Through a Jungian Lens

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Mondays, Men and the Masculine – Part 6

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Hanging out with the breakfast taco crowd in Belize City

Hanging out with the breakfast taco crowd in Belize City

As I continue this study of my gender and what it is to be a man, what it is to be masculine, I realise that while I am immersed in this journey of psyche, an inner world journey that is surrounded by an outer world in which I continue to exist as well. While search, I must continue to be a man with my partner, within the community I find myself in for the present here in Corozal which has a number of sub-communities embedded within it. I find myself in a community of expats, Americans and Canadians who have chosen to come here to make a new home or are searching for a new home base; as well as these expats, I have begun to interact with a few local men at the various shops, and on the street. Being a man is assumed by all I meet as I am obviously a senior, adult male. No one questions my identity as a man. That said, at the same time, I am digging deep into my head and heart trying to find answers to questions that are hard to put into words, questions about my identity as a man in this modern world.

“Jung insists that individuation is above all a dialogue with the unconscious psyche. The ego needs to maintain its essential connection with social reality as it attempts to ‘have it out’ with the unconscious forces. As the ego makes its ‘descent’ for the sake of renewal, it must resist the ‘inertia’ of the unconscious, and the forces that would paralyse it, and maintain human integrity at all costs.” [Tacey, Remaking Men, p. 19]

I have been there, finding myself so immersed in the psyche chasing down the shadows that I forgot about connecting with others. For a long time, I self-isolated and spent all my time on reading every depth psychology article I could find, recording and the plumbing the depths of my dreams, using meditation as a diving tool to take me further into the depths, only taking time out to connect with my analyst. My ego inflated as I saw myself as an authority, as a misunderstood and ignored wise man. I forgot that I was a human that was flawed deeply and needing the connection to others, to life, to my body.

When we make contact with the unconscious, and so become privy to some of the collective secrets of the ages, we must compensate for this ‘dialogue with the Gods’ by increased amounts of humour and humility: two of the best antidotes to spiritual arrogance and inflation.” [ibid]

I know that I am not the only one who gets caught in the dialogue with the unconscious. If anything, when one approaches this dialogue without intention, the danger is even greater. One of my new friends here in Corozal is an American who is searching for property and a home here. He came with his wife and we have been together a number of times, two couples in Belize. His wife has no intention of moving to Belize. He hears her words but is so captured by his need that he can’t respond to her pain that is growing with his obsession with moving. His response is simply “I have been taking care of others all my life, I need to take care of myself, now.” Yet, he doesn’t know what that means or how to accomplish this need. I have learned that it is not achieved by changing addresses. One must wade in the unconscious keeping a line open to the conscious world at the same time. It is the only way to see the ripples that flow from the changes in oneself on others. We need to address these ripples and make conscious decisions based on reasoned outcomes. Will one truly be serving the self living alone in a foreign country when a wife of  many decades, children and grandchildren are left behind?

I don’t have the answers to these questions though I do know they need to be faced, questions of one’s participation in the outer world of place, things and relationships. It is hard enough to be a man without getting lost in the shadow land of the unconscious.


4 Responses

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  1. Some fantastic thoughts here, Robert. I’m enjoying reading about your journey. In a few days time, I’m heading to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, another big hangout for expats, Canadian and American. I’ve heard lots about it over the years, so I thought that I’d hop down there and check it out. This time, a week, perhaps next year, a month – assuming that I like it.


    February 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    • I hope you like that community. I know that friends who have set up their home away from home in Merida area are more than satisfied with how that community, both Mexican and expat, has enriched their lives.


      February 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

  2. On November 27, 2012 I underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery, my first experience with surgery of any kind and akin to voluntarily stepping in front of a moving bus. It was also the culmination of a three year journey through an abyss of personal loss and grief. That journey began when my 39 year-old son died unexpectedly from causes unknown, followed closely by the sudden and unexpected death of my oldest colleague and friend of 36 years.

    I began analysis with a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst in February, 2010. You are absolutely correct that when we explore the depths of our unconscious a line must be kept open to the “conscious world,” as you put it.

    As a 64 year-old who came of age on the west coast of the States in the 1960’s, we seem to have both experienced that same profound cultural upheaval that was the late 60’s. Although I was exposed to Jung, along with the canon of Western Philosophy in the 60’s, I was not ready for the “depths” until much later in my life.

    I really appreciate your site and writing. In my opinion, the world needs the Jungian perspective more now than ever and you are making a fine contribution to that effort.

    As a final note: my recovery from heart surgery has been rather spectacular, I must say. I have no doubt that 3 years of analysis and the important work I did there prepared me for this medical crises in a way nothing else could have.

    Gary Olson

    March 14, 2013 at 7:46 am

    • Gary, I truly appreciate the sharing of your story here. As you said, likely the “work” you have done getting to know yourself as a whole has been a factor in your spectacular recovery from heart surgery. I hope to hear more from you in the future. Be well. 🙂


      March 18, 2013 at 7:48 am

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