Freud Versus Jung

Two Forms of Reality

What do these names mean to you?

Once again we encounter the question of what is reality. These two names represent very different views and relationships to the larger elements of society and culture.

Anyone in the mental health field will inevitably come in contact with the writings of Sigmund Freud. Not necessarily Carl Jung. Freud was important in advancing the field of mental health and forming it into a system used to treat what were called mental disorders. He made us aware of the existence of the unconscious mind which we are only now being able to look at in brain imaging. Jung might have come from another planet.

Why Mental Illness?

Freud was very close to the development of western medicine. We had come to the point where there was the thought that people might not suffer infestation by evil spirits. Calling what was happening a mental illness meant they could be removed from not well informed intervention by the church. That was a step forward but as we will see in later posts it was not always to the point.

A Broader Perspective

I’ll be frank to say that Jung fascinated me much more so than Freud. Both men were Europeans but Freud was closer to western thought. Jung foraged the world and shed light on not just our mental systems, but culture and elements of deep meaning.

Both men brought us utility of different kinds. Freud made us realize that there was such a thing as an unconscious mind. It is only now as we probe the brain with new tools that we can see the operation of the unconscious forming up prior to conscious awareness. Each man dealt with reality in their own way.

Myth and Truth

In Jung’s search he related to mythology and he brought us fascinating commentaries and revelations. But he did something more. In searching the world he recognized that there is a personality system in humans. A systematic study of human personality turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with mental illness. The system Jung devised, or perhaps the better word is uncovered, is the basis for the Myers-Briggs Personality Typology which, if you would like to know about your personality you can find it on line. Simply ask our friend Google and you will be taken to it.

Both of these men dealt with reality in their own way. Freud seemed closer to the western scientist while Jung sought reality of other sorts. What I found particularly fascinating about Jung was the mythological components which take us to all manner of alternatives. We can see a great deal about our speculative foragings.

Jung had fascinating perspectives. He wrote an entire book about alchemy. His conclusion was that it was not a search for how to change lead into gold. He saw it as a bridge from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment as people were exploring new ways.
In Jung’s autobiography Memories, Dreams and Reflections is found fascinating revelations about a man who broke the bounds of ordinary reality. It is both about him and philosophical.

Both Offer Meaning

Sometimes there is a debate about truth and these men. I see no such debate needed. Each offered something fascinating and brought us forward. I have to admit I feel much closer to the work of Jung because we are the same personality type. Freud did good work but his thinking did not enroll me in his world. Both men speak to us about important elements of the human experience and, in the end, they may have nothing to do with mental illness.

Have you encountered the work of these men? What was your reaction?

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The Fog We Are Living In

 

The present status of America justifies deep concern. Suddenly we are no longer the leader of the Free World. Even worse, we are foundering. It is as if we are living in a fog of indecision and quandaries. Have we forgotten who we are? It seems we cannot see ahead.

Our Present Malaise

In past eras in America I have seen celebrations of who we are and enthusiasm in regard to possibilities before us. Granted there were major conflicts among our people but we prevailed and forged ahead. Now it seems the fog and conflict are so deep we cannot even grope our way ahead. Some of it is political but too often that is all we see it as. To me it seems it goes deeper. Take away the party rhetoric and we still seem to be somewhere between unable to see ahead or not paying attention to what is going on. We seem unable to forge dreams for our future.

Having Lost our Way

Have we lost our way in this fog? Or are there other reasons why we seem so lost and stuck in pointless conflict? I’m not sure that we can address the problem globally. Perhaps it makes more sense to look at specific issues which can be addressed. They may take vision or they may be addressed piecemeal but in whatever regard we need to begin.

The Future Takes Shaping

One thing about the future. It will not wait. It comes whether we want it to or not. And left to itself it will take shape. It would be better if we sought to take on the challenge.

Opportunity

When we step back and look we can see that there is a dynamic future which is accelerating. Perhaps that is part of the problem. It is accelerating in all regards and it is difficult to adapt. But if we don’t adapt, we fall victim. It’s better to not be arrested by alarm because the opportunities are numerous and stunning. Maybe first we each need to examine what is holding us back personally. From there we can address specific issues. It would help if we restored the balance between conservatives and liberals. I happen to believe it was a dynamic partnership. If conservatives are described as people devoted to preservation and improvement then they can join liberals to shape a view they see of dynamic change. But balance is required and we each have a contribution to make. Unfortunately we seem to have lost our sight of this partnership and the partnership need not be seen as political but rather social dynamism.

