Giovanni Sorge

Demons, Passions and Emotions: from their Foreign Origin in Antiquity to their Externalization in the Post-modern World. An Overview

Emotions inherently belong to human nature and include a vast range of facets, from empathic affects, to romantic passions, all the way to violent excitements. Because of their dynamic, elusive nature, their origin has been considered in classical antiquity essentially non- or super-human. For instance, with furor Ancient Greeks indicated a state of psychological alienation caused by uncontrollable forces. However, the fury was considered of divine origin, similarly to prophetic exaltation, or love.

Nowadays emotions are often conveyed and enlarged by new technologies and media. The interaction with virtual environments and artificial intelligences transform our perception of the self. Although the techne has always been an “inherently world-forming process, both on biological and cultural level” (Heidegger), its increasingly autonomous power became more visible in the post-modern societies. Moreover, the pervasiveness of mass media exposes us to a continuous flow of images that strongly influence our emotional and affective life-experience. This occurs because, as strongly showed by analytical psychology, the specific language of the unconscious is made by and through images. So our psychic life is powerfully affected by collective images which act, also thanks to the new technologies, in an autonomous and externalized way. According to the psychiatrists Benasayag and Schmit, the constant exposition to collective images foster a kind of psychic anesthetization: an “alienated subjectivity”, which provokes new forms of psychic suffering.

In my presentation, I reflect on the emotions moving from a perspective of history of psychology and with special attention to the pioneering approach of analytical psychology. Contextually, I consider the ‘otherness’ of their nature both by means of ancient Greeks’ understanding and with regard to the polymorphous interlacement with the new technologies. I then focus on the relevance of a deep psychological and interdisciplinary approach in order to grasp specific issues problems of our time.


Giovanni Sorge, PhD (Italy/Switzerland) spent several years conducting archival research on Jung and the International Medical Society for Psychotherapy (1933-1940) mainly in Switzerland, Germany and U.S. On this topic he obtained his doctorate at the Research Centre for Social and Economic History (University of Zürich), and published a volume of findings based on some records lodged at the C.G. Jung Papers Collections at the ETH Library, Zürich (ETH Research Collection, 2016). He is editor of the Philemon Foundation for which he has edited two volumes (forthcoming), has been scientific advisor for the Eranos Foundation, and co-founder of the Mercurius Prize. He lectures at the C.G. Jung Institute in Küsnacht and is a former member of its Research Commission. Giovanni has presented at international conferences, and has published several essays on the history and theory of analytical psychology as well as its intersections with history of religion and politics. Since 2018 he has been working as a research assistant on Jungian history and as a counsellor for a private clinic.

Recent Publications

  • Bestandbeschrieb der Akten zur Geschichte der Präsidentschaft von C.G. Jung in der Internationalen Ärztlichen Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie, 1933-1940 im Nachlass von C.A. Meier – C.G. Jung Papers Collections, ETH Zurich, 2016

  • "The construct of the 'mana personality' in Jung's works: a historic-hermeneutic perspective", Journal of Analytical Psychology, Part I and II, April and June 2020, Vol. 65, Issue 2, 366-388 and Issue 3, 519-537


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