Archive for the ‘Images of the Self’ category

Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) A Source Quote from Elie Humbert: On Ego, Self, and the Individuation Process

September 10, 2020

Below is a lengthy and interesting formulation on narcissism from an ego problem in need of a solution perspective.

“Narcissus directly experienced an insatiable quest for the self and acute anguish in the face of everything that threatened his self-image. Jung took up Narcissus’ subjective experience and discovered the Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”) within which the subject is caught. This internal force seeks the constitution of an ego complex around which it wants all of psychic life to revolve. Before the ego differentiates itself by relating to the unconscious, it is in a state of Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) (C.W. 14, par. 364), a turning of consciousness upon itself. The danger then is that the image of the world and the image of the ego risk becoming confused with one another.

Ichhaftigkeit (C.W. 11, par. 554) might well dominate the individual psyche if its own one-sidedness did not give birth to the shadow, which becomes in turn an independent complex opposed to the ego. The ascendancy of the shadow (of which the return of the repressed is but one aspect) overturns the organization of the ego. Jung analyzed the transformation process that then begins. Rather than focusing upon narcissism, he studied the conflicts, sacrifices, and mutations that mark the successive moments of the subject’s formation.

Jung insisted on the fact that becoming conscious puts the ego in jeopardy. A 1941 text reflects what he himself had lived through thirty years earlier:

The integration of the contents split off in the parental imagos has an activating effect on the unconscious, for these imagos are charged with all the energy they originally possessed in childhood, thanks to which they continued to exercise a fateful influence even on the adult. Isolation in pure ego-consciousness has the paradoxical consequence that there now appear in dreams and fantasies personal, collective contents which are the very material from which certain schizophrenic psychoses are constructed. (C.W. 16, par. 218)

Even while it endures such an ordeal, the ego cannot escape from an inflation, be it a negative or positive one. While relating to its own solitude and to the psychic elements it integrates, the ego either allows itself to become possessed by an upsurge of psychic energy or defends itself from this energy by identifying with its own conscious boundaries. Is there no way to avoid these two false solutions?

But at this point a healthful, compensatory operation comes into play which each time seems to me like a miracle. Struggling against that dangerous trend towards disintegration, there arises out of this same collective unconscious a counteraction, characterized by symbols which point unmistakably to a process of centering. This process creates nothing less than a new center of personality, which the symbols show from the first to be superordinate to the ego …The center cannot be classed with the ego, but must be accorded a higher value… for which reason I have called it the “self.” …the experience of the self has nothing to do with intellectualism; it is a vital happening which brings about a fundamental transformation of personality. I have called the process that leads to this experience the “process of individuation.” (C.W. 16, par. 219)

Thus by becoming conscious and by withdrawing projections, the ego is led into a state of either inflation or deflation. Neither of these states is resolved unless an unconscious center of the personality to which the ego can relate is brought to life.

…Influenced as he was by alchemy, Jung focused less upon images and more upon processes. The conjunction of opposites, with all that it implies of separation and differentiation, provides the schema with which one can understand the activity of the Self. Jung summarized this activity using three concepts: (1) becoming follows upon a compensatory movement; (2) wholeness consists of the relationship of consciousness with the unconscious; (3) psychic organization evolves according to the law of differentiation.

When referring to the concept of wholeness, which Jung used frequently, one must recall that the English word totality obscures the original German meaning. Jung rarely used die totalitat but almost always die Ganzheit (ganz, ganzwerden). Now the root prefix ganz does not signify “total” but “whole.” It would be better to translate Ganzheit by the English “wholeness.” Far from aiming to become, possess or experience everything, the Ganzheit is correlative to the experiences of dissociation and fragmentation. Jung specified that Ganzheit is not a Volkommenheit, not “a total achievement, perfection.” To individuals who feel the presence of two beings within themselves, Ganzheit appears as a possible unity. It is in the sense of a possible unity that the experience of the Self resolves the dissociation of consciousness from the unconscious and allows the subject to be whole.

…the Self is the true center of the personality from which the ego, by its goals and values, is alienated. Thus the ego must sacrifice its values and goals if it is to submit to the orientation of the Self. This sacrifice is brought about by the recognition of the shadow, and will have the characteristics of what some will later call a symbolic castration. Sacrifice differs from symbolic castration, however, because sacrifice does not culminate in the mere acceptance of human limitations and death but leads to a living relationship with the unconscious subject.

…What is at stake in the analytic process is not the death of the ego but the sacrifice of Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”). Not only does the ego not disappear, but the conflicts that it goes through release it from imaginary states and allow it to come to its own reality.”

