Monday, April 30, 2012

Sometimes it's good to be a sheep

More stuff coming up about the puella and... drumroll please... my "romance" with G is a part of it. As are my work issues... it's the whole trifecta enchilada of my current concerns! It's not surprising but it is pretty cool when things come together this way. For a while I've been working mostly on these areas and, although there was a sense of them being connected, that connection has been just made clear.

I was re-reading von Franz's Puer Aeternus (expect more stuff on this book) and came across the following:
It is the sheep mentality, the crowd-man, which drives them into military service, but this collective adaptation can be - and is sometimes temporarily - a help to pull away... it is the moment to pull away from the mother.

You can say that all kinds of very humble, unindividualistic, collective adaptations help against the mother complex; namely, as I mentioned before, doing one's work, going to military service, trying to behave like everybody else, not having that kind of fancied invdividuality which is typical for the mother-complex man - and giving up the idea of being somebody special, someone who does not need to make all such low kinds of adaptations - for that is a poison of the mother complex. Therefore, to give that up and to accept being just somebody or nobody, in the crowd, is to a certain extent a cure, although only a temporary one and not the whole cure. Still, it is the first step in pulling away from the mother.
I read this just today, after asking the I-ching if I would ever have a love relationship last night and getting the following in the reading reading:
One light line is in the place of the Queen, the other her minister. These two gather all of the dark principle together. "Crowd" and "joyousness" indicate the basis of the gathering together, and the two nuclear trigrams "standing still" and "exerting influence" also indicate gathering together.

Only collective moral force can unite the world - such times will leave great achievements behind. This is the significance of the great offerings that are made: there is a need for great deeds in the time of gathering together.

The mass is devoted and at the same time joyous. In order to gather people together, the ruler needs joyousness, and the people devotion.
When I first threw the reading I had no idea what the significance of "crowd" was. Then I read the part in von Franz about the importance of being like a sheep, or a "crowd person" was to pull away from the mother complex, the feeling of being special which is actually so common and actually not special at all, just a part of the puella neurosis. And of course what's going on here at work immediately came up - I've always felt separate from all the other "peons" who took this job as a career or something silly like that. But not me, I'm too special! I have a special destiny! Not like all the rest of my co-workers... except for the cool ones, like the musicians and writers who were just doing this to pay the rent. Those people I could identify with, but not the regular 9-5ers.

Well, apparently I need to be a peon!

It's just this kind of "I'm too special to effing live" attitude that has to go. Von Franz goes on to say that you can't stay in the sheep mentality, but by giving up the false, neurotic idea of "specialness," and being carried away by the current of the group, the puella grows beyond that neurosis.

Looking back at hexagram 45, I'd have to say that being a 100% enthusiastic member of the crowd - taking my grubby, earthbound work seriously and being conscientious about it - along with working joyfully, is what I have to do now. That and devotion; devotion to my job, to my position in society, my family and my job. Devotion to doing my job, all my jobs, well; to not be sullen and resentful at having to crawl around in the dirt but to have an attitude of comradeship with my fellow dirt crawlers, to enthusiastically crawl around in the dirt to the very best of my ability. It's only by crawling around in the dirt that we puellas can fulfil the command of Heaven... that is, to fully come down into the Earth and to finally fully live our lives.



Friday, April 27, 2012

The provisional life

... Here again... he has come to the edge, to the end. He cannot go farther in the way he is now going... He felt he had come to an end and could not go on in the same way. He has one split in his psyche, a very deep one.

(von Franz, Marie-Louise, Puer Aeternus,  page 136.)



I've been going through another amazing period of synchronicities - I don't know if they're happening more since I got back into this Jungian stuff or I just wasn't aware of it before. Recently I felt compelled to get Marie-Louise von Franz's Puer Aeternus. I actually wasn't too interested in the issue for the longest time, despite the fact that this is a huge, huge problem of mine (as it is for any Persephone, or any predominantly intuition type). What I'd really wanted to study was myths and fairy tales and symbolism, but just recently, suddenly I knew it was time to deal with the problem of the eternal child in me... the one that runs (and sometimes ruins) my life. And as soon as I made up my mind to study the problem all sorts of dreams, Tarot and I-ching readings have been pointing to the issue.

What had been coming up, and for some time now (all my life, really), was the need to grow up and grow down; to grow down into the earth, into all the petty, routine, everyday necessities of life which we intuitives/Persephones are notoriously bad at. Things are suddenly coming to a head and, of course, the urge to study about the puer aeternus intensified.

