Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Merry Stuff-mas: Depth Psychotherapy, Being & Having

December 2nd, 2013 · depth, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

Depth psychotherapy is deeply concerned with our real identity; one key dimension of  that identity is the distinction between being and having.

depth psychotherapy

The fascinating photo above was included in a flyer sent to my home just before Black Friday by a major wireless and internet services provider.

It shows a family moment of warm togetherness in some outdoor setting.  Four people and 3 electronic devices — 2 smartphones and a tablet — visible in the picture.  The people appear very connected, with laughter, smiles and lots of touch.  Apparently, wireless content is being shared between them, and, somehow, it’s the source of all this warmth, mirth and belonging.  The picture implies that if we get more wireless services, we’ll get more family connection.

Really?

 Fantasy Spells and Stuff

Actually, many experience wireless technology as alienating and isolating people, and as reducing conversation and interaction.  To go to a shopping mall or restaurant in 2013 is to see masses of people hunched over,  making love to their devices rather than interacting with others.

It’s striking how the above picture ties into our yearning for connection, belonging and participation in family in the fullest sense of the word.  It’s a wonderful fantasy of warmth and love, apparently associated with this technology — even though our real world experiences of it is often the exact opposite.

Our era bombards us with messages that more  — more stuff, the right kind of stuff — will solve the problems in our lives.  Particularly the problems of relationship, meaning and feeling secure in who we are.

Consumer goods get associated with fantasies, which advertising spreads through our whole society.  The promise is that, if only we own the product being sold, our lives will be more.

Archetypal Hijack

Advertising for “stuff” often taps archetypal themes.  Certainly, the above picture holds some of the most significant archetypes — Mother; Father; Family and Belonging, or attachment.

Archetypal themes exist in the human psyche and point us toward the things in human life that matter, and that are meaningful.  But the above advertisement implies that archetypally based needs can be met cheaply, and without really opening up or exploring our lives in any meaningful sense — by simply owning stuff.  To own the product is somehow to possess or live the fantasy associated with the product.

Depth psychotherapy

Being and Having

Our society is fundamentally confused about the distinction between being, or in other words having a life, and having possessions.  Advertising seduces us into fantasies associated with certain types of possessions.

As humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm put it:

 The difference between being and having is the difference between a society centered around persons and one centered around things.  Modern humanity cannot understand the spirit of a society that is not centered in property…

The being/having tension arises profoundly during the holidays.  Ostensibly, this season celebrates the transcendent values of several of the world’s great spiritual traditions.  Yet, in North American society, it often turns into a glorification of stuff, and of fantasies associated with owning the right stuff.  So, a season that should celebrate what is of deepest meaning in human life can often turn into a very degraded spectacle of the opposite.  Case in point: this now fairly famous video taken at a sale display of  televisions in a Wal-Mart on Black Friday:

Is this really what we’ve come to?  Apparently, the fantasy of “joy through stuff” isn’t quite working out for us.

Depth Psychotherapy and the Treasure of the Self

Depth psychotherapy focuses us on authentic connection with the archetypes, and on living them out for ourselves in our own real lives.  There’s nothing wrong with owning things, but ownership won’t make a meaningful human life.  Depth psychotherapy invites us on the journey to wholeness, and to the possession of the one thing that makes all the difference — our own authentic selves.

PHOTOS: © Rogers Communications   Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by  pr1001
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Crisis of Connection: Depth Psychotherapy & Eros, 1

September 13th, 2013 · depth, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

Often, depth psychotherapy reveals the need for real feeling and relationship in an individual’s life, and highlights the crisis of connection that characterizes our lives now.

depth psychotherapy

It’s not the only factor, but technology highlights the fact that, in this culture, at this time, we have a big disconnection issue.

Technology and Connection: A Thumbnail Sketch

Recently, I sat in our biggest local shopping centre early on a Friday evening, having a coffee. I noticed a man who stood in front of a store, texting.  He remained there motionless, typing, for a very long time.  He seemed to be completely oblivious to anything in the world, other than what was appearing on his cell phone screen. Eventually a woman I assumed to be his partner came and stood beside him, but he just kept on texting endlessly, obliviously. Finally his whole family came to stand beside him, but he seemed completely shut off from them.  He just kept texting.  Eventually, after quite a while, he finished, and seemed to leave his trance and be aware of others, in particular, his family

A number of possible interpretations that could be put on these events.  But, to me, it seemed that this was a situation of someone so caught up in texting, that he was completely disconnected from the world around him — including the people who care about him.

