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                        Carl Jung and his ideas on

                                       Self  Part 2


                   Recovering our Selves

            Jung came to discover that what caused neurosis in some of his patients was the very fact that they had no religion or myth on which to integrate the contents of the unconscious. We seem to need a verbal framework to understand our experience. Religions at their best, have provided this framework for people to understand spiritual experiences. Most religions have unfortunately been so perverted with issues of social control and conditioning, being used to manipulate people to war and so on, that they have frequently lost their spiritual essence from which they began. What holds the spiritually inclined to religion, whether the one they were born into or one they adopt, is not a desire for dogma, but a deep thirst in many of us to experience the spiritual. Long, long ago, I came to the belief that although there are many different religions in the world, spirituality is the same. It belongs to no particular religion and is found as often in those who do not subscribe to any religion.

            Nonetheless I believe Jung is correct in that we need a verbal way to understand our spiritual experience. He himself developed a rich structure of symbols from which we could recognise and understand elements of our psyche, and when I became interested in them several years ago, I found my unconscious was more than willing to present things to me in dreams using Jungian symbols. It is my belief that our "true Self", that which for some reason we have lost conscious contact with, which I would call our spirit, always wants to be in contact with us and is just looking for a way. I have found that if I take on a particular way of working my unconscious is quite happy to use that. This leads me to believe that he was quite correct in believing that the reason for a great deal of neurosis is simply our need for myths and symbols to connect our spirituality with. I believe there is no argument between spirituality. It is real and can be experienced by you and by me and by every other person in the world. I believe it is also our deepest desire because it is from here that we become truly who we are. A perhaps paradox of this state of consciousness, where we can feel so connected with others, where we feel part of a whole, is that at the same time we feel most fully ourselves. I am also in no doubt that the wars of the world and our untold inhumane treatment of each other are caused not because we are "evil", but rather because we have lost touch with who we really are.

            Jung's view of Ego, like Freud's, is not about some kind of over inflated image of oneself as some view it, but rather as the central field of consciousness, where all that is conscious in the person is processed and held. Jung like Freud believed in the unconscious although he came to have a very different view of it to Freud. However to both we all had elements of self which had become unconscious and these elements although unconscious would affect us. The ego hence, was the personality as it was expressed through the central field of consciousness coupled with how that field of consciousness was affected and dealt with the unconscious within us.

            Carl Jung believed no limits could be put on the fields of consciousness, as it was capable of infinite possibility. However in reality we did set limits when we came up against the unknown. Until we know something it cannot become conscious and if it is not conscious it cannot belong to ego or be considered part of our personality. The unknown can either be experienced through our senses when we come up against something in the outer world or the unknown can come from within us, from our inner selves and can be experienced immediately. The unknown that comes from here comes from our unconscious. Sometimes things which are unconscious will break through into consciousness. Obviously this will involve a need to reorganise the ego and cope with the new material and will also lead to a different perception of self (ego)

            Jung's Way of Working

            Carl Jung was a psychiatrist and yet his way of working was very far removed from much of psychiatry today, which seems to be involved with simply studying mental illness, diagnosing patients with this or that mental problem, prescribing drugs and generally taking charge and control of their patients. To my knowledge there is no demand on psychiatrists today to work on themselves as Jung and indeed Freud did. Psychiatry appears to have fallen ever deeper into the mire of "thinking from the head" and like religion before it, is now more often used as a force of control than healing. Jung was very different in his way of working. Like Carl Rogers he recognised the importance of the therapeutic relationship. He believed that this was a relationship in which the therapist as well as the patient must be touched and moved. If the therapist acted in a detached, superior way, then Jung doubted that much would be achieved. Like Buddhism before it, he acknowledged that we have an ego and that that ego is not who we really are and although he called our true nature Self and Buddhism speaks of "no self". I believe this difference is more to do with terminology as I will discuss later within Buddhism.



            His Interest in Astrology

            There is much disagreement as to what extent Jung was involved in Astrology. That he studied it is evident from reading his work. Some Jungian Astrologers claim that he made an astrological chart of everyone he worked with, while other Jungian's, although recognising he did indeed study it, believe he never believed in it. The extent to which he did believe in Astrology, I do not know and Jung is not here to ask. What is certain is that at times he wrote as if he did believe in it. It would also be strange that a person who had possibly the most open mind in recent history and who spent a great deal of time studying myths, legends, alchemy and so on, would dismiss our oldest system of ‘self discovery’. His theories of personality types and Archetypes also have an uncanny resonance with Astrology. You will find an article on Jung and Astrology at The Zodiac Master and here you will find one on Jung and Dane Rudnyer on Astrology. If you are interested in learning more deeply about the Jungian approach to Astrology then The Centre for Psychological Astrology is the place to go.

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