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Dreams of Totality by Sherry SalmanThe kingdom of heaven, global climate meltdown and networks of terror, the beloved who completes us, and the virtual cyber village all have something in common. As products of our imagination, symbolic expressions of totality like these orient individual and collective life. Both panacea and poison, our dreams of totality power religious beliefs, sociopolitical programs such as capitalism and globalism, psychology’s narratives of wholeness, even our ideas about individual and cultural health.

When dreams of totality go bad, and they often do-becoming totalitarian or fundamentalist-they are more destructive than any plague or natural disaster. Dreams of Totality explores images of wholeness in cultures from ancient civilizations through today. It explains why symbols of totality appear without fail in response to chaos and distress, how they subsequently entomb us, and then eventually deconstruct as disenfranchised elements of psyche and society press for inclusion. Today, unmoored dreams of totality like globalization and the virtual Web community are taking over our collective imagination at the same time we are being exploited by a surfeit of image-industry spin. But as this book explains, we can’t go backward into malignant nostalgia for a time when the gods spoke as one, take refuge in fractured fundamentalisms, nor should we succumb to a casual relationship to truth. Rather, preserving the creative function of dreaming of totality while at the same time loosening its often-deadening grip-an Rx for taking the medicine of totality when there’s nothing at the center-is crucial as we try to cultivate an ethic of responsibility and integrity toward one another on a global scale.

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We create images of totalities – whether they are of God, of a self-organizing universe, of an integrated self-identity, or even of a Buddhist empty center.

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Book Excerpts

Imagination really is more important than knowledge.

Sherry Salman is a psychoanalyst and teacher, and is an internationally recognized author and speaker. Her area of expertise is symbolism and the creative imagination in postmodern culture and psychological life. She recently appeared with musician David Byrne and artist Pat Steir in The Red Book Dialogues at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.

Sherry Salman, author of Dreams of Totality

Sherry Salman, image by China Jorrin

Salman was a founding member and the first president of the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, a nonprofit educational community that fosters the training of psychoanalysts and promotes the creative understanding and applications of psychology in professional, cultural, and scientific communities. She now serves on the faculty there and has contributed to the education of many Jungian analysts and psychotherapists. She has also served as an associate editor for three professional journals and is a consultant for the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism in NYC.

She received her B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in neuropsychology from the City University of New York, then did research in psychosomatic medicine, and completed training as a Jungian analyst in 1985. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and in the popular press. Currently, she is based in the Hudson Valley of New York, where she lives with her family.

About her work in Dreams of Totality –
This book is for those of us who struggle to find a footing in the twenty-first century. The ground has transformed into a wobbly web, and to be in Sherry Salman’s bright, wise company is a relief and a refreshment. I emerged from this reading experience less lonely and more awake. The center does not hold? Read this book immediately. It helps.
—–Marie Howe, New York State Poet Laureate, author of What the Living Do

In a compelling, energetically erudite, witty and light-hearted manner, Sherry Salman shows us where and how to look for meaning and purpose when our dreams of wholeness fall apart in the face of today’s complexity and confusion.
—–Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D., editor, The Cambridge Companion to Jung, author, The Self-Esteem Trap

With this lyrical post-postmodern text we are enticed into the improvisational flow of analytical psychologizing. The age-old fantasy and longing for totality is turned inside out as the reader is challenged to open up to a new understanding of the sublime.
—–Joe Cambray, Ph.D., President, International Association for Analytical Psychology, author of Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe

With unerring poise, the integrity of Sherry Salman’s prose reflects long experience with the ‘poison and panacea’ that intimations of totality can be. As a clinician, she fully empathizes with the need for security that can drive us to latch onto simplified models of wholeness at times of uncertainty and change. Recognizing however, a deeper responsibility to the future of humanity, in which our present knowledge will only be a part, Salman eases Jungian psychology into the twenty-first century, reminding us that only an evolving consciousness structured by an imagination that is free to release as well as contain, can ever lay claim to being complete.
—–John Beebe, author of Integrity in Depth

We don’t integrate conflicting tendencies in contemporary life anymore — we live them out.

News & Events

Review in Quadrant, XLIV, 2015

“In this thoroughly ‘of the moment’ book, Sherry Salman takes us on a journey starting on a train platform in Penn Station in Manhattan carried on the wings of her dream, to multifarious cultures, times, technologies and ideologies. She seeks to make a case that the “story before the story” lies in human imagination. If […]

“Nightmares of Totality” Book review in Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche

“Through exceptional imagery and strong writing, Salman offers the idea that “Our [human] imagination’s propensity to create totalities has a particularly mutable character: it disappears from view as we live within its bounds . . . ” (61). Indeed, within the global context of contemporary technologies, as detailed in (her book), where is any center?” […]

Sharing Essentials: Archetypes & Intersubjective Space

C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago  FOUNDERS DAY SYMPOSIUM: AWAKENING ARCHETYPAL AWARENESS IN DREAMS AND DAILY LIFE FEATURED SPEAKER: SHERRY SALMAN, Ph.D. LOCATION  Loyola University, Chicago Water Tower Campus, 25 E. Pearson, Chicago IL – Kasbeer Hall Saturday, March 21st, 2015 9:00 am to 5:30 pm “The archetypes are, as it were, the hidden foundations of the […]

Psychoanalytic Fair, Columbia Teachers College, New York City

Columbia Teacher’s College has made available on YouTube the Video of the presentations at the Psychoanalytic Fair from February 8, 2014. This was the conference to which 900 people (mostly graduate students) responded and in which over 30 psychoanalytic organizations took part. The panelists included Sherry Salman, founding member and first President of the Jungian […]

Montreal Jung Society Review: Reading this essay I felt I was in the presence of something momentous….courageous and brilliant

Sometimes, Sherry Salman, writes, “…the voice of the mythopoetic mind is hard to hear through the din and uproar. That’s when psychopomps materialize.” She notes that psychology has always had psychopomps: images, fantasies and actual persons that have guided us through the mythopoetic mind. “Experiencing a renewed sense of wholeness often requires the intervention of […]

Chronogram Review: A Provocative, rewarding read….

Like a mythological weaver, Jungian psychoanalyst Salman pulls together a variety of strands, from Indra’s Net to the World Wide Web — “dreams of totality, visions of utopias and dystopias.” Her wide-ranging intellect and breadth of reference reverberates in the book’s 27 illustrations, from prehistoric stone circles to Tibetan mandalas and microphotographed stem cells. A […]

Clarion Review: This fascinating examination of our reaction to change is both impressive and inspiring.

(Given four of five stars from reviewer) Although at first glance it may seem like a New Age self-help book, Dreams of Totality: Where We Are When There’s Nothing at the Center is instead a serious and subtle study of societal reaction to change. Psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist Sherry Salman brings her considerable knowledge to bear […]

The propensity we have for imagining wholeness and significance has taken on the same forms and design across history and cultures.

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