Place and Displacement: Reflections on Some Recent Poetry from Northern Ireland

  • Seamus Heaney


In his introduction to Jung’s psychology, Anthony Storr gives an account of a case that bears closely upon the situation of the poet -in Northern Ireland or anywhere else:

Jung describes how some of his patients, faced with what appeared to be an insoluble conflict, solved it by ‘outgrowing’ it, by developing a ‘new level of consciousness’. He writes: ‘Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of his outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically on its own terms, but faded out when faced with a new and stronger life urge.’

The attainment of this new level of psychological development includes a certain degree of … detachment from one’s emotions. ‘One certainly does feel the affect and is shaken and tormented by it, yet at the same time one is aware of a higher consciousness looking on which prevents one from becoming identical with the effect, a consciousness which regards the affect as an object, and can say ‘I know that I suffer.’1


High Consciousness Symbolic Level Collective Life Insoluble Problem Hill Fort 
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  1. 1.
    Anthony Storr, Jung (London: Fontana, 1973) p. xi.Google Scholar

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© Seamus Heaney 1992

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  • Seamus Heaney

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