Stevens, Anthony (George) 1933-

views updated

STEVENS, Anthony (George) 1933-

PERSONAL: Born March 27, 1933, in Exeter, Devon, England; son of William H. (a boat builder) and Anne (Pollington Perry) Stevens. Education: University of Reading, B.A. (with honors), 1955; Oxford University, B.M., B.Ch., 1963, M.A., 1965, D.P.M., 1969, D.M., 1975.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 24, Greek Skies, Kapidistrou 20a, Corfu 49100, Greece. Agent—Deborah Rogers, 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN, England.

CAREER: Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford, Surrey, England, house surgeon, 1963-64; Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, Athens, Greece, house physician, 1964-65; Horton Hospital, Epsom, Surrey, England, 1965-70, began as registrar, became senior registrar; private practice of psychiatry and Jungian analysis in London, 1970—. Champernowne Trust for Psychotherapy and Art Therapy, vice chair, 1970—; Royal College of Psychiatrists, affiliate, 1971-95, member, 1996—.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Medicine (fellow).

AWARDS, HONORS: Institute of Child Health research fellow in infant behavior, Athens, Greece, 1966-67.


Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self, Morrow (Watford, England), 1982.

The Roots of War: A Jungian Perspective, Paragon House (New York, NY), 1989.

On Jung, Routledge (New York, NY), 1990.

The Two Million-Year-Old Self, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 1993.

Jung, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Private Myths: Dreams and Dreaming, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.

(With John Price) Evolutionary Psychiatry: A New Beginning, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996.

Ariadne's Clue: A Guide to the Symbols of Mankind, Allen Lane/Penguin (London, England), 1998, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1999.

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Psychotherapy, Duckworth (London, England), 1998.

Contributor to books, including The Origin of Human Social Relations, edited by H. R. Schaffer, Academic Press (New York, NY), 1971; and One Child, by Torey L. Hayden, Avon (New York, NY), 1982. Author of foreword to Art as Healing, by Edward Adamson and John Timlin, Coventure (Boston, MA), 1990; and Discovering the Self through Drama and Movement: Sesame Approach, edited by Jenny Pearson, Jessica Kingsley (Bristol, PA), 1996. Contributor of articles to professional journals, including Journal of Analytical Psychology, and to Harvest.

SIDELIGHTS: In his book Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self, Anthony Stevens draws analogies between Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung's theory of archetypes and trends in modern scientific thought. Jung, one of Sigmund Freud's best known protégés, drew criticism in his day for his rejection of reductionism and his belief in a collective unconscious from which archetypes spring.

Anthony Storr, reviewing Archetypes in the Times Literary Supplement, explained that "Jung believed, with reason, that the infant psyche was not a tabula rasa, and therefore that behaviour could not be wholly understood in terms of contingencies of reinforcement. Although environmental forces shape our ends in part, those forces act upon internal, prefigured potentials. Archetypes are these potentials; and each human life is therefore a personal variation upon collective themes." Robert Stensrud, writing in Best Sellers, observed that "Jung, therefore, developed the notion of archetypes as biological structures that people inherit from their earliest ancestors which structure one's thought and experience."

Jung's theories were dismissed as being too exotic and mystical by many "serious" scientists during the early and middle parts of the twentieth century but have recently begun to gain popularity. Stevens' book was seen by Jungians as facilitating that trend by integrating Jung's theories with modern research in neurology, physiology, and behavioral biology. Stensrud applauded Stevens for having "created a remarkable theoretical contribution to contemporary thought." Storr was also favorable in his summary of Archetypes: "What [Stevens] has done, clearly and convincingly, is to demonstrate that many of Jung's ideas are closely linked with modern research in a variety of fields, and that to dismiss Jung as a mystic or a visionary prophet is misguided. Jung was not a good exponent of his own ideas, and I recommend Dr. Stevens' book as one of the best available introductions to his thought and its practical applications."

