James Hillman : biography
James Hillman (April 12, 1926 – October 27, 2011) was an American psychologist. He studied at, and then guided studies for, the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, founded a movement toward archetypal psychology and retired into private practice, writing and traveling to lecture, until his death at his home in Connecticut on October 27, 2011.
The Soul's Code
Hillman's 1997 book, The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, outlines what he calls the "acorn theory" of the soul. This theory states that all people already hold the potential for the unique possibilities inside themselves, much as an acorn holds the pattern for an oak tree. The books describes how a unique, individual energy of the soul is contained within each human being, displayed throughout their lifetime and shown in their calling and life's work when it is fully actualized.
Hillman argues against the "nature and nurture" explanations of individual growth, suggesting a third kind of energy, the individual soul which is responsible for much of individual character, aspiration and achievement. He also argues against other environmental and external factors as being the sole determinants of individual growth, including the parental fallacy, dominant in psychoanalysis, whereby our parents are seen as crucial in determining who we are by supplying us with genetic material, conditioning, and behavioral patterns. While acknowledging the importance of external factors in the blossoming of the seed, he argues against attributing all of human individuality, character and achievement to these factors. The book suggests reconnection with the third, superior factor, in discovering our individual nature and in determining who we are and our life's calling.
Hillman suggests a reappraisal for each individual of their own childhood and present life to try and find their particular calling, the seed of their own acorn. He has written that he is to help precipitate a re-souling of the world in the space between rationality and psychology. He complements the notion of growing up, with the notion of growing down, or 'rooting in the earth' and becoming grounded, in order for the individual to further grow. Hillman incorporates logic and rational thought, as well as reference to case histories of well known people in society, whose daimons are considered to be clearly displayed and actualized, in the discussion of the daimon. His arguments are also considered to be in line with the puer aeternus or eternal youth whose brief burning existence could be seen in the work of romantic poets like Keats and Byron and in recently deceased young rock stars like Jeff Buckley or Kurt Cobain. Hillman also rejects causality as a defining framework and suggests in its place a shifting form of fate whereby events are not inevitable but bound to be expressed in some way dependent on the character of the soul of the individual.
Life and work
Hillman was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1926. He was the third child of four born to Madeleine and Julian Hillman. James was born in Breakers Hotel, one of the hotels his father owned. He identified himself as Jewish and European in ancestry. After high school, he studied at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University for two years. He served in the US Navy Hospital Corps from 1944 to 1946, after which he attended the Sorbonne in Paris, studying English Literature, and Trinity College, Dublin, graduating with a degree in mental and moral science in 1950. He began his career as associate editor for the Irish literary review, Envoy.http://www.independent.ie/obituaries/james-hillman-2927117.html James Hillman - Obituary - Irish Independent - 2011 In 1959, he received his PhD from the University of Zurich, as well as his analyst's diploma from the C.G. Jung Institute and was then appointed as Director of Studies at the institute, a position he held until 1969.
In 1970, Hillman became editor of Spring Publications, a publishing company devoted to advancing Archetypal Psychology as well as publishing books on mythology, philosophy and art. His magnum opus, Re-visioning Psychology, was written in 1975 and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Hillman then helped co-found the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture in 1978. His 1997 book, The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, was on The New York Times Best Seller List that year. His works and ideas about philosophy and psychology have also been popularized by other authors such as Thomas Moore. His published works, essays, manuscripts, research notes, and correspondence (through 1999) reside at OPUS Archives and Research Center, located on the campuses of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California.
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