Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

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: www.briancollinson.ca ; Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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A Quotation from Carl Jung on Midlife Transition

February 24th, 2009 · Anxiety, Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, dreams, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, Meaning, midlife, Psychotherapy, soul, unlived life

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm planning to add some posts to this Path in Garden for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog blog that are built around quotations from Carl Jung, in addition to the posts that are my own reflections.

This is because I think that Jung's own thoughts and language often have some very good things to say to us directly about what life is now.

A good example of this is the following quotation, taken from C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, a book which compiles many of Jung's public addresses and the experiences that other had in in encountering him.  This quotation expresses in its own way a kind of experience associated with mid-life transition and "the unlived life" that I recognize in many of my clients.  Perhaps you will recognize it, too.

"Take the example of a businessman — successful, rich, not yet old.  He is perhaps forty-five.  He says, 'I have made my fortune; I have sons that are old enough to carry on the business which I founded.  I will retire.  I will build a fine house in the country and live there without any cares or worries.'  So he retires.  He builds his house and goes to live in it.  He says to himself, 'Now my life will begin.'

But nothing happens.

One morning he is in his bath.  He is conscious of a pain in his side.  All day he worries about it; wonders what it can be.  When he goes to the table he does not eat.  In a few days his digestion is out of order.  In a fortnight he is very ill.  The doctors he has called in do not know what is the matter with him.  Finally, one of them says to him, 'Your life lacks interest.  Go back to your business.  Take it up again."

The man is intelligent, and this advice seems to him sound.  He decides to follow it.  He goes back to his office and sits down at his old desk and declares that now he will help his sons in the management.  But when the first business letter is brought to him, he cannot concentrate on it.  He cannot make the decisions it calls for.  Now he is terribly frightened about his condition.

You see what has happened.  He couldn't go back.  It was already too late.  But his energyThinking Man for Vibrant Jung Thingis still there, and it must be used.

This man comes to me with his problem.  I say to him: 'You were quite right to retire from business.  But not into nothingness.[Italics mine]  You must have something you can stand on.  In all the years in which you devoted your energy to building up your business you never built up any interests outside of it.  You had nothing to retire on.'

This is a picture of the condition of man today.  This is why we feel that there issomething wrong with the world.  All the material interests, the automobiles and radios and skyscrapers we have don't fill the hungry soul.  We try to retire from the world, but to what?  ….They are like the businessman who tried to go back to his desk.

….I say to him, "My dear man, I don't know any more than you do the meaning of the world or the meaning of your life.  But you — all men — were born with a brain ready made.  It took millions of years to build the brain and body we now have.  Your brain embodies all the experience of life."

'….Now suppose that I am in need of advice about living, and I know of a man who is already thousands of years old.  I go to him and say, 'You have seen many changes; you have observed and experienced life under many aspects.  My life is short — perhaps seventy years, perhaps less — and you have lived for thousands of years….

When I say this to my patient he cocks his ears and looks at me.

'No,' I say, I am not that man.  But that man speaks to you every night.  How?  In your dreams.'Aborigine Rock Art for Vibrant Jung Thing (2)

The psyche is much older than our personal existence.  The Self is a present reality if we are prepared to look for its manifestations in our own life.  Carl Jung knew it, and we can, too.

In my next post, I'll be continuing my series "Therapy: Pain Killer or Path to Myself", of which I've already published PART ONE and PART TWO.

I wish each of you every good thing on your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, www.briancollinson.ca

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

February 8th, 2009 · Anxiety, depression, depth psychology, Individuation, Meaning, The Self

Painkiller For Therapy Vibrant Jung BlogPeople are most commonly motivated to come into therapy or counseling because they are in serious distress or pain.  I know that's what motivated me to start on my own therapeutic journey many years ago.

Often, it's only intolerable pain that can bring someone to the point where she or he is ready and able to go and sit with a therapist and start talking about the intimate aspects of his or her life.  It seems as if it is often only our pain that can bring us to the point where we are willing to entrust someone else with our own intimate and unique story.

So let's imagine that, bringing my pain, and no doubt with some fear and misgivings, I make my first appointment, and I start to go to therapy.  And perhaps I find that the therapy helps to some degree.  Perhaps some of my anxiety or depression abates.  I find that the process of talking about the situations in my life, the things that make me anxious, the things that make me depressed brings me some relief.  And after perhaps a few weeks, I start to actually feel somewhat better.

Often this can be a moment when it's easy to believe that the things that brought me into therapy have largely gone away.  There can be a sense of freedom and relief.  Things can feel good enough that my previous pain starts to feel rather distant.  Then the other priorities of life start to seem more urgent and to crowd in, and I get caught up in the old rhythms of my life.  Soon I am back, living basically as I've always lived.  Underneath the surface, the same old issues remain, and if I am honest with myself, the patterns that have governed my life are starting to fall back into place and to re-assert themselves.

Sometimes it can even feel like something is pulling me back into these patterns that are well-Path for Vibrant Jung Thing Blogknown to me and which are, in a sense, comfortable.  Those patterns may not give me any relief from my misery, but they are at least familiar, and there is a certain kind of comfort expressed by the old saying "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."  In circumstances like that, people can end up learning to ignore their pain, in favour of feeling secure.

