Through a Jungian Lens

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Location of the Psyche – Not Necessarily Inside of Man

with 4 comments

I actually don’t like this photo.  I rarely take photos such as these but felt that it was representative of what is happening here in Costa Rica for my family and friends travel blog site.  The photo features another in an endless series of “missionary” events.  This particular group, the “Church of God” is hoping to convert poor Costa Rican Catholics into their superior version of Christianity.  I noted that as with other such events by other missionary groups that the focus ended up on becoming a photo opp for the organizers rather than meeting the spiritual needs of the people they have convinced to attend their event which is focused on children.  The idea is if you can attract the children, their parents will likely come with them.

Personally, I find this practice of roaming the earth with the intention of trying to convince others that your particular brand of externalized spirituality is better than everyone else’s brand to be morally bankrupt.  The implication by each of these competing missionary groups is that belonging to any “other” group will be catastrophic for your soul, that you likely will end up in hell.  The only thing all the competing Christian missionary groups will have in common is the belief that non-Christians are truly lost people who need saving more than anyone else, even if it means that non-Christians (such as Muslim radicals) should be subject to modern day versions of the Inquisition.  I know that I am not being kind here, but the arrogance of missionaries is too much to bare.  Obviously a complex is showing its face here.

“Whenever there exists some external form, be it an ideal or a ritual, by which all the yearnings and hopes of the soul are adequately expressed – as for instance in a living religion – then we may that the psyche is outside and that there is no psychic problem, just as there is then no unconscious in our sense of the word.  In consonance with this truth, the discovery of psychology falls entirely within the last decades, although long before than man was introspective and intelligent enough to recognize the facts that are the subject-matter of psychology.  It was the same with technical knowledge.  The Romans were familiar with all the mechanical principles and physical facts which would have enabled them to construct a steam engine; but all that came of it was the toy made by Hero of Alexandria.  The reason for this is that there was no compelling necessity to go further.  this need arose only with the enormous division of labour and the growth of specialization in the nineteenth century.  So also a spiritual need has produced in our time the “discovery” of psychology.  The psychic facts still existed earlier, of course, but they did not attract attention – on one noticed them.  People got along without them.  But today we can no longer get along unless we pay attention to the psyche.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

This is the age of psychology and I agree with most of what Jung has to say here.  But, I must hasten to add that many, many people are still in a world where the psyche is outside the person, located in the rituals of community or church.  The need for psychology is growing as more and more people fall out of the embrace of community rituals, falling flat on their faces and notice that they are now on their own.  This view of psychological need isn’t about fixing people who have bad habits (behaviour modification or solution-focused therapy) or disorders that are relieved with a proper equilibrium of pharmaceutical products.  This notion of psychology is about relocating the psyche back to within an individual.  Hillman was correct when he claimed that we’ve had 100 years of psychotherapy and no one has really been fixed.  As Jung claimed, no one gets fixed in doing psychological work, one only becomes more aware of one’s self and becomes personally responsible for that self.  One is not a victim.  One simply is.


4 Responses

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  1. Robert,
    You write: “. . . As Jung claimed, no one gets fixed in doing psychological work, one only becomes more aware of one’s self and becomes personally responsible for that self. One is not a victim. One simply is.”

    It seems to me that one must begin to understand the things that one is “personally responsible for.” In “The Spiritual Problem Of Modern Man,” Jung writes:

    “. . .It is from the depths of our own psychic life that new spiritual forms will arise; they will be expressions of psychic forces that may help to subdue the boundless lust for prey of Aryan man. . . .”

    I change the term “Aryan man” to “Western Civilization.” What constitutes the “the boundless lust for prey” of Western Civilization? What might we say about it in order to begin to take some responsibility for it?


    March 28, 2010 at 10:22 am

    • Yes, one “must” begin to understand and with that understanding, do what has to be done in terms of individual responsibility. Thanks JF.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 28, 2010 at 6:26 pm

  2. did you read the book called Wild, an elemental journey, by Jay Griffiths? she spent 7 years travelling in different places, and your thoughts made me think of her as she vehmently despises the influence of the missionaries on cultures which have great depth, knowledge and richness before the missionaries arrive and begin to dictate.

    Your post is very Anyway, it is good to read something I also feel so strongly about, thanks.


    March 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    • I will have to find this book, Lisa. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. I look forward to your return.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm

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