Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

In January, with Mind, Body, and Instinct

January 20th, 2011 · archetypal experience, archetypes, body, Carl Jung, consciousness, cravings, dreams, inner life, instinct, Jungian analysis, Psychology and Suburban Life, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, seasonal affective disorder, self-knowledge, The Self, unconscious, wholeness

This blog post, on our January mind set, and on mind, body and instinct, continues my last post, although it might look quite different.  My immediately previous post was centered around two quotations that painted pictures of the conscious and unconscious brains in relation to each other.  This post is much more directly concerned with the subjective experience of mind, body and instinct.  I include another quotation from Jung, speaking on primal “instinctual” humans and modern “rational” humans.  Jung’s prime concern here is the loss of human connection with nature — primal, fundamental human nature.

The holidays are over; spring is a long time off.  In the post-December winter months, it’s often easy to fall into a kind of robotic “just-gotta-get-through-it” mental state.  In my personal experience, it’s altogether too easy to just go to a kind of  place where we’re mentally divorced from our feelings, and we just stoically keep answering the “call of duty”, withour regard for the instinctual human we all carry within, and his or her needs.

The Instinct-Rationality Divide

Primitive man was much more governed by his instincts than his “rational” modern descendents. who have learned to “control” themselves.  In this civilizing process, we have increasingly divided our consciousness from the deeper instinctive strata of the human psyche, and even ultimately from the somatic [body] basis of psychic phenomena.  Fortunately, we have not lost these basic instinctive strata; they remain part of the unconscious, even though they may express themselves only in the form of dream images.

Jung, C.G., ed.,  Man and His Symbols, (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1964)

Modern humans can be very cut off from the instinctual basis of life, and even from being aware of our bodily existence.  In my experience, this can be particularly true when you’re bundled up, slogging down an ice-and-snow filled January street at -25 degrees with a high wind chill!

But, even so, as Jung was among the first to tell us, the instinctual side continues to function, along with the whole broad psychic processing of of inner and outer experience.  It’s always with us, and one important way to move closer to wholeness is to work actively to be aware of that.

Ways to Access the Instinctual Life Within You

Here are four questions to ask that can bring you nearer to the instincts and the life of your body.

1.  What is Your Body Telling You?

It is amazing the degree to which many modern people are completely oblivious to their bodies.  As a very simple step, what if you were to become aware of where in your body you carry tension, and when that tension appears?  If really thinking about this is something new to you, I think you would be amazed at the degree of awareness of your own psyche and your own instinctual self that can come to you through continually practicing this one simple step.

2.  Be Honest: How Do You Really Feel About That?

Of course, it’s just about the world’s oldest joke that therapists are always asking everyone, “Well, how do you really feel about that?”  But it can be so easy to drift into a place of non-awareness about your own feelings — particularly if you’re a personality type that leans heavily on thinking as opposed to feeling.  For such people (and I’m certainly a card carrying member of “Club Think”!) it can be a matter of great importance to be asking yourself continually, “Yes — but what am I feeling now?”

3.  What Do I Really Crave, Yearn for?  Why Do I Crave That?

Your cravings are important!  It may seem like a triviality in the midst of the great Project of Individuation to note that when I’m alone I experience a strong craving for Junior Mints, but don’t be too quick to assume that it’s irrelevant!  Try as much as you can to get into the question of “Yes, but why do I crave Junior Mints at such a time?”  Are they a distraction from the feelings, a self-medication?  Do they have symbollic importance in some ways — a connection with a happy, secure time in my life, for instance?  On the other hand, do the things I crave in some way or other symbollically embody spirit, or my deepest aspirations?

4.  What is Emerging in My Dreams?

And one very profound way in which instinctual life expresses itself is in dream images.  This is a big one for psychotherapists, and especially for Jungians, as we undergo a great deal of rigorous training in how to handle dream material.  I’ve written about this quite a bit, and you can expect me to write about it a lot more.  But we can certainly say here that the deepest aspects of ourselves, instinctual and otherwise, can be counted on to show up through our dreams — that aspect of ourselves that Jung sometimes referrd to as “The Two Million Year Old Man.”