It's easy for me to choose the status quo over going on my personal journey.  But who we most fundamentally are continues to call to us.  In Jung's great words, to which I find myself continually going back, "Only that which is truly oneself, heals."  It's only in having the on-going courage and strength to confront the different aspects of myself that I am going to find the awareness and energy that really transform my life and make my living meaningful.

This is the first part of my series on "Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path to Myself?"  I hope that you've enjoyed it, and I invite you to share your comments.  I'll be posting more on this topic in the very near future.

Wishing all of you the very best on your journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson www.briancollinson.ca

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Jingle Bell Shadow: A Jungian View of Holiday Depression and Anxiety

December 21st, 2008 · Anxiety, collective consciousness, depression, depth psychology, Meaning

Almost all therapists experience it: the phone gets more and more hyperactive the closer the calendar gets to December 25.

 

Christmas depression for Vibrant Jung Blog

As the holidays get nearer, more and more people call.

While for many people, the holidays may bring great joy, for many others, they bring a sense of depression, an empty feeling, or even positive anger.

This season of the winter solstice is filled with incredible images of light and optimism.  Paradoxically, it also sheds light on a lot of the darker places in our lives.  Often these are places that we would rather not look at or bring to consciousness.  But growth is to be found in exploring the very places that we would rather not go.

Contrary to the glowing images of togetherness, family and fellowship with which the media bombard us at this time, many people experience intense loneliness during “the holidays”.  These days can be times of real difficulty for many people whose lives don’t fit the conventional patterns adopted by the majority of people.  What is more, people can often get the message that they are “supposed” to be together with others at this time of year, and that there must be something wrong with them if they find themselves alone.  But that is not the case.  Being alone, and even being lonely, is a part of human experience.  It does not imply pathology or blameworthiness, although it can be more than difficult enough to experience it.

On the other hand, just because someone is in a family structure or way of life that looks like the images of “family togetherness” portrayed by the media does not mean that there is any less holiday loneliness or depression in their lives.  Many people have to contend with deep experiences of loneliness right in the midst of their marriages or family relationships.  It can be excruciating lonely to be locked in a relationship with someone who does not see us, who is completely oblivious to our needs, or whom we discover to have values that are 180 degrees away from our own.  Also, for those who have to deal with the reality of betrayal in intimate relationships by those in whom they have previously put their trust, Yuletide with its memories of trusting togetherness can be excruciating in its pain.

For many, it’s not so much that the present reality of the holidays clashes with the warm memories of the past.  For many, the associations with Christmas include terrifying memories such as an alcoholic parent coming home drunk and starting fights, engaging in abuse, or knocking over the Christmas tree.  For others, the pain of the holidays comes from the pain of a childhood sense of expectation that went nowhere.  The child whose sole parent had to working killing hours in the hospitality industry over Christmas Day, and who met each Christmas eve with the expectation of a present or even just close family times that never came to pass often grows up to be an adult with a deep Christmas wound, often expressed in anger, resentment or just plain hatred of the season.

Many people are acutely aware of the deep religious feeling that used Christmas Decorations for Vibrant Jung Blog to characterize the Christian experience of the Christmas season.  Even though they cannot enter into the expressions of faith of the past, or perhaps even of their own youth, they feel that there is something deeply wrong with the sentimentalization, commercialization and overall bad taste that they see in the way that we currently keep the season.

Perhaps there is value for us in reaching back into the human traditions that link us to the ancient rituals of the death and rebirth of the sun at the time of the winter solstice.  For ancient human beings, this season entailed both the awareness of the decline and weakening of the sun, as well as its subsequent renewal.

There is deep psychological truth in this.  If the sun in its light and warmth-giving aspect is to be seen as the truest symbol of the conscious mind, its decline into the darkness of the winter solstice represents the descent of consciousness into the awareness of failure, weakness and brokenness.  This is the shadow journey that the human psyche, like the sun, must make to complete its journey.  It is only in this awareness, and from these ashes, that the upward journey of the sun and of consciousness can begin again.  Similarly, it is only in the awareness of the places of brokenness in our lives and often in the live of the child within us that we can begin to find our way forward again in new hope and in growing, life-giving new awareness.

It is possible to see in holiday depression and anxiety nothing more than a manifestation of the failure and decay of once-meaningful religious rituals.  It is possible then to meet the season with a cynicism that protects us from our own disappointment and sense of loss.  But it is also possible to take in the season with a different kind of more receptive attitude.

This second attitude doesn’t deny the aspects of the shadow that are highlighted by our overly sentimental, overly light celebration of the season.  To recognize the places in our lives where our sun is in decline takes courage.  To believe that new life and new value are to be found just in those very places, where the sense of pain, disillusionment and abandonment are greatest, takes even more.  It takes the courage and hope of the miracle of the re-born sun.

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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.

© William Attard Mccarthy | Dreamstime.com

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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In Suburbia At Age Forty-Five

November 2nd, 2008 · Current Affairs, depth psychology, Georgetown, Halton Region, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, Meaning, midlife, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychotherapy, soul, suburbia / exurbia, The Self, wholeness

 One of the larger age groups that come to me for therapy are people who are at or right around the age of 45.

