Dorte Odde

The Red Book as Auto-ethnography

The Red Book is a unique creative work ahead of its time anticipating a possible new era of cross- fertility between art, therapy and thinking. It is C.G. Jung’s confrontation with the (collective) unconscious, in which he develops the method of active imagination getting in touch with his own deep emotions and complexes – carving af space for the soul in our culture. The Red Book is a performative text, it affects the reader in a deep way, asking for an engagement from the reader – asking one to find one’s own creative way. The book is in itself an act of creativity and a new perspective on creativity, emotions and knowledge and its formation in the psyche.

Auto-ethnography is a relatively new scientific and artistic approach using personal experiences to examine and critique cultural practices and experiences repealing the distinction between art and knowledge, between we and I, culture and person. The reader or audience is positioned as active participants expected to act in and on the unfolding story. Central to the method is its purposeful embracement of vulnerability, uncertainty and radical openness - creating new knowledge based on deep emotions.

Autoethnography consists of science and emotions as well as personal knowledge. Art and aesthetics, in general imagination is not included, as opposed to the Red Book, where knowledge is based on imagination – or imaginatio, which is different from fantasy, a passive form, whereas imagination means a way of sensing, an active involvement from one’s heart generating lasting images, which again makes room for deep emotions. In imaginatio aesthetics and art, emotions and therapy, and thinking/reflection merge. And by that they all three change: emotions are not private but collective, aesthetics becomes aligned with meaning and emotions, and thinking is not divided from the body and thereby from emotions.


Dorte Odde, Ph.D. Cultural Sociology, Jungian Analyst IAAP, DSAP (Denmark) in private practice (on the edge – dialoque, relations, creativity) in Aarhus and Copenhagen and counsellor at Stillpoint Spaces. Originally researcher and teacher at various Danish Universities as well as NTNU, Norway. Teaches at Jung Instituttet, Copenhagen. Co-founder of The Society for Jungian Socioanalysis (SJS).


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