What Are You Instinctually Disposed Towards?

Have you ever had times in your life where you have felt strongly that you were doing things by instinct? I’ve heard many stories that, for instance, mothers tell of getting through unbelievably difficult situations on the strength of their mothering instinct alone.   I’ve also heard of situations where something like raw instinct has led people at a certain point to make fundamental and life-changing decisions.  Indeed, I believe that I made such a change at one particular points in my life — that probably saved my life.  Has your instinct or your “animal side” ever moved you in directions that your intellect would have never thought of going?

I would be very interested to hear about your experiences: please leave a comment below, or if you prefer, send me an email!

Wishing you rich growth in your experience of all that you are, on your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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© 2011 Brian Collinson

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A Video Portrait of Jung

October 1st, 2010 · archetypal experience, Carl Jung, consciousness, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, personal story, Psychology and Suburban Life, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, soul, therapy

Here is a video which I re-tweeted recently on Twitter. I decided to post it on my blog because I think that it gives a particularly revealing portrait of the psychiatrist CG Jung in his latter years.  The video is taken from “Face to Face”, an excellent interview program hosted by John Freeman of the BBC in 1959.

In this interview, with the stage artfully set by Freeman, Jung describes something remarkable that he would later write about in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections .  This was a sudden experience that came upon him in his 11th year, when he suddenly came to a simple, but remarkable awareness: “I exist“.

…and then I found that I had been in a mist, and I stepped out of it, and I knew that Iam.  I am what I am.… Before I had been in a mist, not knowing to differentiate myself from things…  As far as I can tell, nothing had happened beforehand that would explain this sudden coming to consciousness….

I find this remarkable.  In relating this incident, Jung describes a very fateful moment in his life.  Jung would spend the rest of his life, effectively caught up in the mysteries of consciousness, self-awareness and individual identity.

There is a great mystery here, something about which we take so much for granted.  What is it to exist, as a person, as an “I”?  What is it to be aware?  Just who is this I, who is aware, and how is this I to relate to the rest of the universe, both externally, and in our boundless inner being?

It seems to me that this little snip of video, a fine example of the art of the interviewer, does exactly what a portrait should do.  It opens up a window on the mystery and intricacy of the person portrayed.  And it leads us on, to reflect on the nature of the unique mystery that is our own unique identity.

I’d welcome your comments and reflections on either Carl Jung or the whole subject of being aware of our own existence.  Did you ever have a similar moment yourself, when you were suddenly aware that “I exist”?

Good wishes to all of you on your own personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Biletskiy | Dreamstime.com

VIDEO CREDIT: © British Broadcasting Corporation, 1959  These images are the property of the BBC and are used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Sarah Palin, “Mama Grizzlies” and the Mother Archetype

August 15th, 2010 · archetypal experience, archetypes, Carl Jung, collective consciousness, depth psychology, mother archetype, parent-child interactions, popular culture, Psychology, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy, symbolism, unconscious

Andrea Huffington commented recently  in the Huffington Post on Sarah Palin’s use of archetypal imageryin the political ads that she has recently run with incredible success online.  Huffington seeks to use the concepts of Jungian psychology to analyze Palin’s message.  In my opinion, it’s a fruitful approach.

The ads are remarkable for the fact that they do not discuss the political issues at all, presumably leaving it to the viewer to draw his or her conclusion about what the issues are that are under discussion.  What they in fact do is evoke the symbolism of the bear, and in particular the mother grizzly bear.  Palin at one point says,

“I always think of the mama grizzly bears that rise up on their hind legs when somebody is coming to attack their cubs… you don’t wanna mess with the mama grizzlies!”

Huffington believes that Palin has unconsciously used images that are archetypal, and that, because of that, these images resonate with people powerfully on the unconscious level.  Certainly, “mother” is a powerful archetype, as is the symbol of the bear, which has possessed great meaning in human cultures throughout the world.  While Palin may have unconsciously hit upon this approach, historians can point to similar highly manipulative tactics used by propagandists throughout history.  Of course, the past masters of this kind of thing were the Naziis, particularly Hitler’s propanganda genius Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler himself.

