Through a Jungian Lens

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Tragedy of Fascination in the Magical Other

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On the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia near Kampong Chhnang, I came across these children who live on the river.  These children are a proof that there is a beauty and vitality and hope for life.  These children are the product of the human instinct for survival as a species and a deeper instinct for the preservation of the self as an immortal being.  One doesn’t think of any of this when one meets the other with whom mating and giving birth and child-rearing becomes a life-consuming task.

Many reasons are given for marrying in our modern times – love, wealth, power, duty, loneliness – but whatever the initial impulse the two entering into a marriage begin to change because of the marriage, because of the intimate contact with an other person.  Two people choose to be together in a contractual arrangement that is best described as a marriage.  Yet, it isn’t too long before both parties of the contract have changed.  Intimacy evokes a response as much as dropping a stone into a still pond affects change in an environment.

“Many marriages simply evolve  beyond the implicit terms of the invisible contract.  Whatever complexes or programmed ideas of self and Other may have inspired the marriage the psyche has moved to another place.  It is not so much that people fall out o love, but that the original controlling ideas have waned in favor of others – or the complex has decided that the Other cannot meet the expectations of the original agenda. (Hollis, The Eden Project, p 44)

Imagine if the two in a marriage became stuck in the initial human psychological developmental stage (it happens).  Two who become forever adolescent; two who never move past that initial Magical Other; the result is tragic from the view of individuation as individuals, and perhaps even more tragic if these become parents who are so fixated on each other that the children are basically orphans in a psychological sense.

The binds and blindfolds of the Magical Other deny the growth of self.  One is frozen in place and in time.  One never does find the person behind the projections. And, one never does find the depths of one’s self.


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