Chiron Publications is pleased to announce the release of Wired This Way: On Finding Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Well-Being as a Creator by Jessica Carson.
Creators are wired complexly. In their lightest moments, they are passionate, ambitious, intuitive, and possess a host of other bright qualities. But entrepreneurial spirits are often victim of a darker side of their nature: they are particularly prone to mental health issues, stress-related illness, and other vulnerabilities of mind, body, and spirit. The media has breathlessly chronicled the peaks and valleys of today’s creators—glorifying their strengths and villainizing their weaknesses—not realizing that the light and dark within entrepreneurs are two sides of the same coin.
Wired This Way explores why the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual distress among creators is not an indication of brokenness, but of a rich inner complexity that’s prone to imbalance. A creator’s struggles and strengths are one in the same, and the solution doesn’t come from without, but from within. Using the wisdom of 10 creator archetypes found within the entrepreneurial spirit—the Curious, Sensitive, Ambitious, Disruptive, Empowered, Fiery, Orderly, Charming, Courageous, and Existential Creator—readers will learn how to integrate their light and dark qualities for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Rooted in psychology, neuroscience, mindfulness, and ancient wisdom traditions, Wired This Way is a user’s manual for self-understanding, self-acceptance, and self-care as an entrepreneurial spirit.
“If you are a parent, you read The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. If you work with founders, you should read Wired This Way. Jessica’s research in the field is a gift to the startup community; founders can identify themselves in one or more of the types detailed in the book and come to finally appreciate their blessed complexity. Founders will find relevant remedies that help them celebrate their strengths while acknowledging their liabilities. For those working with founders, use this playbook to identify a founder’s light, and support them with the appropriate tools so they can fulfill their destiny. Thank you, Jessica, for so many a-ha moments!”
— Osnat Benari, VP Product & Programming for WeWork Labs
Jessica Carson is a writer, speaker, teacher, and consultant. She is currently Georgetown University’s first Expert in Residence and the Director of Innovation at a major mental health organization. Previously, she held positions at a startup and venture firm, and was a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. She lives in Washington D.C. with her cat, Cleopatra.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: A God’s or Devil’s gift?
(an interview with Vladislav Solc, co-author of Dark Religion: Fundamentalism From The Perspective of Jungian Psychology for Vesmir magazine in Czech Republic)
I must emphasize, however, that the grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil. Sometimes the probate spiritus recommended by John cannot, with the best will in the world, be anything other than a cautious and patient waiting to see how things will finally turn out.”
Eva Bobůrková Interviewed Vlado Šolc
What are we experiencing today, can you describe it?
About 100 years have passed since the last major pandemic of the so-called Spanish Flu, which broke out in 1918 and claimed 50 million victims worldwide. Despite its disastrous impact, it took the WHO 30 years after that pandemic to establish a coordinated system of prevention and detection of global epidemics. Early intervention apparently prevented major spread of later respiratory epidemics such as Singapore (1957), Hong Kong Flu (1968) and later H1N1 (2009). Coordinated cooperation between governments and non-government organizations has been able to prevent the spread of Ebola, and to significantly mitigate the effects of classic influenza, malaria, or the Zika virus. However, the COVID-19 epidemic shows that mankind is not prepared for a virus that has a relatively long incubation time (5 days – 2 weeks), is highly infectious and shows a low symptom rate of the infected (95%). Again, nature has shown that even a virus whose mortality is – compared to the Black Death plague (1347-1351) which exterminated more than half of Europe’s then population) – is relatively low, yet it can disrupt even stable economies. Only with a few exceptions in the Pacific (Taiwan, New Zealand, or South Korea) the highly developed countries that boast of their advancement of science and technology have been surprised, or we should say humbled. This crisis has shown the importance of preparing for a possible global pandemic and how dangerous it is when science is not taken seriously! All of a sudden we woke up from big “Hollywood” fantasies of our readiness for biological warfare or alien invasions. Pandemic COVID-19 has brought about an inevitable confrontation with reality.
How do you see this confrontation as a Jungian Analyst?
