Jung's Map of the Soul - A Conversation with Murray Stein pt.1

Murray Stein, Ph.D. is a training analyst at the international School for Analytical Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland. His written publications include Jungian Psychoanalysis (editor), The Principle of Individuation, and the current popular release Jung's Map of the Soul. He lectures on topics related to Analytical Psychology in the contemporary world and has held seminars worldwide.

At 24 years old Dr Stein went to a local bookstore in Washington, D.C. and bought the only book available there. It was by Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. After he began reading the book, he stated "my life was changed permanently".

As ARMY will be aware, there have been heavy hints to Dr. Stein's book Jung's Map of the Soul since BTS' MAMA performance, and BigHit has been selling a Korean translation since last year. These hints were solidified when the name of the new album was released, Map of the Soul: Persona.

We at BTS Radio UK have had the privilege of being able to discuss his book and Jung's theories with the author himself, Murray Stein. Please join us as we converse about all things Jungian - Shinara Hussain

We would first like to thank Murray Stein for taking the time to answer our questions. For people who may be unaware could you explain who Jung was and why his theories were so important? What is it about his writings that made you so interested?

C.G. Jung (1875-1961) was a famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and the founder of Analytical Psychology. After he broke with his teacher, Sigmund Freud, he created his own quite different theory and published many books and papers explaining his views. These have been gathered and published in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, 18 volumes. My book, Jung’s Map of the Soul, is an introduction to his works and in fact a map of the ideas he put forward in his writings.

I began studying Jung’s thought when I was 24 years old and have been with it ever since. His autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, hooked me and I have never turned back. I find his works as exciting and inspiring as when I first discovered them in 1968. I am a practicing Jungian psychoanalyst and use his ideas every day with my clients. They have not let me down.

Jung was a genius of the psyche and his insights into how the human mind is constructed and functions are brilliant. Besides that, they are practical and intended to help people live a fuller, more creative, and more authentic life.

How does one control their personal complexes?  If therapy can amend the complex through restructuring it and adding more material (i.e info/perspective) to it; is there a way to rid one’s self from all the negative archetypal images that build up a complex? Be that cultural/social influences or genetic/family influences?

While there may be moments of “enlightenment” in which all of the material attached to complexes is put aside and transcended, normal consciousness inevitably returns and the struggle to be aware of their influences continues. It is an illusion to think you have ever left the personal and collective complexes and archetypal and cultural influences behind once and for all. That would be what we call “inflation,” a rather unhealthy and even dangerous mental state.

How do complexes work in the case of amnesia? For example, in diseases such as Alzheimer’s?

I cannot answer this definitively. Each case is different. Some people with dementia or amnesia become aggressive, others passive. Memory disappears but the unconscious complexes can continue operating, and these can induce irrational behaviors. The rational mind backed by memory is weak or absent, but the instinctive and irrational mind remains. This  is my best guess. More research should be done on this question.

Let’s say that every human being on this planet has a social mask, a “persona”, that as you said causes them to “exclude essential parts of oneself” (page 54).

How does one know that they have a social mask and are excluding all those different aspects of themselves, if they were raised in the environment where this has become a norm? Will this process of adaptation ever become a genetic trait or is the realisation of us having such “personas” is what makes us human?

It is well nigh impossible to become aware of one’s persona if one is deeply and exclusively embedded in a particular culture. When one steps out of such a culture – by going to school or university, by traveling, by living for a time in another different culture – one has a better chance of getting hold of the  old persona and seeing through it. This may be a painful or awkward experience. And no, persona does not become genetic in the biological sense, but it does get passed down through generations by culture. These are called “memes” sometimes – like genetic transmission but not passed on by biological means.

Essentially, how does someone know if they’re wearing a persona if that’s all they know?

They don’t. They live in a windowless room without mirrors.

You said that Jung was aware that our knowledge about investigating consciousness is limited by our own consciousness, which is our tool for investigation. Could you talk more about how you think it could limit us? Does it potentially mean we cannot truly learn an objective truth about the consciousness?

Jung often said that psychology lacks an Archimedean point from which to view the psyche. As human beings we are limited by our biases. We are looking at ourselves and cannot look from an outside perspective. Maybe extraterrestrials could tell us more about our psyches because they would have an external point of comparison.

Do you agree with Jung that content must be represented to a subject before it can be considered conscious?

Jung distinguishes between perception and apperception. One perceives what is presented, but one perceives through a set of lenses that limit how much one perceives. A perception can be re-presented by a sign or symbol. Jung interpreted dreams as symbolic representations of unconscious contents that have two sources: an outer source in the surrounding world, and an inner source in the psychic world of the unconscious. In order to become conscious of the latter, it must be represented by a sign or symbol to a subject (the dreamer).

Jung says that the ego is a "complex". Namjoon says "the world is a complex" in Outro: Her. Do you think it could be true?