Stevens "says he wrote Private Myths to reconcile Jung's views with modern neuroscientific findings," according to George Johnson in the New York Times Book Review. Private Myths: Dreams and Dreaming presents readers with numerous dream theories from ancient times forward and Stevens' own psychoanalytic techniques and tips. Johnson describes the book as "an unusual mix, interspersing disquisitions on REM cycles and brain-wave rhythms with the wisdom of Joseph Campbell, the guru of mythology." Johnson surmised: "Dr. Stevens describes Jung's ideas powerfully, but when he interprets the hero myth as 'the triumph of the left cerebral hemisphere over the right, and of the forebrain as a whole over the limbic system and the brain stem,' he seems to be melding metaphors as immiscible as oil and water." A Kirkus Reviews contributor described the book as "erudite and engaging" and commented that "the enthusiasm that Stevens has for his fascinating subject is infectious." New Statesman and Society critic Frank McLynn also remarked on Stevens' enthusiasm, describing it as "disciple-like." McLynn warned that "the book is vitiated by Stevens' hidden agenda: to put Jungian theory on a respectable scientific footing," further stating that "as a good Jungian, Stevens must first slay the dragon of Freud." Furthermore, McLynn faults Stevens for "spend[ing] too much time demolishing the Freudian theory of dreams as wish fulfillment, in which almost nobody now believes."

In On Jung, Stevens details not just Jung's theories but also his life, associating Jungian theory with Jung's personal development and experience. As stated by Nicholas de Jongh in the Guardian: "On Jung attempts for the first time . . . to relate the life of the psychologist to Jungian theory. So, Jung's idea of the life cycle and its archetypal patterns are chronologically outlined chapter by chapter, and Jung's own experiences in each particular life stage are then set against the general Jungian theory." Similarly, John-Raphael Staude wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that Stevens "interprets Jung's life and work as a response to his age, in both the historical and the biological senses of that word. . . . What makes On Jung valuable is the author's skill in interrelating archetypal imperatives to developmental issues, and his ability to move subtly back and forth among his three levels of interpretation, the personal, the cultural and the archetypal." Staude praised Stevens' "clear explanation of the basic principles of Jungian psychology" and noted "his treatment of archetypal theory is generally down to earth and clear." "However," Staude reported, "like most Jungians . . . he fails to take account of the socio-cultural conditioning of the collective unconscious through language and other social institutions." M. W. York commented in Choice that "Stevens' notion that Jung's major concepts could have physiological analogies" only sometimes works. However, York "strongly recommended" the book and positively remarked that Jungian ideas and "keen insights . . . into Jung the man" are clearly presented. On Jung is a "remarkable new book," de Jongh wrote, "Stevens's process makes Jung newly accessible."

Stevens once told CA: "If, as some suggest, modern man can be said to have 'turned away from the unconscious,' then he is guilty of unpardonable hubris and the gods will most certainly take their revenge. The truth is that mental events proceeding beneath the threshold of consciousness are the substrate upon which all conscious experience depends. To argue that all we need of our mental equipment is that part of which we are conscious is about as helpful as equating the United States with the Senate or England with the Houses of Parliament.

"Inasmuch as we seek to ignore, denigrate, or repress unconscious functions we create pathology and block individuation. Individuation is the bringing to birth of unconscious potential in conscious reality: it requires dialogue between conscious and unconscious processes in order to promote development of the personality as a whole. The total archetypal system is encoded within the collective unconscious of our species, and it has programmed within it the entire scenario for human life. Individuation depends on achieving as complete an expression of that scenario as one's native endowment and one's ethical commitment allow.

"My main interest is in achieving a synthesis between Jungian psychology and ethology [the study of animal behavior in natural environments]. Essentially, I write out of my working experience as a psychiatrist and a Jungian psychotherapist. I do much of my writing in Greece, which I love and regard as my second home."



Best Sellers, September, 1982, Robert Stensrud, review of Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self.

Choice, June, 1990, M. W. York, review of On Jung, pp. 1757-1758.

Guardian, January 27, 1990, Nicholas de Jongh, review of On Jung, p. 23.

Kirkus Review, January 1, 1996, review of Private Myths: Dreams and Dreaming, p. 55.

New Statesman and Society, May 12, 1995, Frank McLynn, review of Private Myths, pp. 39-40.

New York Times Book Review, April 28, 1996, George Johnson, review of Private Myths, p. 12.

Times Literary Supplement, May 7, 1982, Anthony Storr, review of Archetypes; July 6, 1990, John-Raphael Staude, review of On Jung, p. 725.

About this article

Stevens, Anthony (George) 1933-

Updated About content Print Article