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The Jung Topic: Self Identity -- The Ego and Persona


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Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throught the world. There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul.

- Carl Jung

In the "Campaign to Free John" topic, From The Moon had suggested that she might enjoy a slower-paced discussion as related to therapeutic Jungian thought. I wasn't sure where the best discussion area might be -- the Schizophrenia topic or somewhere else. After considering the matter, I opted for this discussion area however, everything I know about Jung came to me through the filter of the experience of schizophrenia. For that reason, many of my contributions will likely refer to those experiences. This is quite fitting as Jung's model of the psyche began to take shape as he worked with schizophrenic patients in the Burghöltzi hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. Following a personal experience with what Jung referred to as "his encounter with the unconscious" Jung's ideas became even more solidified.

psyche.gif

I'd suggested that we start with a discussion about the Shadow but after thinking about it, I realized we would have to start with the concept of the Ego, the Persona and Consciousness. In a discussion in the schizophrenia topic, nathan had observed that...

Most people today live in a very egoic state of mind (especially in modern western society.) People are told to get an eduction, get a good job, get fit, look good, and progression is glorified beyond belief. This is HUGE ego building stuff.

Nathan seems to understand quite well that the ego is one's sense of self-identity. I could have sworn he'd also said that if we could get rid of the ego, a number of our problems would vanish along with it but maybe I'm confusing his post with someone else's. Whoever it was that said it, they're right. A great many of the problems we identify as problems -- I'm too fat; I'm too skinny; I'm not smart-enough; my boss thinks I'm lazy; my father isn't proud of me; my wife doesn't love me anymore; my country is better than your country; my god is better than your god -- these are all ideas related to the ego and our individual concept of self-identity.

Having an ego seems to be a necessary component of having a body. We all understand that bodies are vulnerable things. They can be easily hurt, so we learn fear and defense. They need to be fed, so we learn hunting and agriculture. A hug feels better than a slap; a compliment feels better than an insult; Thanksgiving dinner tastes better than grass and bark; bigger muscles might attract a different kind of partner; a more expensive car demonstrates our presumed value to the world.

If we did not have a body we would not need an ego.

When we are first born, we don't know we have a body -- we lack that kind of awareness. As our body develops and as we interact with the world and the people in it, we also develop an ego which is to say: We develop a system of beliefs about ourselves, others, the larger world, and our place in it. Those beliefs, amassed, create the psychological structure of the ego.

If this ego becomes deflated, we call it depression.

If this ego becomes inflated, we call it mania.

If this ego becomes displaced, we call it dissociation.

If this ego fragments, we call it psychosis.

See also: Carl Jung

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In my introductory thread, I had shared the following quote...

The first thing to be understood is what ego is. A child is born. A child is born without any knowledge, any consciousness of his own self. And when a child is born the first thing he becomes aware of is not himself; the first thing he becomes aware of is the other. It is natural, because the eyes open outwards, the hands touch others, the ears listen to others, the tongue tastes food and the nose smells the outside. All these senses open outwards.

That is what birth means. Birth means coming into this world, the world of the outside. So when a child is born, he is born into this world. He opens his eyes, sees others. 'Other' means the thou. He becomes aware of the mother first. Then, by and by, he becomes aware of his own body. That too is the other, that too belongs to the world. He is hungry and he feels the body; his need is satisfied, he forgets the body.

This is how a child grows. First he becomes aware of you, thou, other, and then by and by, in contrast to you, thou, he becomes aware of himself.

This awareness is a reflected awareness. He is not aware of who he is. He is simply aware of the mother and what she thinks about him. If she smiles, if she appreciates the child, if she says, "You are beautiful," if she hugs and kisses him, the child feels good about himself. Now an ego is born.

Through appreciation, love, care, he feels he is good, he feels he is valuable, he feels he has some significance.

A center is born... But this center is a reflected center. It is not his real being. He does not know who he is; he simply knows what others think about him. And this is the ego: the reflection, what others think. If nobody thinks that he is of any use, nobody appreciates him, nobody smiles, then too an ego is born: an ill ego; sad, rejected, like a wound; feeling inferior, worthless. This too is the ego. This too is a reflection.

First the mother - and mother means the world in the beginning. Then others will join the mother, and the world goes on growing. And the more the world grows, the more complex the ego becomes, because many others' opinions are reflected...