We speak of the “ego complex” in order to put it into a larger perspective of the whole psyche. Often it is taken to be all there is in the psyche. It is in truth only a part – indeed a small part – of the whole. If you say “the world is a complex” I imagine you are doing the same thing – namely, putting your picture of the world into a larger perspective and saying that there is more to reality than you know or can even imagine. This relativises the term and shows its limitations.

If consciousness is something that can't set human adults apart from infants, because it doesn't depend on psychological development, does that mean that humans at all stages of life are equal and deserving of exactly the same amount of respect and dignity? Is it then not the case that the elderly should be given more respect than the youth, for instance?

There are big differences among people regarding the extent of consciousness. Some have more, some less. Children are at the beginning of conscious awareness of the world and of themselves. Their consciousness is a small light in the vast darkness surrounding them on all sides. The light increases as they get older and they learn more about the world and themselves. The range  and extent of conscious in an individual depends on their psychological development. Some people stay very limited with respect to the range of their consciousness. They may have precise consciousness about a few things but they lack breadth of consciousness about the world and depth of consciousness about themselves. Older people do not necessarily have more consciousness than younger people. They may have stopped developing psychologically at an early age. With regard to respect, it is culturally determined: in Asian cultures age is highly respected, in contemporary Western cultures it is not. Where do you place the value? On age or on level of consciousness?

Jung says the ego precedes someone's awareness of their own face or name, and people can change their name and remain the same person, and yet someone's face and name seems to be such a large factor in how someone defines their ego. How would the ego then function for children not given a name?

Jung defines “ego” as “center of consciousness”. It is “I” when you speak and say “I am” or “I want” and in itself it is without specific identity. A name lends identity to the “I” so what a child is named Sara she might say “Sara wants” before she says “I want.” Ego identity extends in many directions, to include nationality, gender, tribe, religion, etc. If a child is not given a name it would still have an ego but not a name-identity. It might identify with its family or siblings. First names are fairly recent in human history. Before that an individual simply had a family name and were perhaps later given a moniker like “bit” or “strong.” Ego seeks identity and finds it through identification with something like a name or a quality. Ego want to be distinct.

Jung said the ego is the centre of free will, and sets humans apart from other creatures who have consciousness; does this mean creatures without consciousness do not have free will?

Jung held that the ego has some amount of free of “surplus” energy at its disposal. This is the extent of free will. It is very important and is the energy that has been employed to build culture. Most people think they have more free will than they actually have because they are unconscious of their motivations. Nevertheless humans have the will to live and the will to die. What we do with our free will is decisive. All creatures have some amount of consciousness but few species has the ability to will something against what their instincts dictate. Humans seem to be exceptional in this regard, but how exceptional is open to debate.

You said the ego becomes engaged by what it observes, and a person could make a major life decision because of the feelings and thoughts generated in consciousness by a film. Have you ever done this?

Films have not been that decisive for me personally, but I do know of cases where a film brought a sense of vocation. Films provide models, and if the model is attractive enough it can have a very strong influence on the choices one makes. Film idols are also a strong influence in persona formation because people will imitate them, dress like them, smoke cigarettes like them, etc.

You said that it's an "open question" whether the "I" changes throughout someone's lifetime. Have you changed your mind on this? Do you think the "I" does change? Or is it still open for interpretation?

In my opinion, the core of the “I” remains the same from the beginning to  the end of life, but its surroundings change over time. By that I mean, one’s sense of self changes as one develops psychologically. The sense of self is not the self, it is an approximate mirror or aspect of the self. If you become aware of persona, shadow, anima, animus, cultural complexes and identifications, etc. the sense of self expands and concentrates at the same time. It becomes a mandala, a sense of wholeness and complexity, but with a center. The center does not change.

You mentioned people's strong intuition, that the core of the ego doesn't disappear at physical death but can be reincarnated or go to heaven. Do you believe this happens or can the ego be destroyed?

No one, myself included, knows what lies beyond our physical death. From some experiences I have had around the death of close friends and loved ones, a spirit survives and remains active in another dimension. One could call it a spiritual dimension. What happens in this dimension I do not know for sure, but I suspect growth in consciousness continues. I can’t say more than this.

If you had a different name, do you think your essential "I" would be different than it is now?

You can experiment with this. Change your name and see if your “I” changes. People nowadays who have gender change operations for instance and change their names still speak of the same “I” even if the name and the body has changed pretty radically. 

We hope that this was an enlightening discussion for you, but it's not over. Join us again tomorrow for part 2 of our special Jung's Map of the Soul - A Conversation with Murray Stein.

You can now read part 2 at the following link:
Jung's Map of the Soul - A Conversation with Murray Stein pt. 2

If you have any questions that you would like to ask the author himself please leave a comment below or alternatively you can email us at shinara.btsradiouk@gmail.com

You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - @BTSRadioUK

Thanks to Marsha Knight

Many thanks to BTS Radio UK team for some great questions

Header created by Alisa Lyakhovaya

References: www.murraystein.com


  1. loved this! it was so insightful and succint, thank you so much you guys and Dr Stein 💜

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I am astonished that Dr Stein , a venerable esteemed jungian , is entertaining and perpetuating this sterile narsisistic boy band image. This could potentially lead to a huge inflation of all sorts of dynamics . Our youth are starving of proper eldership. social media is evil and misused and abused by our kids and the BTS band should not be exploited to effect the souls of the youth and to send out Jung’s work in such a way on such a platform By Golly !! How desperate has the Jung community become ?