From a psychological point of view, we are talking about confrontation with the shadow. We can say that the virus itself represents our collective shadow. It was there waiting in “pleroma,” scientists have been warning us about its potential for a long time, but we were paying little attention. Maybe we were even willingly ignoring it. The shadow, or what is part of us, but what we are not aware of, what we do not want to admit, we reject or minimize, does not cease to exist, but it causes unwanted and unexpected changes in our lives. And these have the ability to not only surprise, but also wake us up. The party is over, the waiter has brought a bill. All that what we had neglected and overlooked suddenly is now, in the face of loss and in the face of death so real… The ancient Greeks taught that pride (hubris) is followed by shame (aischyne), an encounter with suffering that naturally splits off the pain to protect ego. Hubris was taught to be punished by Nemesis, the goddess of righteous distribution. The one-sidedness, the adherence to the fantasies that everything is under control is now being quickly compensated by the sobering realization of our limits. SARS-CoV-2 set the mirror to our narcissistic belief that we are the masters of Nature to show us that we are actually a part of it. Compensation is a natural process purpose of which is to establish equilibrium by supplementing or replacing the loss of opposing energy. We observe it at both the micro and macro levels; for example in the water cycles in nature, or with the immune system, where infection by a pathogen causes a fever and the like. Carl Jung understands compensation as a fundamental tool of psychological growth. Humanity as a whole experiences a phenomenon of compensation, when it has no choice but to react creatively to the new state at the general, objective, level, as well as at the subjective, emotional level. We are willy-nilly forced into introversion – that is, turning our attention inward. For Asian countries, where meditation is part of daily life it is easier than for us westerners.
How does the current situation affect the psyche in general?
Every major loss inevitably brings about confusion, anxiety and dissolution of consciousness, the intensity is distributed over the whole spectrum, depending on the strength of ego organization and social support that he or she has available. Initially, shock ensues when a person loses the ability to think rationally and basically does not feel anything specific, s/he is paralyzed by physical manifestations of panic states, fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea. One may experience an emotional flatness, or conversely uncontrollable fluctuations of emotions and sleep problems. When you add a sense of abandonment to physical and social isolation, some people may feel as if their world was falling apart. In this period, we observe a post-traumatic reaction even with some healthy people. Emergency lines are flooded with phone calls from people panicking.
What happens next?
In the next stage, the psyche’s defense system is mobilized and ego-consciousness begins to cope with the startling reality. It is as if the ego sets to create its own, alternative, reality that gives the new experience a new meaning. The first impulse usually goes back to the past, where we have already dealt with something similar, we speak of regression. Often we see denial, rationalization, that is, an expounding without the presence of affect, banalizing, negotiation and other psychological maneuvers designed to avoid stress. But affect cannot be suppressed in the long run without being compensated by unconscious energies. The built-up pressure must be manifested in some way. Thus rage, anger and frustration arise. And anger as a rule seeks an object. One is looking for the culprit “responsible” for the situation by projecting his or her anger outward; at the same time regulating their own confusion to establish a sense of control through the process of projection. Or, conversely, one can turn his anger against him/hers self, which is then manifested as feelings of shame, or even deserved punishment (sinfulness).
Tragedies and disasters are nothing new for humanity..
Yes. Wars, pandemics and famines have been decimating societies since the beginning of the anthropocene era. Great tragedies also gave birth to ideas of divine vengeance. The supernatural beings had their own justice, and thus, to some extent, the weight of human control is removed from their shoulders. You see, the gods or God now holds the scale of judgement in their hands. I do not want to be misunderstood and reduce religious faith as a spiritual process to something merely profane. I am talking here about the process of projection and its return to the self as spiritual process par excellence. Jung calls it individuation. In relation to the supernatural being, humans become self-conscious and a moral mirror is thus established. Individual emotions are differentiated and given a unique, subjective meaning. It is our individual chance to come to terms with the world and its reality.
Now, thanks to coronavirus, more people are asking ontological and existential questions. We are going deeper, the pain is gently turning us into philosophers because we encounter an awe: Who am I? Where am I? What is my quest? Can I be better, should I be better? Many of us wonder if our relationship with Mother Earth can be healthier, holier. We have the opportunity to expand our consciousness, which occurs during tense situations. The Greek word apocalypse means revelation, revealing, uncovering, thus coming the Self into ego-consciousness. Through this process the Self reveals what had been hidden, the dark aspects of the unconscious.
So the parts of the Self are being revealed to us?
If we can look at the new reality with open eyes and accept it, we are actually recollecting ourselves and integrating “dark parts” of the Self into our ego via conscious relation and change of attitude. We are creating a new, more whole view of the world. A new imago dei. We write about this process in depth in our book: Dark Religion, Fundamentalism from the Jungian Perspective.
If we can hold our fears and anxieties present in consciousness, we can develop compassion. We can understand and develop the need to help others, to focus on solutions rather than on worries. We can start acting more rationally, asking ourselves what realistic options we have available, how to utilize positives and the like. If our consciousness embraces reality, reintegrates dark aspects of the Self and creates new meaning we are talking about the spiritual process of transformation. It is the acceptance of the fuller reality and mindful adaptation to it that is the goal of psychotherapy and analysis. If the ego is unable to do so, it can get stuck in primitive escape-fantasies cut-off from reality, then we are talking about lingering in a regression state. At the broader, social level, this is reflected in an increase in fundamentalistic, “apotropaic” coping approaches that we have termed Dark Religion (theocalypsis). These include calls for mass prayer similar to those in the Middle Ages for the defeat of the virus, the rise of conspiracy theories and other superstitions detached from reality.