Although the puer aeternus is a male archetype I can say from personal experience that there's a female version. Von Franz suggests that in women it's our animus that gets possessed by the puer. That may be, or perhaps there's a female type, a puella aeterna, probably Persephone. It's something I'm going to have to think about but, whichever the case, the description definitely applies to me, and I know there are other many other women out there just like me (you'll find us all over the internet.)

The main difference between the puer and the puella, as far as I can see, is in love relationships: the puer both seeks and runs away from the Great Earth Mother, while Persephone gets sucked into the Underworld by the Demon Lover. Being devoured by the Earth is the common theme of both, but one runs away from the Devouring Earth, into the heavens, and the other runs away from life, into a perfect world in the Underworld. As an aside, I find it interesting that the two archetypes that I get along the best with, Dionysus and Hermes, are both puer aeterni. They are, in fact, the two sides of the puer archetype: the ecstatic son of the Mother Goddess who dies and rises again; and the airy, winged bird man, who feels he will die if he has to stay on the earth but, like his brother, usually dies young, too "pure" to stick it out and stay in this mortal coil. Following is an excellent description of the puer/puella by the ever insightful Marie-Louise von Franz.


The Eternal Youth

[T]he man who is identified with the archetype of the puer aeternus remains too long in adolescent psychology; that is, all those characteristics that are normal in a youth of seventeen or eighteen...

[G]reat difficulty is experienced in adaptation to the social situation. In some cases, there is a kind of asocial individualism: being something special, one has no need to adapt, for that would be impossible for such a hidden genius, and so on. In addition, an arrogant attitude arises towards other people, due to both an inferiority complex and false feelings of superiority. Such people usually have great difficulty in finding the right kind of job, for whatever they find is never quite right or quite what they wanted. There is always a "hair in the soup..." There is always a "but" which prevents marriage or any kind of commitment.

This all leads to a form of neurosis which H.G. Baynes has described as the "provisional life"; that is, the strange attitude and feeling that the woman is not yet what is really wanted, and there is always the fantasy that sometime in the future the real thing will come about. If this attitude is prolonged, it means a constant inner refusal to commit oneself to the moment. Accompanying this neurosis is often, to a smaller or greater extent, a savior or Messiah complex, with the secret thought that one day one will be able to save the world; that the last word in philosophy, or religion, or politics, or art, or something else, will be found. This can progress to a typical pathological megalomania, or there may be minor traces of it in the idea that one's time "has not yet come." The one situation dreaded throughout by such a type of man is to be bound to anything whatsoever. There is a terrific fear of being pinned down, of entering space and time completely, and of being the specific human being that one is. There is always the fear of being caught in a situation from which it may be impossible to slip out again. Every just-so situation is hell.
(von Franz, Marie-Louise, Puer Aeternus,  pages 1-2.)

I'm one of those people who can never seem to get their lives straight, who go through life staggering from one near disaster to the next. Loved ones watch us nearly ruin our lives over and over again (and sometimes succeed), shaking their heads in amazement that such an intelligent person can fail to _________ (fill in the blank: keep our apartment clean, sew up that missing button or hole-y sock, get or keep a decent job, save money if we somehow manage to keep a decent job, etcetera.) It's not that we don't have good intentions, we do! We generally have, or at least start off, with the very best of intentions; but somewhere along the line we lose it, we lose everything. It's as if it's physically impossible to get up off the couch and away from streaming Netflix movies, or get away from the Internet or whatever it is that has us glued in place with the gravitational force of a giant black hole.

The problem with us puer/puellas is that we live so close to the unconscious that our ego never fully develops. This gives us a zest for life and a depth of feeling that most of us would rather die before giving up, but it can and does also lead to some serious problems coping with this world. Jung and von Franz seem to believe that when we say that we just can't do whatever boring-ass thing we're "supposed" to do, that we really can't. Our egos just never developed the strength to force all the parts of us to pull in one direction if we really didn't want to. Or on the other hand, it could be that we really could but it's just hard, and the one thing we don't like is hard, so we drift through life like brainless amoebas, moving towards what is pleasant and where possible avoiding the unpleasant. But then life smacks us upside the head with the two by four, calling us to expand and grow. And that means the dreaded "W" word (or "WORK"!)


