James Hillman: the unmaking of a psychologist Part one: his legacy Academic Article uri icon


  • This two-part essay offers a critical assessment of Hillman's archetypal psychology and enquires into its viability as a psychological model. The first part explores his legacy and reviews the metapsychological frame in which his work operates. It considers the relation between his thought and Jung's, and argues that Hillman's work is not so much post-Jungian as pre-Jungian. The second part is primarily intrapsychic; it explores Hillman's character, as discerned through his writings and interviews, and considers his work as an expression of the puer aeternus. It is argued that the puer prefers to live in an eternal dream-state resistant to growing up: yet denial of the maturational impulse will only lead to it happening anyway but in a negative form. The paper considers how Hillman's model was 'unmade' by the missing developmental element of his thought. Development is an archetypal and bio-psychological necessity, and if rejected it can ruin any system that refuses to take it seriously. In Hillman's case this manifested in the form of a repressed masculine shadow, destroying the credibility of his earlier work. The two-part paper attempts to weave an objective appraisal with a running commentary based on the author's personal engagement with the man and his work.

publication date

  • 2014