Read L'Homme à la découverte de son âme by C.G. Jung Free Online
Book Title: L'Homme à la découverte de son âme|
The author of the book: C.G. Jung
Edition: Albin Michel
Date of issue: April 1st 1987
ISBN 13: 9782226028211
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.56 MB
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There are certain people who delight in mythologizing their lives--looking for deep meanings and explanations for who they imagine themselves to be. It is not mere soul-searching, because they dislike even reasonable criticism, and cannot stand to be made aware of the ways their actions conflict with the vision they have of themselves. They want to be special and important, and are less interested in understanding themselves than in creating an image.
There are some rare people for whom the act of personal recreation is a serious matter--people who explore their own depths, trying on new personae, always shifting and moving--they are the artists of identity, and they are few. Like any art, it takes a level of skill and determination that most people lack. Self-creation is like writing a novel: the average person trying to do it is going to end up with something cliche, hackneyed, conflicted, and ultimately self-serving.
Which is why these people often say the same sorts of things: 'I'm a little bit psychic, it runs in the family', 'I'm very in-touch with my spiritual side', 'I have Cherokee blood', 'I've always been very creative'. Now, I don't want to just pick on New Age spiritualists, because there are plenty of people who do the same thing on the other end: 'I've always been a very rational thinker', 'I find it so hard to be around naive people', 'I have this passion for world politics', 'I watch a lot of documentaries'.
No matter the form this delusion takes, it can be very frustrating to deal with someone who is so self-centered. They want to talk about themselves, indulge in their fantasy, and be confirmed by those around them. Some cynical individuals develop a game for interacting with this type: engage them, pretend to buy into their self-delusion, and then try to suggest something even more outlandish to see if they'll accept it. Extra points if the new idea clearly contradicts their previous claims. Unfortunately, the entertainment value of this game is limited, since it isn't hard to get them to accept even nonsensical notions. As Forer's astrological experiment demonstrated, people are quick to accept flattering explanations without questioning them; as Harlan Ellison said:
“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; but if you really make them think, they'll hate you.”
In his opening essay, Jung's examples of the efficacy of dream analysis seemed similarly convenient. It reminded me of the solutions from some of the Sherlock Holmes stories, where things happen to fit all the data, but in an unlikely and convoluted way. Sure, it's possible to sit down with some tarot cards and tell someone else a story about their life that matches the draw, but just because something is capable of inspiring the human mind does not mean that it is ultimately meaningful.
Da Vinci was once studying the whorls and eddies in a streambed for a painting, and was suddenly struck with the idea that the human heart could use similar currents to maintain constant bloodflow throughout the body. It turned out that he was correct--though we wouldn't know it until a few years ago. However, just because a certain swirl in a stream inspired his thought does not make that swirl intelligent or magical or an agent of fate.
Yet unlike his presentation of ideas in Synchronicity, Jung is much more cautious here, telling us that he does not place importance on dreams because of any system or understanding, but because he often can't think of anything else to analyze! In his own words:
"I had tried to explain too much in too simple a way, as often happens in the first joy of discovery."
Disappointingly, I found the majority of Jung's theories arise from the same misplaced enthusiasm. Again and again, whether he is speaking of dream interpretation, synchronicity, or the collective unconscious, I see grand, far-flung notions with little basis in reality.
He speaks about Einstein's Theory of Relativity making his theories of psychic interconnectivity possible, and so demonstrates that he develops theories using the reverse of the scientific process. Normally, you take something you understand and then create a theory based on that. Jung instead takes an idea he shows no ability to comprehend (relativity) and states that it makes his ideas possible.
Sadly, one can see this same poor technique at work today, such as in the case of the 'documentary' What the Bleep Do We Know!?, which invited out a group of Quantum Physicists, interviewed them for a few hours, then edited them down to a few comments which seemed to imply that Quantum Physics made ESP possible. It is true that there are interconnections and unpredictable events on the quantum level, but trying to scale them to the human mind is pointless. Just because an ant can lift a hundred times his body weight, doesn't mean a human can. The scientists interviewed in the film later spoke out against it.
These sorts of pseudoscientific ideas play into the personal narratives of those self-obsessed folk I was speaking about earlier. Jung himself gives us a striking indictment of this sort of person:
". . . a great horde of worthless people people give themselves the air of being modern by overleaping the various stages of development and tasks of life they represent. They appear suddenly by the side of modern man as uprooted human beings, bloodsucking ghosts whose emptiness is taken for the enviable loneliness of modern man and casts discredit upon him."
Today we might call them 'hipsters'--people who take on the mannerisms and appearance of eccentricity, but lack any capacity for real iconoclastic thought. Artists and scientists often dress shabbily because they spend all their time and thought on subjects other than their appearance. Their horn-rimmed glasses and v-neck sweaters are not magic totems that confer intelligence.
As Jung indicates, when an individual falsifies an outward appearance without first developing inner depth, they become like 'bloodsucking ghosts', empty and entirely reliant on external confirmation. It is unfortunate that the attempt by the previous generation of parents to 'give' self-esteem to their children has been just as destructive, producing a generation of people with a great deal of confidence but no foundation to base it upon, so they collapse or lash out any time they are challenged.
