Through a Jungian Lens

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I was walking along the sidewalk holding the hand of my four year old great-niece’s hand when I saw this seed pod that had landed in a puddle.  We studied the seed and its wings for quite a while after I had taken its photo.  Finally, with her curiosity satisfied, we continued walking in order to find our way “home.”  I love seeing the universe along side small children who are fully absorbed in all of the small wonders that adults miss.

The floating feeling is one that I enjoy, feeling myself suspended between earth and sky.  There is only a small problem for me, the fact that floating in water isn’t easy.  Whenever I try floating, my feet drift downwards as though to pull me into the depths.  To stay afloat I must gently move hands and feet.  Regardless of the difficulty with floating, I enjoy the water, especially the sea.  Rather than float on my back, I prefer looking down into the depths while wearing my snorkel and mask.  I enjoy being in between two worlds.

Strange when I think about it, I have a fear of heights and a fear of depths.  Both fears are about falling.  When I feel “safe” such as in a plane, the heights have no fear factor.  Being in the depths of a cavern heading even further down offers me no fear factor as well.  The fear only surfaces when I sense a lack of control, being left at the mercy of others or fickle nature.

And in listening to Jung, I remember hearing “Where the fear, there is your task.”  I need to listen more to CG Jung:  “Anyone who is afraid has reason to be.”  What is it about the fear of falling from heights, falling into the depths that abides within me?  Am I fearful simply because of personal environmental history or is there some psychological factors at work here?

As a psychotherapist I do not by any means try to deliver my patients from fear.  Rather, I lead them to the reason for their fear, and then it becomes clear that this is justified.”

There is a reason for my fear and I sense that it is more than simple childhood traumatic incidents, that it is more about the larger domaine of the unconscious where I find myself staring down into unfathomable depths.  Rather, I would prefer to float between the heights and the depths, suspended.  This isn’t an invented fear within me, this is primal.

“I can say this because I am a religious man and because I know with scientific certainty that my patient hasn’t invented his fear but that it is preordained.  By whom or what? By the unknown.  The religious man calls this absconditum “God,” the scientific intellect calls it the unconscious.”

The depths, the darkness, the unconscious – this is my fear.  I dare not deny the fear, nor avoid facing this fear.  I need to approach the fear, the unconscious though I quake in fear of that unknown.  For it is only in approaching this darkness, this depth that I can find a bit more light to carry forward through my days and nights.  And as I do this work, I find it a bit easier in trying to climb gentle hills and swim in deeper waters.

PS – Just a small note to say that most of these words of Jung’s cited here come from a letter Jung wrote to Fritz Buri in 1945.


5 Responses

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  1. My fear is of running. It is awful, awful fear of falling down while running. I can do almost any other excercise, but I really want to run a marathon. I just cannot seem to make myself run. When I try, I start gasping for air and feeling like I am dying. I shake uncontrollably and when I finally start to walk, it takes me the rest of the way to recover.

    I don’t know why I am afraid. I’ve asked myself many times. I can’t figure it out, but it is one of those consuming fears I cannot shake.

    • Fear is fear – there is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I gave up trying to figure it out and have learned to live with it and see where it takes me and watch how it changes – and it does change 🙂

      Robert G. Longpré

      August 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

  2. My fear is loss of self within relationships. My socialisation as a female was so strong, to serve others to sublimate my needs to meet others…. I know the fear, but still see the actions when I am with others.

    For now, my defence is distance. When I am with people I care deeply about, my ‘nurturing’ side quickly gains ascendancy and I watch myself running around furiously – to not be in the road, to make no demands on their time, to make things easier for them.

    With people in other relationships (teaching,counselling etc) I am clear about boundaries, what is healthy support, what is enabling etc.

    Knowing the fear, knowing it is justified does not always give a clear way of dealing with it. For now – I leave my family and friends, only see them for short times (they are also used to the pattern of our relationships and slip into mutually familiar behaviours), protect myself from deeper, long-term relationships in a new country and hope that new patterns, new behaviours will create a new, more ‘Self’ honouring me.

    Lotus Eater

    July 31, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    • Lotus, I totally understand what you are talking about. This is something I have done to myself over the years, falling into the caretaking of others, and putting myself last. It is a difficult switch for both myself and those around me as I move away from this self-imposed penance.

      Robert G. Longpré

      August 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

  3. Wow, Lotus. I admire you. I cannot leave my “others” for they are my six children, and they thrust themselves into my consciousness daily, at times hourly. But I do sometimes wish I could run away to a separate country and just be in the whirl of new voices, things I don’t understand. I’m so full of understanding that I no longer do understand. It’s all a blur.

    Sometimes I lay on the couch with all of it going on around me. My youngest who is still quiet in her soul will come and whisper something profound in my ear. This is what I have right now. I will take it.

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