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Growing Up Jung: Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks [Hardcover]

Micah Toub
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Book Description

Sept. 28 2010
Micah Toub faced quite a few psychological challenges when he was growing up. And two of his best guides through them – as well as the biggest causes of them – were his parents.

Part memoir, part introduction to famous and infamous psychological concepts past and present, Growing Up Jung tells the story of a boy raised by two psychologists. It's an extraordinary coming-of-age story, replete with more sexual confusion and domestic dysfunction than even the average adolescent has to endure. And through the telling of that story, Toub is able to discuss such topics as why Freud's obsession with Oedipus threatens our chances today of being close to our mothers; the methods a Jungian psychologist might use to help a young man overcome sexual anxiety; and why it is okay to sometimes let your inner-murderer out for the night.

Referencing the written works of the thinkers discussed, books that have been written about them, and relevant contemporary pop culture, Toub discusses and explains such topics as Synchronicity, Archetypes, and the Oedipus Complex, as well as lesser-known corners of the psyche, such as the Ally, the Dreambody, and what Jung called Active Imagination. And he is able to weave all this information seamlessly into his own story, because if there was a psychological problem going, it went Toub's way. Call it synchronicity. And if you don't know what synchronicity is, see chapter 5.

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Product Description

Quill & Quire

Most men would not turn to their mothers for advice about erectile dysfunction, nor would they confront their aggressive impulses by shopping for jeans. But having been raised by two Jungian psychologists, Globe and Mail columnist (and Q&Q contributor) Micah Toub isn’t most men.

Growing Up Jung is as much a primer on Jungian psychology as a lighthearted memoir. Toub devotes each chapter to explaining an aspect of his personal growth through the lens of a particular Jungian concept, and vice versa. It’s a fascinating way to structure a memoir, and for the most part it works. He achieves some distance from the events of his life, while also offering insights into the history and development of Jungian psychology, a subject central to his sense of self.

But there are two problems with this approach. First, it sometimes affords Toub too much distance from his material. By the end of a chapter devoted to his adopted sister, Rochelle, for example, the reader has an excellent understanding of her role in the family according to the theories of Arnold “Arny” Mindell – post-Jungian founder of Process Oriented Psychology and guru to the Toub clan – but virtually no sense of her as a person, or of how Toub actually feels about her.

The second problem is depth, or more precisely, a lack thereof. Growing Up Jung’s split personality means that Toub often truncates anecdotes or psychological explanations just as the reader becomes engrossed with them. More could have been done to explore the relationship he sees between the writings of Carlos Castaneda and Jung’s interest in alchemy, for example, but as things stand, Toub barely has time to point out this relationship.

Growing Up Jung succeeds mostly through Toub’s commitment to asking difficult questions of himself, even if he does crack jokes while doing so. He acknowledges that Jungian psychology can seem “flaky” to outsiders, and at times even to him, and he tackles such criticisms head on, with real openness. Growing Up Jung isn’t aggrieved, sensational, or even celebratory, but rather genuinely curious and searching. It’s a book about process – about Toub understanding his own story through the act of telling it. ­


"I hated to see this book end. I loved every person in it, from the wistful dad with his 'fluffy-edged' voice, to Toub's kind and darling mom, his tolerant and loving ex-wife, even that volcanic teenaged sister... Growing Up Jung is a gem.” 
The Washington Post

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Growing up Jung Jan. 15 2011
The self-reflection evident in this book would be a helpful guide to many young men. It also shows that parenting needs to be seen from both sides, child and parent. What is clearly evident from this writing: As parents we should not feel too guilty about negative outcomes, yet also not be overly proud about positive ones.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Growing Up Sept. 3 2010
By R. L. Sassoon - Published on
It's rare to come across a book that is so absorbing, suspenseful and such real fun to read that I don't want to put it down, yet is true to life in its humor and full of wise understanding intelligently, even cunningly, articulated. It's a good story about growing up; as an elder still doing that, I found it quite valuable. The author is quite outrageously honest. The book is also a good education, in a practical fashion, about basic Jungian ideas on psychological growth toward maturity and independence and the inevitable challenges on the way.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What if You Were Raised by Therapists? Sept. 17 2010
By Kenneth R. Mabry - Published on
I grew up in a markedly unpsychological, working class family in the 1950's and 60's in a small town in the South. When I was about to depart for college, my father said, "I hope you won't study any of that psychology stuff." To my parents, the inner life was best avoided. I've often fantasized that I would have been so much happier and better adjusted had my parents emphasized our interior worlds. Perhaps because of this deficit, I've had a lifelong interest in psychology.

I was drawn to Toub's memoir because I wondered how I might have fared growing up in a family where both parents were therapists who actively engaged in psychological explorations. I'm also attracted to the rich stew of Jungian psychology with its emphasis on dreams, myths, symbols, and archetypes.

