Found a book on Carl G Jung today – “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”. It is a combination biography / autobiography. Decided that reading it would be a good way to bring my entertainment budget back under control! Plus, had a quick flick through and noticed a few sections on the unconscious and the ego, a few pet topics of mine.
Reading through some of it has made me realise that these guys were really going out on a limb with some of this stuff. They were pioneers in an academic (and also practical) sense sometimes. I haven’t come across any reference to crazy wacky experiments in this book so far, but from what I know of elctro-shock therapy the basis for that treatment (which I heard is being revived in a modified and more humane sense in teating depression) was some pretty far-out experiments.
From what I’ve read so far, some of Jung;’s early work on the unconscious was based on his own dreams. The thing that got me most was that these guys were developing real theories that are still in play today, and they were doing it from scratch, not off the back of a ‘How to’ book but a synthesis of a massive amount of wide and diverse information.
In the current age we are so gifted with easily accessible information and yet it seems we do not use it often enough. How many of us have considered the works of Jung, Freud or Neitzche and wondered what lessons lie in modern psychology that might help us with our day to day problems, or more importantly – in making our lives better and happier? Not many, because instead we go to a self help book on positive psychology. How much of the original work has been lost in translation? I don’t know, but I’ve read a few positive psychology books and nothing as poignant as the following statement of Jungs has jumped out at me before:
“ I realised that the Unconscious is a process, and the psyche is transformed or developed by the relationship of the ego to the contents of the unconscious” Carl Jung.
This understanding apparently helped Jung arrive at the central concept of his psychology: the ‘process of individuation’. More on that later – once I’ve read about it! What it helped me understand was that these days when we talk about disaffected and disadvantaged youths we often refer to the ‘environment’ that they are raised in and we accord it a portion of blame for the way a person acts. We often refer to characteristics of this ‘environment’ such as the socio-economic back ground or living standard of a persons child-hood, or the education level they receive or the social intelligence of our parents. Whereas now it seems to me that it is those experiences derived from the environmental characteristics which are captured in the process of the unconscious and how the ego influences those experiences that really determines how we think and ultimately how we act.
Environmental characteristics are obviously very front of mind over here in Jakarta. The poverty and class divide is pretty obvious, not to mention the much more frequent interaction here with ‘underworld’ figures such as touts, drug dealers and prostitutes that rarely happens (to me anyway) in Australia. The relationship with these underworld figures here is also much trickier – because pretty much everyone here is an entreprenuer of some sense, a drug dealer will be just as happy to sell you a tour (or pick up a commission selling you a tour) as they will be fixing you up with a ‘nice girl’ or selling you drugs. Being as objective as I can, it seems to me that these underworld figures are much more acceptable to me here in Jakarta then they would be at home. This may be because they also seem much more humane and more like ‘real people’ rather than ‘underworld’ figures in a sense. I put that down to the way the environmental characteristics have impacted them as they grew up and how it is affecting my unconcious now that I’m here in the middle of it.
So, must admit I’m having trouble keeping the emotions in check some-times, but hey, thats what feeling alive is all about, right? I Hope I’m not scaring anyone off from visiting Jakarta, one thing I haven’t felt at any stage is physical threat. I’m pretty sure even if you got mugged here they would do it with a smile, a “Mr” and probably even offer you a ride home in their Rojak.