More Than an Abstraction

We can describe the partnership but what we need to address is not abstract. We can agree there are changes needed and if we will honor the dynamic differences between Conservatives and Liberals we can make important partnerships. Unfortunately much of the rhetoric is abstract and designed to feed emotions. Again, perhaps it is worthwhile to approach specific real world issues where we can employ our partnership.

What would be your first target task?

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Life’s a Beach (Not the other word)

 

What does the beach mean to you?

Allegories Abound

The term in the title is often made as a complaint about hardship or complications. But it also can be interpreted as an allegory. How we love the beach! Glorious in summer it offers us motion, change, ease and cools our days and nights with gentle breezes.

But the most prominent feature of the beach is the waves. They touch our hearts as the most prominent feature of our planet interacts with us. It also represents the very essence of our existence. Our lives are ruled by waves as are our social interactions and the larger experiences of humankind.

Succession and Change

Of course, we understand change but the waves of the ocean are enduring and, while repetitive, they are also ever changing with tides, gentle caresses and tempests. Surfers understand to wait off shore for the very special waves. And they do come in, yes, waves. And what we are learning is that our lives are ruled by the goings and comings of tides and successions of waves of entirely different kinds.

It is fascinating that economists are focusing on theories of waves currently. In recent history we can see the waves as conflict built leading to World War I, turmoil of a different kind and then the building tumult of the rise of naziism culminating in the next wave of conflicts called World War II.

In America we saw the tide of people coming off the farms to factories and the crush of such movement in the war effort. Then the men came home, built families and we had unexpected prosperity.

Information Technology

Of the greatest interest is the rise of information technology. It appears to be the beginning of one of the largest wave movements. Humankind went from feudalism to the industrial revolution to market capitalism and now information technology is apparently leading to what is being called a postcapitalistic society.

I won’t go into all the fascinating details in Paul Mason’s book Postcapitalism but he makes a compelling case. At first it is hard to grasp but he gave one example which was illuminating. Did you know that 75% of the world’s music is stored in a computer in Cupertino, California. The cost of storing is minimal, given the magnitude of data and that and the means of distribution and sale has brought the cost of purchase down dramatically.

Tsunami of Change

As a young person I recall getting on a bus near my house and riding it to a nearby town to a record story. I would go in and request to hear certain records I was considering purchasing. I took them into a booth where I would listen to them and make a selection. Then I climbed on the bus and went home with my purchase.

Need I say more, as I sit here at my computer considering what I might want to purchase. The ramifications are amazing and the argument is made that these processes will put an end to capitalism as we have known it. The playing out of the effects into all elements of society are endless. And, in world conflict, we are seeing the waves of our future.

How has information technology changed your life?

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Eve and the Snake

 

It’s Not So Simple

Monday’s post this week was about whether Eve did us a favor when she supposedly got humankind kicked out of Paradise. Of course there was another creature involved—the snake. The story I was thinking of was from the Bible. From interpretations I had heard, I thought the snake was somewhere between evil incarnate and the Devil. I thought it told us that we had lost the wonder of Paradise because we fell for what the snake was offering. Well, turns out it is all more complicated than that. In my post I indicated I thought it was not really so bad to be kicked out of Paradise. But then I got an interesting query from my friend Nathaniel.

“And where do you suppose the snake came from?” was his question. Crafty man Nathaniel. So I went online to get clarification. I was surprised.

Alternatives Offered

Here’s one thing I found:

“Fertility and rebirth. Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The ouroboros is a symbol of eternity and continual renewal of life.”

Richness of Interpretation

Nathaniel had offered a interesting interpretation about mermaids which evidently symbolize a melding of earth and the sea and in the melding they also represent orgasm. Such wonderful complexity and it demonstrates what is offered to us in mythology and even in the world of fiction.

What I found particularly interesting is that when we rove into the world of symbolism and mythology there are often not simple answers. Certainly in my writing on the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I have found multiple meanings that I had to weave into the story.

And There’s More

Then Nathaniel, with his rich knowledge of the Bible and symbolism, clarified further. “Yes, there are many symbolic meanings for the snake. We tend to forget that in the Biblical story God created the snake.  There is always a tension between bliss (the garden) and reality (post garden).  God also lives in that dialectic and, as creatures made in God’s image, so do we humans.”

Things to contemplate.

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Did Eve Do Us a Favor?

