Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Anxiety Behind the Mask, Part III: Heart Trouble

July 11th, 2010 · Carl Jung, collective consciousness, collective unconscious, Current Affairs, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian psychology, Lifestyle, Meaning, persona, popular culture, Psychology, Psychology and Suburban Life, soul, symbolism, unconscious, wholeness

 

Anxiety Behind the Mask, Part III, Heart Trouble

…I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad. 

“They say that they think with their heads,” he replied.

“Why of course.  What do you think with?” I asked him in surprise.

We think here,” he said, indicating his heart. [Italics mine]

Conversation between Ochway Biano, Chief of the Pueblo Indians and Carl Jung, recorded in  CG Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections  (1961)

Everything has been “figured out”, except how to live.

Jean-Paul Sartre

 In Part I  and Part II of this series “Anxiety Behind the Mask”, I’ve been exploring the symbollic meaning of the pop cultural figure of Iron Man.  He is certainly a symbol for the relationship in our culture between the social mask and the inner human, and for the yearning that the social mask be smooth and impenetrable.   However, there is great psychological danger in complete identification with such an impervious persona: it can become a trap, become robotic, with no way left for the inner person to “get beyond the mask”.

One of the elements from the story of the origin of Iron Man is that Tony Stark, who becomes Iron Man, has heart trouble.  As the first Iron Man movie shows, he is injured in the process of his capture, and has to be fitted with a special magnetic device to keep shrapnel from ripping apart his heart.

There is of course a tremendous importance to the symbolism of the heart.  It is the seat of the feelings and of passion.  It is also the particular organ associated with eros, which includes but is more than the power of sexual love.  Eros is also the human capacity to connect and relate.  The place where our yearnings are located.  The place where hope and despair alike find their home.

Tony Stark is portrayed as a technical genius, someone who can create the most incredible machines.  As a hero figure, he symbolizes the incredible technical prowee of our culture.  This kind of technical knowledge exemplifies the tremendous power of rational thinking — what Jung identified as the principle of logos.  It is characterized by the ability to organize, quantify, discriminate, classify, and strategize.  But logos is always pulling things apart, using conceptual power to break things down into their component parts, and make them less than they are.  Our ability to do this as a species is a great strength, and has contributed mightily to the survival and success of our species.  It is a cornerstone of western civilization, and we all glory in our scientific and technical acheivements.

However, this scientific and technical prowess can leave us completely isolated and alienated from our world, nature, and other people.  And above all, it can leave us cut off from our inner selves, from our true ability to feel things, and to relate to others and to our world.

Like Tony Stark, the Iron Man, who is a symbol produced by our culture’s collective consciousness, it is all too easy for those of us who live in our culture to have “heart trouble”, to have lost touch with our ability to feel, to empathize, to relate.  But, as Leonard Cohen seeks to remind us, the truth of the heart is never really lost.  It is always there waiting for us, even when we seem to be in exile from ourselves, even when the world seems to say, “this heart, it is not yours”.

Four Questions about the Heart

Here are some questions that may help the conversation with your own heart.

Are there any feelings that you would find hard to share with the people closest to you? 
What are the three most painful experiences in your life?
 
 
 
What are the three most joyous experiences in your life?
 
 
 
 
What is it that you really yearn for?
 
 

What about your own heart?  It’s only by staying close to it that one can begin to be close to the spontaneity and aliveness that is one’s own real life.  Often, the course of analysis, therapy or counselling is following the road back to the deepest parts of the heart.

I’d welcome your reflections on the “heart trouble” of Iron Man and the ways in which it reflects our own struggles with our hearts, as individuals and as a culture.

My very best wishes to each of you as you make your individual journeys of wholeness and self-discovery,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDITS: © Marvel Entertainment, LLC  These images are the property of Marvel comics and are used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

VIDEO CREDIT: “By the Rivers Dark” by Leonard Cohen, from the album Ten New Songs ©  2001 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.  This music is the property of Sony Music Entertainment and is used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Anxiety Behind the Mask, Part 1

June 22nd, 2010 · Anxiety, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, mythology, persona, popular culture, Psychotherapy, soul, wholeness

When I was 9 or 10 years old, I was an insatiable Iron Man fan.  I used to race to the local drug store every day to see if a new issue of my hero’s adventures had hit the stands yet.  I still admire Stan Lee and those who developed the Iron Man character: he was truly an iconic figure for a pre-adolescent boy in the mid-1960s.  Well, it’s 45 years later, and Iron Man is receiving great attention — arguably much greater than in earlier days.  “Iron Man 2” was the lead-grossing movie for much of the 2010 Spring season, and the Iron Man 1 and 2 movies are estimated to have grossed in excess of $935 million.

