Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

"People Don't Say What's On Their Minds"

March 26th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, Identity, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Lifestyle, persona, Psychology, Psychotherapy, soul

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This has been an extremely busy time for me, and I apologize to those of you who may have been expecting that I would be posting before now.  I have a number of somewhat longer posts that I expect to put up on the blog before very long, but I thought that today I would leave this quotation with you from Jung.  It's the latest in the series of Jung quotations that I have been posting on this blog. 

It's a fascinating little comment in which Jung tells us something of how he himself first became interested in psychology and psychological growth ,and ultimately, in identity and individuation and the shadow.  It's from an interview of Jung called "On Creative Achievement" by Emil Fisher, which appears in that great little book called C.G. Jung Speaking.  Fisher asks Jung,

What were the circumstances that induced you to work in the field of psychological research?

To which Jung replies,

"Even as a small boy I noticed that people always did the contrary of what was said of them.  I found some of the people who were praised quite unbearable, whereas I though others who were criticized quite pleasant.

I noticed the inconsistencies in the behaviour of adults quite early on, because I spent my formative years in Basel, in a rather odd environment, which was frequented by people with a complicated psychic structure.

When I was barely four years old, someone said to me in an exaggerated childish tone: "Where do you think you are going with your rocking horse?"  I reacted quite the enfant terrible: "Mama, why does this man say such nonsense?"  Even as a child I clearly felt that people did not really say what was on their minds."

"Americans Must Say 'No' in McGuire, William, and Hull, R.F.C., eds.,

C.G. Jung Speaking (Princeton: University Press, 1977)


I think most of us share the sense that Jung had at a very early age, that there is a lot more going on inside people than they really show us on the outside.  And then, it's also true that there's a lot more going on inside ourselves than we show on the outside.  It's something that we've all known for a very long time, and we all really want to understand it.  When it comes to ourselves, there may well come a time in our lives when it's absolutely vital for us to understand what makes us tick.  To open ourselves up to self-knowledge may well be the true beginning of wisdom.

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

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: ; Email:

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© 2009 Brian Collinson 


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Real Alchemy: Jung, Psychological Growth & Individuation

March 19th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychology, Psychotherapy, soul, wholeness


Here’s a quotation from Jung that’s quite brief, but it says a mouthful:

“The opus (work) consists of three parts: insight, endurance and action.  Psychology is needed only in the first part, but in the second and third parts, moral strength plays the predominant role…”

Jung is here describing the individuation process.  What he observes is very important.  For him, the process of psychological growth begins with psychological insight into the situations of our lives, but insight all on its own doesn’t really give us much that makes a difference.

One of the fantasies that people can have when they enter therapy — I know that I had it — is that somehow, I’m going to have some blinding revelatory insight that in one fell swoop is going to shake me to the very core, and that I’m going to be changed forever more as a result.  Jung is quite right: this doesn’t usually happen.

It’s quite possible to have huge insights that lead us to see our lives in a very different light.  But we have to make them real, to bring what they teach us right down into the midst of our lives.  And that takes some genuine hard work and courage.

When we have the insight, we have to hang onto it.  That can be quite difficult.  The whole previous pattern of how we have responded in a certain type of situation, what Jungians call the complexes, will work on us to push us back into the rut of perceiving and reacting to situations in the same old way.  It may even be hard to hang onto or to remember the insight that occurred in therapy when we are back in the all-too-familiar situations in our lives.

This is where endurance is needed. 


It can be painful to look at our lives and our situations in the light of the new insight.  If I realize, for instance, that instead of my image of myself as a strong autonomous person who independently solves problems, I actually do a great many things that constitute pleasing people, and that I’m unable to say “No” in situations in my life where I need to establish boundaries, it may be a painful realization.  I may not like to see myself that way.  However, if I want to grow, I have to accept that, yes, this is how I respond in those situations.  I have to know that, and to observe myself in the situation, and then I have to respond.

Finally, if I want to change things in my life, if I want to become more myself, I have toAlchemy 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing take action.  If I recognize that I truly have tended to please people to the detriment of myself in a certain situation, then I have to change how I am in the situation.  I have to be willing to resist my natural tendency to fall into the old pattern, and I have to enter into something new and unexplored.  This is quite possibly going to be scary, and its entirely possible that I might make mistakes, or do things in ways that I might later decide that I want to correct or change.  But to the degree that I can hold onto my new course, it’s surprising how life can sometimes intervene to help me find my new way.

