He : understanding masculine psychology : Robert A. Johnson

by Robert A. Johnson

Book, 1974



Call number


Call number



New York : Harper & Row, 1977, c1974.

Original publication date


Physical description

83 p.; 18 cm

Local notes

Robert A. Johnson, noted lecturer and Jungian analyst, updates his classic exploration of the meaning of being a man, and adds insight for both sexes into the feminine side of a man's personality.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Diwanna
This book takes the myth of Parsifal and attempts to explain some basic aspects of masculine psychology. I did not enjoy this book quite as much as We, or She. The main reason is because, although it describes what men need to do during their journey of life, it doesn't really explain or give many
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real world examples.The basic premise is that men have a latent or suppressed feminine side of their personality (anima) that needs to be dealt with and accepted instead of ignored.
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LibraryThing member ldmarquet
Myths and legends form powerful expressions of our humanity. It would seem that the most enduring of them are likely so powerful because they tap into some elemental truth of our humanness. If so, a deep reading of the story should illuminate ourselves.

This is what Robert Johnson achieves in He:
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Understanding Masculine Psychology, a deconstruction and interpretation of the Grail story. Johnson, a psychologist with Jungian training interprets the tale of Parsifal’s departure from his mother, arrival at Arthur’s court, and search for the Grail.

The Arthurian legends comprise a body of stories with multiple variations. The tales focus variously upon Arthur, the naïve knight, Parsifal (Percival), other knights, mentors, the ailing Fisher King, Queen Guenevere, other damsels and loathsome ladies. Johnson uses the French version, penned as an epic poem by Chrétien de Troyes, in the 12th century because it is the oldest. Being the oldest version, it is simpler, more direct, and closer to the subconscious.

As we follow Parsival through his adventures Johnson interprets them as life transitions for men. In the process we discover antecedents to Lord of the Rings, the Star Wars trilogy, and Harry Potter. At the end we understand that chasing happiness is ephemeral and true meaning and wholeness can only be attained through service to others.

To get us there, I have a worry about the fidelity of Johnson’s retelling of the story, the origins of which are lost in the mists of time.
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