    These so called role models on an elevated platform are supposedly the voices like a horn of Jung all of a sudden out of the blue - and is backed up by some jungian stages and actors already - it’s beggars belief . Have the UN found a new messenger for their 2030 manifesto ? This is like the collective unconscious has walked into my waiting rooms . BTS IS merely the K - pop version crazy fame from S Korea. ThE seven pretty androgynous boys are not my voice and I imagine not many jungians would be aligning with such opportunistic populace culture . What a bandwagon and a racket noise . This is bound to land bad and hurt already many confused minds . Is this all in an attempt to popularise a simple yet profound message to being ones self and Jung’s work in particular? I’ve searched and studied all my life and only now can I get a hint and a flavour of what it’s like to be myself and to comprehend the individuation process . To banter Jung’s Map of the soul on stage without careful consideration unvetted in their lyrics - is only going to land us collectively into something of a phenomena and a hysterical mess. Jung was not new age and a man of great integrity. He would be turning in his grave now as to what could enshew into a social media sensation frenzy caught fire . I am surprised that depth psychology alliance have bought into this unpsychological affair however I’m more appalled that Dr Stein has not seen the potential dangers writ large and has indeed chosen to promote and endorse it - this egotistical project without careful consideration . Instead he could have wished them all the best and what a great message , good luck in your K pop career . Ofcourse it’s comedable to go beyond the usual superficial messages but you see Dr Stein their lyrics are not coming from soul no more They are orchestrated consciously to meet their narcissistic targets and to gain as many hits and followers they will surely get . Do you really want to be promoting this world stage affair ? There’s nothing wrong with the message and the idea . It’s how it’s been rolled out and managed or lack thereof and whose behind this travesty that I have to imagine and wonder with a worried heart ? I hope I’m wrong but at this point of the story I remain perplexed and heed a caution call just in case a blind spot shone too bright ! Sorry to rain on your parade but I would bet a small amount that my message has crossed your mind before getting involved and if not why not ?
    Thank you.
    A Jungian elder .

    1. Excuse me sir or mam, but do you know the band at all? Do you know of the impact they have had on their fans and community? These seven wonderful men have put a lot of thought into their music.
      From the very beginning, BTS always had the goal of helping the youth with their music. Despite their shaky start, they have made almost countless song that have help many heal. they One of the members, Suga, talked about his experience with depression and social anxiety in a society that heavily stigmatizes mental health issues. He brought that conversation to the table with the songs he wrote because he wants to encourage others with his songs. Another one of their members known as RM, also known as Kim Namjun, is a poet in his own right. With songs such as "Moonchild", "Forever Rain", "Life", "Voice", "I Believe", and "Spring Day" (a song he wrote with Suga and many more with him) are just of the few of the songs he wrote that makes you deeply feel and think about the lyrics given. The song "Epiphany", from their album "Love Yourself: answer" was the song I needed to hear because it helped me heal an emotional wound I thought would never heal and have carried with me for seven years. Have you heard RM's speech for the UN? I suggest you listen to what he has to say because I and many others have taken those words to heart. Not to mention that their fans, while over zealous at times, are some of the most passionate and wonderful people I have seen. Yes, there are many who do bad things but also many who give to charity in the bands name, plan events for other fans, participate in helping the band travel safely, and have given back to their community in multiple ways because of the impact of this band. The band have a strong connection to their fans because of the social media they use to feel closer to them.
      I can understand if you just did not like the way their music sounds, music is purely subjective and taste is up to the listener, but so many people love theirs songs because of the messages in them. If you haven't yet, please just give them a try with an open mind. It's not particularly difficult to find translations for their work either.
      Thank you for your time.
      A Spirited Youth.

  3. Have a pleasant day!

    I'm an ordinary 30 y.o and a BTS ARMY from Philippines. Honestly i don't even know who is Dr. Stein but when i searched the Map of Soul Persona of BTS, it leads me to Jungs Map of Soul then finally to Dr. Stein.

    Thank you for explaining the facts about Jung's Map of Soul to the new generation. BTS has a huge impact to the youth nowadays. They even reached not just the youth but including early adulthood to late adulthood. Their music is ageless.

    God bless!

  4. We as a species are possiblyExperiencing what is Jung called a "Collective Psychosis". I was introduced to Jung in 1976 as my cousin was Secretary at the CGJUNG INSTITUTE Los Angeles.
    I was Blessed to Produce with others Archival Interviews with 31 of Jung's Friends, Closest Associates See" A MATTER OF HEART" 90 minute Documentary You must see Jung;s RED BOOK" A True Treasure... Tony Morris/ aka PABLITO, Topanga CA


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