President Trump was claiming until recently that covid-19 is a hoax…
Yes, the “hoax devised by the Democrats to deprive him of power.” Unfortunately, many of his followers truly believe this and refuse to follow the protective measures recommendations or orders. Donald Trump called the investigation of the Russian interference into elections a witch hunt, and he succeeded to avoid consequences because he countered every statement by a new lie. Victims of coronavirus cannot be concealed and their loved ones cannot be fooled. Thus, one of the unexpected side effects of a pandemic may be general awakening, sobering from the lies Trump has bet on, lies that have worked for him until recently. The reality of death cannot be avoided, lied away and that is why this pandemic will perhaps contribute to the rise of consciousness.
So are there any possible positive effects of the pandemic?
In the United States, where up to a third of the population deny or dispute science or where third of the population believe in bizarre conspiracy theories, an outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic may re-awaken the importance of science. In a country where a week of treatment on respirator could cost $70,000, the demand for health insurance, paid sick leave, and preventative care will undoubtedly become main topics of the upcoming elections. We began to understand more and more that homelessness is a health risk for the society as a whole.
I believe that many people will try to live more healthy, quit smoking and will cease eating meat. The field ecopsychology, which studies the relationship between humans and environment, will gain even more importance. We will study more in depth the zoonotic diseases and how human activity contributes to them. Questions of income inequality, international cooperation, climate change and the health of our planet in general are becoming the number one topics during the elections.
Plagues can change religious beliefs and behavior, but also reveal the need for social stability, interconnectedness of society, fair arrangement between rulers and workers. Pandemics have led to the development of hygiene, medicine and the industrial revolution in general. All epidemics have shifted society towards cooperation and improved the quality of life of the community. Even in this epidemic we can expect changes in this direction. Here I would like to quote Carl Sagan: “Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
What challenges is the pandemic presenting us with?
The pandemic showed differences in the efficiencies of the solutions various systems have utilized. Totalitarian regimes that were able to impose an immediate curfew, separated children from their parents, or even let whole families starve, got the virus spread under control more quickly… So called free, western countries are up against the challenges of their own way of being… It looks like the freedoms that we enjoy in democratic countries are a disadvantage in this case, so we will have to reach a compromise between security and some of the freedoms losses if we want to win over the virus. We can expect greater interconnection of technologies and electronic monitoring such as smart quarantines and the like. But in the US, people are already afraid of government monitoring, reluctant to provide their phone number or address. So we are facing a big unknown in this direction, no one really knows what the future will bring. The world will change, for sure, but whether better or for worse cannot be said at this time, because history is a process that flows beyond good and evil.
“But it is certain that delusional beliefs, conspiracy theories, or misleading religious ideas sometimes complicate the course of convalescence more than the virus itself.
For manipulations who use various -isms, mass solutions, or fundamentalist religious ideologies epidemics are a psychological breeding ground. Emphasis on education, self-knowledge are the most important antidotes against the decline of humanity. Carl Jung’s words have not lost their validity today: “We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger. And we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man … far too little. His psyche should be studied — because we are the origin of all coming evil.”
“Thanks to” the pandemic, scientists, doctors and economists have regained their respect. But new conspiracy theories emerged too. What makes people still want to create those and follow them even more passionately?
The human desire to understand reality and to attach meaning to it is instinctive and related to consciousness. Mythologies and ritual behavior tell of an ancient effort to understand the meaning of life. Conspiracy theories could be considered as attempts to decipher the hidden laws of reality. They typically arise when a force of reality begins to deviate from the ideas we hold about the world.
In times of crisis, dark imago dei, cruel images of reality emerge, with it an urge to produce some acceptable explanations. Conspiracy theories, like religions, satisfy the desire for meaning, order, and express the will to control that order. From a psychological perspective, we can understand conspiracy theories as religious theories of sui generis, through which the ego copes with the painful or inexplicable vicissitudes of life. The less I am willing and able to be conscious of negative emotions and relate to them, the more power the conspiracy fantasies gain. Conspiracy theories are defensive fantasy constructs that falsify reality through which ego can experience a sense of relief from anxiety and other otherwise dissociating affects. They give conspirators a sense of personal power and control over reality. In a way they allow redirection of aggression, hatred and other socially censored emotions into the “theory,” enabling them thus to better manage the heaviness of life. It is the disintegration of traditional religious systems in secular societies that created a new realm for their emergence. You can read more on this topic in the article Dark Religion and Conspiracy Theories, An Analytical Viewpoint.
How do the Americans, or specifically Wisconsinites, react to Trump’s initial denial of the now harsh reality?