Plowing the fields before you

... What cure is there? you might ask... In Symbols of Transformation, Dr. Jung spoke of one cure - work - and having said that, he hesitated and thought, "Is it really as simple as all that? Is that the only cure? Can I put it that way?" But work is the one disagreeable word which no puer aeternus likes to hear, and Dr. Jung came to the conclusion that it was the right answer. My experience also has been that it is through work that a man can pull out of this kind of youthful neurosis. There are, however, some misunderstandings in this connection, for the puer aeternus can work, as can all primitives or people with weak ego complexes, when fascinated or in a state of great enthusiasm. Then he can work twenty-four hours at a stretch or even longer, until he breaks down. But what he cannot do is work on a dreary, rainy morning when work is boring and one has to kick oneself into it; that is the one thing the puer aeternus usually cannot manage and will use any kind of excuse to avoid. Analysis of a puer aeternus sooner or later always comes up against this problem. It is only when the ego has become sufficiently strengthened that the problem can be overcome, and the possibility of sticking to the work is given. Naturally, though one knows the goal, every individual case is different. Personally, I have not found that it is much good just preaching to people that they should work, for they simply get angry and walk off.

As far as I have seen, the unconscious generally tries to produce a compromise - namely, to indicate the direction in which there might be some enthusiasm or where the psychological energy would flow naturally, for it is, of course, easier to train oneself to work in a direction supported by one's instinct. That is not quite so hard as working completely uphill in opposition to your own flow of energy. Therefore, it is usually advisable to wait a while, find out where the natural flow of interest and energy lies and then try to get the man to work there. But in every field of work there always comes the time when routine must be faced. All work, even creative work, contains a certain amount of boring routine, which is where the puer aeternus escapes and comes to the conclusion again that "this is not it!" In such moments, if one is supported by the unconscious, dreams generally occur which show that one should push on thorugh the obstacle. If that succeeds, then the battle is won.
(von Franz, Marie-Louise, Puer Aeternus,  pages 5-6.)

The cure for the puer/puella is coming down to the earth. By voluntarily choosing to come down one avoids crashing, because that's what will happen. One way or the other, the earth will claim us. Our only choice, as is always the case, is whether we follow our destiny, wholeheartedly and with grace; or fighting against it every step of the way. In the latter case, the earth becomes a moldy tomb; a yawning, gaping maw that waits our whole lives to devour us (as it eventually will.) In the former, the earth is shelter and friend, the source of life and nourishment as well as delight. The puella spends her life looking for the thing that will make her whole, not realizing that it's the very thing that she runs away from, always runs away from; that is, the other half of her. By turning to face and embrace what we fear, we finally find our true Selves.

... Here again... he has come to the edge, to the end. He cannot go farther in the way he is now going... He felt he had come to an end and could not go on in the same way. He has one split in his psyche, a very deep one.

... When he has to go over the border into another country, he projects the idea that now he is going to fall into the hole in his psyche. The prison phobia is very obvious, too. He is like a bird; he never gets pinned down to earth... So the prison is the negative symbol of the mother complex (in which he sits in fact all the time), or it would be prospectively just exactly what he needs, for he needs to be put into prison - the prison of reality. But he runs away from the prison anyway, wherever he turns. He has only the choice of two prisons: either that of his neurosis or that of his reality; thus, he is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. That is his fate, and that is the fate of the puer aeternus altogether. It is up to him which he prefers: that of his mother complex and his neurosis, or that of being caught in the just-so story of earthly reality.

When the dreamer gets further down, suddenly the heavens below solidify and look like the earth as seen from an airplane, with a quadrangular pattern of fields. It is a very positive image, for now the split is beginning to close. A difference of levels still exists, however, for between the earth above and the earth below is a very sudden change of level, such as that which often appears in the psychological geography of a dream where there are two levels and no connecting steps. Such a dreamer might switch between intellect and instinct in his way of living without any bridge between. But that would not show a very dangerous situation, since it is one that occurs frequently in the case of young people who have not yet harmonized the relationship between the two. The wound in this dreamer's psyche is healing; the earth level is rising through the fact that, by accepting, for once, an unknown situation and venturing into it, he is touching human reality for the first time - he is touching the earth upon which we live.

