Our Polarized Culture: Healing the Individual and the Collective with Donald Kalsched, Ph.D., and Thomas Singer, M.D.

We are 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. We welcome individuals from all fields.

Cosmic-looking blue and yellow bodies of light collide

Our Polarized Culture: Healing the Individual and the Collective

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.


On Friday, September 30, our lectures will begin at 10 AM Central. We will break for lunch from 12:15 to 1:45 Central. We will meet back on Zoom for interactive afternoon sessions from 1:45 to 4:30 Central.

Saturday, October 1, will follow the same schedule, with lectures beginning at 10 AM Central, a lunch break from 12:15 to 1:45 Central, and interactive afternoon sessions from 1:45 to 4:30 Central. Our reimagined, virtual conference activities will be done at 4:30 PM Central both days.


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.

Registration Options

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to identify the basic characteristics of cultural complexes.
  2. Participants will be able to identify archetypal defenses of the group spirit as a primary human response to challenges to group identity and security.
  3. Participants will be able to identify how certain cultural complexes become trigger issues that are amplified by social media and the internet.
  4. Participants will be able to differentiate the psychological factors responsible for extreme polarization in the collective.
  5. Participants will be challenged to engage with what Robert Lifton calls our “National Reality Disorder” and to see how it manifests as a major psychological defense against feelings.
  6. Participants will be able to apply the insights of Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death to better understand the defenses behind the culture wars that currently besiege the body politic.
  7. Participants will learn how the inner world of the traumatized psyche manifests in the collective when fear is heightened in the population.
  8. Participants will be able to differentiate three levels of the psyche that are constantly intermingling: individual, cultural, and archetypal.
  9. Participants will be able to see a connection between cultural complexes and the experience of soul in America at the collective level of the psyche.
  10. Participants will be able to contextualize the role of imagination in the healing of splits in the individual and group psyche.

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If you would like to be considered for a full or partial scholarship, please complete our scholarship application here.