There is no question that the Iron Man figure captures the imagination of many in our culture.

What is the fascination that Iron Man exerts?  Why is this figure a cultural icon—and not just for 9 year old boys?  What is it that he shows us about ourselves as a culture, and the issues and problems that we collectively face?  Please bear with me as I relate some of this modern myth – for it actually has a surprising amount of symbolic and psychological depth.

According to the story line, Iron Man is the alter ego of the wealthy industrialist Tony Stark (played in the recent movies by Robert Downey).  In order to escape a situation where he is held hostage by some despicable outlaws, Stark fashions a suit of practically invincible armour, and overcomes his foes – all details covered in the original “Iron Man” movie.  Stark then goes on to improve and enhance this very sophisticated flying suit of armour, to the point where it is mighty, mobile, and both beautiful and technologically advanced to an incredible degree.

In Jungian terms, Iron Man as a symbol for our relationship between the social mask, the persona and the inner human.  It represents the yearning that the social mask be smooth and impenetrable: the fantasy of being beyond weakness, mistake and humiliation.

Undoubtedly, we need a social mask – we cannot just “let it all hang out” in social situations.  The result would be chaos, and we would be extremely dangerous to ourselves and to others.

But how devastating must the underlying shame be, to lead me to wrap myself in the fantasy of untouchability, to strive for invulnerability, to ensure that nothing is ever going to touch me.  We have to admit that it is a seductive fantasy–one that we might easily be tempted to try and pull off.  Particularly in a culture like ours that so values external appearances.

We are so utterly afraid of our own vulnerability and weakness.  We can so easily live in terror of our own true nature.  It can be so hard to let ourselves be what we are, to know ourselves, and to let ourselves be known.  Part of us is utterly convinced of the need for the pretense of invulnerability.  Yet part of us knows what we really are.

Stark says, “I am Iron Man.  The suit and I are one.”  That’s great for a myth and a fantasy hero.  Heroes in myth are always something other than simply human.  However, complete identification with the persona,  “the suit and I being one” would be a form of living death for a real human being.  It’s easy for us to live in such terror of our vulnerable selves, those parts of ourselves which are not strong and beautiful.  Yet they are there, and if we cannot acknowledge them, and give them their due, they will surface in very destructive ways, such as anxiety and depression, as symptoms of the underlying shadow self.

Somehow, we’ve got to come to terms with the human inside the armour, and to learn compassion and acceptance for that person, just as he or she is. We have to abandon perfectionism, and get beyond the toxicity of shame.  Often, it’s just at this point that psychotherapy or Jungian analysis is a necessity.

To be continued in “Anxiety Behind the Mask, Part II: Imprisoned in the Armoured Self”.

I’d welcome your reflections on the nature of “social armour”, and the social mask.  Have you ever experieced situations where, to your surprise, someone was suddenly vulnerable?  Where you were?

I wish you every good thing as you travel on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDITS: © Turkbug| Dreamstime.com ; marvel.com

VIDEO CREDIT: ©Marvel Entertainment, LLC  //marvel.com/movies/iron_man.iron_man_2

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Depth Psychotherapy Heals

June 14th, 2010 · complexes, depth psychology, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychology, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy, Science, unconscious, Wellness, wholeness

  The research paper that I have linked to below is both striking and very important.  It provides strong empirical evidence of the effectiveness of “psychodynamic psychotherapy”.  That’s a technical term for those forms of psychotherapy, like the Jungian approach, which:

 

In this study, Shedler’s “Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy”, evidence shows psychodynamic therapies to have a treatment effect as large as those reported for other therapies whose proponents stridently proclaim them to be “empirically supported” and “evidence based.” What is particularly noteworthy, though, is that people who receive psychodynamic therapy maintain therapeutic gains and appear to continue to improve after treatment ends.  The study also tends to indicate that non-psychodynamic therapies may be effective in part because the practitioners who are the most skilled at using those methods bring techniques into their practice that essentially originated in the theory and practice of psychodynamic psychotherapy.  The researcher makes it clear that any perception that psychodynamic approaches lack empirical support “does not accord with available scientific evidence.”