As we grow, our fledging sense of identity will be fed by our relationships with our father, our siblings, our neighbors, our school-mates, friends, teachers, bosses, spouses and if we have any, our own children.

Our self-identity will also be fed by the roles we take on. We self-identify as someone's child, someone's partner, an employee or employer. We also pull identification from our gender, sexual identity, and culture: I am Black; I am Norwegian; I am a Democrat; I am a Buddhist; I am a Lesbian.

The ego is an accumulated phenomenon, a by-product of living with others...

Ego is a need; it is a social need, it is a social by-product. The society means all that is around you - not you, but all that is around you. All, minus you, is the society. And everybody reflects. You will go to school and the teacher will reflect who you are. You will be in friendship with other children and they will reflect who you are. By and by, everybody is adding to your ego, and everybody is trying to modify it in such a way that you don't become a problem to the society....

And the child needs a center; the child is completely unaware of his own center. The society gives him a center and the child is by and by convinced that this is his center, the ego that society gives.

A child comes back to his home - if he has come first in his class, the whole family is happy. You hug and kiss him, and you take the child on your shoulders and dance and you say, "What a beautiful child! You are a pride to us." You are giving him an ego, a subtle ego. And if the child comes home dejected, unsuccessful, a failure - he couldn't pass, or he has just been on the back bench - then nobody appreciates him and the child feels rejected. He will try harder next time, because the center feels shaken.

Ego is always shaken, always in search of food, that somebody should appreciate it...

You have to behave in a certain way, because only then does the society appreciate you. You have to walk in a certain way; you have to laugh in a certain way; you have to follow certain manners, a morality, a code. Only then will the society appreciate you, and if it doesn't, your ego will be shaken. And when the ego is shaken, you don't know where you are, who you are.

The others have given you the idea.

That idea is the ego.

Source: Ego ~ The False Center

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You're talking about the development of identity, which over the years has become just about my favorite topic in psychology. So - cool!

I don't know much about Jung. Enough to know that though a brilliant man, he is not my cup of tea. I guess I am not a mystic/gnostic at heart in my approach to understanding. I am from a family of engineers, and have cleaved towards the empirical in my career. If I have not always acted in a disciplined way, I at least have had the decency to feel guilty about it. :)

I do know a fair amount of psychodynamic theory, cognitive theory, developmental theory and neuropsychology, however, with a special interest in the bridges which have been and are being built between these perspectives. What I'd like to do is to listen more about what you are saying Jung was saying, and I'll contribute where I see unique ideas, or similar ideas that appear in a different guise within other traditions. That latter thing happens a lot.

Increasingly I encounter authors who are tying together psychodynamic psychology (which at the end of the day is the priestly camp from which Jung came even if he went off in a gnostic direction from there) with neuroscience and finding amazing creative parallels. For instance, what Wilma Bucci is doing. Or this book on my desk by Antonio Damisio that I have not yet read but which is sure to be amazing ("The Feeling of What Happens"). This could be fun.

Mark

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SE you have taken on quite a project here! If anyone can do it, you can:D. As I've mentioned, Jung is my main resource too. Mark, glad you are interested:).

The description of the ego has me on the edge of my chair in suspense... wondering when we get to talk about the Self in the unconscious for the ego to relate to and ground in... am I giving too much away?:eek:

Ok, backing up, SE, can you comment more about this line? It is something many people here suffer from and I have been longing for a deeper understanding:

If this ego becomes displaced, we call it dissociation.
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If a union is to take place between opposites like spirit and matter, conscious and unconscious, bright and dark, and so on, it will happen in a third thing, which represents not a compromise but something new.

- C. G. Jung

Mark: You're talking about the development of identity, which over the years has become just about my favorite topic in psychology. So - cool!

Yes. Ironically my desire to better understand how the self-idenity is created came about as a result of having been stripped of my self-identity and then, having to rebuild it. One of the areas that fascinates me is this statement: That idea is the ego.

Mark: I do know a fair amount of psychodynamic theory, cognitive theory, developmental theory and neuropsychology, however, with a special interest in the bridges which have been and are being built between these perspectives. What I'd like to do is to listen more about what you are saying Jung was saying, and I'll contribute where I see unique ideas, or similar ideas that appear in a different guise within other traditions. That latter thing happens a lot.

