scruggs, a Jungian analyst and founder of Alchemy Inc., shares his journey of using myth and depth psychology to connect with and help urban youth. Introduced to the works of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell through an African-based rights of passage, Kwami was inspired to follow his bliss and play his drum and tell mythological stories. He began using myths in his counseling work, finding that they allowed for objective discussion and understanding. Over the years, he continued to find success in this approach, adapting it to fit different situations and populations. His work has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, and he remains dedicated to using myth and psychology to make a positive impact in the world.

    • Myth and drum storytellingMyth and drum storytelling can effectively engage and encourage deep introspection from various groups, creating a safe environment for exploring complex questions and ideas in a simple and immediate way.

      Storytelling through myths, particularly when using a drum and a safe environment, can effectively engage and encourage deep introspection from high school dropouts and other groups. The myth of the golden age sets the stage for these sessions, creating a sense of safety and wonder. By telling the myth to the beat of a drum and encouraging journaling, participants can explore complex questions and ideas in a simple and immediate way. This method has been successful in various settings, even in chaotic environments, and has the potential to bring groups together for extended periods of time. The process of unpacking the myth can go on for weeks or months, fostering a deeper connection to the story and its underlying themes.

    • Myth of the Water of LifeStorytelling through the myth of the water of life fosters a sense of community and understanding by allowing individuals to reflect on their lives and the roles they play in their communities, leading to meaningful conversations and personal growth.

      Storytelling, specifically the myth of the water of life, can help individuals connect with each other and their past experiences, fostering a sense of community and understanding. This myth, which involves a king seeking a cure for his sickness and his oldest son's quest for the elusive water of life, resonates with listeners on a personal level, allowing them to reflect on their own lives and the roles they play in their communities. During group discussions, participants identify what resonates with them, share their perspectives, and engage in meaningful conversations, creating an environment of open-mindedness and trust. Through this process, they discover that the experiences of others can serve as mirrors, helping them make choices and grow. Alchemy, a nonprofit organization, uses this method to facilitate such discussions among young people, resulting in profound personal development and a sense of initiation.

    • Universal human experiences and mythsIncorporating themes of sacrifice, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles from myths can help individuals find meaning and hope in their own stories, becoming the hero in their own lives.

      The power of universal human experiences and myths can help individuals find meaning and hope in their own stories. Lisa emphasizes the importance of becoming the hero in one's own life by incorporating themes of sacrifice, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles from myths. Through her personal growth and therapeutic journey, Lisa has deeply connected with the objective psyche and unconscious, trusting that the universe will work things out even in difficult times. The myths serve as a mirror, encouraging individuals to look deeply into their own lives, identify challenges, and work on them. Lisa's connection to the myths and her role as a healer and storyteller have been transformative, inspiring her to help young people find their own paths to healing and self-discovery.

    • Opportunity and supportOpportunity and support from the right people at the right time can significantly impact the work we do and the lives we live. Never underestimate the power of holding onto hope and the transformative power of myths in finding meaning and purpose.

      Sometimes, opportunity and circumstance can play a significant role in shaping our lives and the work we end up doing. The speaker, Joseph, shares his personal story of how he started Alchemy, an after-school program for at-risk youth, through a combination of being in the right place at the right time and the support of the right people. He also emphasizes the importance of holding onto hope and the power of myths to provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose. Through his work with Alchemy, Joseph has come to believe that the death of hope can mean the loss of access to the deep unconscious and the mythic level of our psyche, which can be replaced by suffering and pain. However, he encourages us not to give up on hope and to continue seeking out our bliss, no matter what age we may be. Ultimately, Joseph's story is one of perseverance, sacrifice, and the transformative power of myths in helping us find our place in the world.

    • Alchemy in EducationFounder Kwame Alexander's Alchemy program in NYC uses mythological stories to teach critical thinking skills, leading to high graduation and college attendance rates.

