The Compliant and the Rebel

Unto thyself be True

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

June 1st, 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.

Possession by an archetype turns a man into a flat collective figure, a mask behind which he can no longer develop as a human being but becomes increasingly stunted. (Jung, 1953, p. 234)

The man in the photo is obviously in costume as a walking advertisement for a souvenir shop. Others in the photo did not take the “photo op” as he did. He stopped in place while others continued their way out of the store. He knew he had my attention and felt proud to be his portrayal. To me, he wanted to be noticed for all his work in makeup, hair, and costume. His objective to be noticed was met by me and my camera.

In the pandemic, a variety of factors influence how we look and act. There is the obedient citizen who follows guidelines and advice. There are rebels who do not want to be told what to do and hold onto their rebellion despite encouragement to do otherwise. I know there are times when I can be stubborn, hold my position, despite what everyone else is doing (much like how the man is dressed in the photo). Sometimes I can be overidentified with being an individual, I forget I am also a member of a community.

We live in two realities: external and internal. We navigate the Objective, external reality using our mask or Persona. We manage the internal, Subjective reality using our Soul as our GPS. As we mature, our external and internal worlds start to get aligned. We realize that what we consider as external or Objective world is a Projection of our Subjective or inner world. There is no absolute Objective world. A big part of the external world is how we perceive it in context of our view of ourselves, others and the world around us. In other words, we create our own external world.

I remember that when my daughter was growing up, she would often protest that she wanted me as her father; not her therapist. Some of my younger patients would remark that I behaved like their father rather than their therapist. As I matured as a therapist, I recognized that when I am authentic and not persona bound, essentially, I am same in both situations. The language in which I may present in both situations will wary of course, but not the intent and the content. If the situation with either protagonists called for parenting or therapizing, so be it.

It is a humorous paradox, that my daughter Ami; herself a well accomplished therapist often (rightfully) behaves like my therapist from a position of love, wisdom and good counsel. I have benefited a lot from her soulful guidance.

In the pandemic and any crisis for that matter, our most reliable GPS to navigate the turbulane of the crisis is not how it will look but rather what we think, feel and intuit based on the data we have and what our Soul nudges us to do. That generally is a better course of action. We may implement it in Objective world in a diplomatic manner under the auspices of the Divine Trickster. The archetype of the Divine Trickster – Hermes or Krishna guides us to package our authenticity in a Persona package acceptable in the outer world. This creates a Win-win situation.

So, in this pandemic, when the Compliant and the Rebels are true to their Subjective Core, they may find a way to enact that in Objective matrix in ways that are diplomatic by making a case for their view point and choices, we will all win.

This sentiment is best summarized by Shakespeare

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Shakespeare: Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. What parts of you have faded into the background or not available to your usual self?
  2. What, perhaps, has taken over or shows all the time?
  3. How has the pandemic stunted your personal growth?
  4. What is your response to your state opening?
  5. What “posture” do you want to hold for others to see?
  6. In this pandemic, are you Compliant or a Rebel to the guidelines?
  7. Does your Compliance or Rebellion come from a place of Inner Conviction or in support of your Persona – Mask you would like to present to the world?
  8. Do you think and feel that you are true to your Core values as you choose to comply and rebel and yet are able to present your choices in diplomatic and respectful way to honor other viewpoints and choices?

Photo taken in London, England

Jung, C. G. (1953). Two essays on analytical psychology (Vol. 7). Princeton New Jersey Bollingen Series/Princeton University Press.

Shakespeare: Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

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