The Self in Transformation, by Hester McFarland Solomon
Karnac Books, 9781855755703, 332 pp., 2007

Solomon is a Jungian analyst who brings a depth of understanding to and sympathy to Freudian themes that I’ve not encountered previously. The papers collected here were written over a twenty year period, largely published in journals, save for the final essay, which was written especially for this volume.

Part I introduces the theme of the work, which is transformation, more specifically “the transformation of self and self states”, described as “pivotal in Jung’s thinking”.1 Part II, titled “Theoretical underpinnings and explorations” tackles Hegel, analytical psychology and neuroscience. Part III looks at the self and the other in a series of dazzling essays. Part IV looks at ethics, both from an analyst’s and analysand’s point of view, and their relative responsibilities. Part V consists of the book’s final essay, dealing with the potential for transformation, in psychology and in the individual psyche.

As these essays were written for peers, technical points would be  difficult to understand had Solomon not taken care to explain her references and technical jargon, which she has done successfully,  so laypersons such as myself can gain understanding and insight from her work. However, as these essays were written separately and over such a long period, examples and even direct quotes are often repeated, which can make for tedious reading if read straight through.

Solomon deftly weaves various themes from psychology, literaure and science into a coherent narriative of self. This is an intelligent and insightful collection, certainly recommended for anyone interested in conteporary Jungian psychology.

  1. p. 3 []