Is Life Fair? – A Jungian Perspective on the Book of Job

Is Life Fair? – A Jungian Perspective on the Book of Job


Presenter: Dr Deon van Zyl

In this presentation, Dr Deon van Zyl presents a different perspective on life based on his book of the same title in which he questions our notion of the fairness of life and the origin of suffering.


According to Dr Deon van Zyl, the mythical nature of the Book of Job situates the tale more at an archetypal level, where the different characters can be seen as different parts of the personality and deeper psyche, reflecting a timeless and fascinating dynamic. Dr Deon van Zyl founds the story on the doctrine of retribution theology, that piety brings prosperity and that suffering and shortage are caused by sin and ungodliness. In psychology this approach was coined in the 1980’s as a “Just World Belief.” Gradually however, through the story of Job, Dr Deon van Zyl introduces the notion of the amoral nature of life, and its autonomous self-supporting nature. The book ends with a breathtaking Theophany in the form of a poem that depicts this self-governing feature of creation, which has far-reaching implications for our approach to the outer and inner lives of ourselves.

Dr Deon van Zyl has been in private practice for the last 30 years as a clinical psychologist, management consultant, mediator and group facilitator. He is a former Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pretoria, where he worked for 13 years. He is past chairperson of the South African Institute for Clinical Psychology, and the current African Representative for the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD). He has received two academic awards and a research award from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), as well as an award for post-doctoral research from the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust for study in the U.S.A. He has published 20 academic papers including a recent book on Amazon’s Kindle, 5 book chapters, over 30 published conference proceedings, book prefaces and popular articles. He has delivered numerous papers at conferences in South Africa, the U.S.A., Europe and Japan.