 

Challenge and Opportunity

Writing fiction is a challenging task. It is generally said to be a creative pursuit. Easy statement but not so simple in practice. How many of us have looked at the image of the writer sitting at his/her desk wondering how to begin. Of course the first question is probably not what to write but why write. Somehow we feel a challenge or a push but at base writing fiction is fundamental to human existence.

Oh please! (I don’t mean that.) Not everyone feels the urge to write but they often enough choose to read. It’s not just a matter of us having the capacity to do either. There is something fundamental because of our tendency to seize the moment of creation of all kinds.

Who We Are

I’ll try not to go too deeply into philosophical meanderings. One of the categories I chose for my WordPress blog is “struggle”. When I chose it, I thought it would fit some specific items but found I selected it over and over again because I came to realize that life on this planet has a fundamental element of struggle. Once that is stated I don’t think I need to exemplify it. Surely many forms of it leap into your awareness. And its not just a matter of survival. Its incredibly fundamental and the challenge is essential.

One Example

You may have been wondering when I would get to the title of this post. Did Eve Do Us a Favor? Actually that came to my mind clearly one day. It’s possible to take that biblical episode as an indication of how women have fouled our future. It can also be seen as how evil can trip happily into our lives as in the form of the snake. But certainly it has been taken in a variety of ways as indicative e of how women are naive and fail us.

A Very Different Take

I have another view and think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Eve. Without her we would be sitting in Paradise desperate for something interesting to do. The view presented to us of paradise is shallow and wanting of challenge. Perhaps Eve saw that the snake was offering us a rich future of struggle and with it opportunity. But it required being cast our of Paradise and its inevitable boredom.

Not Stopping There

When we move beyond Paradise we immediately recognize a universe of opportunity. And I use the word universe pointedly. When we step back and look at our four plus billion year world we see amazing diversity and creation. We may be a moment time and have to wonder how we will evolve from here. Of course, each of us may well not see much of what is to come but the contemplation of possibilities is stunning.

Thanking Women – Again

And so I come back to the matter of struggle and seizing the opportunity. Our human past has been rich in struggle but also creation and opportunity. Women as the source of children and our future require recognition. So, again…Thank You Eve!-for your marvelous gift of opportunity.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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A Focus on Society And Its Change – Partnership

Imagine What May Be At Our Doorstep

And now we turn to our future and what may be the potential. Women have raised the torch of their empowerment high and it is now for men to respond and join them. Men have their own empowerment at issue. What seems like power can be in many senses a reflection of the fact that too often men have been feeling powerless. That takes some thought. And when we come together in an honest dialogue in the light of this new era we can help men overcome some of their own burdens. This bears repeating because men are burdened as well.

Our Contributions To Society

This is not just about justice for women. We have a chance to enhance our societies. From time to time societies need to do an in depth reevaluation and this is one of those times. We may begin by examining ourselves and then move on to society as well. What opportunity does this bring to us? We must go much farther than simply saying this abuse must stop. It is a time for self examination, examination of the traits of society and a search of what has now come on the horizon. This is not a time to simply say men must stop the harassment and abuse. This is a time to look at what opportunities this presents to us. We have been wasting so much of the potential of our people. And it is not just a matter of opening their potential to full flower. At present what women are presenting to us is foremost and they walk hand in hand with people raising issues of race and ethnicity. These issues are not that far apart.

What is truly disturbing is that we have highlighted the need for a substantial reevaluation of all these issues. Change is needed but there are people who stand in the way “in the schoolhouse door”.

Expanded Horizons

When we expand the horizons of examination there is a multiplying effect as we explore the possibilities. These changes will have broad consequences. And now we can seize the opportunity to shape those consequences. It is not just a matter of cataloguing a list of issues. We need to scan for potential. It is when we go into crisis that there are monumental opportunities.

One Of The Key Issues Is Devotion To Partnership

And now with the opportunities unfolding before us we have one truly precious opportunity.
The very concept of partnership must be studied. With these changes we have the opportunity for substantive change in partnership between men and women but also a new form of partnership between and among men. We have recently opened to view loving partnership in paired men and paired women. We have opened self transformation and recognition as in transgender people. But now we advance a whole new frontier. The front of liberation has expanded and we can only begin to wonder about the benefits for society and the world at large. We have been so restrictive and now we can explore our multitude of partnerships. There truly may be a dynamic future for us as we unburden ourselves from constricting baggage.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

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Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Nicolai Redux

 

Sunset and fellow photographer at the beach

I’ve posted previously about my friend from graduate school, Nicolai Khoklov.

