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Dissertation Title:

Hillman-Matters: An Insider’s Socio-Historical Revision of Re-Visioning Psychology


Gustavo Beck Urriolagoitia

Date, Time & Place:

November 9, 2015 at 12:45 pm
Room A, Ladera Lane campus


In 1975, James Hillman published Re-Visioning Psychology, which is perhaps his most important book, and certainly constitutes one of the main texts in archetypal psychology. This dissertation argues that the ideas presented by Hillman forty years ago have lost much of their psychological value, and are again in need of revisioning. In order to execute such revisioning, this dissertation performs a close reading of Re-Visioning Psychology, in which the central ideas of archetypal psychology (personifying, pathologizing, psychologizing, and soul-making) are examined under their own logic. Hillman’s ideas are in this way used to reflect on Hillman’s ideas—the text is treated as an image and studied as such. The methodology is thus recursive: the dissertation personifies personifying, pathologizes pathologizing, psychologizes psychologizing, and dehumanizes soul-making. By doing this, the dissertation reveals the tensions and contradictions present within Hillman’s text.

Using Hillman’s own archetypal methodology as a tool, this dissertation problematizes fundamental concepts of archetypal psychology, such as psychological polytheism (the “return To Greece”), the metaphorical aspect of the psyche, and anima as root metaphor in archetypal psychology. Particular attention is put on the historical aspect of Hillman’s ideas, arguing that Hillman’s lack of historical rigor often limits his imaginal insights. The dissertation concludes that, when Re-Visioniong Psychology’s ideas are applied to themselves and contextualized historically, the book collapses under the pressure of its own argument, revealing a mythic substructure which is highly monotheistic, literalistic, and Christian.

This dissertation contends that the collapse of Re-Visioning Psychology’s argument, far from detrimental to archetypal psychology, constitutes a furthering of soul-making in its theory, through deeper and more complex personifying, pathologizing, and psychologizing. The dissertation argues that the questions and doubts raised by the text itself are an invitation to plunge into what is still unknown and foreign in the logic of Hillman’s thought—they constitute an invitation to imagine further the ideas of archetypal psychology, particularly those presented by Hillman in Re-Visioning Psychology.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, Track E, 2007
  • Chair: Dr. Mary Watkins
  • Reader: Dr. David Miller
  • External Reader: Dr. Lucy Huskinson
  • Keywords: James Hillman, Archetypal Psychology, Revisioning, History, Polytheism, Monotheism, Literalism, Anima, Soul, Image