Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Anger: Everybody Has It, So What Do We Do With It?

December 9th, 2008 · anger, collective consciousness, depression, depth psychology, Halton Region, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Lifestyle, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychology, Psychotherapy, soul, The Self, Wellness, wholeness

Anger for Vibrant Jung Blog There is no easy way with anger.  It can be one of the most powerful psychological forces that we experience.  As an old song once said, "anger is an energy" — and it can be a force for growth in a person's life, or a source of misery and destruction.

At this time, the problem of dealing with anger is more on our minds in this society than it has surely ever been.  As a society, we really don't know what to do with it.  It is simply symptomatic of our confusion and uncertainty that a major fast food chain has created a major campaign centered around a hamburger called the "Angry Whopper"!

For many people, anger is the unacceptable "taboo" emotion, the one that has no real place in our lives, the one that "decent" or "reasonable" people avoid.  This is a lesson that many of us learned deep in the womb of the family.  When I think of my own upbringing, it is absolutely clear to me that most emotion was suspect, but anger in particular was completely anathema. Anger 2 for Vibrant Jung Blog

There is a trend in modern thinking to isolate anger, to treat it as some intruder in the human psyche or soul.  There is a tendency in much of modern psychology to want to wall anger off and treat it as a specific discreet problem that has only limited connection to the whole of a person's personality.  So we hear a lot about anger management and rage addiction.  This type of term that ignores the fact that a person's anger stems from real issues in the whole of that person's personality.

But those who have to deal with their anger or rage as personal problem know that such emotions are anything but discreet.  When they are in full force, they can often seem to take complete control of the personality, and to be completely in the driver's seat.

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Anxiety and the Downturn

November 30th, 2008 · collective consciousness, Current Affairs, depth psychology, Georgetown, Halton Region, Individuation, Jungian psychology, life passages, Lifestyle, Meaning, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, panic, Peel Region, popular culture, Psychotherapy, The Self, Wellness, wholeness

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The present economic conditions are deeply challenging to the ways that we all think about ourselves and our lives.  It takes a toll on all of us to be constantly bombarded with negative economic news that often seems only to get worse with each passing day.

It's evident to me from my practice how much anxiety is being created in each of us, and what a heavy burden a lot of people are having to carry in the present situation.  At the tail end of last week, there were numerous people who came through my office who were profoundly anxious and deeply scared at the things that they were seeing in their personal and working lives as we undergo the current economic crisis.

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How can we avoid being crippled by the anxiety and the fear?  There are a number of things to keep in focus.

First, the economic conditions that we are confronting are governed by the psychology of the crowd.  Modern communication technology only enhances and deepens this effect.  Crowd psychology is prone to irrational excitements and manias when things are good, and is equally prone to mass panics when they are bad.  In the short run, it can likely be expected that panic will actually worsen economic conditions, and we have to be prepared to weather that.

Second, we must fully expect that this mass panic is going to "hook" and activate all of our deepest fears.  Money is a very emotional matter for the vast majority of human beings.  It symbolizes our life-energy, which we have put into our work, through our sweat and sacrifice.  We can expect that, when we receive the kind of ominous news that has been about, we are going to initially respond with fear and anxiety — maybe even with terror.

Third, it is important to "hang onto ourselves" by not giving way to this fear and panic.  On balance, weighing decisions carefully at this time, and realizing that we are being infected, so to speak, by the panic of the crowd, and taking action in a way that really is in line with our own true feelings and emotions will lead us to courses of action that will serve us better.  Also, we need to hang on to the recognition that this crisis will not last forever.

Fourth, find your basic trust in life again, and act from that.  This is the time to draw on your deepest philosophical and religious convictions.  What do you really believe is important in life?  Do you believe that life is a meaningful journey, which is unfolding in a way that makes your life and the lives of the people close to you valuable?  If so, now is the time to put that belief in front of you, and to remind yourself of it constantly.

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The Market and the Self

October 16th, 2008 · collective consciousness, Current Affairs, depth psychology, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Markets, Meaning, panic, popular culture, Psychotherapy, soul, symbolism, The Self, wholeness

It seemed as if the world's stock markets might have finally turned a corner early this week, in response to concerted action from the world's governments.  Now things seem somewhat less certain.  Since I last posted, people throughout the world have endured bout after bout of bad financial and economic news, with stock markets declining in a dramatic and fearful way.  This has combined Bear for Vibrant Jung THing with continued anxiety about the health of banks and other financial institutions world-wide.  People are understandably concerned about the health of the economy and about their economic futures.

The fear is real.  To recognize that the situation is fearful is not the same thing as giving way to panic, as I tried to suggest in my last post.  Nonetheless, an attitude of smug complacency would be completely inappropriate when we are faced with economic convulsions of this magnitude  which will surely directly impact all of us.

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It might be a surprising way to think of it, but nonetheless the markets pose psychological questions to us.  They ask us what the value is of a given share, of a commodity, of a "put", of a "call".  There is a rational thinking element to the process of how something is to be valued in the market, based on all manner of fundamentals: market conditions, price-to-earning ratios, and the whole endless array of techniques and information that modern finance can bring to bear.  But ultimately, the value of an investment will come down to a subjective, feeling-based factor.  How much of my money — my energy, my sweat, my care — do I think this given investment is worth?  In the end, there will be a difference of valuation:  the seller and the buyer will always disagree on the outlook for a given investment, and what it is fundamentally worth.