Let me review. One day at Duke University I was introduced to a new graduate student by the name of Nicolai. His heavy Russian accent was intriguing. Later it came out. He had been the head of the KGB for Eastern Europe and finally, after much soul searching, he defected.
The story is dramatic. Our intelligence service was to get his family and take them out of the country when he went on Radio Free Europe to announce his defection. They didn’t do it and he lost them forever. Later, when he was in Germany, Russian intelligence tried to poison him with a radioactive substance. He survived. That’s the drama.

The Truth Is Spoken

Then there is the other part. One evening Nicolai talked at length about his experiences. The key words he uttered in conclusion were – “You think it is like James Bond. It is, in fact, like Get Smart.” (For the younger generation, Get Smart was a television show which satirized intelligence services.)

Nicolai’s words continue to resonate with me. Especially in our current political environment. What we are seeing displayed is incompetence, disregard for country and corruption among many other things. What we are showing the world is embarrassing.

How Are We To Assess This Specter

Nicolai’s story resonates. In this campaign season, we may dismiss the show as a form of comic opera or are we seeing life as it is? Many of us are shocked at what we are seeing, but, is the truth that this was there all along and we have not seen or experienced it this openly?

Get Smart was meant to be funny but what we are seeing now is anything but funny. Or is it that we should be honest with ourselves and that we are seeing fundamental truths about humanity? It is sobering to realize that these kind of beings were there all along and we need to attend to the fact of their existence. Maybe the recognition is uplifting and useful.

Remember, Nicolai’s job was to safeguard the underbelly of the Soviet Union in Europe. He was to gather intelligence, kill people if necessary and build an underlying defense force for his country. In the end he felt it was all a lie and his job violated his sense of humanity. And so he followed the guidance of his conscience. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more politicians with his integrity.

Another Form of a Reality Show

The lesson for us is that this is not comic opera. It is reality and it is often dysfunctional and displays the faults and frailties of humanity in its worst forms. We may laugh, but often should cry at what is revealed. Will we see ourselves for who we are including our vulnerability and what is lurking under the surface. That, in itself, is valuable.

Get Smart was for fun but as is often the case with comedy, it displays lessons to which we need to attend. Again we come back to our view of reality. We have to decide how we interpret the events of this season and what we do with it is another matter. And to me Nicolai is a role model. Is it up to us collectively to bring this under control?

What have you concluded?

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Mermaids and Mermen

Who do you think mermaids are?

Fundamental Myth

Some stories or concepts we call myths are more widespread than others. I’ve always been fascinated by the widespread stories about the sighting of mermaids. In one form or another they show up in an amazing array of cultures. Which led me to ask why? If mermaids are real, why do they exist? And if they are pure myth, what is the true meaning of the myth? Since I’m inclined to speculation I would speculate.

I should also note that mermen are nowhere nearly as prevalent. And I can’t recall being especially intrigued when they do appear. It seems that this myth has something special to say about women. For one thing they are pretty routinely not evil although they may be powerful or at least lovely and endearing. They tend to enrapture men. And naturally these women appear in water. Water bears on the meaning of the myth.

Mermaid Meaning and Power

I don’t know of a really good way to research the true meaning of a myth so I’m going to throw out some thoughts. These women of the waters are generally benign or very positive. They may be love objects with endearing powers. And often they are innocent. I think of the status of the mermaid sitting on the rock in Copenhagen harbor.

But they do not just come to us lovingly. Power seems implicit. And to me the water theme suggests generative powers and birth. After all it would seem that life came from the waters. I think we are seeing a powerful theme which touches upon an inherent positive view of women and it suggests considerable power of various kinds.

Being Endearing

The nature of the mermaids in the myths begs for involvement. On occasions these women may be threatening but generally they are not threatening. There is surely a deep feeling, a conveyance of what might be. In the water they do not often challenge men and in these myths we see caring and loving possibilities along with all the special creative and endearing parts of women.

It Could Happen to You

There is a song in which the singer tells us, “It could happen to you.” The listener (most likely a man) is instructed to run when church bells ring and the meaning is that the woman will surely draw him into marriage. But why should a man run? Is it so bad to have it happen to you? But the involvement indicates change and there is an inherent power which the woman has. And men don’t like to give up power.

