June 20th, 2020

Reflection re-enacts the process of excitation and carries the stimulus over into a series of images which, if the impetus is strong enough, are reproduced in some form of expression. This may take place directly, for instance in speech, or may appear in the form of abstract thought, dramatic representation, or ethical conduct; or again in a scientific achievement or a work of art. (Jung, 1960b, p. 117)

The pandemic and the protests “insist” on reflection. They are stimulus as much, and maybe more, than the flower in the image above. The flower reflection could be about beauty, color, intensity, warmth, texture, etc., and certainly could prompt us to externalize it. Do you have the same amount of freedom regarding the pandemic or the protests? What have the images or thoughts about either the pandemic or protests stimulated in you?

Rather than post a photo of the pandemic or protest, I decided to use the flower to demonstrate a point regarding reflection, that is, some reflections are easier to express than others. For our current social circumstances, some wear masks, some do not, some take to the streets with signs while others stay at home. Each of us has our own reflection and response to what the United States is experiencing. It is during this times that we might be more activated and unable to contain our response to ourselves. The reflective energy is amped up because of intensity or duration.

All mammals have instincts – compulsive activity essential for survival. Freud emphasized Sexual instinct as the basic instinct of human nature – which if not managed optimally leads to Neurosis. Later, he added aggression or death instinct – Thanatos. Thus Sexuality and Aggression; Eros and Thanatos become the two sides of the coin of human nature.

Carl Jung had a more nuanced hypothesis of human instincts. He proposed that we have five instincts: Hunger, Sexuality, Activity, Reflective instinct and Creative instinct. The Reflective and the Creative Instinct are unique foundation stones of human consciousness. Normally, in animals, the instinct leads to compulsive action: Hunger leads to search for food and sexuality leads to search for a mate. However, only in humans, there is an intervening step – a pause in compulsive action and incubating the instinct into our Psyche’s matrix for REFLECTION before action. This sometimes means destroying the old ways of reacting compulsively and composing new response possibilities. This than results in the Creative Process as an outcome of Reflective process. This creates new culture, new paradigms, new consciousness and new creation.

In the current dual crisis of the Pandemic and the Peace Protests, each one of us has our own perceptions about the reality. This activates compulsive responses. The scientists want to react cautiously, the deniers want to reopen. Some individuals may be in denial of the racial divides and act to maintain the status quo, while the rest may be acutely aware of racial and social injustice and want to act to redress these issues in their own framework.

However, before each of us ACTS compulsively in context of our own frame of reference, it is crucial that we create a Reflective vessel in our Psyche to Reflect rather than response reflexively. This will make room for a creative resolution. It may call for destroying old attitudes and creating a new paradigm. This may then lead to a New Image of our Society and our future. These new possibilities may be in new speech, new thoughts, new emotions, new and dramatic actions and an ethical resolution to our twin crisis.

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. What are your reflections about the pandemic and the protest?
  2. Are your reflections externalized? Why or why not?
  3. What internal or external editor allows or prevents your expression?
  4. Is your reflection of these times usual for you or has something shifted? How so?
  5. What is your compulsive response to the pandemic and the protests?
  6. Are you able to resist the compulsive response and reflect on other possibilities?
  7. Do you reflect on your own compulsion to act in habitual ways and do a “Take Two” on your compulsion?
  8. In your Reflection, what factors come into play to add new data, feelings, intuitions and logic?
  9. What old attitudes need to be modified or let go as you ethically reflect on your choices of response?
  10. What New possibilities of response come to your mind?
  11. Do you have an Image of how things might be different?
  12. What mundane or dramatic response you are planning to undertake to Ethically respond to these twin crises?
  13. How does that change you as a person?

Photo taken in Victoria, Canada

Jung, C. G. (1960b). The structure and dynamics of the psyche. New York: Pantheon Books.

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.

ISSN 1939-3407

© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH. D