Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Enantiodromia is a concept made popular by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. Carl is known for being deeply difficult to interpret because of his writing style. He was first friendly but later became a rival of Sigmund Freud. If we were having coffee today, on the day of the women’s march on Washington, I would make an effort to explain this idea. I think if we look at the United States as an entity created by history we can see that our society has become more and more at odds with “the Other”. Carl explains this blame game as transference, or finding fault in others rather than looking into our own responsibility for any given situation. In personal relationships this is common, and now it is the norm for our politics. I have really been thinking hard about this as we approached the inauguration. I share feelings of doom and despair with many, but I am taking solace that we are establishing a new rock bottom from which we can only bounce. Our collective consciousness is a mess, in need of clarity and healing. The United States, the nation, is delusional. We need to face this fact and remedy the cultural issues that we have made such a big deal of establishing. Neither “other” is right. Both are out of touch with reality. This is another way Carl looked at action and reaction. He said there is not so much good and bad as real and unreal. The pendulum has swung to the outer limits of unreality now, and the center is strained to the max. Will it hold?
Please help yourself to tea or coffee, or a big glass of fresh grapefruit juice. It is rainy and cool out, but the wood stove is roaring and the armchair with the ottoman next to the fire is ready for you. Snuggle in and tell me how you are dealing with events these days. I stayed quiet this week, mostly because my car went to the shop for 3 days to be repaired. I wrote another short piece of fiction based on a photo prompt this week. It turned out to be very disquieting, haunted and macabre because my mind was on the national spirit. I am a bit surprised at my own darkness in these short stories. I guess it reflects by subconscious as well as my desire to make up stories. I thought I would be funny in fiction, but I am a bit of a horror writer, much to my own horror.
This is the perfect time for me to segue to enantiodromia, the phenomena. Simply put, it means that any force in overabundance will produce it’s opposite in order to keep nature in balance. If one single aspect of a consciousness is developed at the expense of all others, the equal and opposite reaction will be triggered by the extreme condition of the psyche. Often in individuals this shift precedes a breakthrough into a more integrated personality. Once the “other” is seen in a realistic light an enlightenment can take place.
In Jung’s own words:
The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil. (“The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales”, Collected Works 9i, par. 397)
I am placing all my hope in enantiodromia to save our society. We elected our shadow, and now we will be forced to view it, ironically against the backdrop of the White House. We can’t blame our shadow into evaporating because it represents (imperfectly) the ideas of “the enemy”. We have to meet it straight on, and see what part we have played in establishing it and then giving it power. This is deeper and weirder than just Republicans vs Democrats. This is real vs unreal, in which everyone has a little of each. We are codepending with everyone and everything. Our journey to balance will require enlightenment and compassion for all those “others”.
Diana hosts the coffee party each weekend from New Orleans. Please visit us to read, write, comment, or just consume a few cups of digital coffee. This party is a wonderful place to keep it real and share your thoughts in a safe, creative atmosphere. Thanks for dropping by this week.
Authority issues plague many of us. I am highly suspicious of all authority. There are a few instances that make the exception to the rule, but generally I think that power is a reason to investigate the motives of someone. My own upbringing has a lot to do with the issues I have today, since I grew up with quite a bit of sexism and some rigid nonsensical rules. There was violent insistence on the rules and on the concept that we were a happy family. I don’t think my parents were very happy, and I know I wasn’t pleased with my living conditions during childhood. This social mask imposed to hide the true situation included a strong dress code and many other elements designed to display perfection. I always felt repressed and restrained in various ways. When I was out of my parents’ world I never sought out any status symbols or social signs of belonging. I preferred to be a pleasure-seeking liberated person without the need for social approval. I respected no authority figures of any kind. As I look at it today I see an extreme reaction to rules and regulations, as well as to many institutions.
Trauma lives on in the feelings, thoughts, senses, and memories of everyone. It would be impossible to go through life without any shocking disruptive events. The way we process them depends on our circumstances at the time. If trauma is induced by parent or someone we must depend on for survival we may disassociate from reality in order to survive. Later the trauma continues in the body and the emotions if the appropriate anger is not found and processed for the serious betrayals of the past. Forgiveness is a part of the healing process, but it is not healthy to forgive without recognizing the wrongs and the disrespect we endured in childhood and early adulthood. Our personalities are mostly formed by the time we are 30, although we can have transformative events after that time also. If you draw a timeline of your life and include all the major emotional and physical traumas you have experienced you notice how your current reactive self was formed. We continue to react to the unresolved past, often by rebelling. To heal the trauma and stop the need to react we need to return to the times of greatest stress and damage, acknowledge the ways we were hurt, and come to the rescue of the helpless victim in the story, ourselves. Notice this situation may have been reconstructed a hundred different ways in life. To clean the slate and transform that trauma into understanding we need to look at the truth and take it into our consciousness. To stop repeating patterns that we continue out of reaction to the past we must examine the source and resolve to treat ourselves with confidence and love. We must rebel against unfair and unjust treatment both now and in the past in order to free ourselves from the damage it does.
James Hillman, well known Jungian scholar, talks about soul and psychology:
His observations are pertinent today as we live with serious division in the nation’s psyche. The congress is a symbolic and highly visible example of our troubled national soul. When I was young I felt patriotic and secure that America was the greatest nation in the world. The Viet Nam War and civil rights struggles in the states changed my mind about that. I had the chance to live outside the US for a year when I was 13-14, in Venezuela. I learned Spanish. I had listened to Fidel Castro on the radio. My psyche had already been subverted before Viet Nam.
I have never missed an opportunity to vote in any election since I turned 21. I pay all my taxes and obey the law. I am a tiny part of the deeply troubled economy that is driving the young and the old into poverty. My personal comfort and economic security are good, but neighbors all around me are not as lucky. I am healthy, but the nation is statistically very ill, mentally and physically. I am concerned about the bifurcation that tears the country into two unhealthy sides of some eternal controversy. I am concerned about the soul of America.
Psyche is the goddess of the soul. Her curiosity and her great beauty made her life difficult. She was the object of Aphrodite’s jealousy. The story of Beauty and the Beast is almost exactly the tale of Psyche. She earns her place in the pantheon by enduring hardship and deceit. Psychic has come to mean the ability to sense beyond the obvious. Our experiences in life that test our ability to see through disguises are maturing our psyches.