Q&A with “Matter of Heart” film producer, Michael Whitney

Tuesday, Nov. 17th at 7:15 p.m., Nashville Jung Circle presents the critically acclaimed documentary, “Matter of Heart” at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. There will be a Q&A following the film with Jung Circle Board Member and the film’s producer, Michael Whitney. Here are a few of Michael’s comments about one aspect of the film, join us for this heart expanding and deeply moving film. More information on the film can be found here at Kino Lorber. Visit www.nashvillejungcircle.com for more information on the Jung Circle and the presentation of the film.

Question:  Jung had an intense mid-life period of confusion and psychic unrest that he viewed as a learning experience in some ways. Can we learn from such episodes in our own lives?

Michael: Yes!  That is the core message of MOH.  A repeated theme is to not turn away from our inner struggles.  Often we think a problem is outside of us (Jungian’s call this projection). We are best to look in the mirror and realize the problem may be internal (Von Franz calls this a taking back of a projection or recollection).  Von Franz urges that we learn that the very times we want to turn away, instead we take care not to loose the opportunity to work on ourselves.  The inner material loaded with negative valence is the stuff we need to pay attention to. She refers it to ‘a dog nosing around in the trash’. The good news is that we can do inner work to change ourselves. We can’t change others, they have to make their own internal changes.

Most everyone interviewed in MOH discusses how their own personal struggles led them to a deeper understanding of themselves. Many interviewed started as patients and later went on to medical school (often with Jung’s urging them to).

For me, this inner struggle is the essence of MOH and Jung’s work.  In our own period of time (2015) when we are past “mutual assured destruction” of a United States and Soviet detente, we may actually at more dangerous time as our own inner destructive capacities are unleashed.  Jung called for individuation – a process of inner struggle to become more psychologically mature individuals with a deeper respect for others who are different than us.  As Jung stated of a young women in therapy who making progress with her maturation…”the acorn can become an oak, and not a donkey.”

Jung (1957) states: “The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man.”
Another reason we created MOH was to bring the topic of Jung’s relationship to Toni Wolff to light.  Toni Wolfe helped Jung and was accepted by Emma Jung in a relationship that lasted 40 years.  There is a picture of Toni and Emma together in this section of the film.  It was an open relationship that was not hidden and it also wasn’t widely talked about within the Jungian community. Liliane Frey states “without Toni Wolff he couldn’t have made it because she has brakes in a way, and she was stopping him always when he had a temperament where he was losing himself completely and without boundaries.  And Toni Wolff stopped him and always brought hem back to reality, and that was tremendously important to Jung.”

At the opening screening of MOH in Zurich to the Jungian community and Jung’s family, we (the production crew) were afraid the family would sue us for bringing such a focus on Toni Wolff to light.  Quite the contrary Franz Jung learned back in laughter during the screening.

The period in Jung’s internal struggle is recorded in the Red Book (his private journal). Recently in Nashville, Rev. Donna Scott has brought a new insight into the depth of Jung’s work that he recorded in the Red Book.  At the time of our production, Red Book was a taboo topic and we have learned a lot following the Jung family decision to publish the Red Book in the last few years.