Toub realizes that his parents were different. He writes about them in his introduction, "Most people did not go off to seminars in the desert and sit cross-legged with a bunch of other people and talk about their spirit guides." Most kids probably didn't analyze their dreams at the dinner table. And how many teenage males have discussed a fear of impotence with their mother and had her lead them in an imaginary exercise where they were encouraged to "become the erection" to gain confidence? Depending on your outlook, growing up in such an environment could sound intriguing, engaging, or even a bit creepy.

I suspect that Toub and perhaps his editors wanted to keep what could have been a heavy subject on the upbeat and readable side. Thus, the book comes across as entertainingly self-deprecating and lighthearted with each chapter broken into short sections. Toub, now 34 and married and divorced, survived his childhood and writes on psychology and other topics from Toronto.

Toub's life has no doubt been deeply influenced by having been raised by therapists as opposed to, say, a couple of bankers or accountants. One of his biggest struggles may have been detaching himself from an emotional dependence on his parents, particularly his mother. He seems to have navigated that successfully and suffered no more or less trauma or angst than most of the rest of us. Indeed, Toub writes, "I'm a Jungian. I possessed Jungian knowledge passed down to me from my parents, and used it to help me through hard times in my life." In many ways he benefited from and was grateful for his rather eccentric upbringing.

Toub's memoir illustrates that most of us face the same challenges growing up, regardless of what kind of family raised us. As we grow older, we learn how to use what we were offered and how to recover from what was damaging or missing. Toub has offered us an engaging example of how he has traveled this path.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be your true self ! Aug. 27 2010
By Rishi8 - Published on
Do you ever wonder why you do or say things that don't fit your self image ? Ever wonder why your relationships so frequently have the same theme, or how they might be related to your family of origin ? Do you wonder what lies beneath addictions and obsessions, yours and those closest to you ? If not, don't waste your time on this book.

This is a well-written and engaging look - honest, witty and stimulating - at these kinds of questions via one young man's struggle to emerge (he and Carl Jung would say "individuate") from a nurturing but uniquely directive family environment. I call it directive not because it specified content preferred by his parents but rather because it specified definitively how one gets the job done. Not "we want you to be a lawyer, or an engineer or a musician", but rather "you'll want to discover your true self, and here's the way to go about it."

The author is a columnist for Toronto's Globe & Mail and a blogger at Psychology Today. He's an insightful writer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forever Jung Oct. 29 2012
By Miriam Murcutt - Published on
This book is the memoir of the coming of age of Micah, the son of two never-off-duty Jungian therapists. And it was an off-the-beaten-track upbringing, worth recording; his every nuanced feeling stripped down to its barest of bones, ruthlessly analysed and reconstructed with the help of mom and pop - especially mom - through an auto-focused Jungian lens. This habit of his parents proved to be catching as Micah applied the same psychic medicine to his non-filial relationships, although on less acquiescent subjects. I was interested to find out if all this analysis, introspection and self-revelation would lead Micah to a Better Place, one denied to those whose upbringings centered around other important questions such as, "What's for dinner?". But it seems as if Jung might not have all the answers. Micah and his family chalk up their fair share of divorces, the pain of them eased perhaps because they know how to pinpoint the reasons why. But this book is full of good stuff. It's different in both its content and construction. And it's written in a relaxed manner with self-deprecating humor and an unbridled honesty.
5.0 out of 5 stars Envy of a unique upbring June 28 2014
By antaeaventura - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I might never have found Jung if a high school teacher of mine hadn't departed from the Psychology text to mention Jung. I immediately starting reading his material which is pretty rough going for a teenager. This was the beginning of a lifetime search incorporating as many of the Jungian principles as I could. (Watching projections, finding my 'type', being conscious of my shadow, active imagination, etc). Why am I envious of Micah Toub? He had this knowledge from the gate with two parents who were willing and able to listen to his dreams and educate him in some useful 'processes' that he could always use. In my area and milieu, aside from a knowledgeable teacher, there is literally no consciousness of Jung or his ideas. Even my most intelligent frineds do not employ knowledge of projection. Never mind the culture in general which is terribly ignorant of any of Jung's ideas, or, if aware of them are scornful. Jung himself said in the last year of his life that if mankind did not do the work to intergrate its 'shadow' he predicted major disasters in 50 years. Well 2011 has come and gone and humanity continues to project their dark side onto the 'other', or those different from themselves. Although it is the thinking in the Jungian community that every person who does their inner work, i,e, takes responsibility for their shadow, lifts the darkness of the collective shadow. So thank you Micah Toub for a very personal and endearing description of 'growing up Jung'. (PS Can I adopt your mother?)
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