Palin tells us, “Moms just kind of know when something’s wrong.”  Perhaps.  But it is important to distinguish between two very different aspects of the mother archetype, and how they might affect us.

Like all archetypes, the mother archetype has a negative and a positive pole.  That is, there are manifestations of the archetype that foster human growth and individuation, and there are manifestations that hinder or hobble such development.

The archetype can manifest as “positive mother”.  This happens, for instance, when a mother gives messages to her child that are affirming, and that give a sense of fundamental rightness to the child’s existence.  A child growing up with this kind of message and support from the mother may very well grow to have a lot of confidence in themselves, and in life.

At the other end of the spectrum is the negative mother, including “smother mother”.  This is the mother who undercuts the child fundamentally, and destroys the child’s confidence in what he or she is, his or her own powers, and in the goodness of life.

So this leaves us with the question of what kind of mother it is that Palin is evoking with her “Mama Grizzly” images.  Is this mother life-giving and empowering, or fundamentally undercutting, disempowering, and perhaps smothering?  Is Palin’s “mama grizzly” a mother who affirms individuality and uniqueness, or a mother trapped in standardized, stereotypical and ultimately mother roles?  What’s your view?

The archetype of the mother is indeed powerful, and I hope to explore the nature of positive and negative mother archetypes in future posts.

Wishing you every good thing on your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Johnbell | Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Let’s Keep Jung’s Red Book Away from Spiritual Hucksterism

July 21st, 2010 · archetypal experience, archetypes, Carl Jung, collective consciousness, collective unconscious, Identity, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychology, Psychotherapy, The Self, unconscious, wholeness

It is now quite clear that Jung’s Red Book, which I wrote about in an earlier post, has created quite a stir in certain circles, and has been very well popularized.  It has had quite an impact in cultural and literary circles, and has gained a lot of attention in the media since its publication.

On the whole, those who appreciate Jung’s psychological work must necessarily feel good about this.  Those of us who are passionately convinced that Jung has something profound to say about the human psyche and about life in our time cannot help but feel joy that his message is getting out more widely and deeply in our society.

However, it is hard at times to avoid the feeling that Jung’s legacy is suffering from an approach that is overly-commercialized.  I don’t fault W.W. Norton for a moment for bringing the Red Book to publication, even though Jung himself was very clear that he did not want it published, at least not in his lifetime.

The Red Book documents Jung’s own profound psychological struggle in a manner so eloquent and deep that it is difficult if not impossible to describe.  The world owes the Jung family, the Philemon Foundation, editor Sonu Shamdasani and W.W. Norton a huge debt for bringing the Red Book to the world.  In the sincerest possible way, I thank them all.

But do we really need mystifying and sensationalistic messages associated with it, such as the following?

Jung’s Red Book is a magnificent record of his interior journey through the most profound crisis of his entire life.  It is as if at every turn of the page Jung meets us, personally, with the same wrenching, implacable questions that he meets himself as he descends into his own depths.  Who are you?  What are you?  What are the unknown elements of yourself?

Do we really need this profound encounter opened up for us on the lecture circuit?  Or in webinars?  Or in talk show formats with Jungian analysts and pop culture celebrities?

Can we honestly persuade ourselves that Jung would have wanted this?  Frankly, who are we trying to kid?

As Jungian analyst Wolfgang Giegrich is at pains to remind us, Jung’s Red Book is not “The New Bible”.  Those of us who love Jung need to be careful not to portray it as some kind of divine revelation composed by a semi-divinity which answers all questions.  It’s the record of a very human struggle by someone who was ready to encounter his depths and ready to try to acknowledge his weakness and the inferior and broken parts of himself.  If we read the Red Book carefully, we’ll encounter Jung’s shadow.  We may not always like that and may be uncomfortable or even shocked by it.  Nonetheless, it’s a reminder that here was a human being much like you or me, who really wrestled with his darkness, and fought his way into it and through it to his own unique selfhood, and his own healing.  And he invites us to do the same.

Have you had any experience with Jung’s Red Book, reading it or seeing one of the current exhibits?  I’d love to hear about it if you have.