I agree that Jung was brilliant, albeit, a bit eccentric. I'm not sure if you might be aware of his lengthy correspondence and explorations with physicist Wolfgang Pauli. The bridge where depth psychology meets quantum physics is also an area that intrigues me greatly. I struggle with it however. [Ref: Quantum Physics, Depth Psychology and Beyond]

I've said elsewhere that: Consciousness is to the Brain what Love is to the Heart. How do we understand love as a phenomenon arising from a physical organ? How do our thoughts, our experiences, attach to our synapses? Those are big questions.

Meantime, I read the interview with Wilma with interest. I like it when people drag information in. I don't and can't always follow up on it but when I do and can, it often stretches me to grow in new ways. No doubt, I'll drag in some perspectives of my own. It could be a meaty conversation. I look forward to it.

~ Namaste

Music of the Hour: Harvard University: The Inner Life of the Cell

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finding my way: SE you have taken on quite a project here!

Fools rush in, finding. :) I have no idea what happens after this. The topic of ego identity itself is vast. Will we be able to successfully expand that topic beyond the ego? We'll have to see. No doubt however, those who take part -- whether as reading only or commenting -- will learn something new. And I do like learning new things. :)

finding my way: The description of the ego has me on the edge of my chair in suspense... wondering when we get to talk about the Self in the unconscious for the ego to relate to and ground in... am I giving too much away?

lol. Yes. I'm always wanting to rush ahead too. The important thing, I suspect is that we absolutely not talk about the Shadow. :D

Re: If this ego becomes displaced, we call it dissociation

Admittedly, I need to hang out with that statement some more. I'd come up with the three other statements previously and they sit right with me. They are a very simplified version but simplified versions are a good place to start.

Like others here, I've also experienced dissociation. It got me into a bit of trouble because it allowed me to walk back into a situation that replicated key aspects of my earlier trauma. That may have been what drew me into that situation in the first place -- a desire to reconnect with those displaced parts of my self. At any rate, I did do that and it was painful but valuable. I am no longer unconsciously drawn to dangerous or life-threatening situations. I can spot the risk and be aware of it because the risk no longer terrifies me to such an extent that I can't look at it.

~ Namaste, finding my way

See also:

- Sandra Ingerman: Soul Retrieval

- Maureen Roberts: Embracing the Fragmented Self

Music of the Hour: Dancing With Skeleton Woman

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I definitely relate most to the humanist style, though I am also quite fascinated by psychodynamic therapy.

How do we understand love as a phenomenon arising from a physical organ?

One has to wonder, SE, where the "love comes from the heart" stuff started from anyhow. I'm pretty certain most of the responses we feel initially are actually induced by hormones released in the brain. Dopamine and such...

How do our thoughts, our experiences, attach to our synapses? Those are big questions.

I think there is the first moment when our thoughts create a reaction or an emotion and we remember this and come to associate one with the other. If I'm thinking about driving over a bridge, I remember that fear and my anxiety may start spinning just at the thought. Of course that wouldn't explain how it first happens...

The description of the ego has me on the edge of my chair in suspense... wondering when we get to talk about the Self in the unconscious for the ego to relate to and ground in...

My head hurts... not a bad thing. :) I enjoy the psychological talk.

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The depth psychologists see the mind like an iceberg... only 10% is above water, or conscious, and the other 90% is going on in the unconscious. The challenge and the beauty is learning to skillfully become deep sea divers with our tiny egos (consciousness), so we can healthily relate to that depth, where some of our greatest resources and connections to meaning lie. Going there without skill can lead to a drowned ego...not good. We do need our egos in order to function in the world. The point is to learn bit by bit and build a healthy relationship to that content, respecting our limitations.

Hope that isn't too far from where you want to be with this thread, SE!!

[and no, one must NEVER speak of the shadow!!:(]

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finding my way: We do need our egos in order to function in the world.

Yes. Because we have a body. In my opinion, to be without an ego is to be in a schizophrenic (fragmented) state. One of the things that has been lost as a result of the fragmentation is the relationship between the various parts. You may still see bits of the ego present but it's a messy process because those bits of ego will self-identity with anything that comes up, just as a man in a shipwreck struggles to grasp onto any bit of wreckage that floats by. You'll also see a great deal of unconscious content bleeding forth -- it's very symbolic, very metaphoric because this is the language of the deeper psyche...