Bull for Vibrant Jung Blog That is the nature of markets.  Each market is an enormously complex expression of individual and collective psychology, full of fateful outcomes for economic life on the large scale, and on the very small, even individual scale.  The valuations that the market places on things are continually shifting, ephemeral.  Oil is a conquering giant this week, and is a defeated midget the next.  Nothing is permanent, nothing is lasting, nothing is sure, as much as we would like it to be.

On Wall Street, there is a famous statue.  It is of "the Bull" and "the Bear" of bull and bear market fame, locked in what seems like eternal struggle.  However, in my opinion, the sculpture doesn't get the struggle between Bull and Bear quite right, for in the Wall Street version, it seems that the Bull has gotten the Bear down on the floor, almost as if he were about to finish him off.  But of course, the Bull never does finish off the Bear.  They remain locked in an eternal conflict, first one ascendant, then the other.  And all of us are along for the ride.

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If that is the human condition, then we can all expect our economic fortunes to be in continual flux.  If my identity then is tied up with my wealth or my occupation, how can I find anything secure to found my life upon?  

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Keeping Your Soul in Times of Economic Anxiety

October 2nd, 2008 · collective consciousness, compulsion, Current Affairs, depth psychology, Halton Region, Jungian psychology, Meaning, Oakville, panic, soul, suburbia / exurbia, The Self

These are anxious days in suburbia, and in fact throughout North America and the rest of the developed world.

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As I write, the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States has mushroomed into a full-blown crisis.  Many of my American readers live in areas like Los Angeles County, where fully one third of house sales are now foreclosures, and there is fear that number is only going to escalate.  Having absorbed the news that, incredibly, the U.S. House of Representatives has refused to pass the $700 billion Bush-Bernanke-Paulson bailout legislation for financial institutions, the world waits, holding its breath, to see if the bill can somehow be amended into a form that the House will accept.  There is a perception on the part of many that, without some legislation of this kind of magnitude to shore up the financial sector, a disaster could ensue that would result in a credit freeze, strangling business and the economy.

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Things which a little while ago appeared so solid have seemingly come apart very quickly.  A survey of Anxious Investor for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog the media reveals that there is an atmosphere of panic or desperation that is just underneath the surface of daily affairs at the present time.  Fear is rampant.

I have no credentials as a commentator on the economy or the financial sector, and I could add nothing to the discussion of these issues from that point of view.  However, there are observations that I would like to make about the psychology of a time like this.

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The first of these concerns the power of mass psychology and the psychology of crowds.  Jung was very concerned lest people abdicate their individuality and be swept along by mass attitudes in times when strong emotions flow through societies — times like the present.  He warns of the dangers of this in “On the Nature of the Psyche”, CW 8 para 425:

 

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In Your Dreams

August 23rd, 2008 · collective consciousness, depth psychology, dreams, Halton Region, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Meaning, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychotherapy, symbolism, wholeness

Night_dreams_vibrant_jung_thing_b_3 Looking at dreams is often a part of Jungian analysis.  Jungian analysis, along with other forms of depth psychology, maintains that dreams are meaningful, and that the dreams a person has are directly connected to what is going on in his or her life, both right at the present time, and over much longer periods of time.

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Sometimes people are afraid of looking at their dreams, or sometimes they feel gullible or silly for looking at them, as if this wasn’t "practical", or "down to earth" in some sense.  However, it is interesting to note that this attitude toward dreams in our culture is at odds with the views of most other cultures, and even with our own culture in earlier periods of time. 

The ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews certainly believed that their dreams were meaningful, and this attitude prevailed in the West throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and even up to andDream_sleep_vibrant_jung_thing_3   including the Enlightenment.  It is only with the rise of "hard core" empiricism and materialism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that our Victorian forebears began to be sceptical about dreams, a trend reversed by that very hard-nosed and commonsensical empiricist and rationalist, Sigmund Freud. 

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Unlike Freud, who saw dreams as a mechanism for preserving sleep by keeping repressed thoughts and Dream_sleep_2_vibrant_jung_thing impulses from emerging during sleep, Jung believed that dreams represent an on-going commentary by the unconscious on the conscious position and attitudes of the individual.  For Jung, the unconscious is composed of so much more than just repressed contents, and it has its own wisdom, which can sometimes greatly surpass the understanding of the conscious mind.  If that is true, then we can expect to glean many important insights from understanding the contents of our dreams.

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Chicago: An Enormous, Diverse, Extroverted, Friendly American City…

August 16th, 2008 · collective consciousness, Current Affairs, depth psychology, Halton Region, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Lifestyle, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, popular culture, Psychotherapy, soul

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I’ve just gotten back today from a trip to Chicago, and I apologize to my readers for the lack of posts over the last little while.  I plan to write about my trip, and to reflect on different psychological and soul aspects of my trip to that great city.

It was a wonderful trip!  Chicago is such a vital place! 

I couldn’t help drawing a lot of comparisons with Toronto as we explored different dimensions of the city.  There are certain similarities — large cities each located on the shores of the Great Lakes.  However, beyond these surface characteristics, the two cities are very different in very many ways.

Most fundamentally, I think , there is a difference in what Jung would call weltanschauung, or world view.  Perhaps to, say, Europeans, or Asians, the inhabitants of Chicago and Toronto would seem very similar.  However, I think that there are some fascinating differences in fundamental attitudes.  It’s hard to put this into words, except to say that, even in the midst of the current economic uncertainties, there is an extraordinary confidence that Chicago exudes.  Perhaps it’s a bit cliche, now, but I could hear the poetry of Carl Sandburg ringing in my ears as we travelled through the city.

It’s not a question of one collective outlook being either wrong or right, of course, but I’m intrigued with the differences in what seems to me to be each city’s collective perception of the world.  I hope to write more about this in subsequent posts.

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