I wish you all the very best on your  personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

VIDEO CREDITS: © W.W.  Norton & Company; © Digital Fusion Creative Technologies Inc. These images are the property of W.W.  Norton & Company and/or Digital Fusion Creative Technologies Inc. and are used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Exploring Liber Novis: Jung’s Red Book

January 15th, 2010 · archetypal experience, Books, Carl Jung, collective unconscious, depth psychology, inner life, Jungian psychology, The Self

Red Book for Vibrant Jung ThingIt has been some months now since the publication of Carl Jung’s famed Red Book, the book of images and text that he wrote during his formative crisis and encounter with the unconscious during the years 1913-1919.  I’ve had a copy of the Red Book for some time now, and have been exploring its richness in some depth.  This voyage of exploration will go on for a very long time, I expect.  To really plumb the depths of the Red Book is a feat not lightly or easily achieved.

In my opinion, the Red Book shows the true genius of C.G Jung.  There cannot have been many human beings who have had the courage to enter in so deeply into their inner lives as he, and to really confront the unconscious in all its dimensions.  Through years of inner crisis he sought to understand the depths of the Self.

Jung emerges from this inner journey with a clear message: there are forces in the unconscious that are seeking to bring us to wholeness; there is a wisdom in our depths that the ego can only just barely start to comprehend.  If we can have the courage to let go, and to open ourselves to our depths, there is a unique life in each of us, that is striving to become, and always has been.  This is not an easy journey, and it is not one about which glib and facile things should be said.  But for some, it is only by embarking on this inner journey that reality, life and meaning can be found.

 

Only what is really oneself has the power to heal.

-C.G. Jung

Red Book at Ruben Museum of Art

Chief Curator of the Rubin Museum of Art Martin Brauen, left, and Felix Walder, right, the great-grandson of Carl Jung, inspect Carl Jung’s famous “Red Book” after it’s arrival at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. “The Red Book,” was displayed to the public at the Ruben for the first time on October 7, coinciding with the first-ever publication of the book by W.W. Norton & Company. (AP Photo/Rubin Museum of Art, Stuart Ramson)

Jung’s Red Book has now been published by W.W. Norton & Company. It is a major source for Jungian psychology, and a book that contains many of the treasures of the soul of C.G. Jung.  Here is the URL for the Red Book’s page on Amazon.ca:

http://bit.ly/5Lr5hu

I’d be interested in comments from any readers about your encounter with the Red Book, or with any of Jung’s other works. How have Jung’s writings impacted you?

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

PHOTO CREDITS: © AP Photo / Rubin Museum of Art, Stuart Ransom

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Remembering and Renewal

December 31st, 2009 · archetypal experience, depth psychology, Hope, Identity, Individuation, life passages, The Self

Renewal for Vibrant Jung Thing New Year's Eve and the New Year, with all its joy, and its bittersweet recollection of another year gone by, will soon be here.  Another year of memories, and another year of living behind us, with everything that entails.

For many, 2009 couldn't end too soon.  A year of stress and economic uncertainty like practically no other in recent memory. For many, changes in their lives with which they would rather not have to grapple. And yet, for many, 2010 approaches with signs of hope.

Is there any possibility of renewal for each of us, in our individual lives?  Here is a song that I think beautifully describes new life that can arise from our own depths, sometimes from hidden places of which the conscious ego is unaware.


Blackbird

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.


Easy or hard, you have now made your journey through 2009.  What is stirring in you at the beginning of this New Year, that might be "only waiting for this moment to arise"?  Is there any indication in your dreams at this time?  What might they show you?

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journey to wholeness, especially at the turning of the year,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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PHOTO CREDITS: © Romko| Dreamstime.com.com

© 2009 Brian Collinson

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Mother, Father, Family

September 13th, 2009 · archetypal experience, complexes, father archetype, feminine, masculinity, mother archetype

Here’s a quote from Jung on the key importance of the mother, father and family archetypes:

Other Father Family for Vibrant Jung Thing BlogHow is it then, you may ask, with the most ordinary everyday events, with immediate realities like husband, wife , father, mother, child? These ordinary everyday facts, which are eternally repeated, create the mightiest archetypes of all, whose ceaseless activity is everywhere apparent even in a rationalistic age like ours…. The deposit of mankind’s whole ancestral experience–so rich in emotional imagery of father, mother, child, husband and wife… has exalted this group of archetypes into the supreme regulating principles of religious and political life, in unconscious recognition of their tremendous psychic powers.