Age 45 man for vibrant jung thing blog © Aleksandar Nikolov Dreamstime.com

This is not entirely surprising to me.  For many people at this age, there is a tremendous amount going on in their lives.  As life unfolds for many people, this is an point in life where the individual is confronted with fundamental changes in his or her life.  These may not be obvious to outsiders, especially given the suburban lifestyle with its unique pressures.  Nonetheless, sometimes what is going on for people on the psychological level is enormous.

Does this mean that these people are mentally ill, or somehow suffering from "psychological disorders"?  Of course not.  But it does mean that these people are confronting some of the most fundamental psychological or existential issues in human life. 

For many of these people, the question of meaning is becoming a matter of increasing urgency.  In a lot of cases, the people who come to me are people who are very accomplished, and who have achieved a lot in their lives.  They have done what society has asked of them, in that they have moved out from the family of origin, gotten the necessary education, gotten into good careers, and often gotten married and raised families.  They are exemplary "good members of the community".  However, for many of them, there is a need for something more, now.  They are seeking for a life that is fulfilling for them.  They are seeking for a life that has value for themselves, individually.

Many such people are struggling with relationship issues.  There can be a strong feeling that the relationship that they are in is simply not currently meeting their needs.  Or else, they may have a strong feeling that their partner, who is often dealing with some pretty fundamental issues in his or her own life is no longer as fulfilled by the relationship as they once were.

Often these people are in the midst of deep changes in their lives.  Often they are unsure "which way is up", and they are asking questions about where lasting value is in their lives, and what they can hold onto that will give them a sense of orientation.  They are asking these questions in a deeply personal way: no "ready made, off the shelf" answer is going to work for them.  They are asking about who they really are, and they are asking what in their lives has lasting, incorruptible value.

These are the questions at the heart of what Carl Jung called the individuation process.  For many people in the age bracket anywhere from later 30s through the 50s. these questions can take on a tremendous urgency.

Who, most fundamentally, are you? 

What is most meaningful to you, personally, in your life? 

How will you live in the light of what is most important to you? 

These are not questions that stem from some sort of psychological disorder.  Rather they are questions that sane, healthy people naturally confront as they move through the journey of their lives.  Nonetheless, finding the answers that we need may be tied very strongly to incorporating new insights that emerge from the deepest parts of ourselves, and from the collective unconscious.  Often people need help to orient themselves in this unfamiliar territory, and to wrestle with their own depths.  I firmly believe that this is something that working with a compassionate therapist with deep experience with this type of issue and with the unconscious can provide.

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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.

© Schoolgirl| Dreamstime.com

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.

© Enrique Sallent| Dreamstime.com

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.

Wall Street for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

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.

© Wolfgang Amri|Dreamstime.com

 

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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Oak Tree… Mandala … My Inmost Self

September 25th, 2008 · depth psychology, dreams, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, mandala, Meaning, Psychotherapy, The Self, wholeness

Most of the analytical psychology of Carl Jung ultimately revolves around Vibrant Jung Thing Tree for Self Blog   the idea and image of the Self.  It is here that his approach differs from that of so many other psychologies.  What exactly does Jung mean when he uses this term?

He certainly doesn't mean just the ego.  For Jung, the ego is the centre of our consciousness, but it is not the whole of our personality.  Not by a long shot!  As he states,

…the self comprises infinitely more than a mere ego, as the symbolism has shown from of old.  It is as much one’s self, and all other selves, as the ego.  (C.G. Jung, “On the Nature of the Psyche”, in Jung, Collected Works, v. 8, para 432)

It's very hard to describe in a few words exactly what is meant by the Self.  The Self is, among other things, the sum total of what we are.  It's an image of a human's fullest potential and of the wholeness of the human personality.  In the words of Jungian Andrew Samuels:

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The self as a unifying principle within the human psyche occupies the central position of authority in relation to psychological life and, therefore, the destiny of the individual. (Samuels et al., Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis, p. 135)

The destiny of the individual.  So the ego is not "running the show".  It may think it is, in the midst of its incredible, franticFaces for Vibrant Jung Thing Self Blog busyness, as it tries to balance all the demands of life, and to pursue its pet projects and seek its goals.  But there is more at work in us than that. 

Most people have had the experience of moments at some point in their lives of a profound truth, where we somehow touch on destiny and on what we are meant to be, and where we get a sense of something bigger than our everyday selves that is at work in our lives.  We can really "feel ourselves" at those times.  Some people may attribute a religious significance to such moments: some may not.  Abraham Maslow in his psychology speaks of "peak experiences".  Sometimes such experiences can come in dreams; sometimes in meaningful coincidences, what Jung calls "synchronicity".  At such times, we can become profoundly aware that something within us is striving to come into being.  Often people have the feeling that we do have a destiny, that our lives are moving toward something that we can only dimly intuit, at best.                                                                        

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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. 

                                                                                                                                                                            © Dewayne Flowers | Dreamstime.com

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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