The majority of the people respect the government orders. People have reduced their work and business, working from home if possible. But even here, America’s ideological divisions are manifested and many Trump followers do not trust the media and still believe his statements when he completely underestimated the seriousness of the epidemic. Trump has so far spread fictional quasi-scientific theories, refusing to wear a face mask, and encourages people to form their own opinions based on “gut feelings.” However, with the rise of the sick and dead, Trump’s popularity gradually declines. There is no doubt that his narcissistic approach does not help in a crisis, quite the contrary. He is internally divided and projects his internal conflict to the nation. He does not wish to unite Americans, he speaks only to his loyal part of the population – the part that mirrors him and that embodies the nostalgic vision of a Christian-fundamental, white, self-centered, fearful, nationalist and patriarchal country. Now he exploits pandemic and he is using it to further his sociopathic agenda of division and conflict. By its very nature, the United States will never be truly united politically and ideologically. The tough dialectical dialogue of opposites so typical for America is a source of progress and prevents one-sidedness, but Trump legitimizes irrational attitudes that divide opposites to the brink of dangerous conflict. By promoting the opening of the economy, lockdown, opposed the governors who ordered the proven social distance, he opened Pandora’s box, which most likely would not be closed by a rational dialogue.
But you are saying that Trump’s popularity is declining as the number of deaths increases…
In the article Donald Trump in the Mirror that I wrote for Vesmir, I expressed the opinion that Trump managed to appeal to his followers through rather “primitive” emotions of fear, anger and the feelings of entitlement. These emotions are now being projected onto “enemies,” such as migrants, foreigners, Hispanics, African-Americans, Democrats, environmentalists…you name it. Trump managed to awaken an authoritarian and nationalist instinct: on the one hand he puts himself in the role of savior and on the other hand he diverts attention from reality. Republicans have feared “socialism,” since McCarthy’s post-war era, and therefore remain stuck in magical thinking that Trump’s medicine will miraculously get them out of the crisis. Trump did not invent the division of society, but he is awakening old skeletons in the closets. He was able to evoke and legitimize “forbidden” emotions, which gave many people a sense of relief and an illusion of power. At the same time, they have trapped them like in a cult. Sticking to a leader can be compared to drug addiction, it is a variation of Stockholm’s abused person’s syndrome. Thus, his popularity may decline in proportion to the decline of power that Trump is now able to convey to Americans. The qualities that have brought him to power can turn into a catalyst of a fall in a crisis. In therapy of addictions, we commonly observe this enantiodromia brought about by exhaustion and crisis.
Thus far, we count mainly direct victims of coronavirus, sick, dead. Unexpected dramas also take place in isolation, in quarantine, behind closed doors. Will there be an unexpected amount of divorce, or a babyboom, or both when the pandemic subsides?
It depends on the entrance conditions. The crisis can have a very positive effect on relatively stable families. After the initial phase, an adaptation can take place, where people learn how to utilize neglected resources. This is a desirable aspect of the introversion mentioned earlier. Those families may now have more time to communicate, they are forced to solve problems without running away, now they have to focus more on themselves. They can use that unexpected time and space to develop creativity and tame their inferior cognitive functions. It is most important right now to accept one’s own emotions and feelings, whether it is fear, anger, hopelessness, and so on and to form a conscious relationship with them. And it’s happening, I’m already seeing it with my clients. Creative activity, the observation and relation to our dreams, the humor, the daily routine connected with physical movement, keeping the mindfulness of each other in a strained conditions, those are proven to be very beneficial attitudes these days.
Unfortunately, not all relationships, families are stable…
In families with unstable, predisposed individuals, or in families where there is domestic violence, trauma, the situation is quite the contrary. The crisis and forced isolation increase aggression in some people, and abused partners, especially in socially and economically impacted families, are even more dependent on the tyrant. We are seeing an increase of incest, suicide, bipolar disorders, but also psychotic breakdowns in people with predispositions and lose inner organization. For many people the situation during a pandemic is deteriorating.
And with respect to the baby boom: in times of economic instability, fertility usually declines, on the other hand, during crisis, sexual instinct increases with aggression. The resulting figures will probably be broken down by economic and social status. In any rate, all the effects will be felt later, for example the unemployment is a strong risk factor for depression and suicide. On the other hand, to mention something positive, the work related accidents and the number of car accidents have dropped significantly.
Are we now a part of an unplanned social experiment, as Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari put it?
Harari is a very intuitive thinker. He is probably right that in times of uncertainty and fear, the powerful will try to consolidate their positions and gain additional tools of manipulation. But the Homo Sapiens experiment has been happening continuously. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe was ruled by religious fanatics, during a great crisis Hitler seized power, after the war the Communists… We must not fall for naiveté and, even in difficult times, we must carry the torch of the Greek ideals of democracy and freedom of human spirit. But we must not succumb to paranoia either, because that is precisely the way to losing our freedoms. The cure for paranoia is individuation, i.e. self-knowledge and at the same time acceptance of reality, with everything that it entails!
