Shadow and Light
Transform the Darkness
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
June 19th, 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.
What is commonly called “self-knowledge” is therefore a very limited knowledge, most of it dependent on social factors, of what goes on in the human psyche. Hence one is always coming up against the prejudice that such and such a thing does not happen “with us” or “in our family” or among our friends and acquaintances. On the other hand, on meets with equally illusory assumptions about the alleged presence of qualities which merely serve to cover up the true facts of the case. (Jung, 1964, p. 249)
This old structure is around 5,000 years old. Its mystery intrigues visitors whether in person or on the page. The site activates the imagination regarding the thinking when they built it.
In 2020, there are two major events that will be recorded in the history books for the United States, the pandemic and the social protests. The reflective view of what we are experiencing now might also include questions of “what were people thinking,” or “how did that happen” or “what took them so long to remedy those circumstances”. The size of Stonehenge is given perspective by the man standing just to the right of center. It is clear it took a lot of cooperation and ingenuity to get it built. Our current health and social issues feel gigantic too. It will take a lot of effort to re-order our society, but it can be done. The structural change of our racial/social issues will not be made of stone but must be built into lasting law.
One is always coming up against the prejudice that such and such a thing does not happen “with us” or “in our family” or among our friends and acquaintances. This is the self-deception that is one of the root causes of our medical and racial issues in our society now. In fact, one does believe their narrative about themselves. But this denial of issues, prejudices and biases are unconscious and hence stay in the blind spot of the Psyche. What is repressed is often projected onto the others. We may call these our Shadow projections. Often, a psychoanalyst finds on his consulting couch that a staunch liberal is an unconscious conservative and their conservative values are unacceptable to them consciously and projected onto the Other. The Other that we hate is often a Mirror to our unconscious face. If you really want to learn about your Shadow self, look no farther than your adversary – they carry all your unacceptable attributes.
When we recognize these Shadow projections, we have them accessible to our consciousness for regulation, modulation and transformation. Here are some examples from my 45 years of Psychotherapy practice,
Aggression transformed into optimal self-assertion
Debauchery transformed into Eros
Racial prejudice transformed into intrigue about other cultures
Envy transformed into Admiration and Inspiration
On the other hand, on meets with equally illusory assumptions about the alleged presence of qualities which merely serve to cover up the true facts of the case. This is putting lipstick on a pig syndrome. Individuals often disguise their dark side into its opposite. Hence an antisocial individual may disguise their Sadism by become a law enforcement person, a pedophile may become a childcare worker, a bigot may marry an individual of the race they despise etc. Of course, these are exceptions and not the rule: most individuals may conscious choices guided by their authenticity and soulfulness.
Points to Ponder:
What concerns are foremost in your mind today?
How will you attend to them?
What internal or external support do you need?
What inner structures have you constructed?
Do any of those structures need remodeling? How so?
What rules/laws do you follow that need a contemporary update?
How do you perceive yourself?
How do you perceive the individual or group that you despise or fear?
What to you despise or fear about this other individual or group?
If what you despise or fear was a part of you, how would you wish to transform it?
Photo of Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England
Jung, C. G. (1964). Civilization in transition. New York: Pantheon Books.
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.