 

These results, while not entirely new, are very striking.  They are worthy of very careful consideration by the therapeutic profession as a whole.

I’d gratefully welcome your comments and reflections on any of your experiences with Jungian or other forms of depth psychology.

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

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Cristi111|Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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The Symbolic Power of Home, Part 2: Where is Home?

June 10th, 2010 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, Halton Region, Home, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Meaning, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychology and Suburban Life, Relationships, The Self, therapy, wholeness

In the first part of this series, I wrote about how the experience of connection to a specific place that is home can be powerful and profound. However, there are also many people for whom there is no connection to a sense of home.  And, for any of us, there can be many times–perhaps long periods–when we feel that we have lost anything that resembles that connection.

There are many real people for whom the experience of not having a place where they belong is overwhelmingly powerful and poignant.  We may not be that sort of person, may not feel that way.  And yet, very often, there is something in the experience of these people that can profoundly resonate with us.

OK, I admit it: I am really dating myself with the video below.  It’s from 1970, but, nonetheless, I’ve decided to include it, because I think that it represents a remarkable musical expression.  The group is Canned Heat, a blues-rock band from California, and the singer/blues harmonica/group leader is a young man named Alan Wilson.  In my opinion, Wilson’s singing here, in his inimitable blues manner profoundly touches on the experience of what it is to feel without a home.  By today’s standards, the video is very rudimentary, and the band seems far from polished in its stage presence.  However, as you watch and listen to Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson sing and play “blues harp”, it is hard to avoid the feeling that he is putting the whole of himself, the whole of the pain in his life, into those lyrics of endless wandering, “on the road again”.

“The first time I travelled on, in the rain and snow / I didn’t have no fare, not even no place to go…”

“My dear mother left me, when I was quite young / She said, Lord have mercy, on my wicked son…”

This is really an aspect of all of us.  It’s an archetypal theme.  Homer’s Ulysses on his seemingly endless 10 year struggle — and all he wants to do is get back home to Ithaca.  Aeneas, in Virgil’s Aeneid, sole Trojan survivor and refugee from the sack of Troy, for whom there is no home to which he can go back–he must just keep on moving, that’s all there is.

As good as the human experience of home may be, there are those voices that would remind us that the welcome is never quite complete and total enough.  In the words of the German writer and poet Hermann Hesse, “One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time.”  But there is always a sense in which we are journeying onward.

The truth seems to be that our deepest yearning for home is something that cannot be fully met by an outer place, however wonderful. We may feel deeply connected to the place of our birth or family life, for instance, and yet something is missing, something for which we yearn.  This is because home, the real home we are seeking is something within ourselves and our own being.  Symbollically, it is the center of the mandala.  Home is connection with the centre of our own being; it is to be accepting of and at home with the deepest part of the self.  But to find that, we must undertake an inner journey.

Have you ever had a time in your life when you yearned for a feeling of security and rootedness?  Do you know what it is to be “on the road”?

Are there people who make you feel at home with their warmth and acceptance, as Hesse suggests?

Have you had the experience of feeling at home in yourself, of accepting who and what you are, and accepting your life?

I’d gratefully welcome your comments and reflections on the archetypes of home and homelessness.  What would it mean in your life in your life for you to truly “come home”?

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

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Teokcmy |Dreamstime.com

VIDEO CREDIT:

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Welcome to the New Home of “Vibrant Jung Thing!”

May 5th, 2010 · Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, Mississauga, Oakville, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy

Dear Readers,

With some great help, I’ve finally been able to move my blog onto my main website, which is something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time.  I hope that you will continue to read and enjoy my posts.  Having the blog on my main site makes it easier to see how the posts are connected to my counselling, psychotherapy and Jungian analysis practice.

I invite you to check out the “Welcome” page, to get a clearer sense of what I do as a therapist, and my particular concern for soul-making and wholeness, and especially what that means for people in suburban places like Oakville, Mississauga and Burlington.