If you were exchanged in the cradle and

your real mother died

without ever telling the story

then no one knows your name,

and somewhere in the world

your father is lost and needs you

but you are far away.

He can never find

how true you are, how ready.

When the great wind comes

and the robberies of the rain

you stand on the corner shivering.

The people who go by--

you wonder at their calm.

They miss the whisper that runs

any day in your mind,

"Who are you really, wanderer?"--

and the answer you have to give

no matter how dark and cold

the world around you is:

"Maybe I'm a king."

William Stafford

Poems for Each Other

The Ego

The ego is the centre of consciousness. It is identity. It is 'I'. But it is not the totality of the psyche. Being the king of consciousness amounts to dominion over a small but important land surrounded by a wide world of terra incognita. The more aware the King is of lands beyond his domain the more secure he will be on his throne, but he must not be tempted to open the borders to it all. In Jungian theory the unconscious is far too vast to ever be made fully conscious, poking about in it is not without danger, yet ignoring it is also a mistake since it leads to a brittle fixedness which at best impedes growth, at worst can break when under the pressure of the 'threat' of change.

Source: Archetypes and the Individuation Process

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awwwww, SE, that's a poet dear to my heart!!

Having the Right Name

William Stafford

It is like a color inside your head that

tells who you really are, or like that air

moving through trees whispering to you at night.

People will want to be with you

on a list, beside your name. They will be glad

they are themselves, but able to reach across.

Sometimes you'll forget, but a shadow leans

from behind a hill over your life

where someone hides calling your name aloud.

So you needn't care who walks the fields

lost in the snow all night: any track

spells the needed word at dawn when you look out.

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IrmaJean: I definitely relate most to the humanist style, though I am also quite fascinated by psychodynamic therapy.

That's interesting you would say that because if I had to guess, I would have guessed you would self-identity more as an engineer. I say as much as based on the comments you made in regard to neurochemical responses.

Engineers (Behaviorists) seem to possess a mechanistic worldview that wants 2+2 to always add up to 4. There is an equal assumption that the entire known universe can be reduced to similar logical formulas and thus, can be mechanically tinkered with like a car engine. If you are depressed you have too little serotonin; if you are schizophrenic you have too much dopamine; if you are in love, it's due to the miraculous neurochemical mix of oxytocin, dopamine and adrenaline.

That perspective seems much more closely aligned with the engineers than the gnostics (Humanists) although that's merely my interpretation. I'm equally certain that a few offhand comments couldn't possibly capture your philosophy of life.

Meantime, the following seems to capture the conflict between the engineers and the gnostic points of view [italics, mine]...

The modern worldview of Western culture is characterized by an implicit division between the objective or physical realm of existence and the subjective or psychic realm of existence, with the objective or physical realm generally dominating the subjective or psychic realms to the point of virtual exclusion, as in the materialistic worldview which considers mind to be a mere epiphenomenon of matter.

The dominance of modern materialism is due in large part to its association with the remarkable theoretical and practical power of classical physics as developed by Newton and his successors. According to this model, reality consists of a fixed and passive space containing localized material particles whose movement in time is deterministically governed by mathematical laws. Consequently, mental phenomena, in this picture, are nothing more than the complex functions of the material brain governed by physical laws.

Although scientific materialism provided the dominant worldview of modern Western culture, it did not exist to the total exclusion of other alternatives. Nevertheless, these alternatives did not succeed in fundamentally challenging the dominance of materialism. Instead, this challenge largely came from within empirical science itself.

In the 20th century the modern materialistic worldview began to unravel in the face of scientific developments, particularly in physics. In physics, the development of relativity and quantum theory served to radically undermine various fundamental assumptions at the base of the materialistic model. For example, the special and general theories of relativity forced physicists to revise their basic conceptions of space, time, movement, gravitation, matter, energy, and the nature of the cosmos as a whole.