      Kwame Alexander, the founder of Alchemy, has dedicated his life to bringing the ancient practice of using mythological stories to teach critical thinking skills to young people, particularly in New York City. He has seen remarkable success with this method, as evidenced by the high graduation and college attendance rates of his students. Despite facing challenges in funding and convincing skeptics, Alexander remains passionate about sharing this unique and effective approach with more youth. Through his work with independent schools and the upcoming training program, he is expanding his reach and helping to distribute the "water of life" to more people.

    • Storytelling and MythologyStorytelling and mythology inspire and transform young urban men facing adversity by encouraging belief in their potential and perseverance through incorporating hero traits and continuous progress.

      The power of storytelling and mythology lies in their ability to inspire and transform, particularly for young urban men who may be facing adversity and negative messages on a daily basis. By sharing stories of heroes and myths, these young men can be encouraged to believe in their own potential and persevere, rather than giving up hope. The process involves incorporating the character traits of these heroes into their own lives and continuing to make progress every day, even if it doesn't happen overnight. This approach can help boys and men reconceptualize their relationship to themselves and others, rather than relying on external sources for transformation. Myths are not just stories, but lies that tell the truth and offer a means of revitalizing archetypal energies to create new images and behaviors.

    • Reimagining MasculinityReimagining masculinity involves fostering emotional connection through storytelling, encouraging empathy, compassion, and understanding of others to create generational change.

      The work being done with young men involves reimagining masculinity and fostering emotional connection through myths and storytelling. This process aims to bring balance between masculine and feminine energies, encouraging empathy, compassion, and understanding of others. The ultimate goal is to create generational change by helping these young men become better parents, partners, and community members. By sharing their own stories and experiences, the facilitators create an environment where the boys feel seen and understood, fostering a sense of belonging and hope. The transformation that takes place is essential not only for the individual but also for the community, as these young men carry the potential to make a positive impact on those around them.

    • Adult-Youth ConnectionSharing personal stories and experiences in a trusting environment can help build trust and understanding between adults and youth, leading to deeper connections and self-exploration.

      The sharing of personal stories and experiences, even in a trusting environment, can help build trust and understanding between adults and youth. This was exemplified in a discussion about the use of a drum to help youth express their emotions, leading to a deeper level of connection and trust. The dream analysis revealed a complex inner conflict, possibly related to a chronic illness and feelings of shame or isolation. The use of archetypal symbols, such as the talking snake and the moat-surrounded barn, added depth to the interpretation. Overall, the conversation emphasized the importance of creating safe spaces for open communication and self-exploration.

    • Inner Conflict and ClothingClothing can represent our adopted persona, but inner conflict may prevent us from aligning it with our authentic self, causing resistance to change and growth

      Clothing can represent the persona we adopt to navigate social environments, but the psyche may resist this persona if it doesn't align with our authentic self. The snake, a symbol of feminine wisdom, may be particularly opposed to a persona that doesn't fit well. The dreamer in this discussion is at a threshold in her life, trying to leave home and enter the professional world, but she's held back by illness and the inner conflict between her persona and her authentic self. The snake, representing wisdom and potential regression, may be preventing her from leaving or may be attacking her to protect the unconscious. The dreamer's persona and the inner snake are versions of herself, and their conflict may be preventing her from adapting to the outer world and crossing important thresholds. The dreamer's attempts to leave may be met with resistance, and the inner conflict may lead to a sense of being trapped and unable to move forward. The dreamer's encounter with the snake may result in important insights, but these insights may be difficult to integrate and may require a period of regression before true growth can occur.

    • Inner wisdom and powerThe dream may reflect a need for the dreamer to embrace her inner wisdom and strength, rather than remaining in a helpless state, with the recurring image of a snake symbolizing the importance of balancing venom and wisdom.

      The dream may represent feelings of helplessness and a longing for wisdom, but also a fear of being cut off from potential sources of growth or masculine energy. The dreamer's inability to connect with a past suitor and feeling ignored by him may symbolize a sense of rejection or disconnection from her own inner masculine or power. The dream also suggests that the dreamer may need to embrace her inner wisdom and strength, rather than remaining in a childlike or helpless state. The recurring image of a snake, which represents both venom and wisdom, highlights the importance of finding a balance between these two aspects of herself. Overall, the dream may be encouraging the dreamer to trust her intuition and inner guidance, rather than relying on external validation or help.