... It is the civilized earth and suggests work, so that one is reminded of Dr. Jung's words that work is part of the cure of the split and the difficulties of the puer - just ploughing some plot of earth, no matter which, is helpful. I remember him saying to a puer-aeternus type, "It does not matter what job you take. The point is that for once you do something thoroughly and conscientiously, whatever it is." This man insisted that if only he could find the right occupation, then he would work, but that he could not find it. Dr. Jung's answer was, "Never mind, just take the next bit of earth you can find. Plough it and plant something in it. No matter whether it is business, or teaching, or anything else, give yourself for once to that field which is ahead of you." Everybody has in front of him a field of reality where he can work if he wants to, and the childish trick of saying, "I would work if it were the right thing," is one of the many self-delusions of the puer aeternus, by which he keeps within the mother and his megalomanic identification with the god - because the gods, as you know, do not work.

... Fields would also imply limitation. That is the drawback of getting in touch with reality, because in that way one becomes limited: there are restrictions. One comes to the miserable human situation where one's hands are tied and it is not possible to do as one would like, something which is particularly disagreeable to the puer aeternus. What one produces is always miserable compared with the fantasies one had lying in bed dreaming about what one would do if one could!
(von Franz, Marie-Louise, Puer Aeternus,  pages 136, 157-158.)



Bringing it all together

Reading the last paragraph above was one of those "laugh out loud" moments, and one of the synchronicities I was talking about earlier, because just the day before I had thrown the following I-ching hexagrams.

Hexagram 60: Limitations
In a limited, human life, one achieves significance through discrimination and the setting of limits: unlimited possibilities are not suited to humans. To become strong, one needs the limitations ordained by duty and voluntarily accepted. We attain significance as a free spirit only by setting our own limits and determining for ourselves what out duty is.

If you seek to impose galling limits, it would be injurious - there must be a limit on limits as well.

9 in the 5th place: The ruling line of the hexagram. Limits must be carried out in the right way, i.e. by applying limits to oneself. That way leads to success, and with success one leads by example. Galling limitation would lead to failure, but owing to the enlightened and moderate behavior of the ruler of the hexagram this danger is overcome.
Hexagram 7: The Army
Water under earth; the ground water stored up in the earth. In the same way military strength is stored up in the mass of the people - invisible in times of peace but always ready for use as a source of power - water is stored in the earth.

An army is a mass that needs organization in order to become a fighting force. Without strict discipline nothing can be accomplished, but this discipline must not be achieved by force. It requires a strong man who captures the hearts of the people and awakens their enthusiasm. In order that he may develop his abilities he needs the complete confidence of his ruler, who must entrust him with full responsibility as long as the war lasts. But war is always a dangerous thing and brings with it destruction and devastation. Therefore it should not be resorted to rashly but, like a poisonous drug, should be used as a last recourse.

Ground water is invisibly present within the earth; in the same way the military power of a people is invisibly present in the masses. When danger threatens, every peasant becomes a soldier; when the war ends, they goes back to their plow. She who is generous toward the people wins their love, and a people living under a mild rule becomes strong and powerful. Only a people economically strong can be important in military power. Such power must therefore be cultivated by improving the economic condition of the people and by humane government. Only when there is this invisible bond between government and people, so that the people are sheltered by their government as ground water is sheltered by the earth, is it possible to wage a victorious war.

This is the answer, of course; the answer to the question I hadn't even known I was asking.

Well, I kind of knew; things were coming to a head at work. As is typical for a puella I was having problems and was worried about whether or not I was even going to be able to keep my job, a never ending concern of mine for all the reasons that it's so hard for us puellas to buckle down and get to work, especially if it's boring and completely uninspiring. I had the feeling that now was the time to face the problem of living in the world. In fact, perhaps it's time to flip over the functions from intuition, my second function, and start working on my third function, sensation.

You have to do this kind of work in the right way, tho, and at the right time. All of us puellas have had the experience of telling ourselves that "this time we'll do it." Maybe there is an aspect of grace to this whole going down to the earth thing; that the unconscious itself has to support you, you can't just "decide" to do it. That would be the ego deciding for reasons of power, control or status; or not wanting to feel like a loser and a jerk again. But it can't come from the ego; it has to come from the Self. But when the Self comes knocking with a plow in one hand and a pair of overalls in the other, we can't try to shut the door in it's face. We have to answer the call when it comes.