This is the pattern that is involved in doing “the work”.  It isn’t easy, but, in the end, it can result in a sense of vitality and meaning in my life, where before, things felt only dead and flat.

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

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: ; Email:

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Jung on North America's Anxiety and Individuation Dilemma

March 16th, 2009 · Anxiety, Carl Jung, collective consciousness, Current Affairs, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Lifestyle, Meaning, popular culture, Psychotherapy, soul, The Self, wholeness

In 1931, over 75 years ago, C. G. Jung gave an interview to an American journalist in Vienna.  In it, he laid out a description of what he saw as some of the central dilemmas facing Americans.

In this moment, we are in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage and financial crises, and hopefully at the beginning of some kind of recovery from those fearful events, and the anxiety associated with them.  I believe that Jung’s remarks still speak very directly to Americans – and equally to Canadians – as we are unavoidably forced to re-evaluate what is fundamentally important in our values, our psyche and our lives. 

"The tempo of America is being taken as a norm to which life should be directed….  What America needs in the face of the tremendous urge towards NO for Vibrant Jung Thing Bloguniformity, desire of things, the desire for complications in life, for being like one's neighbours, for making records, et cetera, is one great healthy ability to say 'No.'  To rest a minute and realize that many of the things being sought are unnecessary to a happy life, and that trying to live exactly like one's successful neighbour is not following the essentially different dictates, possibly, of a widely different underlying personality, which a person may possess and yet consciously try to rid himself of, the conflict always resulting in some form, sooner or later of a neurosis….

We are awakening a little to the feeling that something is wrong in the world, that our modern prejudice of overestimating the importance of the intellect and the conscious mind might be false.  We want simplicity.  We are suffering, in our cities, from a need of simple things….

These things are being expressed in thousands of dreams.  Women’s dreams, men’s dreams, the dreams of human beings, all having much the same collective primal unconscious mind – the same in the central African… and the New York stockbroker – and it is in our dreams that the body makes itself aware to our mind….  The dream calls our mind’s attention to the body’s instinctive feeling.”

"Americans Must Say 'No' in McGuire, William, and Hull, R.F.C., eds.,

C.G. Jung Speaking (Princeton: University Press, 1977)


At this difficult anxious time, the world situation confronts us with fundamental choices about how we will see our own lives, how we will define ourselves, and what we will value and choose as we move forward in our lives.  Jung seeks to brings us back to recognizing and living out of the reality of the psyche, and to seeking to be conscious of the whole of what we are as human beings, which is the core of a meaningful life.


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

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: ; Email:

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© 2009 Brian Collinson 

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Stress, Anxiety and Basic Trust PART 1: Rooted in Myself

March 12th, 2009 · Anxiety, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, Psychotherapy, stress, The Self

Roots for vibrant jung thing

Here in Oakville, Mississauga and the surrounding areas, many people are really feeling the impact of recent economic events.

There is a strong sense that the last 6-8 months have brought a lot of changes to people’s economic and business situations.  Things are not feeling anywhere near as secure as they did even a year ago.  Recent events have really heightened peoples’ stress levels and their overall level of anxiety.

In human life, everyone is looking for security.  It may be that I find it in a different place than my neighbour, and that (s)he can take risks in areas that I would not be comfortable with, and vice versa.  But to somehow feel secure and to feel connected in the world is a very basic human need.

What has become apparent, is that quite a number of things that seemed secure prior to this fall have shown that they weren’t nearly as solid and immovable as we all thought.  My investment portfolio, the value of my house, my job — all of a sudden I find myself less able to count on these things.  And that can be incredibly scary.

So, what can I count on?  What is there that will not let me down? 

There are many kinds of security that do help at a time like this.  Connections to friends, to spouses, children, lovers — all bring us a sense of value and of being rooted in the world.  But there is something that is even more important.  That is the connection to Self.  