Going Deeper

It was these perceptions which led me to see women of the sea as being not just powerful but possibly representing a route to a fulfillment of a transformation of humankind. Women are rising across the world and holding out to us the possibility of deep and fulfilling partnership on a broader level. The prospects are truly intriguing and exciting. I could not resist building a mythologically based trilogy to portray wonderful stories of women rising for this transformation for humankind and in true partnership with men at last.

What of this have you experienced?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Who We Are, Versus Who We Think We Are

 

A Challenge for Each of Us

Our personal identity is a constant challenge for each of us at all levels. We have to assume an identity in order to function but, in fact, we may have a very different identity from that assumed by other people. On a day by day basis we can’t trouble ourselves with these matters. Why would we? So we make an assumption and forge ahead.

The fact is that most of the time we probably think not at all about issues of identity unless we are challenged or face a problem. Sooner or later there will come an event when someone will ask “Who the hell do you think you are?” The question may mean the person is offended by a position we have taken or it may be a more fundamental challenge. If it is the latter then we truly are challenged.

Our Personal Identity

And sometimes we are perfectly clear about who we are but are in hiding. Others may think they know us but do not. There may be a fundamental mixture of comfort and pain.

Now, with these questions, if you are confused or feel lost then you thoroughly understand why we do not dwell on such questions most of the time. It is only at crisis point that we must attend.

And Then One Day…

And writers of fiction often come to the point where they wonder who their characters really are or where they came from. One of the reasons to have an outline and a firm understanding of the story is that it keeps us focused rather than letting us get lost in a fantasy related to a character’s identity or our own identity. Or is that the point of writing fiction? Can we expand our world and our identity? Are we often asking questions we want to explore.

Different Kinds of Meaning

The fact is that we who write fiction are almost surely not simply engaging in an interesting exercise or a labor of love. It seems likely that our engagement goes much deeper. As a psychologist I know that what we are doing is often a reflection of our personality. Those of us who engage in speculation and fantasy are different creatures from the people who focus on the glory of the turn of the phrase. In my dissertation I sought to answer the question “does the painter’s work reflect his personality?” The literature was full of unfounded psychoanalytic speculation.

But Carl Jung gave us a magnificent personality typology free of bias and authority. I found the personality of the painter was clearly displayed in his work. In discussing my dissertation results with artists I could see their focus and how their personality identity shaped their work. A study with writers would probably uncover some interesting differences. As I step back and look at the characters in my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I see a melange of parts of me, people I would like to know and layers of identity issues.

What do you see when you take this viewpoint into the act of creation?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Opening Our View of The Future

Being Humble and Hopeful

What do you think your future holds?

Most animals forage for food and the human animal seems to forage for dreams. It is probably more than a little pompous for us to say we have our dreams because of our higher intelligence.

For the longest time we declared that we were the only animals to use tools. Then we found out differently. And there are night dreams and there are dreams we harbor. Have you ever watched your dog dreaming as he sleeps. We have to wonder what forms the dreams of other animals take.

Broadening Our View

What’s the point? It seems we humans get so caught up in how special we are that we tend to define ourselves in ways which separate us from other animals. And then there is the matter of life. For the longest time we believed we were the only intelligent animals and life existed only on this planet. Now we find that there is water in asteroids and within the water is salt and amino acids. It now seems life exists throughout the universe and that raises the possibility that the universe itself may be a living thing.

These thoughts may seem to have no point in themselves but such thoughts are the bedrock of our opening the possibility for what may be to come for humankind. Our darkest visions say nothing good but out of each dark age has come an enlightenment.

Clues to Our Future or Futures

Certainly we have our dark side and too commonly we kill others and inflict pain. But there is art, there is love, there are waves of hope. I created the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy to have a story of exploration of future possibilities. Just as we have made foolish mistakes such as assuming we alone possess tools and this planet alone has life, we also may be overlooking the clues which exist and point to future possibilities.

We find those clues in our myths, in our struggle, turning to stewardship, in the meaning of the empowerment of women and in every unexplored parts of our existence. Is there a spirit world? Our senses have specific purposes. We can’t know for sure. What comes after capitalism? There are some intriguing speculations with some hard data behind them.

Making the Choice

As difficult as the world is now, we have the option of exploring alternatives and dreams and giving ourselves the option of transformation or at least a beneficial and unexpected future. We have come a long way and the potential in front of us is truly exciting. Among us are people who would have us turn inwards and back on ourselves. The future points in another direction. The choice is ours.

How would you describe what you have chosen for yourself?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt