Through a Jungian Lens

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Masculine Transformation – A Journey of Individuation: Part Three

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Two winter birds in China

Each morning these two birds appear to sit on the top branches of trees outside of the apartment window. There stay is always quite brief before they fly off to do what birds do. I finally decided to take their photo in case they don’t show up in the future, just in case. When I took the photo I realised that they weren’t as close together as they normally appear. There is nothing significant in that fact as the next morning they were again closer and at the same level. But for the purposes of active imagination, this image evokes something different. And that, after all, is the whole point of using photographs here in a blog that looks at life and self through a psychological lens.

For me, this image speaks of separation rather than attachment. I could look at this and wonder if this “ripple” of thought is about relationship to my wife, but that would be a convenient detour that would have me avoid the real source of the “ripple.” As you are aware if you have been following here for the past week or so, I am delving into the work of Eugene Monick and his description of the stages of the masculine transformational process. I have looked at the first two stages, the pre-natal and the pre-oedipal stages, stages which mark the first two to three years of life. The third stage is the Oedipal stage:

“The boy-child, until his oedipal crisis and its resolution, continues to be psychologically attached to his mother.  Freud claims that the boy is in love with his mother, drawn to her, desirous of her, powered by his instinctual nature. (One must remember at this point that the boy is still psychologically bisexual; he is torn between his phallic enjoyment and his identification with his mother-producer.) The boy is already aware of his penis and of the ability it has to give him pleasure. He is also aware of his father’s connection to his mother, as her opposite and erotic partner, and the boy’s opponent.” (Monick, Castration and Male Rage, p. 28)

And now you can see, perhaps what I see in the image above, a young boy-child (on the lower-left) looking up, at a distance, at his mother. And so the image has ceased being one about birds in China outside of an apartment window, ceased being a recording of a moment in time, frozen.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

January 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm

4 Responses

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  1. “In this chapter I will talk primarily about the psychological and symbolic meaning of separation from mother. This separation starts the initiatory process for most men, and is the place in our culture it often founders. If a man is able to negotiate this separation from mother he must then learn psychological separation from the father. Both separations must happen if the boy is to become a man. The separation from mother I call the Great Separation for it is the first and most difficult one.”
    Read the entire article at:

    John Ferric

    January 3, 2012 at 1:19 am

    • Thank you for the link, John, I will be checking it out thoroughly once my final documents have been submitted to the university completing the work for this teaching term. I am hoping that the coming five to six weeks allows me time to do the work needed and write what needs to be written. Yes, the great separation must come first. It is the first task of the heroes journey à la Joseph Campbell and Carl Gustav Jung. 🙂 Be well and the best for you in 2012


      January 3, 2012 at 10:16 am

  2. For some women also these issues of separation from the Mother are very powerful. No doubt they operate differently in the psyche, but separation from my mother has had an enormous effect on me. IN the end, the archetype is the core though – the experience of ‘separation’ itself.


    January 3, 2012 at 7:19 am

    • I don’t mean to suggest that women have less issues with separation from the mother, there is a difference between men and women that is real, a difference which will also show up in separation from the father. In the end, there is balance as always. For in the end, all becomes one. 🙂


      January 3, 2012 at 10:21 am

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