I also invite you to look at the “About Brian” page for more information on me and my background and The Journey in order to get a sense of the kind of clients with whom I work.

So, for me, getting the blog to this point is the completion of a journey of sorts.  My hope is that Vibrant Jung Thing will continue to be a resource that you can use on your journey to yourself.

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

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Missdolphin |Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Exploring Liber Novis: Jung’s Red Book

January 15th, 2010 · archetypal experience, Books, Carl Jung, collective unconscious, depth psychology, inner life, Jungian psychology, The Self

Red Book for Vibrant Jung ThingIt has been some months now since the publication of Carl Jung’s famed Red Book, the book of images and text that he wrote during his formative crisis and encounter with the unconscious during the years 1913-1919.  I’ve had a copy of the Red Book for some time now, and have been exploring its richness in some depth.  This voyage of exploration will go on for a very long time, I expect.  To really plumb the depths of the Red Book is a feat not lightly or easily achieved.

In my opinion, the Red Book shows the true genius of C.G Jung.  There cannot have been many human beings who have had the courage to enter in so deeply into their inner lives as he, and to really confront the unconscious in all its dimensions.  Through years of inner crisis he sought to understand the depths of the Self.

Jung emerges from this inner journey with a clear message: there are forces in the unconscious that are seeking to bring us to wholeness; there is a wisdom in our depths that the ego can only just barely start to comprehend.  If we can have the courage to let go, and to open ourselves to our depths, there is a unique life in each of us, that is striving to become, and always has been.  This is not an easy journey, and it is not one about which glib and facile things should be said.  But for some, it is only by embarking on this inner journey that reality, life and meaning can be found.

 

Only what is really oneself has the power to heal.

-C.G. Jung

Red Book at Ruben Museum of Art

Chief Curator of the Rubin Museum of Art Martin Brauen, left, and Felix Walder, right, the great-grandson of Carl Jung, inspect Carl Jung’s famous “Red Book” after it’s arrival at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. “The Red Book,” was displayed to the public at the Ruben for the first time on October 7, coinciding with the first-ever publication of the book by W.W. Norton & Company. (AP Photo/Rubin Museum of Art, Stuart Ramson)

Jung’s Red Book has now been published by W.W. Norton & Company. It is a major source for Jungian psychology, and a book that contains many of the treasures of the soul of C.G. Jung.  Here is the URL for the Red Book’s page on Amazon.ca:

//bit.ly/5Lr5hu

I’d be interested in comments from any readers about your encounter with the Red Book, or with any of Jung’s other works. How have Jung’s writings impacted you?

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

Brian Collinson

PHOTO CREDITS: © AP Photo / Rubin Museum of Art, Stuart Ransom

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Looking Good… Feeling Empty

July 27th, 2009 · depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian psychology, Meaning, persona, popular culture, Psychotherapy

 

Looking Good for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog Out here in suburbia, great pressure is often placed on people to “look good”.  People feel all kinds of pressure to keep their image in the finest order.

We get the message that it’s important to keep your grass well-cut and your garden well-manicured.  It’s important to drive a car that makes you look (and feel) like you’re successful and upwardly mobile.  It’s important that your kids wear the right clothes, and belong to the right after-school activities.  When you go to your yoga class, you should be sure to have the right mat and outfit…

And people do look good!  My, do they ever!  A walk down Lakeshore Road in downtown Oakville, my town, will surely convince you of that.  To the extent that having good stuff and doing all the “right” things can give you a good life, boy howdy, we suburbanites have got it down!

If that was all it took, we suburbanites would surely have the best lives imaginable…

So, if that’s true, why do so many people seem to feel that they’re “just going through the motions”?  How is it that I hear from so many people that, at times, life can just “feel hollow”?

To a certain extent, we all have to bow to the necessity of looking good, if we want to make our way in the world.  There are social conventions that we have to live within, if we want to have a job, get an education and do all the many things that we have to do to make our way.  To choose an extreme example, showing up naked to a job interview would be career-limiting, to say the least!

However, just fitting the idea of others about “how we should be” isn’t enough for a fulfilling life — even if those “others” are lifestyle advertisers who spend untold billions to influence us to remake our lives around their products.