How is the current situation manifested in your practice? Do you have cases that are directly related to the pandemic?
Clinics have been experiencing an enormous increase in new patients interest in therapy. This is related not only to physical and social isolation and to the anxiety from the unknown, but it is also related also to the loss of work, or fear of impending childbirth but also the death of loved ones. The crisis affects all my existing clients. We are all going through the change. It depends on our conscious attitude how much we will benefit from this change, and whether SARS-CoV-2 will be a gift or a curse.
- Jung, C., G., The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales, CW 9i, (1945/1948), Princeton University Press.
- Jung, C. G., 1969. Psychology and Religion: West and East. Volume 11. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Merritt, D,: The Dairy Farmers Guide to the Universe: Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology, (2012), Sheridan, Wyoming: Fisher King Press.
- Sagan, C., Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, (1994), Ballantines Books.
- Šolc, V., and George J. D., (2018), Dark Religion: Fundamentalism from the Perspective of Jungian Psychology. Ashville, NC: Chiron Publications
- Šolc, V., Dark Religion and Conspiracy Theories, An Analytical Viewpoint, (2020), Taylor & Francis.
 C. G. Jung, “The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales,” CW 9i, par. 397.
 The Greek word nemesis (Νέμεσις) can be translated as just indignation, jealousy, or vengeance— more literally, distribution. It is related to nemein, meaning to distribute, allot, apportion one’s due, from PIE base *nem- “to divide, distribute, allot, to take” (cf. O.E., Goth. niman “to take,” Ger. nehmen; see nimble). When nemesis is written using a lowercase “n”, as is sometimes seen in literature or literary criticism, the word connotes a sense of retributive justice. The general sense of the word nemesis means “anything by which it seems one must be defeated” (Harper, 2010). The term corresponds to 1) feelings of doing something arrogant or inappropriate while acting in hubris, but it is also a 2) subjective experience of retribution for doing something arrogant. Nemesis can be also found in literature as the feeling of an envying god. Etymologically, the original concept of the word nemesis derived from the feeling one has toward the other when they are doing something wrong. It originally meant something between fear, awe, shame, guilt, blame, but later it was applied to the concept of divine retribution (Murray, 1924, p. 85).
 Apocalypse: Late 14 c., “revelation, disclosure,” from Church L. apocalypsis “revelation,” from Gk. apokalyptein “uncover,” from apo- “from” (see apo-) + kalyptein “to cover, conceal” (see Calypso). The Christian end-of-the-world story is part of the revelation in John of Patmos’ book “Apokalypsis” (a title rendered into English as “Apocalypse” c.1230 and “Revelations” by Wyclif c.1380). Calypso means the opposite of apocalypse. The Greek word calypso (Greek: Καλυψώ, Kalupsō, Kalypso) Καλύπτειν (kalyptein, “to cover,” from which apocalypse is also derived) means “the concealer” (lit. “hider”, from Greek kalyptein “to cover, conceal,” from PIE *kel- “to cover, save,” root of English Hell.
 Theocalypse or theocalypsis (theocalypsis, Greek: θεόκαλυψις) describes all phenomena of religious possessions. The word theocalypse (theokalypsis) is presented here to describe the process of: 1) religious inflation by 2) the Self, with 3) the simultaneous creation of specific ideology 4) and/or the presence of accompanying archetypal image-symbol (Imago Dei) referring to a supreme, transcendent being. Theocalypsis = Inflation + Archetype of the Self + God Image. The word theocalypse, theocalypsis, or theokalypsis would then mean to “hide behind the god”; to believe one knows god’s intentions and thoughts and to believe one is acting in God’s name. Psychologically, this term can be conceived of as an ego being eclipsed by the energy of the Self justified by religious imagery, terminology and ideology. (author, Dark Religion, p. 248.)
 Sagan, C., Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, (1994), Ballantines Books.
 1959 BBC interview with C. G. Jung.
Who is Jung?
Jung’s Relevance Today
Personal Impact of COVID
COVID Dreams and Efforts to Help with the Pandemic
| (An Interview with Murray Stein, Ph.D by Rev. Dr. Robert S Henderson) |
RH: We have entered a strange time. Covid 19 has turned the world upside down. In the many interviews you and I have done, we have always had a lot to say. Is there something about this pandemic that has left us speechless?
MS: Yes, it has left almost everyone speechless. It is such a surprising development in the global community that “black swan” is almost not sufficient to name it. But even if left speechless for a moment, we can think about it. It has been called a “pandemic,” which means it affects everyone on the planet.