Clearly, Jung thought that coming to terms with the mother, the father, and the family was very important psychologically. How does our experience of father and mother impact us? What is its particular significance?

As with most things in the realm of the psyche, the answer to that question varies immensely from individual to individual. However, we can be sure that a person’s individual experience of parents and siblings–their family–is going to have an immense impact on how the individual feels about her- or himself, the world, and his or her place in it. That experience is going to have a profound effect on everything from very mundane, ordinary, every day events right up to and including a person’s deepest and most expansive religious and philosophical convictions. Because, among other things, it is going to have an immense bearing on what the psychologist Erikson referred to as basic trust.

It can require a very major effort in a person’s psychotherapy to understand the impact of that person’s father and mother on their psychic development, in all its complexity and dimensions, positive and negative. We can’t open all that up in one blog post. But here are a few questions to be thinking about:

The Mother and Father Archetypes in the Psyche

  • The bond with the mother is the earliest bond, and the one with the greatest impact on a child. It has a great deal to do with the feeling of belonging in the world, and feeling good about oneself, about one’s own being. How has your experience of your mother left you feeling about your life, your value, and how welcome you felt in your family — and in the world?
  • The bond with the father is deep, but has a rather different character than the bond with the mother.  At its most fundamental, it has to do with how we feel about ourselves, also, but it has an aspect to it of how we feel about our ability to be effective and capable people who can get what we want and need from our lives.  How has your experience of your father left you feeling about yourself as an agent in the world?  How has it left you feeling about your own power and ability?
  • If I am a woman, how did my relationship with my mother make me feel about myself as a woman? If I’m a man, how did my relationship with my mother tend to make me feel about women?
  • If I am a man, how did my relationship with my father make me feel about myself as a man? If I’m a woman, how did my relationship with my mother tend to make me feel about men?
  • Was I able to be myself in my family?  Or did I learn I had to be someone else, someone more acceptable, perhaps?  Someone tougher, or more capable?  Or “less emotional”?  Someone invisible, or someone “who doesn’t have needs”?  Or more “masculine”?  Or more “feminine”?  Or did I get the message that I could just relax and be myself?

 

These are very emotional questions for people. Not without reason did Jung call these “the mightiest archetypes of all”. Exploring the painful territory around this part of one’s life has led to many a journey to healing in therapy. I know that to be true of many of my clients, and I know it to be true in my own life.

I’d be interested in your comments about the impact of the parental archetypes in your life. How did you internalize your parents and your family?

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian’s Oakville & Mississauga Practice:  www.briancollinson.ca

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get “Vibrant Jung Thing” posts delivered to your email using the “FeedBurner” box in the upper right hand corner!

PHOTO CREDITS: © Gary Woodard| Dreamstime.com

© 2009 Brian Collinson

 

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Fantasies

May 3rd, 2009 · archetypal experience, depth psychology, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Meaning, soul, The Self, unlived life

Fantasies for Vibrant Jung Blog So often the word “fantasy” is treated as a negative term.  After all, aren’t we supposed to be realistic, and practical, and down-to-earth?  How can our fantasies possibly help us to live our real lives?

 Well, Jung has some interesting things to say on this topic, including the following, which is about the role of fantasy at mid-life and later:


“Then, with the beginning of your life’s second part, inexorably a change imposes itself, subtly at first but with ever-increasing weight.  Whatever you have acquired hitherto is no longer the same as you regarded it when it still lay before you — it has lost something of its charm, its splendor and its attractiveness.  What was once an adventurous effort has become routine.  Even flowers wilt, and it is hard to discover something perennial that will endure.  Looking back slowly becomes a habit, no matter how much you detest and try to suppress it…

“The backwards look will not fail to show you sides and aspects of yourself long forgotten and other ways of life you have missed or avoided before.  The more your actual life becomes routine and habit, the less it will be satisfactory. [Italics mine]