Sooner or later in life, we are going to be strongly confronted with the question of what is really ourselves.  If we really take that question seriously, it can be the beginning of the greatest adventure in life.

When I feel empty in my life, it is not a curse.  It can actually be a gateway.  That which is empty wants to be filled.  At least if I’m aware of my own feeling of emptiness, I can start to seek out what makes me feel full, what makes me feel real.

For a significant number of people, that’s where the journey of therapy begins…

I’d be interested in your comments about your journey, and about what is meaningful or important in your life.  

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

Brian Collinson


Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get “Vibrant Jung Thing” posts delivered to your email using the “FeedBurner” box in the left column!

PHOTO CREDITS:  © Imagery Majestic | Dreamstime.com 

© 2009 Brian Collinson    

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Is Attending to Your Dreams “Worth It”?

July 16th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, dreams, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychotherapy, wholeness

Attending to Your Dreams 1 for Vibrant Jung Thing There are some people who might look a bit oddly at you if you tell them you pay close attention to your dreams.  To some people, in fact, it seems like an incredibly “flaky” thing to do.

Often, these people subscribe to the “daily regurgitation” theory of dreaming.  Their understanding of where dreams come from is that the mind sort of soaks up all the impressions and images from the day, and then at the end of the day has to wring itself out, or clear itself from all the accumulated daily grunge.  This “grunge disposal”, on their view, is what dreaming is.  “After all” they say, “I had a dream that involved Harry Potter last night, and I just went to see the Harry Potter movie two days ago.  So surely seeing the Harry Potter movie made me dream about it!”

However, dreaming is really not that psychologically simple a process.  It’s unquestionably true that the dream will use imagery or ideas from a person’s recent life.  So if you went to the Harry Potter movie yesterday, it might very well appear in your dreams.  But does that mean that the Harry Potter movie caused your dream?  There are lots of things that you experienced in, say, the last 48 hours.  So why would the dream focus specifically on this?  As opposed to, say, the time you spent stuck in traffic on the QEW or the scrumptious BBQed ribs you had for dinner?

To determine the answer to that question may take some real inner exploration.  ButAttending to Your Dreams 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing it can reveal a great deal to you about your unconscious and your inner life.  The answer will depend very much on what Harry Potter or the Harry Potter movie symbolizes for you.  That will depend on both your personal associations (e.g., if your brother is the biggest Harry Potter fan ever, the dream may have something to do with him, one way or another) and also on the more objective or archetypal meaning of the symbol (e.g., Harry Potter is very much an archetypal hero, and the dream may have something to do with the heroic aspect of yourself).

Conscious, careful recording and examination of your dreams will be “worth it”.  There is a great deal of your self contained within them, and they offer the chance to know your psyche and the hitherto unknown aspects of who you are.

What do you think about your dreams?  I’d be interested to talk with you about them, and to hear how they’ve been meaningful or important in your life.  

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

Brian Collinson


Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get “Vibrant Jung Thing” posts delivered to your email using the “FeedBurner” box in the left column!

PHOTO CREDITS:  © Jiss| Dreamstime.com ; © Javarman| Dreamstime.com 

© 2009 Brian Collinson    

 

 

 

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When You Hit a Brick Wall

July 9th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, midlife, psychological crisis, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy, soul, stress, The Self, unconscious, wholeness

Often people get to the point in life where they reach an impasse, and they don’t know how to solve a particular situation in their lives.

Hitting the Wall 1 for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and there doesn’t seem to be a solution.  Although this can happen at any point in life, it seems particularly prevalent at mid-life.