The sense of “pan” (“all,” across the board!) is strong, and it underscores the connectedness of everyone. Usually we think of the “anima mundi” as a loving presence, like a mother, that connects people, but in this case it is the shadow that is connecting us. This is a big surprise!
Still, the pandemic is bringing a sense of community to many people, and they are feeling, in addition to anxiety, a sense of mutuality and responsibility for one another. What I do has an effect on my neighbor, and so we must become more conscious of our everyday decisions and actions. All the individuals on earth are being called to responsibility.
RH: If you feel “black swan” is not sufficient, has another image come to you?
MS: The image that comes to my mind is an Umbra Mundi, a “world shadow” hovering over us and infecting our psychic lives. I see this shadow spreading over the globe like a solar eclipse. The alchemical term for it is nigredo. The sun is covered by the shadow of death. It is the familiar stage that signifies the beginning of significant transformation. We are being asked to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It is biblical. The question is: will we be able to use this experience for individuation? Or will it just pass like a bad dream of the night that when we awake we are happy to be free from?
RH: What is the first step like of this walk?
MS: Typically the first step means to enter fully into a state of “confusion,” with the intention to explore the question, “where am I?” Individual finds themselves in something like a dark wood like Dante at the beginning of his journey into the Inferno. They are searching for a way back or out, for something solid, for something they can count on to give them light and hope and a sense of direction. There is anxiety here in this dark place, sometimes bordering on panic, and there is often a sense of impending catastrophe if the way back is not found, and quickly. This is our time.
People are wondering: Is this the end of the world as we have known it? Is this the Apocalypse? No one knows the answer. We are all in the dark, groping, searching. But the important thing is to look around within this space. There are no answers “out there.” No one knows the future. Perhaps a guide will appear, someone like Virgil or Philemon.
We might ask, too: What does the unconscious say? what is its response to this crisis situation? I have seen a number of dreams that indicate “death.” Death means the end of the story as it has been told. So we step into the valley of the shadow of death and proceed from there. There is no other way out.
RH: We are asked to stay at home which can be a huge challenge for many people, especially with so many cancellations of work, school, concerts, sporting events. What are we to do with so much time at home?
MS: Usually people have complained about not having enough time to record their dreams, to do active imagination, to read Jung’s Red Book, and so on. Now with time at our disposal, why not make good use of the opportunity? This crisis will pass sooner or later. 18 months is the outside guess right now until a vaccine can be developed and distributed. Then the pace of activity will quickly accelerate and return to high speed. Put this period of time into perspective and use it creatively.
The challenge will to learn from this experience and to carry the learning forward afterwards. What can we extract from this slowdown and enforced period of isolation that will help us to find a wiser pace and balance in life for when the doors are opened and we can walk and run freely again? I suggest we consider this time a precious moment in our lives for looking inward, for introversion, and for practicing centroversion, the mindful circumambulation of the greater self.
RH: What is Umbra Mundi and what are we learning from it?
MS: Umbra Mundi is a companion to Anima Mundi. Anima Mundi is the soul of the world, the divine within material cosmos. Umbra Mundi is its shadow. You could say it is the dark side of God, as Jung and many of his students have written about this unpleasant topic. Because it is archetypal it infects everyone.
Its most essential features are invisibility, universality, and numinosity. Because Coronavirus moves among us invisibly, is found on all continents, and strikes us as awesome and powerful, it represents the Umbra Mundi. We don’t know who has it or if we have it ourselves. It is everywhere, in all parts of the world, and it instills fear in the collective psyche, which we all feel. Moreover, as Rudolf Otto says about the numinous experience, it is awesome. The perception of Umbra Mundi makes us shudder. It is a mysterium tremendum et fascinans, and it infects us with a mysterious terror and sense of vulnerability. We are not in control, and it is cold and relentless.
We are living in what seems like a sci-fi world at the moment, and the challenge is to accept this as a reality and not brush it aside and dismiss it as fantasy. It has happened so fast. The Umbra Mundi invaded our unstable world unannounced and silently, and it threatens to undo the delicate fabric of our collective life on a global level.
What are we learning from it? This remains to be seen. I have no doubt that we have been handed an opportunity for a vast transformation of consciousness on a general collective level. Many people are talking about that possibility. On a deeper level, there may be a transformation afoot in the collective unconscious. I take this appearance of Umbra Mundi as synchronistic. It was predicted by astrologers. It is timely, and we have to discover it’s meaning. This will emerge over a long period of time.
Remember that we are at only the beginning of the Aquarian Age. Jung thought it would take 600 years for the new God image to come fully into view. This passage through the valley of the shadow of death is a transit and it will take time. We aren’t used to thinking in such a long term perspective. We want a fix and we want it now. Maybe the first lesson to learn is patience. A new humanity is being born. Its brain cells have not yet been fully formed and interconnected. It’s just barely creeping into sight.