That being said, it's important to have subtlety and act with moderation. I like how the hexagrams describe the relationship between the "general" and the "peasants;" or the ego and the vast powers of the unconscious. In the past, General Ego tried to bully and beat the peasants into working for him, but that's obviously the wrong way to go about things; the relationship between the two should be full of affection and support. A good general protects his people, cares for them, first and foremost. But caring for them doesn't mean letting them laze about, letting the crops die because they're choked by weeds, or rotting out in the fields. In that case, getting the peasants to work is actually a way of showing caring and protection, because who suffers first when there's a famine? Yes, there is a need for limits and discipline, but not galling limits or galling discipline. Discipline must be softened with generosity and strong ties of devotion and protection between leader and lead, between the ego and the energies within.

Limitation also means setting limits on the puella in other ways; it means that she's going to finally have to choose what she wants to be when she grows up and stick with it. The world is so full of fascinating, wonderful things that I tend to flit from one thing to the next, getting really involved with my current fascination and then dropping it when I find the next. Life vastly entertaining this way, but you never actually accomplish anything. The good thing is that, with Jungian psychology, I really do feel like I've figured out what I want to be when I "grow up." And, with all those years of sampling one aspect of life after the other, I can pick the few things I love best. Yes, it hurts to think of all the wonderful things I won't be doing, but if you want to actually accomplish anything by the time you die, you have to give up the good in order to achieve the best. So for me, that means - besides the things everyone has to do (unless they're independently wealthy) like keeping my home clean and beautiful, and cooking nutritious and delicious food - I will focus on sewing beautiful, unique clothing and my instant photography. And maybe I'll keep dabbling a bit in natural perfumery since I will also continue to make my own soap, shampoo, lotion, etc.

One thing that's been percolating in my mind for months, ever since I wrote about integrating the four functions, is the idea that I need to move to the third function which for me would be sensation. Von Franz writes about how cleaning is the way a woman expresses love for the physical world. My experience with G was the first step in staying in the "fiery bath" of love; I think expressing love for the physical world - and all the painfully boring, kick-oneself-out-of-bed-on-a-rainy-morning feelings that will bring up - is the next step.


Related posts


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A flash of sunlight

Last night I had an incredible breakthrough (I think). I feel like I'm on the other side of this thing with G - my feelings have been slowly withdrawing. It's not over yet, and I'm still not sure what the whole point of it was, but I've been alternating between sad and nostalgic and angry and happy and all sorts of different kinds of feelings.

Yesterday, while I was on my epic commute home (which took me HOURS because of train problems), at one point I had a breakthrough. I can't even really remember what it was like but I know it was instigated because I thought "What if the point of my life is to be mortified?" I was thinking about how the ego hates being mortified, and will often even choose to go insane rather than face it's own embarrassment. And then I thought about how so often I find myself embarrassing myself (thanks inferior feeling function!) and this whole thing with G has been incredibly mortifying (I still don't know if he even really liked me or if I massively misread him.) During the course of these ponderings I wondered, "Is the purpose of this particular incarnation I'm living to be constantly and completely mortified?"

... Then something happened that I can't describe - I almost can't remember - but for a moment I was in touch with the Self. Then it disappeared. I get flashes of it - I think what it is is the thinning of the ego, and the Self shining out, like the sun coming out suddenly from behind a cloud and then disappearing again.

Later, I thought about it and realized I'm somewhere in the middle - I have some good things, and some bad things; some strengths and some weaknesses. As I think most of us do. In astrology, there are good aspects to a person's chart and challenging ones - they say that we should be grateful for challenging aspects because it's by dealing with them that we grow. People with really easy charts never learn or grow. Which is why we're here, right?


Edit 4/12/12

Well, it hit me last night what the Queen of Pentacles in my reading means... it means me. I'm supposed to become the Queen of Pentacles.

A Queen of fertility and harvest, her talents extend to mothering and nurturing as well with the ability to sustain and care for all kinds of life. She is materially wealthy, but even that is superseded by the wealth she has built through kindness and generosity. The person known as the Queen of Pentacles is often a mother, but sometimes she will express motherly dedication and love despite having no children of her own. Her watery quality gives her the intuitive and emotional skills needed of a good mother, while the Pentacles suit gives her a solid schooling in material matters and affairs. Though not necessarily rich in terms of money, she is always rich of heart, and she shares her wealth with all those in need.

