Our Polarized Culture: Healing the Individual and the Collective with Donald Kalsched, Ph.D., and Thomas Singer, M.D. (September 30 & October 1, 2022)

After postponing our 7th biennial Jung in the Heartland Conference in light of COVID-19, then planning for an in-person conference that was not to be (also in light of COVID), the Society was pleased to convene our 7th biennial Jung in the Heartland Conference, reimagined to provide both outstanding faculty and varied experiential offerings in a fully virtual format.

For two days, participants from around the United States and the world gathered via zoom as Donald Kalsched, Ph.D., and Thomas Singer, M.D., lectured during the morning sessions and all participants, including Kalsched and Singer, engaged in lively breakout rooms in the afternoons. Lectures (topics outlined below) included references to art, poetry, film, and community theater. Discussion groups were intimate and illuminating, as participants shared insights, responses, and dreams.

After our reimagined conference, participants shared

  • “The presenters were marvelous and I loved the group participation.”
  • “I really liked the interactions between Tom and Don.”

And said the things they liked most included

  • “The content, the presenters addressing theory with great examples”
  • “Donald Kalshed’s communicating of the concepts through concrete human experiences, both personal and clinical”
  • “The thoughtfulness and openness of other participants’ discussion group comments”
  • “Morning presentations each day by both presenters”
  • “An in-depth approach that explored the many ways the psyche of humankind and the collective culture are active/passive performers as well as contributors/collaborators to a world facing the possible extinction of life on earth”

Conference Program Highlights


The Polarizing vs. the Integrating Psyche

Enduring patterns of dividing and differentiating and—on the other hand—unifying and integrating exist in all of us as
individuals and in the collective as well. This lecture will explore how in unstable situations, polarizing tendencies often get the upper hand, leading to psychopathology, and how both are necessary for psychological growth and differentiation.

Culture Wars and the Hijacked Imagination
In this lecture, Don Kalsched will describe how fear hijacks the imagination and justifies defensive anger and splitting in both the individual and the collective, and describe how this is evident in culture wars around conspiracy theories, climate change, abortion, immigration, gun violence, and beyond.


Cultural Complexes and the Soul of America: A Way to Frame the Psychology of Polarization

How do cultural complexes contribute to the profound divisions as well as the possibility of soul making in the U.S.? This talk focuses on the interrelationships between soul, cultural complexes, and polarization in the United States today.

The Imaginal as a Way to Heal Polarization in the Individual and Collective Psyche
This talk will focus on how the imaginal can provide ways of “seeing” our individual and collective splits in the hopes of finding ways of healing and even transcending them.


Donald Kalsched, Ph.D., is a Jungian Analyst and Clinical Psychologist who practices in Brunswick, Maine, and lives in nearby Topsham with his wife Robin van Loben Sels. He is a member of the C.G. Jung Institute of New England, a senior faculty member and supervisor with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and lectures nationally and internationally on the subject of trauma and its treatment. His first book, The Inner World of Trauma; Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit, described a core complex of the dissociating psyche (Self-Care System) and demonstrated its clinical applications. His most recent book, Trauma and the Soul: Psycho-Spiritual Approach to Human Development and its Interruption, explores how psychotherapeutic work with trauma survivors sometimes provides access to an ineffable world of soul and spirit.

Thomas Singer, M.D., is a psychiatrist and Jungian psychoanalyst who trained at Yale Medical School, Dartmouth Medical School, and the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. He is the author of many books and articles that include a series of books on cultural complexes that have focused on Australia, Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Far East Asian countries, in addition to another series of books featuring Ancient Greece, Modern Psyche. He serves on the board of ARAS (Archive for Research into Archetypal Symbolism) and has edited ARAS Connections for many years.