“Soon unconscious fantasies begin to play with other possibilities and these can become quite troublesome unless they are made conscious in time.  They may be mere regressions into childhood, which prove to be most unhelpful when one is confronted with the difficult task of creating a new goal for an aging life.  If one has nothing to look forward to except the habitual things, life cannot renew itself any more.  It gets stale, it congeals and petrifies, like Lot’s wife who could not detach her eyes from the things hitherto valued. Yet these insipid fantasies may also contain germs of real new possibilities or of new goals worthy of attainment.  There are always things ahead, and despite all the overwhelming power of the historical pattern they are never quite the same.  [Italics mine]”


So, for Jung, our “insipid fantasies” are not at all devoid of value — if we really work with them to make them conscious.  They may in fact contain the vital clues for us to the way to move forward in our lives.  Sometimes these fantasies can seem childish, or useless — so much so that we dismiss them.  Perhaps we have been told, or have told ourselves, that our longing or our fantasy has no value, that we are silly even to entertain it.  We may have gotten this message so strongly that we even find it difficult to find our fantasies or to experience them — so rigourously does the internal schoolmaster/critic discipline us to “keep out nose to the grindstone.”


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Anxiety, Depression and My Own Truth

April 15th, 2009 · Anxiety, archetypal experience, Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Meaning, Psychotherapy, stress, wholeness

According to a recent New York Times article, people in North America are finding their lives more and more embroiled in anxiety.  This is a social trend that started prior to the start of the economic downturn, and which has been increasing since that time, if the mass media are to be believed.

The Times article  cites the exaAnxiety Depression and My Own Truthmple of one woman who found herself more and more in the grip of panic attacks, which impelled her "to read every single economic report" — not an uncommon response.  It seems quite possible that this obsession with economic information could create a vicious cycle: in response to her anxiety, the woman might read more economic reporting, which in turn could be expected to further elevate her anxiety.  And so on, potentially without end.

This brings us to a very fundamental question.  As individuals, are we prepared to accept the assessments of social scientists, journalists and economic and business experts, when it comes to the most basic attitudes that we will have to our lives?

Jung has something interesting to say about this.  It is couched in the gender usage conventions of the past (1957), for which I ask your understanding.  Nonetheless, his point is clear, and as relevant today as it was then:

"…[A] man is not complete when he lives in a world of statistical truth.  He must live in the world of his mythological truth [italics mine], and that is not merely statistics.  it is the expression of what he really is, and what he feels himself to be.  A man without mythology is merely a product of statistics, as it were, an average phenomenon.  Our natural science makes everything into an average … while the truth is that the carriers of life are individuals, not average numbers.  And, of course, all the individual qualities are wiped out, and that is most unbecoming….  It deprives people of their specific values, of the most important experiences of their life, where they experience their own value, the creative background of their own personality."

"The Houston Films" in McGuire, William, and Hull, R.F.C., eds., C.G. Jung Speaking (Princeton: University Press, 1977)

What is the dominant story that I choose to live under?  If I accept my life story as told by Anxiety Depression and My Own Truth 2 the mass media, I am a very small speck indeed, swept up in the great currents of economics, social trends and technological change.  My living and dying will be a matter of negligible significance.  I will be only a statistic.

But what if I make a determination to look for my story elsewhere, and to give that story my energy, my love and my trust?  What if my dreams impart to me some additional sense of the meaning of my life, of who I am, and what I really value?  To attempt to see my own myth, as not something so much consciously created, as a story made up, but as something that I am only partially capable of understanding, that emerges over time from the reality of my own life and my own psyche.

Real therapy, therapy that makes a fundamental difference, connects me to the deep story of my life.

I would welcome your input, comments or any sharing of your personal experience as you seek to encounter your own myth.

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get "Vibrant Jung Thing" posts delivered to your email using the "FeedBurner" box in the left column!

