Through a Jungian Lens

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Eruptions of the Unconscious

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I went back two months into my archives to find this photo which I took in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Why this particular photo?  I guess, it was the first to catch my eye.  There is no “plan” as far as today’s post is concerned.  For a while, I didn’t even know if I would write a post.  Today is a sunny day with the temperature finally climbing into a very comfortable range which lead to a long walk in the early afternoon.  The morning was spent trying to keep up on the tragedies that are unfolding all around the world with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan heading the list.  With all of  this happening, I just couldn’t seem to find the “will” to write as I usually do.  However, now in the late afternoon, I find that the words are beginning to come.  Trusting to instinct, I have decided that I will post today.  In a way the photo sort of helps explain how it feels to be coming out of a tunnel and looking at the sunshine promised in the distance.

The unrest in Northern Africa, the conflict in Afghanistan, the tensions in so many places and the unsettled planet making its own set of statements through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and storms.  It makes me think of how one is often left feeling powerless when the inner storms begin their assaults that are chaotic.  When the psyche decides enough is enough, one is shocked by eruptions of the unconscious.

I turned to Jung’s works for some words that might make a difference in feeling less “at sea” with all that is going on.  Strangely enough, I found something in volume 11 in a an essay on the concept of “quaternity” that seemed to fit with what I am experiencing/feeling.  I have often written about typology, about the two rational functions and the two irrational functions with the dominant function being opposed by an inferior function.  In the essay, Jung looks at the role of the inferior function in a way that helps me understand a bit more.

Three of the four orienting functions are available to consciousness.  This is confirmed by the psychological experience that a rational type, for instance, whose superior function is thinking, has at his disposal one or two possible auxiliary functions of an irrational nature, namely sensation (the “fonction dy réel”) and intuition (perception via the unconscious).  His inferior function will be feeling (valuation), which remains in a retarded state and is contaminated with the unconscious.  It refuses to come along with the others and often goes wildly off on its own.  This peculiar dissociation is, it seems, a product of civilization, and it denotes a freeing of consciousness from any excessive attachment to the “spirit of gravity.” (Jung, CW 11, par. 245)

The missing fourth function erupts and does its own thing, unchecked by the superior function that is blind to the inferior function.  Why do I think this is relevant?  I think back to how other cultures, and animals have been in tune with the planet and seemed to “know” in advance the approach of events such as earthquakes.  Such events take us by surprise and seem to come out of nowhere.  But, our inferior function lost in the sea of unconsciousness to our purposes is not really lost.  All really isn’t in a state of chaos.

It takes a lot of patience with ourselves as we do the work of rediscovery of the inferior function, trusting that the dark and unknown regions are not really just a personal version of a chaotic and dark hell.  There is light in this darkness as well.  And as in this photo, we can learn to navigate into and out of the shadow and feel less of a victim.



4 Responses

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  1. I agree; the Victim complex is a seductive but very bad complex indeed, particularly with too much Shadow energy.


    March 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

    • Thanks for adding the weight of your words to this, Urspo.


      March 16, 2011 at 6:57 am

  2. Such a beautiful way to make sense out of the tragedies erupting everywhere. Thank you.

    Jean Raffa

    March 15, 2011 at 7:33 am

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