Excerpted from Humbert, Elie, C.G. Jung: The Fundamentals of Theory and Practice, Chiron Press, 1988, pp. 61-64.

From the Author of “It’s Not Always Depression”

March 1, 2019

While attending the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) Immersion training last month, Hilary Jacobs Hendel’s book It’s Not Always Depression was identified as a very important offering reflecting the fundamentals of how AEDP works to address transformative change. She apparently has been able to strike a nerve in the collective, helping lay people and professionals alike understand the importance of identifying core realities about family of origin issues, including neglect, trauma, etc.

I did attend a presentation years ago by a mental health managed care company orienting primary care physicians to the importance of helping patients recognize their depression or anxiety profiles as biological, setting up the primary intervention as biochemical. For me, the unintended(?) consequence of this was it discouraged physicians from believing in the importance of their role in standing in for the good enough ritual elder, who, in caring about your life and your troubles, helps you believe in your goodness, and your resources, in finding a way to better manage life’s joys and sorrows. I knew at the time this was message was just plain wrong and said so. It was a spirited debate, but, alas, many good people, providers and patients alike, continue to believe in the need to treat depression as a disease, not a reaction to human life situations.* (see comment below) I do appreciate the important role medications can play in the mobilization and recovery process, but we all are in need of support to recognize our life trajectory, and create a narrative which strives to hold the joys and sorrows which are both our ancestral inheritance and the source of enlivenment and meaning.

I just received an email from the AEDP list serve from Hilary and at first glance, find her blog to be chock full of helpful information. A recent posting demonstrating how she works with the change triangle is very clear and concise. See: https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/what-is-the-change-triangle-c18dd

Poking around, I see she has a series of four posts discussing “Getting to Know Your Three Brains”. See: https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/single-post/2018/04/09/Getting-To-Know-Your-3-Brains-Part-1-How-Brain-Knowledge-Helps. These are very focused daily process guides to correcting one’s one-sidedness, in the direction of hearing from our minds, emotions, and bodies. She identifies the Self as the core consciousness which can function as the Maestro in the orchestra of the three brains: mind, emotion, and body.

With response ease in mind, I wanted to post these resources and encourage you to check out her work. She seems to be an embodied translator of the AEDP process work, with very accessible applications for self-guiding this work.

Once again, it is curious to me about the way this model identifies the role of Self without any explicit cross referencing to Jung’s original work with Self, ie: ego-Self axis. I find this fascinating and exciting, in that it suggests to me an intersection of depth processes. In the mid 1990’s when I attended an update on self-psychology with my early psychoanalytic mentor Rowe Mortimer, I was delighted to hear him describe how the psychoanalytic schools think about internalized others, ie: mother, father, as “active, dynamic, willing entities. This language seemed a perfect, yes, I said PERFECT bridge to what I had been learning about Jung’s complex theory. It is just this bridge that is at the center of my explorations here: the interface between the experiential state‘s self-other-affect, and the nuclei of a trauma complex, reflecting the archetypal layer evoked by the emotional overwhelm. See: https://healingintheblur.com/2017/08/01/complexes-as-bridge-to-the-symbolic-world/

From my work, the archetypal layer and realm of the complexes contributes a depth which speaks to the possibilities of just how episodic memories of trauma get stored and are indeed waiting to be re-discovered by ego consciousness, in the service of healing original wounds. To be continued.

From the Dream Time: An Eye Fetish

January 18, 2019

During an hour this past week, in reflecting on an apparent mismatch in enthusiasm between two family members, and the amount of suffering this produced, consciously, for one of the party, the issue of archaic human longing came up. The dream below is one of several which moved me towards a deeply felt experience of this. I will be looking through my archives for a couple more in series as part of bringing this forward. As a stand alone dream, this one is pretty fun in terms of the sheer intensity of the energy. I had the dream the second night into a week long gathering of men with Robert Bly, Robert Moore, Malidoma Some and others, in the primitive Mendocino Woodlands Camp.

July 24, 1991: I woke up at 4:30 AM with a long dream in mind; details fuzzy/sharp and excessive. Doing men’s work here at Mendocino Camp; On and on and on; making shit, talking shit, doing shit; singing and dancing and drumming and imagining.

After all this stuff, what a mess of bodies and stuff happening everywhere, all over, all the time. Robert Bly picks up a little piece of wood I had painted to look like a green snake(?) eye; blue eye, mottled green and white serpents shape; fashioned from a stick with a knot in the center, or maybe plywood, jigged out, and painted. Pretty crude representation at that.

I’m delighted at his interest in something I made. “Why do you want that thing Robert? What is so special about it to you?” He just laughs that big grin and says: “I just like the feel of it, you know…” and caresses it in his fingers and moves on.

