Federico Fellini in Search of his Shadow and the Collective Unconscious.


Honestly, it was a great surprise for me to know that Federico Fellini, the great master of surrealism in movies, was interested in connecting to a psychologist and analysing his psyche. And as Dr Freud’s famous dream analysis was considered, he met Jungian psychotherapist Ernst Bernhard to learn more about himself.

At the beginning of the nineties, in contrast with the academic environment that considered Freud’s thought scientific while rejecting that of Jung, I undertook a study on Jungian thought in Italian literature. An essay was dedicated to Andrea Zanzotto‘s “Mother-norm”. I got in touch with the poet, who told me about the psychotherapy he had undergone for years, and when my book came out, he suggested that I send a copy to Federico Fellini, to whom I had dedicated a few pages. Ernst Bernhard

A major discovery for Fellini after his Italian neorealism period (1950–1959) was the work of Carl Jung. After meeting Jungian psychoanalyst Dr Ernst Bernhard in early 1960, he read Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963) and experimented with LSD. Bernhard also recommended that Fellini consult the I Ching and keep a record of his dreams. What Fellini formerly accepted as “his extrasensory perceptions” were now interpreted as psychic manifestations of the unconscious. Bernhard’s focus on Jungian depth psychology proved to be the single most significant influence on Fellini’s mature style. It marked the turning point in his work from neorealism to filmmaking that was “primarily oneiric”.

In Making a Film, Fellini said that he had been dazzled by Jung, the Zurich doctor who had made him discover unknown landscapes and new perspectives from which to look at life. It was his analyst, the German Jew Ernst Bernhard, who introduced him to Jung.

Image from Articolo21

Fellini was one of the many Italian authors and writers who frequented his studio in Via Gregoriana, which overlooked Rome and a world many feared. During the therapy, the analyst used the I Ging, the Chinese book of changes, and this created scandal; some strongly advised him not to use it. He had even taken him to confinement in the fascist camp of Ferramonti, from which he would have been deported to a Nazi concentration camp in Germany if, at the last moment, the orientalist Giuseppe Tucci had not managed to make his return to Rome.

He remained hidden for months in a secret room of his study. Dissatisfied with the Italian version of the I Ging based on the German version of Richard Wilhelm, he entrusted a new translation to one of his patients, Bruno Veneziani, Italo Svevo’s brother-in-law.

 This discovery opened the door to his shadow to begin changing his style from neorealism (as was usual in Italy after WWII) to making such surreal movies and, as a consequence, Jung’s seminal ideas on the anima and the animus, the role of archetypes and the collective unconscious directly influenced such films as 8+12 (1963, with Marcello Mastroianni), Juliet of the Spirits (1965, with his wife Giulietta Masina), and further; Fellini Satyricon (1969), Casanova (1976), and City of Women (1980). Other key influences on his work include Luis Buñuel, Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, and Roberto Rossellini.


I have never believed in success in any post to share today (I hope you enjoyed it.); as you know, I repeatedly said many different businesses surrendered me! Even now, there are so-called Spaces on Twitter (online seminars) to which I have (honourably) been invited, and it takes more time.
Anyhow, it is life! Next week I will not be able to post anything, because we are travelling to meet friends in northern Germany.
Have a wonderful time, everyone, and let’s pray for peace and love. 🙏💖✌🌹💖🙏




Federico Fellini’s dream dimension: his encounter with Ernst Bernhard

17 thoughts on “Federico Fellini in Search of his Shadow and the Collective Unconscious.

  1. This is such a rich and creative article Aladin, thank you! You know I was just thinking, it would be so wonderful to read a contemporary book about how Jungian Psychology has helped non Jungians, lay people in their daily lives, especially with their own creativity.

    Why? Because since meeting with Jung 15 years ago, I know it’s definitely changed the way I think, write and create. In particular, it’s drawn me to surrealist art as I explore the symbolism found therein. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You said that, my Guardian Angel. With his mastery, he (Jung) showed the art’s mystery. Significantly, the magic of the symbols; draws us and opens the door to sur-realism. Thank you for your wise supplement. 🙏🤗😘🌹💖

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read your post about our Fellini with great interest, I confess that I didn’t know many of the things you talked about, so I thank you for sharing that information.
    I wish you a happy weekend and a safe and pleasant journey😘🌷😘

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Interesting, Alaedin.
    I adore Fellini’s movies. Although, I did fall asleep during “Juliet of the Spirits”, every time I tried to watch it.
    I always learn lot when I come here. Thank you, and have a wonderful trip! ❤️🌹

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heartfelt thanks, dear lovely Resa. I must admit that Juliet of the spirit is one of his early attempts to make such surreal movies. But thereafter he had found his way to do it better. 😉 Your kind words honoured me. Thank you. ❤️ 🤗


  4. I am revisiting this wonderful post, and learning how Fellini’s 1960’s surrealism was directly influenced by anima and collective unconscious. We watched 8 1/2 in film school, but we did not discuss the psychology very much. A pleasure to learn more about this great Italian director!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. elainemansfield

    Vic and I loved Fellini and I didn’t know about his connection with Jung. It makes so much sense. I knew Fellini through his movies before studying Jung. One of the hardest things about hearing loss is not enjoying movies like I once did, but this is the nature of aging. I’m glad for all the movies I once saw. Thank you for new insights.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, my dear, so sorry about your hearing. However, as you said, it is the nature of ageing. I have it with my eyes! I, too, have seen his films before knowing Jung, and I agree that it makes sense with his proceed! Thank you, as always, dear Elaine.🙏💖

      Liked by 1 person

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