Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

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?  

Market Concern for Vibrant Jung Thing

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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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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

Chicago_for_jung_blog

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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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Into the Wild

July 15th, 2008 · Current Affairs, depth psychology, Film, Individuation, Jungian analysis, life passages, Lifestyle, Mississauga, Oakville, Ontario, Peel Region, popular culture, Psychotherapy, puer aeternis, soul, suburbia / exurbia

Itw_wallpaper_04_800x600 If you haven’t seen it, "Into the Wild" is a 2007 film written and directed by Sean Penn, and starring Emile Hirsh.  It is based on the true life story of Christopher McCandless, originally recounted by John Krakauer in his 1992 book of the same name.  It’s a remarkable film, in many ways, and not least of all because of the different and sometimes conflicting emotions it stirs up in the viewer.  It touches on deep issues that underlie this suburban life that we share, issues of destiny and what is fundamentally important in our living.

The protagonist, Christopher McCandless, is a young man of 23 who has been raised in a middle class suburban home, who rejects all the trappings of this life for a life on the road, which ultimately takesItw_wallpaper_07_800x600_2   Itw_icon_3 him to the wilds of Alaska.  He attends a good university, and gets his degree, and then, for complex reasons tied up with his experiences of loneliness, alienation and superficiality in his family of origin, he decides to embark on a life that is radically at odds with the generally accepted values of our culture.  He burns the last of his money, and heads for a life of wandering.

Images: Paramount Vantage

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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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