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Voices from the Beinecke Library

Gerhard and Hella Adler: Dream Drawings

Gerhard and Hella Adler were German-Jewish born Jungian analysts, disciples of both Carl and Emma Jung themselves.  Escaping Nazi persecution in the 1930s, they settled in Britain and had a flourishing practice until their deaths, Gerhard in 1989 and Hella in 2009.  In addition to several influential volumes, they helped found the Society of Analytical Pscyhology in 1945 and the Association of Jungian Analysts in 1977.  Beinecke has acquired the couples' papers, consisting of drawings, sketchbooks, diagnostic and other notes, handwriting samples, correspondence, and other materials.  On loose sheets, bound books, and card scrolls, drawings proliferate in oil, gouache, watercolor, chalk, and pencil, that offer glimpses both into the intimate patient-analyst relationship, and into the dark unconscious musings of the neurotic mind.

Indeed, it feels almost transgressive to read the Adlers' take on their patients, if only for a moment. For a field often cloaked in shame, mystery, and sub-truths, it is fascinating to handle the day-to-day apparatus of a Jungian practice. Once can just imagine the commitment: the Adlers staying up late to finish notes, children sitting dutifully to complete handwriting samples, the pulsating hopes and fears of the lives inside these papers.  To have access to such deeply personal content is quite moving, when one considers the emotional weight they once carried.

The drawings range from non-representational shapes, to nightmarish scenes, to rather banal scapes.  Come plunge the depths of the unconscious right here in the reading room.


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