Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Uncle Vanya Midlife Transition & the Second Half of Life

June 24th, 2008 · midlife, midlife transition, second half of life

Anton_chekhov_vanya_blogRecently, I saw an excellent production of Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya, presented by Toronto’s dynamic Soulpepper Theatre, which opens up powerfully issues at midlife and in the second half of life.  Soulpepper opened up this play in a particularly insightful, poignant and empathic way.  Their interpretation reveals the importance of this play and its connection with the experience of modern people in the second half of life.Chekhov_house_4

Chekhov’s house


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Individual Identity in a Big Box World

June 20th, 2008 · Current Affairs, depth psychology, Halton Region, Individuation, Jungian analysis, life passages, Lifestyle, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, popular culture, Psychotherapy, suburbia / exurbia

Big_box_blog "Say No to Big Box Schools" is a message on signs recently posted around my neighbourhood in Oakville.  The local school board has announced plans to consolidate a number of schools, in some cases closing smaller schools that have been part of communities for a very long time.  This has produced quite a strong reaction in the community, not surprisingly.  I believe that this is for many reasons, but not least of all, because of the feeling that children who attend these larger schools may be severed from their rooting in a local environment that allows their individuality and uniqueness to come out and be appreciated.  The fear is that children will become lost in anonymous and faceless institutions.

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Midlife in Suburbia: No Mere "Sportscar Phase"

June 15th, 2008 · Individuation, Jungian psychology, Lifestyle, Psychotherapy, suburbia / exurbia

Red_convert_for_blog_15_jun_08 There is a theme or motif that I see repeated with great frequency among my client group.  There are always profound individual variations and unique aspects, but there are common central kinds of experience.

© Hanhanpeggy |

A great many of the individuals I am thinking of here would be between their mid-30s and mid- 50s.  Often, although not always, they are people who have lived somewhere in the suburbs for a long time.  Perhaps they have even lived here since early childhood.  Frequently, they are people who in many ways have lived out the suburban ideal as I described it in my May 31/08 post, "Patterns of Suburban Life."  Yet they have reached a point in their lives where, for one reason or another, conventional suburban values are no longer working for them, no longer offering explanation or meaning for what they are experiencing.

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Individu- What???

June 11th, 2008 · depth psychology, Individuation, Jungian psychology, life passages, Lifestyle, midlife, mythology, Psychology, Psychotherapy

I’m enjoying the process of writing this blog on a regular basis, and having the chance to communicate with all of you about different aspects of what it is to be a therapist and a Jungian in Halton and Peel Regions in this continually surprising "place" that we call suburbia.  I’m really open to any of your comments, either privately via email, or in the comment sections on the blog.

Solitary_pathway_for_blog_2 Carl Jung developed the idea of "individuation" to describe the individual journey that human beings undertake in their lives.  I believe that this is a very useful way of looking at things, and that it helps people to answer the question "What is it that is happening to me in my life?"

Jung’s idea is that the journey of our lives takes us on a more and more individual path.  That we are in the process of becoming more and more uniquely ourselves.  Jung often used the analogy of an acorn and an oak tree, saying that the potential to be an huge oak tree is latent in the acorn, waiting to expand and to become.

© Micheal Armstrong |

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Surface Tension: Jungian Therapy, Persona & Suburbia

June 7th, 2008 · depth psychology, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Jungian therapy, Lifestyle, persona, suburbia

Blog_surface_tension_lily © Stuart Corlett |

Viewed from the point of view of Jungian therapy, suburbia can seem like it is entirely about persona, just living on the surface of life, never penetrating into its true depths.

The suburban experience can sometimes be very caught up with appearances.  We are continually bombarded with an enormous number of messages that tell us that we are how we look, and that our image is everything .  Consequently the house we live in and the car we drive can seem like true determinants of our identity.  Our furniture and our landscaping can be seen as indicators of our worth as human beings — to others, yes, but, even more devastatingly, to ourselves.

The way in which we express our individual selves through our homes and gardens may be true expressions of our individual selves.  In that sense, they have the potential to be true manifestations of soul.  But there is a real danger that we will identify ourselves by means of these things, rather than doing the hard work of turning into ourselves to see who we most fundamentally are.  Thus we lapse into identifying ourselves with what C.G. Jung called the persona, the outward social “mask” that we develop and use to enable us to interact with the outer world.

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The Symbolic Power of Home

June 4th, 2008 · depth psychology, Jungian psychology, Lifestyle, mythology, Psychology, Psychotherapy, suburbia / exurbia, symbolism

Toy_houses_for_blog Suburbia is fundamentally linked with the symbolism of “home”.  And the symbolic reality of Home runs incredibly deep in the human psyche.

In the western world, one of the greatest and most profound tributes to the depth and power of this symbolism is found in Homer’s Odyssey.  In that great poem, the hero Odysseus struggles through overwhelming difficulties and trials, motivated above all else by his desire to return to his home, Ithaca, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus.  The wily and resourceful hero succeeds in his quest, only after many years, and much loss and sorrow, and returns home, where he finally encounters his wife again.

Then Ulysses in his turn melted, and wept as he clasped his dear and faithful wife to his bosom. As the sight of land is welcome to men who are swimming towards the shore, when Neptune has wrecked their ship with the fury of his winds and waves- a few alone reach the land, and these, covered with brine, are thankful when they find themselves on firm ground and out of danger- even so was her husband welcome to her as she looked upon him, and she could not tear her two fair arms from about his neck.  [Homer, trans. Samuel Butler, The Odyssey, Book XXIII]

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