RH: As you said, this is a time now for introversion. After all your years of clinical work, teaching, and study how do you understand introversion?
MS: Introversion is defined by Jung as libido (i.e., interest, attention) directed to the subject rather than to objects. It is self-reflection, looking in the mirror. When we reflect on our feelings, our thoughts, our presuppositions, in other words on our subjectivity, we are operating in the introverted mode. When we direct our attention to objects, people, events around us, we are in the extroverted mode. What isolation does to people generally is to get them to pay attention to how they are reacting to things, how they are feeling about what is going on around them, to become aware of what they are thinking – their emotions, thoughts, fantasies – and by introverting they become more aware of themselves as subjects.
In Jungian style “inner work,” we use the mode of introversion also to gain access to the unconscious, which is a huge part of the inner world, in fact the larger part by far of the two domains, consciousness and the unconscious. Ego consciousness is small by comparison with the unconscious. In fact, the unconscious is immeasurable and includes personal, cultural and collective (i.e., universally human and perhaps even cosmic) dimensions.
Reflecting on our dreams as images of the unconscious and not as representations of the object world leads us to consider the factors underlying our conscious subjectivity, factors that we call complexes and archetypes. We also use active imagination to explore the “inner world” of the psyche.
The benefit of intensive introversion along these lines and using these methods is that we can establish a connection to the inner world of the psyche that is as strong as our connection to the world of objects that are available to the senses. Extroversion leads to knowledge of the outer world, introversion to knowledge of the inner world. What we try to create is an equivalence, or a balance, between our relation to the inner world on the one hand and to the outer world on the other.
This achievement is highly unusual in our basically extroverted cultures today. People are much more trained and habituated to attending to the surrounding world – using all the media available to us especially in our presently isolated condition – and tend to fear and avoid taking a look inward at who and what they are. In fact, this is one of the causes of the panic that is running through the world today, especially in Western societies. The inner world is the unknown and the unexplored.
People from Asian cultures who have grown up with Buddhism are much more adept at introversion than most Western people are. Meditation is a form of introversion. It withdraws attention from the outer world and lets go of thoughts that tend in that direction (i.e., our daily obsessions and ruminations). The West is catching on, and meditation centers are quite popular nowadays.
Another form of introversion is prayer. If one prays to an invisible power like God or the Saints, one is for that period of time withdrawing attention from the sensate world of objects and directing it to an archetypal image or presence. In Jungian work we encourage our clients to work with their symbolic images in a similar way – to attend to them, to speak with them, to listen to them. Active imagination can be compared to meditation and to prayer even though there are some differences.
RH: Jung said “a man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it— even if he must confess his failure.” During this crisis I imagine a lot of people are thinking about death. What is your view of death and life after?
MS: My view is that after death we continue to exist in the form of a subtle body, in a symbol realm. We become symbols, which are real in that realm and impact this one in certain ways. There is some interaction with the material realm, for instance in the form of dreams or visions and synchronistic events.
From this side we have glimpses and hints. From that side it seems there is something similar. The windows are somewhat open between these two dimensions. Both exist in the same unified reality.
This is ancient wisdom shared by humans in many cultures old and new. Only our standard modern world view does not include this other aspect of total reality. Jung of course knew very well of this reality, and that is why he could say he did not believe (in God), he knew – this is the total reality that he experienced personally and writes about in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections and other texts. We will experience it too if we pay attention to dreams and visions and take note of synchronicity, especially around death.
In times like these we are living through right now, people frequently experience revelations in their dreams that tell them about this reality, which extends beyond this life, and not only after but beyond in an encompassing sense.
A big dream, as Jung calls it, offers gnosis, knowledge of a symbolic world that underlies, surrounds, and is infused within the one we know in the physical body and with our senses. We are held and contained in this larger reality. That’s why the Psalm writer says what he does as he walks through the valley of the shadow of death. He knows that he is in secure hands.
My views are based on experiences I’ve had in my personal life and ones I’ve walked through with analysands.
RH: It is near the end of March (2020) and the number of people infected by the coronavirus and who have died around the world have skyrocketed and we have not yet hit the worst. And yet about half of our country feel Covid 19 is a hoax. What is it about the shadow that invites such denial?
MS: Denial is a defence against painful thoughts and feelings and is a sign of underlying anxiety. The shadow of optimism is fear of imminent catastrophe. Most of us want to look on the bright side, to look forward to growth and health and prosperity.
Americans are known for their optimism, which can be a strength and a virtue or a refusal to acknowledge the tragic aspects of life, which are repressed and then become shadow. The pandemic is a test of the collective ego’s capacity to accept reality and to act accordingly.
