In this weeks reading, I found a lot of interesting ideas and factors have realigned how I view the ego and its importance. The ego though demonized today is an important aspect of human consciousness. It arises out of the unconscious as though water freezing in order to make a more solid state of the personality. The ego is a collection of personalities which all are alive, ever-changing, and continue to grow with the individual. It is interesting for me to think of the ego as one part of my consciousness, which in itself is made up of many parts. It may be said that in the greater theme of the world, the archetypes are parts of something greater, as complexes and personalities are part of our egos.
In the Grip of a Complex
What does it feel like to be in the grip of a complex? How do you differentiate a complex reaction from other kinds of emotional response?
In retrospect, I can see how my childhood experiences with aggression in sports have been modified by efforts to work through my unconscious aggressive tendencies. My first memory of being in the grip of a complex was when I was playing soccer and acted out, unconscious of my actions. Despite now being aware of these tendencies, it still rears its head from time to time as emotional outbursts.
Being in the grip of complexes does not necessarily imply a negative emotional outburst. Dominate complexes have expressed themselves in my life as emotional and passionate energy to pursue projects which have resulted in serial-like entrepreneurship. When something arises in me as an idea to do something, I often fully act on those ideas as though they are an outside force. The feeling that I receive implies that this is the most important thing in my life and that it is something that I must do. There is a cost for this hyper-focused desire to pursue a specific dream with great enthusiasm in the form of loss of energy and the removal of attention from other aspects of my life causing disturbance for not only myself but others around me.
Complexes separate themselves from normal behaviors in their ability to take over the emotional mind and oppose rational thought which is contrary to normal behavior. They feel other-worldly in the sense that they seem to come from an outside force. Complexes reside in the back of my mind if I decide to put them on hold until the situation arises in which they can take me into their grips once more – expressing their pattern like behavior.
Are Dreams Important?
According to mainstream science, dreams can be explained as neurological events. The content does not matter: the brain is simply recharging its memory and clearing itself out every night. How would you respond to this explanation from a depth perspective?
Depth psychology was logically developed through the observation of the experiences of individuals, especially their dreams. Observing individuals experiences in dreams and their effects on waking consciousness were what made depth psychologists interested in their therapeutic value, not that dreams were merely bizarre or strange hallucinations. Dreams were found through empirical evidence to convey a message about the individual that could help the psychologist aid the individual in overcoming their neurosis.
The development to the conclusion that dreams provided an insight into the unconscious wasn’t the opinion of one individual, but the observation of many well-respected psychologists whos ideas were scrutinized and challenged from their very start. Jung battled with the subjectness of dreams by implying that the main problem with dream analysis was with its subjectiveness or suggestion produced by the dreamer/ psychologist relationship. Jung went as far as painstakingly acquiring dreams in a way that removed his opinion or idea of the dreamer and their meaning and then interpreting the dream for its content to show that his projection of meaning was not forced onto his patient’s dreams. He then showed his analysis of the dream resulted in real changes in the individual.
Dreams also change depending on the age of the dreamer, their position in society, and race. To show the importance of dream imagery and their importance to human development, children’s dreams were analyzed. According to depth psychology, it is common for children’s dreams to show a prophetic view of their whole life – implicating that dreams contain knowledge seemingly unaware to the waking individual. Cross-culturally, dream symbols can be perceived by an individual who as far as observably possible has never before experienced or who could consciously understand the symbols that they experience in a dream.
There is also the case of dreams that generate repetitiveness and strong emotional content that makes the dreamer listen to their content. Simply that dreams have repetitive actions in them or generate specific content at all, which takes an incredible amount of psychic energy, implies that they are not random but are made in one particular way to convey material in a specific form meaningful to the dreamer.
In personal experience, I have had many dreams which indicate changes in my life, a decision that needs to be worked through, and sicknesses that my body is experiencing that I may not be consciously aware of at the time, but later surface as time goes on. I am unsure if there is a living soul who has not had these kinds of dreams and can honestly attribute those to meaningless content. Lastly, as a society, many technological advancements have been attributed to dreams and their direct messages. It is unlikely that anyone could convince those innovative individuals that dreams are meaningless due to their success in incubating their creative powers through the dream experience.
The evidence shows that regardless of how unimportant we may see a dream, their generation and content means something personal and significant. It would be a better question to ask those who think dreams are meaningless how they came to that conclusion. It may indicate a personal block in the individual to disregard their personal dreams meaning.
Whitmont, E. C. (1969). The Symbolic Quest, pp. ix-56 (47 pages)
Jung, C. G. (1964). Man and His Symbols, pp. 1-94 (94 pages)
Shamdasani, S. (2003). Jung and the making of modern psychology: The dream of a science. Chapter 2, pp. 100-162 (62 pages)
Johnson, R. (2009). Inner work: Using dreams and active imagination for personal growth. Chapters 1 and 2, pp. 1-64 (64 pages)