    Recent Episodes from This Jungian Life Podcast

    Kwame Scruggs: The Power of Myth in Urban Youth Development

    Kwame Scruggs: The Power of Myth in Urban Youth Development

    Can myth-based storytelling transform urban youth?

    Kwame Scruggs joins us to discuss how urban youth development thrives through the transformative power of mythological storytelling. He engages young minds by connecting their experiences with universal themes. His programs incorporate myths that foster emotional healing, personal growth, and a sense of community, guiding youth to see themselves as heroes in their stories. These initiatives offer a holistic approach to education and empowerment by integrating analytical psychology and relevant cultural elements. The insights gained from myths help youth navigate their challenges, instilling hope and resilience.

    Prepare to discover what transformative power mythological storytelling holds for urban youth development, how myths foster emotional healing, personal growth, and community, which methods effectively integrate myth and analytical psychology in educational programs, whether myth-based approaches can facilitate meaningful change, why storytelling is a vital tool for instilling hope and resilience in young people's lives…and so much more.

    FIND THE DREAM WE ANALYZE HERE: https://thisjungianlife.com/the-power-of-myth-in-urban-youth-development/

    Learn more about Kwame here: https://www.kwamescruggs.com/

    Learn about Kwame’s live mentor training in New York City on June 22, 2024.  https://www.alchemyinc.net/rsvp

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    Rebecca Tarnas is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her research includes depth psychology, archetypal studies, literature, philosophy, and the ecological imagination. She is an editor of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology and author of Journey to the Imaginal Realm: A Readers Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (https://a.co/d/7zIUX4K). She is researching and writing a biography of Stanislav Grof, a co-founder of transpersonal psychology.

     For more information about Becca, check out her website: https://beccatarnas.com/

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    Encounters with Light: Jung's near-death experiences

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    FIND THE DREAM WE ANALYZE HERE:  https://thisjungianlife.com/near_death_experiences/

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    LOOK & GROW

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    Connect with our vibrant community.

    MARTYR COMPLEX: Selfish or Selfless?

    MARTYR COMPLEX: Selfish or Selfless?

    How can understanding different aspects of martyrdom help us navigate personal sacrifices and societal expectations in our search for a meaningful life?

    Individuals with a martyr complex often seek validation for their pain and suffering, which can be a source of protection and nurturing. It can also be a form of manipulation where personal suffering is used to influence or control the reactions of others. This behavior can be harmful, leading individuals to persist in unhealthy relationships or dangerous situations under the guise of nobility or duty. It is important to distinguish between healthy self-sacrifice and detrimental martyrdom by gaining a reflective understanding of our motivations and aligning our actions with healthy self-sacrifice. Resolving the complex involves examining personal motives, societal values, and psychological health to foster healthier ways of being and interacting in the world.

    Prepare to discover…what complexities and interpretations surround the concept of martyrdom, revealing its multifaceted nature in both historical and personal contexts; how individuals interpret and internalize the idea of suffering and sacrifice through personal experiences and cultural narratives, shaping their worldview and psychological responses; which factors contribute to someone being viewed as a martyr, including the interplay of religious, cultural, and personal elements that influence the perception of sacrifice; whether the actions associated with martyrdom are motivated by genuine selflessness, psychological needs, or external influences, examining the blurred lines between heroism and victimhood; why the theme of martyrdom resonates deeply across different cultures and epochs, serving both as a source of inspiration and a tool for social and political change…and so much more.

    FIND THE DREAM WE ANALYZE HERE: https://thisjungianlife.com/martyr-complex/

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    ECLIPSE: archetype of awe, wonder, and triumph

    ECLIPSE: archetype of awe, wonder, and triumph

    Encountering a total eclipse can evoke a primal connection to nature and the infinite, constellating a deep sense of belonging to the universe and each other.