To experience the deep connection with my own being, to know and accept who I am and to feel that I myself have a home in the world, that there is a “rightness” to my existence, and that I belong here, in my life — that is the fundamental source of a basicWoman for vibrant jung thing trust in my life.  It’s essential to withstanding the pains and shocks that life brings.  It is only in knowing and accepting who I am — who I really am as opposed to the socially constructed image of the self — that I find a deep trust.  A deep trust, first of all, in my own being, and from that, a trust in my life.

Therapy cannot do everything, but it can bring a person into more complete contact with his or own fundamental identity.  In a world of uncertainties and anxiety, that is definitely a gift worth having.


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

Brian Collinson

Websitefor Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: ; Email:

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Carl Jung on Dreams

March 6th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, dreams, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, symbolism, wholeness

Dreams figure prominently in Carl Jung's psychology, and he has a great deal to teach usDreams for Vibrant Jung Thing about them.  The quotation that follows builds very well on my earlier post in which Jung reflects on the position that many people find themselves in at mid-life.

"Through scientific understanding, our world has become dehumanized.  Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos.  He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had a symbolic meaning for him.  Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor in lightning his avenging missile.  No river contains a spirit, no tree means a man's life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom, and no mountain still harbors a great demon.  Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants and animals….  His immediate communication with nature is gone forever, and the emotional energy it generated has sunk into the unconscious.

"This enormous loss is compensated by the symbols of our dreams.  They bring up our original nature, its instincts and its peculiar thinking.  Unfortunately, one would say, they express their contents in the language of nature, which is strange and incomprehensible to us.  It sets us the task of translating its images into the rational words and concepts of modern speech, which has liberated itself from its primitive encumbrances — notably from its mystical participation with things….

A realistic picture of the human mind reveals many primitive traits and survivals…. The man of today is a curious mixture of characteristics acquired over the long ages of his mental development.  This is the man and his symbols we have to deal with, and we must scrutinize his mental products very carefully indeed….  Such are the people who produce the symbols we are investigating in their dreams…."

                   Carl Jung, Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams, Collected Works, volume 18, paras. 585-588, Princeton: University Press

Jung's idea that dreams are a form of communication with our original nature is very powerful indeed.  Following his lead, Jungians are very careful to examine the meaning of dreams for the individual, functioning from the understanding that dreams are a kind of comment by the unconscious of the dreamer on the conscious stance that the dreamer's ego takes in his or her waking life.  This is an activity most successfully done with the help of a thoroughly trained Jungian therapist or analyst.

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

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: ;         Email:

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Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path To Myself? PART THREE

March 2nd, 2009 · depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychotherapy, soul, The Self, wholeness

This is the third part and final part in my series "Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path to Myself?"  PART ONE dealt with some of the familiar things that go on when people start therapy, and PART TWOfocused on "Five Things that Sustain Me on the Journey to Wholeness".  In this last part, I discuss a major issue that exists in all of us, and that can keep any of us from getting all the benefit from therapy that I might.  I call it,

"THE LONE RANGER COMPLEX"Lone Ranger for Vibrant Jung Thing

North Americans from places like Oakville and Mississauga are immersed in a culture where we are constantly urged to be independent and to look after ourselves.  We are raised with the belief that it's a good thing to keep our feeling and emotional lives to ourselves.  We are also encouraged to believe that, if anything good is going to happen in our lives, we are going to be the sole agents of making it happen.  Like the Lone Ranger, our ideal of fulfilled life is a lone figure riding off into the sunset, keeping her — or especially his — feelings to himself, in splendid emotional self-sufficiency.

This outlook leads to the self-help movement, with all the self-help books, CDs and DVDs. 

The good side of the self-help movement is that all these people are taking the initiative to read, study and try to understand themselves and work on themselves.  People in their millions are recognizing and trying to take responsibility for their psychological growth.  Sometimes the solutions are simplistic or misguided, but people are still trying to understand themselves and to grow.

The most unhelpful side of self-help is its "lone ranger" dimension.  Often people in our culture try to take responsibility for their psychological development themselves, which is good.  However, they aren't willing to open up to other people, especially therapists.  This makes their efforts very much less effective. It is almost impossible to get anything like an objective view of myself without the help of a trained outside observer, like a therapist.  Also, it is virtually impossible for me to understand what is going on in my unconscious without the assistance of someone with extensive experience of the unconscious, such a someone trained in the Jungian approach.

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