Through a Jungian Lens

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Masculine Transformation – A Journey of Individuation: Part Two

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Marble Mountain, DaNang, Vietnam

This image taken last January while I was touring through Vietnam is a good analogy of entering into the depths of the unconscious, into the realm of the soul and darkness in search of treasures. As I make the journey through my personal past in hopes of understanding my present way of being, there is a fair amount of pain that rises up. This is actually something that is good as that pain is about release, the easing of long held in and denied emotions, fears and memories.

And in typical fashion, I received a few words that seemed to meet the needs of the moment; and again, these words are from Daily Om:

Both emotional and physical pain are messages that we need to stop and pay attention.”

So what is it that demands one’s attention, that demands my attention? As I try to answer this question, I look at the context from which the pain and this message appears to arise. The context I noted was the work of this blog, in particular the issue of masculine transformation as discussed in Eugene Monick’s book.

A child’s dependence upon mother influences how an infant boy learns to identify himself and with what value.

personal value begins as an inner, psychological reality for the child. This is the initial gestalt of self – or non-self, when negative mirroring predominates – upon which all subsequent experiences are built. Thus, through the interpersonal connections with the mother, the first knowledge of individual existence and suggestions of gender identity coincide.” (pp 26-27)

Of course, from the standpoint of adult consciousness, all this is buried deep underground. One needs to approach the dark opening as it presents itself with the right intention before entering if one is to re-discover any fragile threads that provide a sense of roots. Once in the darkness one is blind and can only feel/sense/intuit the flows of affect and energy. Stirring the contents in the depths of the unconscious one retreats back into the outer world to wait.

When the unconscious has been intentionally disturbed, there is typically a flow of images and affect that emerge through dreams and emotions. It becomes the task of the ego self to note that which presents itself and allow the ripples to begin fitting into the known stories of self allowing identity to become better understood.

Gender identity – how do we understand our real gender identity? We can easily (most of the time) figure out whether we are heterosexual or homosexual in orientation, but we struggle with understanding all the crossed signals, all of triggers that mess up our sexual identity.  As men, we often go overboard when trying to prove our masculinity, or we use our gender to assert a sense of power, or we use our partners’ to fill in needs of which we aren’t even aware, needs that come out of our initial experience of self in relation to mother.

And so, the journey of self-discovery as a man must continue.


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