Dionysos. Mainomenos. Lysios:

Performing madness and ecstasy in the practices of art, analysis and culture


  • Gary D. Astrachan C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and Board of National ARAS (The Archive for Research into Archetypal Symbolism)




This paper takes up in particular just two out of the many names or epithets surrounding the great Greek god Dionysos: Mainomenos, the 'mad god', or 'raving one', and Lysios, the 'loosener', 'liberator' and 'releaser'. Tracing the trajectory of these two powerful images from their earliest origins in the myths and socio-political rituals of Attic tragic drama, into their intrapsychic nocturnal recapitulations in the experience of dreams and dreaming, we arrive at their most contemporary individual-psychological enactments in the context of the consulting room. Dreams, tragedy and the analytical situation itself are re-viewed as the stages and containing modalities for the performative presentations of the ecstasy and anguish, and the rapture and suffering which follow in the frenzied wake of this wild god. In pursuing the shared project and endeavour of both sublime art and Dionysiac psychoanalysis  to totally transform our representational subjectivity, we must explore the necessities of de-creation, dis-solution and dis-memberment in order for an authentically creative re-membering of our basic human relationships with world, nature and other to more fully come into being.