Through a Jungian Lens

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Individuation Is a Work of More Than One Person

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What do you see?

These are two of my students in one of my six different classes. I arrive at my classes early, a habit I developed from the first day of teaching thirty-seven years ago when I lived only steps away from my first school in a remote fishing village in northern Saskatchewan in Canada. As I wait for my students to arrive, I keep myself somewhat busy with the posting of the agenda for the day’s lesson on the board and with being visible. Unlike for students in Canada, as a foreigner (visibly foreign) I get a lot more attention, especially in the first part of the term. For many of my students I am the first foreigner that they have ever had as a teacher, or the first foreigner to whom they have had an opportunity to speak. In a way, this makes me a V.I.P. in their eyes. And as such, I often get students taking photos of me in the classroom. Just before I took this photo, the girl on the left had just taken a photo of me with her mobile phone. As she looked at the photo with her friend, she didn’t see me taking this photo.

I was left wondering, what does she see when she sees me as a teacher or in the moments when I am waiting to teach, waiting for all the students to take their places? Who does she see? The only thing I know is that I am seen and that I have caused a ripple through her life likely changing it in some manner that neither of us will ever know. Yet, regardless of that unknown, I do know that I have been present and acknowledged in that moment.

Writing this blog is not really much different than standing in font of a classroom and being a teacher. The photos I present and the thoughts that flow out of them mixed in with a somewhat vague resonance with Jungian ideas tell my readers, you a story of who I am, what I am, and even how I am. For the most part there is silence in the reading, your part, a silence that has its own communicative power. Regardless of conscious intention, once words are heard, something stirs within the unconscious and in the stirring change happens. And similarly, speaking the words knowing that someone hears them also creates ripples and ripples result in change.

As long as there is one reader for a blog, there is an I-Thou connection that works its magic. I know that there are a good number here who read this blog, silently for the most part. I am aware of your presence and am thankful for it.  Your presence is visible in terms of blog statistics, a proof that I am not simply talking to myself. Of course there are those who comment and add their voice to mine in this space. It’s interesting to me how this individuation process is not a lonely process, but one that demands the participation of others.


2 Responses

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  1. I sometimes (not always, mind!) find it vexing people read a blog, but don’t comment to let me know they stopped by to read. I thought it good manners to do so from time to time, just enough to say “I was here, and I enjoyed this, thank you.” Just once in while

    Your post today gave me insight: this is not merely narcissism but a desire for I-thou connection.


    October 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    • The desire for real relationship is a vital part of the individuation process. It is through others that we get to see parts of ourselves of which we have been blind. Through projection onto others, the withdrawal of those projections and revisioning oneself, one can get to see the “other” as a being with depth and soul. And that, is priceless. Thanks, doctor Urspo. 🙂


      October 3, 2011 at 7:06 am

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