• As a writer popularising Jungian ideas, James Hollis stands with the best of them. Putting in simple yet elegant terms complex ideas of personal development. His book The Middle Passage, explored how to navigate what is sometimes termed “mid-life crisis.” In this book he looks at the development of young men into maturity.

    In some ways there are parallels with Robert Bly’s book “Iron John,” which was written a few years before the book. Hollis is largely complementary about the book, though finding it a difficult read. In that last part I am less sure, but Iron John is at times rambling in a way that some might not like, and Hollis does manage to summarise some of the arguments in that book as well as contributing some ideas of his own. This is using myths like of Saturn, the god who ate his sons in Greek mythology, the Iron John Story that Bly used as well as examples from literature and case studies from his practice as a psychotherapist. This he does succinctly and clearly.

    The book (as Iron John was) is largely from a Jungian perspective using ideas of the mother and father complexes. These have paralells with object relations theories of the likes of Klein and Winnicott, as well as attachment theory from Bowlby. Sadly these ideas are not mentioned, but this approach used still here offers insights into male development that are valid in their own right, and the book itself offers an excellent introduction to the subject, and will therefore be of use to trainee therapists as well as people as a primer in looking to understand the challenges and pitfalls young men may fall into while growing up as well as insights a Jungian approach can offer in the subject.

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