EyeFetishDream1.22.14I woke up somewhat disoriented, having gone to sleep with one ear plug in (snoring in the cabin) and decided to go outside with my journal to write it down. The moon was overhead, moving powerfully through the sky channel created by the creek running through the very tall old growth forest. After writing it down and spending some time with it, I went in to the Lodge and painted the image. Just when I was finishing doing so, I heard the voice of an elder coming down the path, quietly singing, who, coming into the lodge to get a cup of tea, walked up to me, took a long look at me, my painting, and then back at me, and said: “Something’s happened! When you are ready, we must talk!” Later that week, we did.

Luminous Wolf, Shared Piercing Dream

January 18, 2019

January 26, 2009 Dream: “My friends are giving me a medal, to be ‘pinned’ on my left flank, belly. I’m apprehensive, say ‘are you going to use rubbing alcohol on that large pin?’

Just then, a luminous wolf crosses from left to right in front of me. Hard to say how far, how close, her actual size, as she seems to be arriving from another dimension. Very healthy with a full silvery black coat, and surrounded by an incredible aura. She stops, turns her head over her right shoulder, to gaze at me. I notice, as part of her energetic aura, from her left flank, extending above her back, is a large arrow shaft, with feathers, suggesting she has an embedded arrow point in her left side, about where I am to be pierced. Her aura incorporates the arrow, as if she is living with it in vibrant health…”

WolfPiercedbyArrowDreamSelected

Waking Reflections: What struck me was how healthy she was, while still carrying the evidence of a likely mortal wound. Still, energetically, this arrow wasn’t limiting her presence and power.

In the dream it seems I am about to receive a blessing from the Spirit Brothers, a medal of some kind, in recognition of my relationship to my wound. (Unpublished back story) The pinning itself will be a flesh offering. At this moment the Wolf appears, affirming our work from the dream time. YES, she shows us, one’s wound need not be the death of one’s vitality. Something like that. Associations to the pelican piercing her own breast, the piercing of Jesus’ side on the cross, and the Sun Dance ceremony all come to mind.

And, we might ask, who is she, showing up with such vibrancy and generating such an incredible aura? An image of the Self? A transrational presence/being?

Image and Force: Jung’s Supreme Meaning

March 23, 2016

RockLight DreamImage1NoMargin3.23.16

 

After recording the Rite of Passage Rock-Light Being dream, I decided to represent the image in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor. My method for illustrating dreams is to begin by trying to establish the starting point of the dream sequence in the place most likely to allow me to work through and capture all the action, step by step, on one page. I opened this dream with the stone path at the bottom center of the page. I began penciling in the details with no conscious awareness of the greater reveal (Image 1.) As I finished the initial sketch, I couldn’t help but think, “Behold the ancient being with his bright flash of light for consciousness, crocodile brain stem extending into the olfactory region, and stunning child like silhouette! How striking, how primordial!”

EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16

After completing this scene, I turned my attention to capturing a close up of our approach along the rock face. My intention was to create an image-as-threshold to assist me in my ritually re-entering the startling moment. (See Image 2.)

I was challenged at this time in my work to understand what this powerful dream was really offering me. It was one of a number of dreams in a series which seemed to move out into the world, connecting me in important ways to mysterious meanings which defied rational explanation.

Twenty years later, deepening in my Jungian orientation through a seminar series with the analysts of the Santa Fe group, I came across Jung’s description of the serf’s predicament: “I am the serf who brings it and does not know what he carries in his hand. It would burn his hands if he did not place it where his master orders him to lay it” (Jung, Red Book, 2009, p. 230).

In the Red Book collection, we get to look in on Jung’s initiatory process. In his dialogues with the spirit of the times and the spirit of the depths, Jung describes how he came to understand the existence of an ancient consciousness enlivening us all, and how this guidance, this “supreme meaning” comes to us. The spirit of the depths comes in and places understanding and knowledge at the service of the inexplicable and the paradoxical, sense and nonsense. The melting together of sense and nonsense is what produces the supreme meaning. In Jung’s words (2009), supreme meaning is “the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come… image and force in one, magnificence and force together … the beginning and the end … the bridge of going across and fulfillment…

Furthermore, from this perspective, Jung observed “To understand a thing is a bridge and a possibility of returning to the path. But to explain a thing is arbitrary and even murder…” (Jung, Red Book 2009, p. 229-230).

While I was enjoying a newfound sense of freedom from my compulsion to explain and contemplating on magnificence and force together, this 1994 dream and these illustrations came to mind: might they be an example of image and force in one, magnificence and force together?

RockLight DreamImage1NoMargin3.23.16EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16