But, looking at Jung's own theories, I came away with the impression that he was just as guilty of "overleaping the various stages of development" in his enthusiasm: he developed grand theories without a foundation, skipping past proofs and evidence in favor of loose anecdotes and flawed studies.
In reading earlier thinkers--Hume, Nietzsche, Plato--I found myself constantly confronted with startling insights into human thought, motives, society, and relationships. Freud's psychoanalysis was hardly the beginning of the study of the human mind. Yet here, reading Jung, writing with the benefit of the scientific method and with numerous studies to draw upon, I get none of these insights. It seems strange that the 'modern blossoming' of psychoanalytic thought about which Jung is so enthusiastic seems less productive than the centuries of thinkers that preceded it.
It became increasingly clear to me that I am simply not a Modern Man in Search of a Soul, for the same reason that I am not a man in search of gold bars. Souls and bullion might be nice things to have, but it seems rather pointless to wander my yard with a shovel looking for either one. There are a thousand thoughts and activities which seem to me more promising.
Jung himself promotes the importance of spirituality with a sort of Pascal's Wager--according to Pascal, an atheist who is wrong still goes to hell, while a believer who is wrong merely ceases to exist, so in terms of consequences it's better to believe (for the record, Pascal did not mean this to be taken as a serious argument).
Jung's Wager has a more psychological premise: in our youth, we are driven by our urge to reproduce, but once we are old, we no longer have this urge, so it's important to be spiritual so you have something to do with yourself after midlife. He suggests it's only natural, since humans can live to eighty, there must be some purpose to those extra years. After all, elders in tribes are revered for their great wisdom in when crops should be planted or how disputes should be resolved.
Unfortunately, Jung's arguments are once again in conflict with his conclusions. If we apply the adage of the Zen teacher 'listen to what I do, not what I say', then we will recognize that the importance of these elders is based upon their practical knowledge, not their spirituality--maybe those extra forty years should be devoted to the sciences or engineering, then?
In both wagers, we are asked to believe because we have nothing better to do, which is a sad state of affairs. The only people it could convince would be those utterly frivolous 'empty bloodsuckers' Jung spoke of earlier. It appeals to them because the search for 'the soul' can so easily become a fantasy, an escapist odyssey of self-importance. The exploration of the self must be tempered by an exploration of the world, and whenever they come into conflict, the world is correct. To recede into the self and ignore the world is the way of madness--of 'hearing voices', tinfoil hats, Napoleonic delusions, and other schizophrenic ephemera.
Sometimes they come up to me and ask me if I'm happy. I say no. They ask if something is missing. Something is missing, I say. It's god, they say. No.
People are starving, dying, warring. A wealthy elite exert control in the most destructive ways, leveraging and speculating and devastating whole swathes of the global economy, raking a profit off the top before the bottom drops out. I haven't had a regular job for years. Students leave high school hardly able to read or write, ignorant of the most basic facts of history and science. Whole cultures and gender groups are made to feel worthless and incomplete by predatory consumerist culture, which they then destructively feed back into.
My believing in god won't help any of those people. It won't help me. It won't change anything. If believing caused me to suddenly feel happy and whole, it would only be because I had turned inwards so far that I no longer recognized the cries of pain of my fellow man. Sometimes it's good to be angry, to be depressed, to be frustrated. There are many situations for which they are a completely normal, rational response.
Like cancer--I would think, if someone got cancer, they would be entitled to feel upset, angry, hopeless, and depressed sometimes, but as Barbara Ehrenreich found when she got breast cancer, there's a whole 'forced positivity' culture set up to completely overwhelm and alienate anyone who displays a perfectly reasonable emotional reaction.
To be happy, fulfilled, and untroubled in the face of that is not healthy, it's not a sign of sanity. If a person can tells me that they feel happy and whole in this world, the way things are, then it seems clear to me that they have already checked out. Sure, the world is full of joys, wonders, splendors, epiphanies, and new understandings, but that's only one half of the picture, and to discount the rest is to live half a life.
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Read information about the authorCarl Gustav Jung (/jʊŋ/; German: [ˈkarl ˈɡʊstaf jʊŋ]), often referred to as C. G. Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. Jung proposed and developed the concepts of extraversion and introversion; archetypes, and the collective unconscious. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, philosophy, archeology, anthropology, literature, and related fields. He was a prolific writer, many of whose works were not published until after his death.
The central concept of analytical psychology is individuation—the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy. Jung considered individuation to be the central process of human development.
Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and synchronicity. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a popular psychometric instrument, has been developed from Jung's theory of psychological types.
Though he was a practising clinician and considered himself to be a scientist, much of his life's work was spent exploring tangential areas such as Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, as well as literature and the arts. Jung's interest in philosophy and the occult led many to view him as a mystic, although his ambition was to be seen as a man of science. His influence on popular psychology, the "psychologization of religion", spirituality and the New Age movement has been immense.
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