Something I want to teach people is how to listen to their own bodies, their own thoughts, their own minds. Like the subconscious, the immune system is constantly working to maintain the health and balance of the body—as are your tastebuds, instincts, and own cravings (modern, processed foods and substances aside). And, like the immune system, the subconscious is almost like a bit of internal scripting to keep the conscious psyche in check.
That is to say, that we are programmed with exactly how we need to take care of ourselves; it’s within us, not without. Mental happiness can be achieved by listening to and closely examining ones dreams (though I will say that true knowledge does help), feelings, and inclinations—for example, in extreme isolation, the subconscious will fulfil it’s need to maintain mental balance1 by creating imaginary friends, hallucinations, etc…
I understand the function of a psychological healer for those who are damaged in this society, and that in order to bring them back to functionality as fast as possible (a machiavellian perspective) the need to treat mental illness is a highly-esteemed one. However, I do not agree with curing only court-orders, or those so direly in need that a government or insurance agency will consent to pay for their treatment—a treatment the majority cannot otherwise afford. I believe that, if curing the sick, one needs proper time to influence not only healing, but also positive change in their lives.
The art that our present society currently fosters is that fine balance between bringing one’s patient back to health in as fast a manner as to render them a good, functioning part of society without insomuch as waking them up to their own instincts, or personal development (individuation, as I am coming to understand it – but still further reading is required on the topic). Like this, they are left dependent on their superiors, do not question a rigid control system, and continue to fulfil their designated role in society (a big ant nest, if you will—sociopaths and psychopaths perhaps filling the role of a warrior ant, as an INTP friend once speculated to me).
This, in my eyes, is a sad use of psychology. When researching careers of Jungian Analysts I was heartbroken to learn that there is not much work in such a role, for very few can afford it, and governments / insurance agencies do not support it. I can see why, from their stand-point; an awoken society can be a dangerous thing, and perhaps the ant nest would stop functioning.
But what of this idealised society? What would ‘man be capable of, were we to follow our passions, not our needs in search of security, sustenance, and shelter? What would we be able to further in terms of knowledge and human fulfilment? Cannot individuals and society function as one, brilliant whole—without sacrificing one or the other?
Can “I am Human,” and “I am [name],” exist as one? For, on reading Dave Grossman’s work “On Killing”2, I am compelled to believe that the fundamental human nature is one of great compassion. And, in further observation of what I have actually lived and experienced in life (not what one perceives of life through the media) would correlate with this—as have trusted autobiographies I have read from ages past. The reason why war and war crimes are so terrible is because they are a terrible exception and thus remembered—but as entertainment history and the media both would retell it, they are the rule.
I am classed as an Idealist, and as such this is perhaps an idealistic perspective. There is much evidence and contrast to the contrary, but again, such is a very small percentage of the whole. Life, existence, in it’s beautiful perfection, is something still which leaves me breathless. For, even as a caterpillar may eat the plant, should it eat too much, the plant will release hormones to attract predatory creatures to eat the greedy bug. And, equally, if something happens on one side of a forest, very soon the rest will know, through communication through their roots and symbiosis3.
When plants cannot do this, it is a sign of sickness or malnutrition, and Gaia (as James Lovelock hypothesised it to be) sends her predatory “clean-up-crew” to wipe out the genetics. This is self-moderating, as, once there is no-more food, the creatures themselves will soon starve and die-back to a healthy balance.
In my own experience, I have never once found a parasite in wild-hunted food (again, not that I am an expert, but certainly no obvious signs of sickness or infection). Those I have caught, and eaten, were all perfectly healthy – sickness in my experience is a rare thing. Yet the first, seemingly healthy (farmed) sheep I saw slaughtered showed me the beautiful, yet instinctively terrifying, creatures known as “liver fluke,” which for the most part seem as Spanish Dancers of the ocean (albeit in arterial bloodstreams).
What was the point of this? Ah, yes; perfection, of life and existence both. Now, I am not a creationist, but there is great beauty here, beauty of life and physics both, the latter of which defies the explanation of evolution. Is it possible that there is a greater force beyond our comprehension? Certainly. But I will not venture to say “who” or “what” it is, for indeed it may be a by-product of our own minds, have some completely rational or scientific explanation. Neither do I believe in “right” or “wrong” in the sense of divine punishment; I believe we must all live life according to our own moral values, instincts, and nature. We exist, exactly as we are, for a reason.
This is why I am interested in the process Jung called individuation (again, this is a process about which I am still reading, and I by no means consider myself an expert. The sense in which I use it here is more aligned with personal development through listening to our own inherent wisdom (of the subconscious and body both)) to “become that which we have always been”.
I am interested in this, because (as I have said before) the more I know, the more I realise I, and indeed our society, do not. I cannot presume to know the end of anything, but only that where my instincts lead. And, I believe, individuation, life, and health, are the same. We must follow where we are called, and trust in that which we have been given—not knowing the end result, but that the journey is the destination. I can die happy in the knowledge that I am doing that which I am meant to be, for subconscious health, “my soul’s experience through life” (if at all possible), and indeed physical and thereby mental health.
To trust in oneself is to find paths uncovered / undiscovered. They are for you and you alone, wherever they may be called. And, rather than functioning as an ant in a system designed to separate man from his soul (here I am referring to a title of Jung’s work, Modern Man in Search of a Soul), I want to re-connect others to themselves, so that they may find their true calling in life.
Rather than lifting the mentally or physically ill to good health (though this is always a good beginning), I want to lift those who are healthy to higher and truer levels of existence. For, there is no one else on this world who has been gifted all you have been; you are unique. And rather than striving to be like everyone else, you should instead use, hone, and value all your natural talents and joys.
Please listen to your body. Its wisdom has been learned, programmed, and engaged both for physical and mental health for as long as humanity, as a species, has existed. Though, when unbalanced, knowledge and common sense aid its recovery, as the work of psychologists like Jung and medical doctors such as Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride (author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome) prove. In this day and age, we are not all lucky enough to begin from a stand-point of health, and thus, sometimes healing is the first step.
1This is implied in Carl G. Jung’s work Man and His Symbols (pg. 51, right image caption: “the lighthouse keeper…. has become a little psychologically disturbed by his isolation. His unconscious, in it’s compensatory function, has produced a hallucinatory companion….”). Though I have further reading still to do on the subject, my own intuition is pointing me in this direction.
2“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R), the bible of psychology, states that in post-traumatic stress disorders “the disorder is apparently more sever and longer lasting when the stressor is of human design.” We want desperately to be liked, loved, and in control of our lives; and intentional, overt, human hostility and aggression—more than anything else in life—assaults our self-image, our sense of control, our sense of the world as a meaningful and comprehensible place, and, ultimately, our mental and physical health.” Dave Grossman, On Killing, Pg. 77. Pg. 76: “When we consider the matter, are we truly surprised to discover that it is not danger that causes psychiatric stress? And is the existence of an intense resistance to participating in aggressive situations really so unexpected?”
3The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, or The Lost Language of Plants by Stephan H. Buhner. I read it in one of the two 😉