Making sense of an esoteric theory of mind
Really great. I love the breakdown of the value of Jung and the nonsense--I’ve never studied him explicitly, and I feel like I’m constantly seeing references to his theories, either lauding them or ridiculing them, and so I have this very mixed view of Jung in my head. This helps a lot. Looking forward to more of this series, it’s a great idea.
"We always find indirect ways to express our unconscious traits—hopefully healthy ones. You might think of yourself as peaceful and non-violent, yet love war movies and BDSM. For Jung, this isn’t a contradiction; it’s a healthy engagement with the Shadow."
Oh wow. This is not how I read Jung AT ALL. My understanding is that Jung wants you to engage with your Shadow to figure out what the underlying *need* is, not what it *wants* on the surface. That way, you can connect to the actual repressed need (connection is sufficient if you cannot fulfill the need), and by that transform/satisfy the Shadow and become "whole" (healed), without engaging in e.g. violence, be it in play or in real.
By merely acting out your Shadow, you are not addressing the actual need, and it will grow, i.e. want more and more violence. As such, based on Jungs theories, watching war movies or engaging in BSDM is *NOT* healthy behavior at all?
First email I read and very nice. I like how you showed the main concepts and also main criticisms. Your own opinions might come on too strong at times though if the idea is just to educate and not influence the reader. Hope the other emails are also like this.
I got my dips, chips, and cocktail wienies ready for Superb Owl Sunday. You got something ready for us today? What time is kick off? Anybody else pregaming?
Thank you for the post! I really enjoy the blog, both the topics and the approach to them, and this essay is yet another example of why. Like Dawson, I also have been running into (interpretations of) Jungian ideas fairly often, but never really dove any deeper into them, so this is a pleasant surprise.
<< Despite all this, I think there’s some merit in the idea of a collective unconscious, which I hope to explore in a future Minus the Nonsense article. >>
I would love to read that article! After reflecting on the post, I realized I have myself been thinking about the sensibility of similar ideas.
On the one hand, maybe the idea of collective unconscious is not totally *out there*, but it definitely isn't *here*. On the other, online you can find many cases of people reporting something at least reminiscent of it. There's many stories of people being in an altered state (dream, NDE, meditation, psychedelics) and encountering something that later turned out to be (or can easily be interpreted as) a symbol others encountered as well. Most importantly, often the symbol is something they were not aware of, for example because it came from a culture unfamiliar to them. (This might not be the most convincing example, but this near death experience -- https://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1wilson_fde.html -- describes something somewhat wheel-of-Samsara-like). I personally have also had a couple of experiences of this sort, so I know those stories are not always made up.
So, if we give these stories credence and try to look at them through the lens of our current understanding of the mind, what would be a good interpretation? Are there some (near-)universal archetypes/biases to see certain patterns in the world that are interpreted through cultural symbols and present as them to our conscious self? Is it a subtle case of sociocultural contagion? Just apophenia and the result of fitting experiences that are hard to remember into boxes that really don't fit them? I would love to hear your thoughts and I hope to read the essay in the future!
This was neatly laid out! I really liked how snappy and sharp this was: "Anyone who’s spent time with a toddler knows they can transform from angel to psychopath and back again in a matter of minutes. Normal psychological development cuts away the antisocial behaviors, so our psychopathic toddler can become a functioning adult."
Thanks for writing and sharing it!
First time reader here..
I've not read Jung but have read endless takes both positive and negative on his work.
Who psychoanalyses the psychoanalysts- if they are mentally/emotionally/psychically capped at a certain level it may be that their patient is yet more conscious, in which case the psychoanalyst is downright dangerous.
Guénon made a point (in 'Misdeeds of Psychoanalysis') about the dangers of deep diving down to the subconscious without acknowledgment of the *super*conscious, because all it will do is dredge up muck without a bright and sterilising light to burn it off, thus locking the hapless patient in quagmire of his own darkness. (Paraphrasing.) Along these same lines he saw it as a way to drag Mans spirit down to total dissolution.
No phoenix without the ashes though, innit.
Regarding the comment; "This disdain for science allowed him to explore wild, grandiose claims about the nature of psyche, humanity, and reality. Had Jung been primarily a philosopher or a mystic, these sins might have been forgiven. But these ideas are dangerous for an academic psychologist, let alone a practicing clinician."
I wasn't aware he made such claims but at least it proved he was capable of thinking beyond the mundane brand of reductionist pharmacopeia-psychology.
Lots of incorrect, unfair, or biased assumptions/interpretations here. Lots of half truths. I have to say I was onboard with this blog until this post. Now I am wondering to what extent you are portraying yourself as knowledgeable about subjects that you are clearly unfamiliar with, elsewhere.
I wonder if Jungs distain for science was a reaction against reductivism and its struggle to model and explain complex and emergent systems - which the human mind is. If we switch out the mind for the complex global weather system - what would be the best approach - to go deep and spend one’s time in a single location conducting narrow experiments to try and explain the weather based on the state of the local environment or to go broad and range around recording and comprehending weather systems as a whole. There’s obviously value in both, but I guess in that age and environment - the latter - which I feel he was probably promoting in that passage was under rated and worth emphasizing?