When the Queen of Pentacles inside of you starts manifesting, the signs are unmistakable. Generosity will become a priority, as will trustworthiness and reliability. You will gain insight into both matters of money and matters of the heart, and through these you can find a path to spiritual enlightenment. The Queen of Pentacles is, in many ways, a bridge between the worlds of the mundane and the spectacular. Step across that bridge once you are ready, and delight in the opulence and pure beauty. Then you can return to the material world to help others find their way. You may not be acknowledged, but you will never be unhappy either.


Last night I was going over the reading again, and that's when it hit me: all the dreams where I'm protecting the children, especially the last one, and how, ever since I can remember, people have told me that I was so nurturing, so good with kids. I always denied it - first of all, being "motherly" and "nurturing" is boring and uncool. But, more importantly, I always felt like the one who needed mothering. And these are the kinds of women I've always been drawn to... just like I've always been drawn to warm, confident men. In the same way that I projected my animus out onto the men I was romantically attracted, I've projected my nurturing side onto women who are nurturing. But the nurturing person is me!

I've always felt nurturing towards people - it's my great strength. I care about people and want them to be happy and to taken care of. This has always been a big part of my personality but I haven't been able to live it... until now. I wasn't able to fully embrace this side of me until now, when the little girl was taken care of, and then the teen girl felt all the crazy feelings that teens feel. Now that I have experience as a girl and a young woman, I can move onto the experience as a mature woman.

I wonder if the relationship with G was the way it was for this reason; maybe on a subconscious level he was playing the role I required from him and that's why he felt and did what he did. Or maybe it's just that we could have been great but he flubbed it, but that doesn't mean I haven't learned a lot from the experience. Either way, now I know what that Fool card was all about...


Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Twilight" of a god

Been thinking about Twilight because... um... it's pretty effing hard to avoid the damn thing! While writing the post about ejecting Mr. Negative Animus from his throne I realized that Edward and similar characters are basically an externalization of the Demon Lover animus:

What Marilyn Monroe was to men, Valentino was to women. He represented the ideal demon lover, who would carry the woman away into a romantic ecstasy where she could create fantasies about the Sheik. Of course, being carried away by the demon lover into a romantic us-two-aloneness goes on in modern films as well. Generally if women are unhappy in their relationships with their husbands or their lovers, they dream and fantasize about being carried away and having a secret, nocturnal love affair with their animus.

Which is why he exerts such a powerful influence, turning even sane grown women into drooling idiots. It doesn't matter how bad the writing is, or how silly and predictable the plot, or lame the characterization, none of that matters because of the hypnotic demon allure of their animus, reflected from the big screen with all of his seductive glory. That's not a particularly earth shattering revelation. But what came to me while watching Dr. Who certainly was food for thought. Despite the fact that Dr. Who and Mr. Sparkly appear to have little in common, they actually share quite a bit.

I've just finished up the fourth season of the Dr. Who reboot (the David Tennant Doctor) and, well, first off, that was one of the most emotionally draining and moving things I've ever seen. While this doctor is one of the most engaging, he's also one of the most wounded, and his pain revolves around being essentially ageless in a world where everyone he ever gets close to, everyone he ever loves, will die (if they don't leave him first.) Now, who does that sounds like? Hmmm... VAMPIRES! And gods.

Humans can't marry gods. In We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love, Robert Johnson interprets Tristan's turning away from the flesh and blood woman he married ("Iseult of the White Hands") for the unearthly princess of the "foreign land" (i.e. his anima), also named Iseult. The gods - the archetypes - belong out of time, while we humans must live in time. To lose touch with the life giving archetypes is to live a half life, a life without life or meaning. But to live wholly in the other world is just as destructive - we see that fate in the lives of those who, like Tristan, reject the flesh and blood loves of this world for the pure, unearthly loves of the archetypal world.

Characters like Edward and the Doctor are essentially gods. Other characters can become gods (the way Bella is turned into a vampire) or gods can become human (as happens in Dr. Who... but I'm not giving any more away!) but the two can't mix. How much of that happens when, dissatisfied with the real Iseult (or the real Tristan for us women) we mortal humans give all of our love and passion to an undead and undying creature?




Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Freud vs. Jung

Or, perhaps more accurately, Freudians vs. Jungians.