To my limited knowledge, every country in the world has failed this test so far, with the possible exception of Taiwan. I live in Switzerland, a country famous for its good order and effectiveness, but the authorities here failed to register the threat of coronavirus, which was in unobstructed view right across the border in Italy. They were slow to act in accordance with that available knowledge, so now this “safe country” has the highest percentage of infected residents in the world. America is on the verge of a tsunami of desperately ill patients flooding the hospitals, and the president is promising it will all be over by Easter. This is immoral because he and everyone around him knows this is a false assurance.
But people will believe it because it plays into their defenses against overwhelming anxiety about the shadow of death hovering over the land. In addition, the shadow of a Great Depression looms and threatens the foundations of the country’s economic well being. Denial causes one to act too little and too late. The virus doesn’t hesitate to exploit this psychological weakness.
Murray Stein is a graduate of Yale University (B.A. 1965), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.1969), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. 1985). He received his Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich in 1973.He had a private practice in Wilmette, Illinois from 1980 to 2003 and was a training analyst with the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago. Since 2003, he has lived in Switzerland and is a Training and Supervising Analyst with the International School of Analytical Psychology/Zurich. He currently has a private practice in Zurich, Switzerland.He is a founding member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts, and he was the first president of the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts (1980–1985).He is a former president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (2001–2004) and a former president of ISAP Zurich (2008-2012). He is the author of In MidLife, Jung’s Treatment of Christianity, Transformation: Emergence of the Self, Jung’s Map of the Soul, Minding the Self, The Bible as Dream and other books, and he is the editor of Jungian Psychoanalysis. Murray and his wife, Jan, have three children, Hal, Sarah and Christopher, and four grandchildren.
Rev. Dr. Robert S. Henderson is a Poet, Jungian Psychotherapist and ordained Protestant Minister in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He and his wife, Janis, a psychotherapist, are the authors of the three-volume book, Living with Jung: “Enterviews” with Jungian Analysts. Many of their enterviews have been published in Quadrant, Spring Journal, Psychological Perspectives, Jung Journal, and Harvest. Correspondence:244 Wood Pond Road, Glastonbury, CT 06033. E-mail: Rob444@cox.
BTS released the video to accompany their song “Black Swan” last week to rave reviews. The video, the second from their latest album “Map of the Soul:7”, features shots of the members of the band dancing on a dimly lit stage juxtaposed with film of the band in more static poses, all set against the backdrop of Los Angeles Theatre. The song and video continue the development of the theme of soul work that characterize the band’s recent releases.
My connection with BTS began when they turned their artistic attention to matters of the soul. I cannot pretend to fully understand the details of the BTS experience, although I appreciate the beauty of their work. Everyone experiences the journey of the soul differently, and works of art like “Black Swan” are perhaps the best way to capture both the individual and collective nature of that journey.
While each of us takes an individual path to deeper knowledge, we often travel similar territory along our journey. The shadow, or part of our personality that is concealed from the world and, often, even from ourselves, is a common feature of this inner landscape. Frequently the shadow forms itself in opposition to another element of our psychic landscape, the persona, which is the part of our self that we display for others. In “Black Swan”, Suga, Jungkook, and Jimin dance in the foreground while their shadows dance different movements along the walls of the Los Angeles Theatre, emphasizing the opposition between shadow and persona. Lyrics like “Do your thang with me now, What’s my thang, tell me now?”, make explicit the tension between the self that is known and the shadow self.
The genius of BTS is to present these elements and the tension between them in vibrant, living form. “Black Swan” isn’t beautiful because it explains the landscape of the soul; it’s beautiful because it shows the landscape of the soul. It presents the universal elements of that landscape in a way that demands identification from the audience, which provides the viewer with the opportunity to exclaim, “Yes, that’s the way it is for me!” Perhaps most importantly, BTS is dedicated to using the experience of their art to improve the lives of those who listen, encouraging their fans to do their own soul work, to become their own advocates.
We here at Chiron Publications are grateful to BTS for bringing the ideas of Jungian psychology to a new generation. We believe that the process of making the world a better place begins with the soul work we each can do to become more whole human beings. This work is unique to the individual, however, when exploring the soul, it is often helpful to have a map. Dr. Murray Stein, who wrote the book who inspired the BTS album “Map of the Soul”, has been drawing such maps for years. His latest, “Map of the Soul: Shadow”, is now available at Chiron Books. Click the link below to access free samples of “Map of the Soul: Persona”, “Map of the Soul: Shadow”, along with the Korean version of “Map of the Soul:Persona”:
Don’t miss Dr. Murray Stein’s discussion of the latest album on Speaking of Jung:
Episode 53: Shadow Interlude
Episode 54: The Ego
Episode 55: Seven