James Hillman (1926-2011) was an American psychologist, a leading scholar in Jungian and Post-Jungian thought, and was considered by many to be one of the most radical and original living critics of contemporary culture. The field that he founded, Archetypal Psychology, emphasizes the importance of imagination both in the experience of psyche and in life itself.
Born in Atlantic City in 1926 he served in the US Navy Hospital Corps for two years during World War II. Following the end of the war, he attended the Sorbonne in Paris, and Trinity College in Dublin. Hillman then received his Doctoral Degree from the University of Zurich and completed his training as a Jungian Analyst in 1959, becoming the Institute’s Director of Studies the same year—a position he held for ten years.
In 1970, Hillman became the editor of Spring Journal, a publication dedicated to psychology, philosophy, mythology, arts, humanities, and cultural issues. Upon becoming the Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Dallas, he moved to the United States, and co-founded the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture in 1978. He also held teaching positions at Yale University, the University of Chicago, and Syracuse University. He published more than nineteen books, as well as volumes of essays, and continued to be a prolific writer and sought after lecturer until his death in 2011.
The body of his work is comprised of scholarly studies in several fields including psychology, philosophy, mythology, art, and cultural studies. His groundbreaking book, Re-visioning Psychology, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and his book, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, was on the New York Time’s best seller list for nearly a year. His works also include The Myth of Analysis, Healing Fiction, The Dream and the Underworld, The Force of Character, Suicide and the Soul, A Terrible Love of War, among many others.
The influences shaping the core of Hillman’s work are not limited to Depth Psychology. His ideas have firm grounding in the classical Greek tradition and are also deeply influenced by Renaissance thought and Romanticism, encompassing the contributions of psychologists, philosophers, poets, and alchemists. Hillman described his own line of thought as part of the lineage of Heraclitus, Plato, Plotinus, Vico, Ficino, Schelling, Coleridge, Dilthey, Freud, and Jung. Other influential authors in Hillman´s work are Keats, Bachelard, Corbin, Nietzsche, Paracelsus, and Shelley.
Throughout his work, Hillman criticized the literal, materialistic, and reductive perspectives that often dominate the psychological and cultural arenas. He insisted on giving psyche its rightful place in psychology and culture, fundamentally through imagination, metaphor, art, and myth. That act he called soul-making, a term borrowed from Keats.