June 21st, 2020

If we realize that the child gradually develops out of the unconscious state into a conscious one, we can understand why practically all environmental influences, or at any rate the most elementary and most lasting of the are unconscious. The first impressions of life are the strongest and most profound, even though they are unconscious—perhaps indeed for that very reason, for so long as they are unconscious, they are not subject to change. We can only correct what is in our consciousness; what is unconscious remains unchanged. Consequently, if we wish to produce a change, we must first raise these unconscious contents to consciousness, so as to submit them to correction. (Jung, Read, Fordham, & Adler, 1953, p. 153)

Stories from long ago live in our unconscious much like living in the dark cave the tortoise is coming out of. It is with the light of consciousness that change happens according to Jung in the quote. So perhaps it is seeing news of a virus and the video tape evidence of racial bias police tactics that changes the old story that facilitates our unconscious to conscious. Minimizing or denial no longer work when visual evidence shows us the contemporary world. Those latent and subtle messages of early life may be carried with us like a protective shell, but once we poke our head out into the moments of reality, things change.

So how are early experiences stored in our unconscious and what can we do to transform these early impressions that form the unconscious foundation of our present worldview and actions in response to crisis like the Pandemic and the Racial Injustice? Let us explore some of these unconscious predispositions and their transformation through consciousness.

Most of us are deeply involved in the psychological attitude of our parents and the disturbed psychic atmosphere in our home as children. {Jung, 1981 #1014}, para80. So, each one of us must evaluate our attitudes as bases on our discernment or an echo of our parent’s attitudes. Moreover, our current framework does not derive from the conscious attitude of our parent’s but their unconscious attitudes. {Jung, 1981 #1014}, para 84.

The remains of the child-soul in the adult are his best and worst qualities. … these turn some poor devil of a casual father not a ferocious tyrant, a silly goodse of an unwilling mother into the goddess of fate. For behind every individual father there stands the primordial image of the Father, and behind every fleeting personal mother the magical figure of the Magna Mater. These archetypes of the collective psyche, whose power is magnified in immortal works of art and in every fiery tenets of religion, are the dominants that rule the preconscious soul of the child and, when projected upon the human parents, lend them a fascination which often assumes monstrous proportions. And that is why, in the later life of the neurotic, the images of the parents can be criticized, corrected, and reduced to human dimensions. {Jung, 1981 #1014}, Vol. 17, para 97.

In the long game, we may have to recalibrate our school curriculums to prevent our children to become carriers of distortions but rather bringers of light and new consciousness to our society.

The Conscious rises out of the Unconscious like and island newly risen from the sea. We reinforce this process in children by education and culture. School is in fact a means of strengthening in a purposeful way the integration of consciousness. {Jung, 1981 #1014}, Vol. 17, para 103. The teacher must not be merely passive upholder of culture: they must actively promote that culture through self-education. {Jung, 1981 #1014}, para 110.

In the twin crisis of the Pandemic and the Justice Protests, each one of us has an opportunity to shed our unconscious distortions, whether derived from childhood or life experiences and step into our wholeness, definiteness and ripeness (maturation). To achieve this Jung offers the following paradigm.

A whole lifetime, in all its biological, social, and spiritual aspects, is needed. Personality is this realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence with the greatest possible freedom for self-determination.{Jung, 1981 #1014}, para 289.

Another challenge for each one of us in the current twin crisis is to hold our soul-convictions in face of familial, societal, political, historical, racial, religious, and personal biases.

The words “many are called, but few are chosen” are singularly appropriate here, for the development of personality from the germ-state to consciousness is at once a charisma and a curse, because it’s first is the conscious and unavoidable segregation of the single individual from the undifferentiated and unconscious. This means isolation and there is no more comforting word for it. The development of personality is the favor that must be paid for dearly. It means fidelity to the law of one’s own being. {Jung, 1981 #1014}, para 294-295.

What is it, in the end, that induces a man to go his own way and to rise out of the unconscious identity with the masses as out of the swatting mist? It is what is commonly called the vocation: an irrational factor that destines the men to emancipate himself from the herd and its well-worn paths. . Personality is always a vocation” it’s trust in it as in God, despite its being, is the ordinary man would say, only a personal feeling. But vocation acts like a law of God from which there is no escape. {Jung, 1981 #1014}, para 299-300.

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. What stories or beliefs from early life in your family are being challenged today?
  2. How to you face difficulty?
  3. What are your inner dialogues about?
  4. What actions have you taken to resolve any inner conflict?
  5. Are your attitudes and responses to the current crisis based on family attitudes, education, history or based on your own evaluation?
  6. If your chosen response differs from your family, community or old history, then how does that feel?
  7. If it feels that you are isolated within your community in dealing with these twin crisis, how do you cope with that sense of isolation?
  8. What inspires courage in you when you feel alone?

Photo taken in Palm Desert, California

Jung, C. G., Read, H., Fordham, M., & Adler, G. (1953). The Development of Personality. New York: Princeton University Press.

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