    Eclipses profoundly impact observers, evoking awe, transcendence, and a shared sense of unity. These celestial events encourage deep personal reflection and stronger social connections among those who witness them. They transform ordinary moments into extraordinary ones, re-enchanting the world and reinforcing the bond between humanity, nature, and the cosmos. Mysterious and awe-filled, in ancient times, Eclipses inspired myths and religious rites that shaped culture, politics, and even war. 

    Prepare to discover...how human beings engage with and interpret awe-inspiring events; what effects awe, mystery, and the numinous have on the human psyche; where individuals and societies find meaning and transcendence in natural phenomena; whether events like eclipses can re-enchant a disenchanted world; which aspects of human nature are illuminated by our reactions to eclipses; why the human response to eclipses and similar events can be a profound source of insight into our collective and individual psyches, revealing deeper truths about our fears, hopes, and the interplay between consciousness and the cosmos...and so much more.

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    Kate Berlant: Art, Psyche, and the Collective Unconscious in DREAM SCENARIO

    Kate Berlant: Art, Psyche, and the Collective Unconscious in DREAM SCENARIO

    How do dreams intrude upon our Psyche, our roles in others' lives, and our societal identities?

    "Dream Scenario" is a thought-provoking new film that explores the uncanny power of the collective unconscious to shape culture and be shaped by it. In the movie, Nicholas Cage's character Paul mysteriously starts appearing in others' dreams across the globe. He grapples with the fear of being randomly celebrated by the collective and later demonized. Kate Berlant's role in the film and insights into Jungian analysis and dream interpretation launch our conversation into the growing presence of Jung's insights in art and film. We explore the effect of instant and unwarranted celebrity through social media and the power of archetypal roles to change the actor and activate the collective. Kate reveals her personal connection to analytical psychology and the path her inner work has taken her. 

    Prepare to discover… who explores the depths of dreams and societal perceptions through the lens of cinema, when a film and its thematic discussions intersect with contemporary Jungian perspectives; how art, personal experiences, and the unconscious contribute to our understanding of identity and celebrity; what insights into the nature of dreams, fame, and the Self can be gleaned from the synthesis of film narrative and psychoanalytical insights; where the boundaries between personal identity and public persona blur; whether dreams serve merely as reflections of our Psyche or as vehicles for collective forces; which Jungian concepts illuminate the complex interplay between our inner lives and persona; why the exploration of dreams, both literal and metaphorical, is crucial to understanding our roles in the world and the narratives we construct about ourselves and others…and so much more.

    FIND THE DREAM WE ANALYZE HERE: https://thisjungianlife.com/kate_berlant/  

    LEARN MORE ABOUT KATE AND HER UPCOMING SHOWS: https://kateberlant.com/  

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    Why We Make Others Feel Bad: understanding projective identification

    Why We Make Others Feel Bad: understanding projective identification

    How do we invisibly transfer our emotions to others, and what magic lies in revealing this unseen dance?

    Projective identification is like unconsciously tossing our feelings into someone else, a behavior first noticed in babies with their moms. It's an invisible way we influence others based on our buried issues, avoiding dealing with our tough emotions by making others express them for us. Facing up to this pattern can help us understand ourselves better and grow. Often, this cycle kicks off with blaming others, triggering a domino effect that reveals deeper, hidden struggles within us.

    Prepare to discover…Melanie Klein's pivotal role in defining projective identification through her studies on infants and maternal interactions; when its relevant to personal dynamics and psychoanalysis; how projective identification works as a defense mechanism; what projective identification involves, its mechanisms, and its manifestations in daily relationships and therapy; where projective identification occurs, from personal to clinical contexts, highlighting its broad applicability; whether projective identification is conscious or unconscious; which theoretical perspectives and analysts contributed to the understanding of projective identification; why projective identification is significant in understanding human behavior, particularly in emotional communication, relationship dynamics, and therapeutic interventions…and so much more.

    FIND THE DREAM WE ANALYZE HERE https://thisjungianlife.com/projective_identification/ 

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