Quantum theory, on the other hand, forced a revision of the concepts of causality, determinism, and locality. Perhaps most importantly, it even challenged the idea that properties of matter have an objective existence independent of observation. As a result, 20th century physics undermined the very basis for materialism, and suggested to some thinkers that the psyche may be involved, in some mysterious way, with the determination of the observed properties of matter.

Meanwhile, developments in psychology during the 20th century explicitly introduced the psyche into the domain of scientific inquiry. In particular, Freud's psychoanalytic theory demonstrated the reality of a psychological unconscious, an unobservable psychic reality which contains repressed personal impulses and desires. These hidden psychic contents exert their influence upon consciousness and thus can be indirectly known by us through a study of various conscious contents, such as our dreams.

Although the concept of the psychological unconscious did not initially challenge materialism, the discovery of the transpersonal depths of the unconscious by Jung (i.e., the collective unconscious and psychological archetypes) presupposed a psychic reality that was difficult to reconcile with any strictly materialistic understanding of human nature. Moreover, Jung's later work with the phenomenon of synchronicity provided evidence that the deepest regions of the unconscious (i.e., the unus mundus) consists of "psychoid" structures that transcend the distinction between psyche and matter altogether.

The above developments in 20th century physics and psychology have analogous implications: just as psychology revealed in the deepest regions of psyche a profound connection with matter, physics revealed in the depths of matter a profound connection with the psyche. Although the precise nature of these connections remains elusive and controversial, the provocative possibility of transcending the dualism of mind and matter has provided motivation for the development of a more comprehensive and unified worldview...

Source: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics

Music of the Hour:

See also: Black Hole

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This is good...

... there are modes of thought outside of the verbal, waking, rational mode of thought. There are systematic modes of thought that are outside of the verbal, logical mode. That's a huge contribution to psychoanalysis, and people talk about his discovery of the unconscious; I talk about it as the discovery of alternate modes of thought, but it's coming at that same major discovery. And I think Freud saw that, too, because he would go back and say, well, his contribution in the interpretation of dreams of the - discovering the primary process, which he called - as he called it. That was a major contribution. That's one.

The other major contribution is discovery of the free association process, the process of exploration, of self-exploration. So that his basic concept of you're riding on a train and looking out the window and say whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or irrelevant, is a fundamental way to get at the structure of the emotion schemas or the structure of what one's personality constructs are. And I hate to see that being lost in these very directed and manualized treatments, because you have - that's the way you get this surprise, is you have to get the surprises out there in order to have change.

Source: An Interview with Wilma Bucci

That reminds me of this...

The transcendent function is the psyche's way to bring the consciousness and the unconscious into a dialogue with each other towards individuation and psychological growth. Carl Jung believed that we each have this function, which yearns to evolve and transcend. This is an archetypal process, which mediates opposites and enables the transition from one attitude to another, a third way, by using symbols. The function has a healing effect by bridging the conscious and unconscious, facilitating movement beyond one-sidedness.

Since we are all unique in our life expressions, so is our process of growth and healing. We use different coping skills at various times to deal with adversity and suffering. Whether it is to process unresolved feelings, or get in touch with a disowned part of ourselves, we all need a bridge to tap into the dark corners of our shadows. Art, music, yoga, poetry, dance, creative writing and tai-chi are some ways that quiet the mind and allow the connection to the hidden unconscious material...

Source: The Transcendent Function (of Music)

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That's interesting you would say that because if I had to guess, I would have guessed you would self-identity more as an engineer. I say as much as based on the comments you made in regard to neurochemical responses.

I suppose it would be easy to have made that assumption from reading what I wrote about love. I'm actually a very emotional person, I often wear my heart on my sleeve, but I have been doing a lot of studying and reading of late. I tend to think of a deeper purpose for those chemicals that is evolutionary in nature.

In the human development course I'm now taking, we have been studying the mechanistic and organismic worldview, as well as the different theories, such as behavioral, humanistic and psychodynamic. They all make sense in their own way, so I like to take bits and pieces and see what fits for me in my view. From a therapy perspective, I definitely believe that the client-therapist relationship is the most vital in the potential healing of a client. At any rate, it's all very interesting!

Finding, I am with you on the depth of things. I think the mind remembers and it stores those memories and feelings from past experiences. I've seen the evidence of this with me time and time again. I seem to have developed during therapy a bit of a knack for pulling that stuff up. I find it very cool.

