Through a Jungian Lens

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The Transparent Self

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The subject line for this post is called “The Transparent Self.”  In a way, they share more in common that would originally be noted.  The Transparent Self is a book I picked up a long time ago, a book that sits on my book shelf back in my home in Canada.  The author of the book is Sidney Jourard.  Since my copy of the book is thousands of kilometres from where I sit as I compose this post, I will have to make do with what I found doing e-searches on the computer.

Jourard’s book as I remember it, is about man learning to disclose his “self” in order to become whole, more capable of a healthy relationship with “self” and “other.”

“We begin life with the world presenting itself to us as it is. Someone – our parents, teachers, analysts – hypnotizes us to ‘see’ the world and construe it in the ‘right’ way. These others label the world, attach names and give voices to the beings and events in it, so that thereafter, we cannot read the world in any other language or hear it saying other things to us. The task is to break the hypnotic spell, so that we become undeaf, unblind, and multilingual, thereby letting the world speak to us in new voices and write all its possible meaning in the new book of our existence.”

“We camouflage our true being before others to protect ourselves against criticism or rejection. This protection comes at a steep price. When we are not truly known by the other people in our lives, we are misunderstood. When we are misunderstood, especially by family and friends, we join the “lonely crowd.” Worse, when we succeed in hiding our being from others, we tend to lose touch with our real selves. This loss of self contributes to illness in its myriad forms.” (courtesy of Coyote Prime)
This agrees well with a lot of what Jung says as well.  Becoming transparent, allowing the unconscious contents to inform consciousness so that we have the courage to cease being desperately straight-jacketed by our personae, is almost another word for “individuation.”
The image of the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci is all about wholeness.  The use of both circle and square honours the notion of quaternity and the wholeness of the mandala.  The presentation of the Vitruvian Man as a nude is all about transparency, about the stripping away of masks and being able to see the true man, vulnerable and yet powerful for all that vulnerability.
A question for you, my readers:  “To what extent is being transparent acceptable in a public forum such as this?  What comprises the line of unacceptability?”  I wait for your ideas, your thoughts.

8 Responses

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  1. Robert, you always seem to ask most interesting questions. Your question makes an assumption, I think. First, in order to be transparent, we must at least know our ‘self’ partially. It is only then that we can allow that ‘self’, as we know it, to surface.

    To what extent is being transparent acceptable in a public forum such as this? What comprises the line of unacceptability?

    Historically, there have been people who have done their own things. They called them The Black Sheep of the family. A very negative societal connotation. One who does not conform. These days it seems that non-conformity is the new conformity. 🙂 People tend to run counterculture just to be different, not really knowing if that is their truth.

    Personally, I think that in order to be truly sane, we do need to be transparent, but that we’ll never get to the point were we don’t need a persona. We have to interact with society and ‘play the game’. This game is not harmful as long as we realize it as such and play voluntarily.

    At this point in my life, I am very much clueless. I have no idea of true ‘self’, but I’m learning. It’s a scary proposition because it goes counter to a lot of what I was taught as to what is the ‘right’ way to live. That said, it would be difficult for me to be transparent because I’m not quite sure what would be coming through. 🙂


    January 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

    • Thanks, Paul. You are right, one can’t make transparent what one doesn’t even know about oneself. I think it is important to distinguish between living out one’s shadow (unconscious behaviour) versus not hiding what one consciously knows about the self.

      This is part of what I would say is vital for the possibility of deeper relationship with other. To hide from one’s partner in a relationship, is to act out of fear rather than love.

      And yes, it is scary because there is no guarantee that the other, the partner will accept the fuller, clearer picture of who one really is. Thus, the dare, the questions … When does one allow the self to emerge from the shadows constructed by both self and the collective?

      Robert G. Longpré

      January 31, 2010 at 7:15 am

      • I’ve sat here for quite a few minutes thinking, pondering, wondering, watching the cursor blink. I think that once you let the genie of self-discovery out of the bottle, there’s no putting it back. Hiding your true self will lead to self-anger and depression. However, I think that it depends on the degree of what is discovered, or rather uncovered. Some discoveries are small, some are large. Some are curiosities, others are must-haves.

        I believe that it is more difficult within the relationship because there is the other to consider; If outside a relationship, there is the collective to consider, but I don’t think that this is not such a strong consideration, at least not for me.

        For the last 15 years, at least, each time that I hear a story of someone going their own way and not getting married, having 3.4 children, a house in the suburbs, etc., it resonates with me. It’s speaking to me. I find myself repeating it to my children: Go your own way. Live your own life. Make your mistakes. I know, deep inside, that I’m talking to Paul, really.

        In the end, I would say that it MUST come out and you let the chips fall were they may. It’s fear that got you here in the first place, but courage that will move you to get to know self better. No more life of quiet desperation.


        January 31, 2010 at 8:23 am

      • Powerful words, Paul. Yes, taking the steps down the road is beginning a journey where it is impossible to return. The self changes and because of that the self in relation to other changes. Whether or not the resultant changes in the other will allow relationship to continue is now out of the control of the ego – not that it was ever really there regardless of the lies we have told ourselves.

        Paul, note the update to the last post. I photoshopped the second photo, something I have not ever done before, the blending of two photos into one. It is obviously an amateur’s attempt, but the concept is attained, and that is everything as far as this blog site is concerned.

        Robert G. Longpré

        January 31, 2010 at 9:33 am

  2. I found this page after searching Jourard’s book, which is very very good. In regards to this discussion, I thought I’d suggest to Paul to check out what is called Positive Disintegration: It might illuminate some things.

    Mars Mercury

    February 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    • Welcome to the the blog commentaries. I hope that you find more here that will be of value. I won’t be able to bring more Jourard here until I return to my home in Canada and my library.

      Robert G. Longpré

      February 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm

  3. Thank you, Robert. It certainly would be nice to explore the book with you. As he says on page 21, disclosure is a fascinating business. 36 years later, this work seems just as vital, if not more, particularly with this tool, the Internet. You ask an important question in regards to how much we should disclose online when it is essentially there for the whole world to see. With the power of search engines and the probing eyes of the less enlightened, such as employers and potential employers who are biased against disclosure, it’s a double edge sword for the mass of men who’s livelihood is predicated on not appearing too deep or free. We’re taking a lot of chances in crossing the line. I can tell you this from experience as I have been discriminated against time and again for being a thinking person, a freedom fighter and an activist of human potential. The Internet has been the medium in which I’ve essentially “incriminated” myself. One solution? A pen name, or nom de plume, that distances an author from some or all of his or her works, to protect them from retribution for his or her writings. A literary double such as this can be quite liberating and offers a good deal of protection and peace of mind. Thus “Mars Mercury.” How does this ultimately effect someone like myself who by all means is a tireless proponent of authenticity, radical honesty, self-disclosure and transparency? It’s sad that so much of our society is controlled by fear and misunderstanding, all the things that transparency can help erase. It’s not good when mediums that can liberate and become avenues of free expression also hold within them the potential for a great deal of oppression and surveillance. Ubiquitous computing, total information awareness, and the technological singularity are all major threats and we would be wise to consider the bigger picture in play. This is not something we can wish away. So, we are caught in a bit of a Catch 22. All I can say now is that regardless of the hurdles and the risks involved, we should do our best to “thine own self be true.”

    Mars Mercury

    February 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

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