Through a Jungian Lens

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Lonely? Reconnect With Your Self

with 11 comments

“You are alone and you are confronted with all the demons of hell.  That is what people don’t know.  Then they say you have an anxiety neurosis, nocturnal fears, compulsions – I don’t know what.  Your soul has become lonely; it is extra ecclesiam [outside the Church] and in a state of no-salvation.  And people don’t know it.  They think your condition is pathological, and every doctor helps them to believe it. . . But it is neurotic talk when one says that this is a neurosis.  As a matter of fact it is something quite different; it is the terrific fear of loneliness.  It is the hallucination of loneliness, and it is loneliness that cannot be quenched by anything else.  You can be a member of society with a thousand members, and you are still alone.  That thing in you which should live is alone; nobody touches it, nobody knows it, you yourself don’t know it; but it keeps on stirring, it disturbs you, it makes you restless, and it gives you no peace.” (Jung, CW 18, par 632)

I imagine you know this feeling if you are reading this.  You know that pills and therapy somehow don’t really get it fixed as there is no search for the roots, only an attempt to deal with symptoms.  And the results have been an abysmal failure for the world of psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists.  Hillman is correct in saying that with more than a hundred years of professional practice, we have not done any good, perhaps only having succeeded in making a bad situation worse for the individuals and for the others with whom those individuals come into contact.

Midlife crisis.  What to do?  Get pills?  Get a new car?  Get involved in a series of affairs?  Step up the pace and acquire even more money and things?  See a shrink?  Take up yoga or martial arts?  Run marathons and ultra-marathons?  There are innumerable strategies to keep busy in the outer world in order to avoid that inner loneliness.  Who would ever think that perhaps it is by going within to meet with the shadows that we find that we aren’t alone anymore, that we can recover a sense of who we are and a sense of meaning in an otherwise meaningless world.

Is there hope?  Yes there is.  I have hope and I have a sense of purpose and meaning and it is through beginning to live a symbolic life that this transformation has occurred.  I have become re-connected to my “self” and in the process have allowed my soul a breath of fresh air.  And, like this little bird, I am ready to emerge from behind the scenery into full life again.

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11 Responses

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  1. I read this quote this morning and it rang such a chord of truth within me that I was nearly stunned:

    There are spirits all around us, every moment of our life wants to say something to us, but we refuse to listen to these spirit-voices. We are afraid that when we are alone and quiet something will be whispered into our ear, and so we hate quietness and deafen ourselves with sociability.

    –Friedrich Nietzsche

    This has especially become apparent after I started doing meditation some weeks ago. In the silence, if you pay attention, you will know; you will hear. You might not like all that you here, but you will here. I guess that that is becoming more authentic.

    Paul L.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:38 am

    • Well found, Paul. Yes, we are afraid of silence because of what we might hear in that silence. For, if we hear something then perhaps we are crazy, separate from others and therefore alone and responsible for ourselves. This is too much of a load to bear for most as Nietzsche pointed out.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm

  2. Oops. A bit more. I think that the part that doesn’t want to hear is the ego or persona. It wants to keep control of what it ‘knows’ fears approaching the unknown. There are so many deaths to endure during life, but so many rebirths, too.

    Paul L.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:40 am

  3. This speaks to me in volumes and I know both the keeping busy to avoid the inner loneliness but that said, I am also familiar with loneliness and isolation.
    “You can be a member of society with a thousand members, and you are still alone”. As I have mentioned before I have often felt more lonely in a crowd than being on my own.
    Robert thank you for this..

    J

    March 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    • Hi, J. I’m glad that you found this post of value. There is so much here to chew on and to use as a mirror for oneself. Thanks for contributing to the ongoing dialogues here on the blog site.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

  4. Hi Robert, I always find your posts of value and your are right, there is a lot to chew on and use as a mirror…I am going to take my time with what unfolds

    J

    March 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    • There is a lot to chew on for both of us, for all of us. Thanks, J.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm

  5. I guess we’re all sufferers of this or we wouldn’t be here in the blog world seeking answers, seeking fellowship.
    There is a deep existential loneliness in most(but not all) people. Despite everything we still feel lonely.I do find that when I listen to those “spirit voices” that this eases substantially. So then when I am in a crowd or too busy, I begin to feel ill because it blocks those voices.

    viv66

    March 2, 2010 at 5:08 am

    • You are so right, Viv. We are here in search of answers. Truth is, many of us are searching for the right questions to ask, perhaps even more important than the answers to those questions. Loneliness is about self and not others. Too many people and the self almost disappears leaving one, as you say, ill or in a state of dis-ease.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 2, 2010 at 8:40 am

  6. There also seems to me to be a communal fear of being alone. So many people ask “Aren’t you lonely?” if you live alone. So many people want to take people who are seen as ‘loners’ and force them to join with others. Does this come from needing the whole tribe to be almost a single identity to survive? Does it come from the fear that if one person is alone, they may think differently from the others and disturb the system? Does it come from not wanting to be alone, and therefore seeing others wanting it, enjoying it, highlights our own fears?

    Trying to carve out enough time to be alone, to be able to listen to both the internal and external silence is one of my biggest problems.

    Asking the right questions…… definitely a tricky one.

    Deborah

    March 5, 2010 at 8:14 am

    • You are correct in noting the existence of a communal fear, especially in the western world. In trying to find some personal time, one can easily end up feeling guilty as most think that either one is making a statement of superiority in not wanting to be with “others” (viewed as an egotistical act by a person who sees ordinary people as being beneath them), or else the preoccupation with aloneness is nothing but a sign of the person being a “loser.” The task is trying to stay out of the grips and attitudes of others while learning about self.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm


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