Naomi Azriel

Emotional Ambiguity and Liberatory Gender in Service of the Spirit of the Depths

Drawing on Jung’s The Red Book, queer theory, and patient material, I propose to make a case for the centrality of emotional ambiguity and complexity in the psycho-spiritual development of non-binary individuals, as well as in the development of a collective, transformative image with special resonance for our times. Demonstrating the dialectic relationship between collapse and restoration of a psychic capacity for emotional ambiguity, my non-binary patients’ clinical material will foreground the intertwining of affective capacity and embodied, lived experiences of queer gender in Jungian analysis. I conceive of the non-binary soul as both a collective archetypal phenomenon and as the seat of the Self in non-binary/genderqueer individuals. It is simultaneously an intensely personal, individual manifestation of idiosyncratic experiences of the self in relation to a highly binary-gendered world, as well as a collective manifestation of an archetypal capacity to transcend and complexify binary experiences of gender and beyond.

Rereading passages in The Red Book in which Jung discovers within himself the capacity to complexify and abide in the contradictions of his own ensouled gender, I will seek to establish that archetypal and personal manifestations of ambiguous, complex gender are actively bound with some of the deepest veins of affective and spiritual human life. I further argue that we Jungians can and should re-examine our own binary conceptions of gender through the eyes of the non-binary soul. I will ask, how do our basic conceptions of anima and animus, femininity, and masculinity, get complexified and re-imagined via a non-binary attitude? And how does Jung’s extraordinary courage to feel and imagine what were, in his time, taboo experiences of fluid, dynamic gender, inform our role as Jungian analysts in shepherding the Spirit of the Depths into the greater culture?


Naomi Azriel, LMFT, practices Jungian analysis in Oakland, California as an analyst member of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. In her private practice, she works with the widely diverse Bay Area community, specializing in personal, cultural, and ancestral trauma. She has taught on depth work with queer sexuality and the use of self in the transference field. After the Orlando mass shooting, she presented a paper “Keeping the Pulse Alive” on grief, transcendence, and psychic development in response to historical events at the Los Angeles Jung Institute and the North-South conference of Jungian analysts in California. Her paper “To Infinity and Beyond” was published in the Jung Journal (2019) 13:1.


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