About a week ago I stumbled on a post about the the general unsexiness of Jungian women compared to the sexiness of Freudians and it's been rolling and rolling around my head ever since. I mean, I consider myself relatively sexy and I'm a Jungian. Well, not "sexy" per se but certainly not a "hippy-dippy-granola-town-goat’s-milk" AARP escapee. If I had to describe myself I'd say I was funky and playful with a dash of sexy. Too much "va-va-voom" and I feel uncomfortable and fake, like I'm dressed up in a Halloween costume. Personally, I feel the most comfortable when sexy is used as condiment - and with a fairly light hand - rather than drowning myself with the hot sauce. But then that's just me.

So, I know that I'm not particularly unsexy, and I never felt like sexiness of lack thereof had anything to do with being a Jungian, but this seems to have been an issue for the writer:

When I was working on my graduate thesis “The genesis of shame: The fig leaf of fashion and its place in psychotherapy” and I would tell women analysts in the Jungian community in which I trained that I was writing on the topic of clothing I received some pretty harsh judgements.  Clothing was looked at as immaterial to the field of psychology and judged as a surface interest and not one that should be given serious academic consideration. It’s interesting to note that five years after completing my thesis that the very same institute offered the course, “Clothes in the Analytic Relationship: Not For Women Only”. It was bittersweet to see that the topic was finally being considered. I attended the nearly sold out event and was somewhat pleased to see that the women who did the presentation had not approached the topic with the depth of analysis that I had. I was also amused and somewhat irritated by the participants cooing question to the presenters, “This is such a rich therapeutic topic. Why hasn’t anyone written on it before?” Grrr!!!!
Are Jungians less sexy? Are less sexy people drawn to Jungianism or does Jung make you unsexy (and vice versa with Freudianism)? Or is it just the issue of this particular writer? From the little I read of her blog it seems that she's very concerned with sexiness, and of expressing her sexiness - is there a general attitude in Jungian circles that focusing on such "earthy" topics is shallow and unworthy?

I've been reading a lot about Freud lately. I had prematurely dismissed him because his theories seemed so silly (and patently wrong - "penis envy"?? give me a break *rollseyes*), and because of his many well-known failures but had the feeling that there was something there that I was missing. So far, I have learned that I have to give him credit for basically laying the foundations for the entire field of depth psychology. It seems that his fault wasn't so much in coming up with the wrong ideas as stubbornly clinging to them, even in the face of all kinds of evidence to the contrary, but that doesn't negate what he did manage to accomplish.

But is Freud (or are Freudians) sexier? Mmmmmmaybe. My tentative conclusion is that it's very possible that they are. If I had to put the difference between Freud and Jung in a nutshell, I'd have to say that where for Freud everything, including religion, has to do with sex, for Jung everything, including sex, has to do with religion. So maybe Freudians are sexier than Jungians. Certainly it's likely that they're more interested in sex. And it's indisputible that anyone uncomfortable in their sexuality would have a hard time remaining a Freudian for very long!


Edit 4/4/12:

I just had another brainwave as I was re-reading this post - maybe Freudian's are "sexier" because they're more focused on "first half of life" issues, i.e. on building up the ego, making it stronger. First half of life stuff includes success in the social realm of which sexual attractiveness is an important part, obviously. Jungianism, on the other hand, is more focused on "second half of life" issues and often calls for a breaking down - or, at the very least, a dethronement - of the ego.

I always felt that Jungianism could be profitably applied to first half of life problems despite the fact the Jung himself would often refer his patients to others when he felt that their issues fell outside his purview. I still do (although who knows, that may change) but there is no denying the fact that there is an "other worldly" aspect to Jungianism, and this doubtless contributes to people feeling that earthly matters don't fit with what we're doing. I can't think of anything further from the truth - anyone who's followed this blog for any length of time will know that I deal with the most earthy, embodied problems we can encounter; love in particular but also family and work.

The way I see it, Jung just went deeper than Freud. Freud focused on what Jung called the "personal unconscious" (all of the things of our personal lives that have dropped into the unconscious) but Jung felt there was something of vital importance that lay beyond the personal unconscious. We need to work on and pass through the Freudian problems of childhood, not just for their own sake but in order to contact this thing "beyond," and from which exerience we come back to humanity with the understanding of our special mission in this life.

Jungianism encompasses Freudianism. If the thing you need to work on right now is being sexy and wearing high heels, then you're doing exactly what you need to be doing. And if that's not what you need to be doing, then do whatever it is that you should be doing. The hardest thing about Jung - and the thing that keeps it so honest and true - is that there are no rules. There is only you, and your god or daimon, and whether or not you are living the life you should be living.








   

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