I like this quote from The Transcendent Function. "Art, music, yoga, poetry, dance, creative writing and tai-chi are some ways that quiet the mind and allow the connection to the hidden unconscious material..."

I have often used music, poetry and creative writing to soothe myself. Interesting.

Edited by IrmaJean
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A few random thoughts...

It seems to me that we're not truly talking about the ego although we are talking about the various schools of thought regarding perceptions of the ego.

To borrow on Mark's model...

-- the Engineers (Behaviorists) seem to link self-identity most readily to the body. It's right there in front of them in finite proportion where it can be measured, poked, prodded, tested.

-- the Philosophers (Psychodynamic Theorists) acknowledge that which can be seen (the body) and that which is unseen; the body of repressed experience/emotion that makes up Freud's unconscious. Note that in this model, the vision of the unconscious stops at the personal.

-- the Ecologists (Family/Systems Theorists) acknowledge the web of social relationship that contributes to identity. Thus, we see an expansion of the concept of selfhood. An assessment of who I am is not complete unless it also includes an assessment of who I am in relationship to others.

-- the Gnostics (Transpersonalists) seem to have the largest concept of self-identity because it expands into the personal and collective unconscious, and acknowledges the erethreal role of the spiritual, thus moving beyond the material (physical).

Are others seeing the same?

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There are lots of things I'd like to respond to but the most pressing one right now is my impression that people are so down on the behaviorists. I really think that is not a good idea; based as I think it is on a mistaken stereotype of how a modern behaviorist thinks. There is this perception that because of the behaviorist fetish for measurement that they are cold mechnistic beings who do not understand the warm fires of the soul, etc. Rubbish. There are some really sophisticated behaviorist thinkers out there and they get down with the soul very well thank you.

Steven Hayes (acceptance and commitment therapy)

Jefferey Young (schema therapy)

Marsha Linehan (dialectical behavioral therapy)

just to name the first few off the top of my mind.

Mark

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Here's an observation. Whenever someone starts talking about Jung or other "integral" forms of psychology, the talk gets very romantic (by which I mean like literature or poetry). The talk provokes emotional responses and/or is conceptual in a mythic manner but isn't usually rigorous/internally consistent or linkable to measurements in a way that gives confidience that the theory can reliably predict behavior. There is the sense conveyed that the romantic truth being conveyed is a superior truth to the more staid truth of the science/measurement people.

I just don't get it. What is it about Jung's work that causes fans to reject (or downplay as important) the forms of psychology that are not Jung?

For myself, I appreciate the poetry in Jung and what little I've read, it has typically seemed to me like a flight of fancy (e.g., his work is "un-verifiable"; perhaps very important but more as literature or poetry; not as science).

I'm wondering if Jung's focus on his pantheon of internal, eternal archetypes makes concrete, tangible, practical sense to someone who has endured psychotic episodes; whereas someone like myself can read it only as a set of abstract ideas.

Mark

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-- the Ecologists (Family/Systems Theorists) acknowledge the web of social relationship that contributes to identity. Thus, we see an expansion of the concept of selfhood. An assessment of who I am is not complete unless it also includes an assessment of who I am in relationship to others.

Systems people do not have a lock on systems thinking either. For instance, if you look at what object relations theory is talking about, or the interpersonal psychotherapy that is informed by it, you have psychodynamic people thinking socially but set of social relationships are not out in the world, but rather are representations of self and other in the mind.

None of these approaches is pure entirely; it's not useful to think of them that way. In distinguishing them to make each way more distinct I have created a fiction that they exist independently of each other. In reality, things are more blended generally.

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Not much time now since I am on my way to work. I don't think that I'm down on the behaviorists. My mind tends to connect more with the abstract and this personally resonates with me. I think it's about what works for you personally, more than being a certain what works better for anyone. Things of a poetic nature will always capture my attention more than something of science. Though I may take both in equally, it is easier for me to apply the abstract...or it seems to have a more powerful effect. The exact opposite might be true with someone else. At any rate, I'm always listening and am open-minded about learning more.

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Hello Mark,

Like Irma, I'm off to work this morning. A few quick thoughts before I go...

Firstly, just a reminder that this particular thread is called "The Jung Topic" so naturally, that's where the focus will be.