The Siren Song of Connection

It’s a fact of importance for individual therapy that we are now continuously confronted with the immediacy of technology: smartphones, tablets, laptops — you name it.  This omnipresence of information devices highlights a stunning reality: in the 21st century, many of us are more connected to our machines than to the people in our lives.

Machines seem to promise connection, to make it omnipresent.  And they do deliver, for we can use them to convey any amount of information.  But what they are far less good at is bringing people into actual relationship.

depth psychotherapy

What Is It To Genuinely Connect?

To genuinely connect with another human being, in an in-depth way involves risk, vulnerability and imagination.  To genuinely connect, as in love or deep friendship, or even just really listening, is to be open to continually changing and adapting our understanding of the person to which we are connected.

The information era is a time of steadily escalating pressure to check out from genuine connection.  In my opinion, this is at the cost of much of our true human-ness.

Here are the words of the Jungian analyst Aldo Carotenuto, on the real nature of Eros, or connectedness:

 

Break Through

Connection involves breaking through in the outer world.  Reaching out to the other in the midst of all the priorities and demands that scream at us, to break through with

Genuine connection with another involves a real break through in the inner world, as well.  It requires an open-ness to letting the other be who they genuinely are, and a preparedness on my part to accept everything that my encounter with the other person brings up in me — even if it’s very unfamiliar.

The focus on finding the genuine connection that we truly need is often a key element of depth psychotherapy.

PHOTOS: Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by Kevin Lawver  ;  Rhys A.
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

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Depth Psychotherapy and Nature, Outer & Inner

July 31st, 2013 · depth, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

Depth psychotherapy concerns itself with nature — inner human nature, which is fundamentally connected with outer nature, which we often experience so powerfully in the summer season.

depth psychotherapy

Nature, Inner & Outer

The McMichael Art Gallery is currently exhibiting a wonderful group of works by photographer Ansel Adams.  Just to declare my bias: Adams was one of the great artists of the 20th century.  In works like “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” above, he opens up a vision of outer nature that resonates profoundly our own inner life — our inner nature.

Jung on Nature

Jung’s depth psychotherapy was similarly concerned with the relationship between nature and the human mind.  He wrote a lot about his own experience of nature:

“At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go , in the procession of the seasons.  There is nothing with which I am not linked.”

C.G. Jung, MDR

depth psychotherapy

IMAGE, JUNG’S RED BOOK

But Jung cautioned western culture:

“Our intellect has  created a new world that dominates nature, and has populated it with monstrous machines….

‘We have conquered nature’ is a mere slogan.  In reality we are confronted with anxious questions, the answers to which seem nowhere in sight.  The so-called conquest of nature overwhelms us…

Western man has no need of more superiority over nature whether outside or inside.  He has both in almost devilish perfection.  What he lacks is conscious recognition of his inferiority to the nature around him and within him.  He must learn that he may not do exactly as he wills.  If he doesn’t learn this, his own nature will destroy him.  He does not know that his own soul is rebelling against him in a suicidal way.

The one thing we refuse to admit is that we are dependent on “powers” beyond our control…

The afternoon of humanity, in a distant future, may yet evolve a different ideal.  In time, even conquest will cease to be the dream.”

C.G. Jung, CW 11; CW 18

Jung anticipated the eco-psychology and environmental psychology of our era by 50-60 years.  I’m struck by the way that he brings it together with depth psychotherapy and the unconscious mind.

Peace with Outer and Inner Nature

Jung stressed connections between natural landscapes and the unconscious.  He spoke in very positive terms of consciousness of indigenous people, as when he stated

“The country [the indigenous person] inhabits is at the same time the topography of his unconscious”

[CW 10]

The unconscious and nature in its outer form are profoundly connected: there is a strong similarity in the ways in which consciousness relates to both.  Jung notes that modern culture has an attitude of exploitation towards nature, seeking the “conquest” of nature.  This manifests in dismissal and contempt of inner nature — the unconscious dimensions of the personality, and the rhythms of bodily existence.  Result: people fundamentally at odds with their own being.

Depth psychotherapy aims at staying real by re-establishing an intimate relationship with nature, inner and outer.

PHOTOS: “Aspens, Northern New Mexico”  © 1958 Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust ; C.G. jung, Red Book, © 1958
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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