PHOTO CREDITS:  © Kentoh| Dreamstime.com ; © Arhaic| Dreamstime.com

© 2009 Brian Collinson 

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Coraline: The Real, the Ideal and the Substance of our Lives

April 7th, 2009 · archetypal experience, depth psychology, Film, Jungian psychology, parent-child interactions, puer aeternis, symbolism

Coraline E for Vibrant Jung Thing

Coraline is a recent movie, ostensibly geared to children.  Nonetheless, it tells a story deeply rooted in the realities of soul.  In that sense, its story is of deep relevance to all of us.

The film itself is something of a visual wonder.  It is an exercise in 3-D stop motion photography, giving a film experience that certainly I have never had before.  It's a very rich and imaginative world that is created, based on a story of fantasy and science fiction writer Neil Gaiman.

Coraline is a girl of about ten years of age, whose family moves from Michigan to "the Pink Palace Apartments", a big pink house near the mountains.  She is undergoing a difficult time accepting some of the realities of her life.  Her parents seem totally absorbed in their work as writers, and both the house and the environment in which she lives seem uninteresting and lacking in vitality.  Even the food she has to eat seems singularly boring and unappetizing.

In the midst of the house into which her family has moved, Coraline discovers a portal into another world.  In that world she discovers her "other Mother" and "other Father", who are, in essence, perfect, and geared to meeting all of Coraline's needs.  All the inhabitants of this world are more vivid, more interesting, more what Coraline would want them to be, with the one odd exception that they all have doll-like eyes made from buttons. 

Everything in this tiny parallel world seems ideal, and Coraline is highly tempted to flee to it to live in the realm of her "other Mother" forever.  But then she learns that the price of admission for entry to this world: she must give up her own real eyes, and have a pair of doll-like button eyes sewed into her eyes in their place, and then she will be imprisoned in the witch's world permanently.  With the help of an unusual cat, she is able to escape the witch's realm, and free her real parents from her grip. 

Like Coraline, sometimes the outline of our own real lives is something that we would rather not see, and in which we would rather not live. Perhaps we don't find it meaningful.  There can be a seductiveness to seeing things in our lives as the way that we wish they were, rather than the way that they are.  We willingly make the trade, and give up our own real eyes for illusory eyes that willing get caught up in the spider's web of illusion.  It is not without significance that the witch mother, seemingly so ideal, turns out to be a monstrous spider who devours the souls of her victims.  The ancient eastern symbol for Maya, or illusion, is the spider's web.

It's the cat — the ancient symbol for authentic feminine instinct — that is Coraline's aid and guide out of the witch world.  Through the earthy reality of the cat, Coraline finds her way back to her reality, which, once the seduction of "the ideal" or "what could be" is removed, turns out to be much more vital and alive than at first appeared.

It often takes real courage to give up our illusions and to live in the real non-idealized world that we actually inhabit.  It can take real strength to engage that world, and really dwell in it, rather than allowing fantasies of idealized possibilities to keep us hovering above our real lives.  We all know people whose lives never get grounded, who are always flitting from one idealized goal or dream to another, but who are never able to actualize any of their dreams or realize any of their aspirations in the real world.  Perhaps we recognize those tendencies in ourselves. 

The spider-witch can keep us so caught up Maya web to such an extent that we never materialize our projects, never really go after the things we really need in our lives, and perhaps we are never satisfied with our lovers, children or friends, and we always are looking for the "next great thing".

An important part of therapy can be finding ways to get "down to earth", and to really grapple with the lives and the selves that we actually have.  Like Coraline, we have to free ourselves from the witch's enchantment, and really live — right here, right now.

I highly recommend this wonderful, charming movie!

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca ; Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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CORALINE

Directed by Henry Selick; written by Mr. Selick, based on the book by Neil Gaiman; director of photography, Pete Kozachik; edited by Christopher Murrie and Ronald Sanders; music by Bruno Coulais; production designer, Mr. Selick; produced by Mr. Selick, Bill Mechanic, Claire Jennings and Mary Sandell; released by Focus Features.

WITH THE VOICES OF: Dakota Fanning; Teri Hatcher Jennifer Saunders; Dawn French; Keith David; John Hodgman; Robert Bailey Jr.;  and Ian MacShane.

PHOTO CREDITS:  ©  LAIKA

© 2009 Brian Collinson 

 

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