#414 – Fairy Tales and The New Aging with John C. Robinson PhD



John C. Robinson, Ph.D., D.Min. is a clinical psychologist with a second doctorate in ministry, an ordained interfaith minister, the author of seven books on the interface of psychology and spirituality, and last but not least, an aging Boomer with grown children and a gaggle of grandchildren. His professional work specialized in midlife, men’s issues, the integration of psychotherapy and spirituality, the nature of first-hand mystical experience, the psychology and spirituality of aging, and the archetypal revelations of myth and fairytale. A full time writer now, his recent works include a memoir/narrative on the transformation potential of aging (The Three Secrets of Aging), a collection of fairy tales (Bedtime Stories for Elders: What Fairy Tales Can Teach Us About the New Aging), and a work on a new myth for aging men (What Aging Men Want: Homer’s Odyssey as a Parable of Male Aging). www.johnrobinson.org.

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  1. John Knight
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Blimey, I was taking notes for things I wanted to comment on, but had to give up part way through because this was such a rich episode!

    Firstly, this episode had wonderful timing for me, because my current unit at uni is to do with issues around ageing, and this episode has some great points we can use in our upcoming assignment.

    I really liked how John brought out the point about fairy tales being stories that haven’t been written down, but instead are retold verbally throughout the generations, collecting more colour and meaning as time goes on. I’d never really thought about that aspect of fairy tales, but it goes a long way to explaining why they’re such a rich source of collective unconscious material – gaining the ‘collective imprint’ as you called it, Dr. Dave.

    Furthermore, I liked how John gave an explained relevance of fairy tales for the adult psyche, and the insightful explanation around the negative views of ageing (particularly in relation to short life spans) was a fascinating one.

    That was a very interesting interpretation about the bird and the holy spirit, Dr. Dave. I had the same representation as John in mind, with the anima, but your connection was a very interesting and telling one. I liked your analysis of John’s crisis point, by the way!

    I’m glad John talked about stories grabbing you, and you’re not sure why, with that story being meant for you in some way just now. I find this happens a lot to me, but often beyond story and film, but actually in the music world, where I find it leads me down some kind of path that eventually teaches me a point about music (and often a composition technique) that I’d never even realised or acknowledged.

    Many thanks,
    John (another John!)

  2. Randy Westfall
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    This was a good show, talking about working with dreams and with a different slant, toward recognizing aging as a normal, instinctual aspect of life, and therefore an opportunity for dialogue between the conscious attitude and the unconscious. The two fairy tales given were very instructive.

    Jung’s comments about myths and how we use the same techniques to crack the code of dreams as we did to decipher the hieroglyphics and myths of old were discussed. As an example, I had a dream recently in which I was sailing along a coast. the blue-green tones of the water and land were offset by a red peak I saw up above the sea hills and I instantly knew this was where I was to set ashore, to complete something. Complete it I did, and uncomfortable though it was, I was led there by the red mountain peak, standing out as a symbol. I don’t know why the symbol was shown to me (or why I recognized it) but I am working with it. My next step is to draw this as I see it in my mind’s eye.

    As life is a process, John points out that dreams point us toward the future from the position we are at, reminding me of the play analogy, that act three can’t happen without the events of act two to flow into it. I think John was quoting Jung saying, “(paraphrase) … if you can give up attachments, you can go on as if made anew.” As we age, I can’t think of a better slogan for adapting to changing conditions.

    Considering how often we get stuck in a situation or place, John’s comment that “aging is an unprecedented opportunity for growth” applies. What sticks us in the place we are at, or stops us from moving forward, is usually a point of view. Whether we accept it or not, death will also have its say in our lives, even if it comes in what seems an untimely manner. I will be looking for these motifs to be appearing in my dreams in the future.

    If listeners can write down John’s suggestions for working with dreams, which he gives at the end of the interview, they can delve into the secrets of their own content.

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