Through a Jungian Lens

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Stuck in a Cocoon Avoiding Maturation

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Star - A Dream Boy studying Journalism

This student really did choose to have his English name as “Star.” He was one of my Journalism students last year. He was the a student who smiled a lot and didn’t work too hard. As is my usual practice when teaching at the university, I used the break time between class hours to chat with my students and learn more about them. Star had described himself as having a simple dream for the future, unlike most of his peers. There was no talk of being a businessman or journalist, no talk of setting up his own business. For him it was simple. He just intended on being rich and enjoying a happy life with his family. Of course his parents would live with him forever in this future, and perhaps his grandparents as well.

There is a cultural dynamic at work here, that of a son taking care of his parents and having his parents care for his future child with all living in the same home. This is considered the “norm” in China, in modern China where there is a one-child family policy. Star, like almost all of his classmates, has been the focus, the centre of the world for his four grandparents and his parents. The protection and coddling of children, especially boy children, makes it almost impossible for a boy to “move out and away from his family” in China.

The grandparents and parents see their future well-being and security all wrapped up in the one child. That one child, must be protected at all costs, must be given every advantage that money can buy. And that money, is saved as parents and grandparents funnel every cent (jiao/mao), every dollar (yuan/kuai) into the child’s education which includes more than is to be found in the school. The child rarely learns the meaning of the word, “No.” The last thing the parents and grandparents want is for the child to grow up wanting to escape the family, angry at the family. And, as a result, China is suffering a generation of children, adolescents who behave as if they are little emperors and empresses. Like Star, there is no sense of reality, no sense of boundaries, there is no chance for becoming psychologically mature as men.

I was in a local business talking with a friend of the past six years, a Chinese woman who had married a foreigner and has since divorced him on the grounds of adultery on his part. I asked her why she wasn’t going to get married again and she told me her reasons. She told me that Chinese men were spoiled. They married as required by his parents, provided the grandchild they needed and saw that as the end of his “duty” as far as being married was concerned.

Life is now all about playing while the grandparents raise the child. Now is the time to indulge his every whim; girlfriends and mistresses, parties with his buddies at the newest International Men’s Clubs or KTV, expensive luncheons where the food is basically ignored while the guys constantly toast each other until they are pleasantly drunk. Life, for these men, is all about play, about living their fantasies.

Of course not all of the young Chinese men are like this, but many are, too many. Young Chinese men like Star, will remain stuck in the world of adolescence until reality bursts and takes down the all the walls separating these men from protection of their parents and grandparents.


7 Responses

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  1. It almost seems as if there is an active imperative NOT to grow up for many of the students at university. The implication of ‘adult’ ‘mature’ requires making independent decisions and that is something few in authority (parents, teachers,lecturers, gov’t) encourage. Parents do everything for a child, including selecting friends. Teachers do not push students to work at their highest capacity, instead passing almost every student and if the grade isn’t high enough, a small ‘gift’ will miraculously see an increase to at least pass level if not higher. Exams are based on rote learning, not analysis or original thought. Questions in class are not encouraged – just learn the textbook.

    Girls are also not encouraged to be independent – a recent survey showed that they expect to be financially cared for after marriage, and their own earnings aren’t expected to contribute tot eh family. Girls expect a partner to have a house, car and good job (earning over 4000Y per month is basic!) before they see him as ‘suitable’. In a country where the ratio of male to female is completely unbalanced, the idea of independent women in an anathema and the government, faced with millions of excess young men with little chance of having a family to provide stability is using its propaganda powers to ensure that women who are not married by the time they are 28 are pitied. Look at how often the words ‘shang nu’ (left over virgins) are now being used to deride independent young women.

    Growing up is almost not an option for these young people.


    January 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    • I agree with all you have to say here, Lotus, about young men and women in China. It is institutionalized and embedded in a culture that afraid of the future.


      January 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm

  2. Two points; first, how may children in this country are being raised by grandparents, or often, great-grandparents? More than we might imagine, see:
    Second, years ago a woman I know explained this to me; “Soccer Moms,” her position was that these women were more interested in being seen as good parents, as opposed to being good parents. There is a world of difference. Doing the hard work of learning and understanding the needs of each individual child is much different from simply acquiring the “badges” of good parenthood.

    John Ferric

    January 9, 2012 at 2:37 am

  3. I agree with Mr. Bly ; grown boys who are not men are a bane to all especially of themselves. Shudder.


    January 9, 2012 at 4:36 am

    • Some men are boys into their 90’s when death comes calling – puer aeternus – My father was one of these boys in a man’s body.


      January 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

  4. Just came across this while searching for something else”

    “. . . Increasingly, the state or the big corporation takes over the paternal roles of protector and provider without encouraging the development of individual autonomy and self-sufficency. This is conducive to a form of fixated and collective adolescence.”
    Anthony Stevens, “Archetype Revisited, An Updated Natural History of the Self”(p.153).

    John Ferric

    January 10, 2012 at 4:39 am

    • Remove the messy human male from the picture and sterilize humanity. Thanks for the quote.


      January 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

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