In terms of psychoses I tend to recommend Jung because:

- It was the approach I found most helpful in terms of understanding and integrating my own experience

- John Weir Perry (Jungian psychiatrist) was able to produce an 85% recovery rate (without medication) among those who moved through his Diabasis program.

- Carl Jung is believed to have experienced psychosis and/or schizophrenia.

Aside from that I earlier noted that I suspect a "good" therapist will draw on all four modalities in the course of their treatment.

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In another thread Allan cautioned about getting too wrapped up in theories to the point of drifting away from personal experience and a feeling connection with ourselves and one another. In a way what we have here is each other's personal experiences with grappling with these huge areas of study. When I was getting my masters in philosophy I saw the pluses and minuses of camps of thought. It takes a good deal of work to master understanding them, and each one seems to have some competitive pressure for allegience against the other camps. I found myself being in one camp one semester and the opposite camp the next semester because I had learned something new that made me switch over. There are camps that are natural opposites because they come from such different parts of the human experience. Mark, there was a Behaviorist student there who passed out Skinner books like the Gideons pass out bibles. He admitted to me that his mother was a Jungian and he never got that stuff, so this was his salvation :(.

For my 2 cents, I came away from my time in philosophy thankful to learn that these waters are far too vast for any one camp to have it all figured out. I agree with Allan that we need to not get so wrapped up in our efforts that we lose our connection to ourselves and each other. SE has given us great stuff to read. The Jungian camp has tremendous things to offer, and this is a thread about relating to the Jungian model. Maybe those who never got Jungian stuff before will become willing to do some dream work or art therapy. Maybe they will come away with a new understanding of psychosis. I'm hoping to gain a fresh perspective on dissociation and what to do about it.

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Mark: I just don't get it. What is it about Jung's work that causes fans to reject (or downplay as important) the forms of psychology that are not Jung?

For myself, I appreciate the poetry in Jung and what little I've read, it has typically seemed to me like a flight of fancy (e.g., his work is "un-verifiable"; perhaps very important but more as literature or poetry; not as science).

I'm wondering if Jung's focus on his pantheon of internal, eternal archetypes makes concrete, tangible, practical sense to someone who has endured psychotic episodes; whereas someone like myself can read it only as a set of abstract ideas.

Hello Mark,

I wanted to offer some further thoughts in this regard. I can't necessarily speak to why someone might pursue Jungian based therapy in all instances but I can say, that I found it most helpful because Jungian based therapy is the only "Western therapy" that has worked to understand, interpret and bring meaning to "psychotic content". The Jungian model is also the only one I'm aware of (perhaps there are others I'm not aware of) that is large enough to contain the experience of psychosis. Psychosis cannot be contained by the ego and thus, it cannot be explained or understood from within an ego-based psychological model.

As for the "romance" -- it's certainly not all pretty but it is highly symbolic. Poetry, music, prose -- these are highly symbolic, metaphoric forms of communication. Judith Herman, in her book Trauma and Recovery notes that there are two classes of people who speak the language of metaphor -- trauma survivors and mystics. I would add a third to that, namely, the "schizophrenic" who, often, is a little bit of both.

Meantime, yes it is abstract and it is difficult to understand. Something I have tried to do over the past few years is to help people understand their own experiences and their loved ones to do the same. In the Schizophrenia topic, I've used the movie Fight Club as a relatively benign example to help explain the process of fragmentation and also, where Jungian insights can help shed some light on what is happening for and to that individual. Should you have the time and you're interested, you could read through those series of posts.

This link also provides a glimpse into the type of content that may be experienced by some people who are undergoing this degree of severe egoic crisis: Archetype of the Apocalypse. The title of the thread is taken from a book by, highly esteemed, Jungian author Edward Edinger.

There is also the work of John Weir Perry to consider. Perry worked with schizophrenic individuals for more than 40 years and has written a number of books on the process. This link provides a good introduction to his perspectives: Psychosis as Purposive: The Far Side of Madness

Meantime, I hope we're not straying too far from our original intent of examining the ego and psyche through a Jungian lens.

~ Namaste

See also:

- Edward Edinger: Archetypal Patterns in Schizophrenia

- Joseph Campbell: Schizophrenia and the Hero's Journey

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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