A Matter of Choice
Reacting from our lowest Instincts or Responding to the Call of our Higher Angels
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
April 21, 2020
Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst
Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist
In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.
In dreams and fantasies the sea or a large body of water signifies the unconscious. (Jung, 1956, p. 219)
Dunbeg Fort was built in the Iron Age about 2500 years ago. The sea wall protected against the harsh environmental elements as well as a deterrent to attackers. I am astonished by the amount of work it took to construct. Every stone moved from the ground and placed by hand. It has held up well over time, but every now and again, storms erode it into the sea.
It reminds me of all the work I have done to shield myself from various elements of life. I have constructed walls to keep things both in and out. Some structures were made to last my lifetime and others more circumstantial. And then there is the internal world…
I remember feeling the ancient builders’ wisdom regarding the doorway. It allows access to and protection from the sea. It is a good reminder when I build my walls that I allow access to the other side and not just close myself in. Just as coastal harsh elements change the wall, life changes my interface with it. I need to assess the quality of my defenses, their effectiveness, and purpose. This stay at home time gives me the opportunity to closely examine the interactions between conscious and unconscious. I can notice what happens at the threshold. In the threshold both worlds are present.
Our Ego stands as a window mediating as a gateway between our inner and outer life, between our conscious and our unconscious, to regulate the traffic between the two, to reach out to the unconscious when stuck and to reach out to the outside world as needed. Ego has a Janus quality, like a coin with two sides: looking in and out. It is regulated by our Neocortical consciousness but informed by our archetypal, Limbic brain and driven by the Survival oriented Reptilian brain of our Autonomic nervous system. This Triune brain function (MacLean, 1990)creates as unique drama that defines our human consciousness. The Neocortical Ego Complex managed the dynamics of Will power and Choice making. (Bedi, 2013)
When our Ego complex is optimized in its development, it operates at the higher level of adaptation. This is manifest in functions that include Suppression, Anticipation, Altruism, Sublimation, Humor, Reflective capacity and Symbol formation. Such an Ego is well adapted to dealing with the outer challenges while maintaining fidelity to our inner life and our unique personal myth. A primitive Ego that operates under Reptilian and Limbic dominance without Neocortical modulation manifests low level Ego defenses like Splitting, Black or White thinking, Paranoia, Obsessiveness, Narcissism, withdrawal, Repression among others.
Such a split between individuals and Societies and priorities is playing out under the stress of the COVAD-19 pandemic. Each one of us must make a choice: Do we regress down to our worst instincts or have the courage to respond to the call of our higher Angels. It is a personal and ethical crossroad for each individual, society and nation. This crisis will pass. How we respond to it will leave a permanent imprint in our Psychic DNA for many generations to come.
Some Points to Ponder:
- What needs protection in your life?
- Is it being properly protected? Overprotected? Under protected?
- How does that protection happen?
- How do/will you know when its time to change?
- How do you know you are in the threshold?
- Are you responding with fear or courage?
- Are you stepping up with Altruism, Sublimation, Humor and Anticipation?
- Are you able to be Reflective about the Symbolic meaning and instruction of this pandemic in your personal Narrative?
- Do you Suppress not Deny your fear, anger, helplessness and respond in adaptive manner to the crisis; becoming a part of the Solution rather than adding to the collective problems?
Photo taken in County Kerry, Ireland.
Bedi, A. (2013). Crossing the healing zone : from illness to wellness. Lake Worth, FL, Newburyport, MA: Ibis Press, a division of Nicolas-Hays, Inc.,Lake Worth, Distributed to the trade by Red Wheel/Weiser.
Jung, C. G. (1956). Symbols of transformation; an analysis of the prelude to a case of schizophrenia. New York: Pantheon Books.
MacLean, P. D. (1990). The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions: Springer Publications.
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.