Often, the way one becomes aware of this is that you just realize that the way that you have been trying to solve a particular problem or deal with a particular life situation just isn’t opening anything up.  What this tells you, at least in part, is that your attitude is no longer adapted to the realities of your life.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying something along the lines of “If you want it enough, and you’re unfailingly positive about it, what you want in your life will come” — the kind of message that you find in books like The Secret.  I think that approach to life is quite naive, and I have seen a fair number of people come to real harm as a result of trying to live like that.  Such an attitude can be really unadapted, and can lead you into a major collision in reality.  I know of one person who left home and found herself absolutely destitute and friendless in Dubai as a result of that kind of thinking.  From all that I hear, Dubai is not a great place to be penniless, and to try and get by on just a sunny smile.
Having an adapted attitude may well mean that there are certain realities that I have to let in and acknowledge.  That may even mean that there are things that I have to grieve.  What it may mean, above all, is that I have to change.
Let’s say that I’m a true died-in-the-wool “thinking type” person.  So I try to approach all the problems and situations in my life in very rational, thought-out, dispassionate ways.  Then perhaps one day I find myself deep in the grip of a depression that I simply can’t shake.  It might well be that the only way that I’m going be able to come through the depression and feel alive again is by acknowledging my feeling side — all those years of unacknowledged and suppressed feelings.  This is going to require a big change in the way that I see myself, and a lot of open-ness to dimensions of my life that I’ve previously done my very best to cut off.  It isn’t going to be easy.  Parts of me are really going to resist.  But it may well be that it’s the only way that I’m going to get my real, meaningful life back.
Similarly, a person who is all about willpower and control may well have to acknowledge the parts of him- or herself in the unconscious that they can’t control.  They may have to admit that the ego is going to have to acknowledge that it is “second banana” to the Self, and let things emerge from their dreams and from other parts of the unconscious, and take those things into account in the way that they live their lives.  This might be quite difficult, but it might just give them a meaningful life again.
 Hitting the Wall 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog Many times “hitting the wall” has to do with coming up against the things that I really refuse to admit to myself.  The key to the lock that I need to open, I hide from myself, because there is some truth about myself or my situation that I really don’t want to look at.
The only way past the wall is to be open to something new: the undiscovered self.
Please keep sending me your comments and your thoughts!  I would welcome any of your reflections on the “walls” in your life, past or present.

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

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get “Vibrant Jung Thing” posts delivered to your email using the “FeedBurner” box in the left column!

PHOTO CREDITS:  © Alexandr Tkachuk | Dreamstime.com ; © Kentoh | Dreamstime.com   

© 2009 Brian Collinson

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Other People?

July 7th, 2009 · Carl Jung, Identity, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Relationships, Shadow, unlived life

Here's a reflection-provoking quote from Jung on how we tend to see other people.

Other People 3 for Vibrant Jung Jung Blog "Everybody thinks that psychology is what he himself knows best  – psychology is always his psychology, which he alone knows, and at the same time his psychology is everybody else's psychology.  Instinctively he supposes that his own psychic constitution is the general one, and that everyone is essentially like everyone else, that is to say, like himself.  Husbands suppose this of their wives, wives suppose it of their husbands, parents of their children, and children of their parents.  It is as though everyone had the most direct access to what is going on inside [him or her], was intimately acquainted with it and competent to pass an opinion on it; as though his own psyche were a kind of master-psyche which suited all and sundry, and entitled him to suppose that his own situation was the general rule.  People are profoundly astonished, or even horrified, when this rule quite obviously does not fit — when they discover that another person really is different from themselves.  Generally speaking, they do not find these psychic differences as in any way curious, let alone attractive, but as disagreeable failings that are hard to bear, or as unendurable faults that have to be condemned.  The painfully obvious difference seems like a contravention of the natural order, like a shocking mistake that must be remedied as speedily as possible…."

"The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man" in Jung, C.G., Hull. R.F.C., trans.,

Civilization in Transition, Collected Works, Vol 10, second edition, 

(Princeton: University Press, 1989), para. 277

Jung highlights for us one of the very greatest dangers in our relations with other people: Other People 2 for Vibrant Jung Jung Blog that we will see them as just like ourselves when in fact they are hugely different.  This is a trap that each of us falls into numerous times a day, very often without being aware of it.

I invite you to think about the people in your life.  Do you see them as more similar to yourself than they really are?  Can you be open to their psychology, their way of perceiving their lives?  Can Other People for Vibrant Jung Jung Blog you acknowledge who they really are, without a sense of threat?  This can be quite a challenge — and an ongoing one with which we're never quite finished.  Yet the process of taking back our projections on others is a key part of individuation, of becoming ourselves.  Unless we can do this, we find ourselves fated to go round and round on the same old merry-go-round of relationship, never really knowing others or that part of ourselves that we have never lived, and have not yet acknowledged.

As always, I welcome your comments and your thoughts on relationship and "the other", and I look forward to dialoguing with each of you.  

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

Brian Collinson


Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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