Thursday, July 14, 2011

map of the soul: the Populated Interior: The Complexes

The term "constellation" appears frequently in Jung's writings and is an important one in the Jungian lexicon.  It is a word that often mystifies readers at first.  Usually it refers to the creation of a psychologically charged moment, a  moment when consciousness either already is, or is about to become, disturbed by a complex.  "This term simply expresses the fact that the outward situation releases a psychic process in which certain contents gather together and prepare for action. When we say that person is 'constellated" we mean that he has taken up a position from which he can be expected to react in a quite definite way."  Complex reactions are quite predictable once one knows what the specific complexes of an individual are.  We refer to the complex-laden areas of the psyche colloquially as "buttons," as in "She knows how to press my buttons!"  When you press such a button, you get an emotional reaction.  In other words, you constellate a complex.  After you have known a person for a while, you know where some of their buttons are and either avoid these tender areas or go out of your way to touch them.

The architects of these constellations "are definite complexes possessing their own specific energy."  The complex's "energy" (this term will be discussed more thoroughly in the next chapter) refers to the precise amount of potential for feeling and action that is bound up in the magnet-like core of the complex.  The complexes have energy and manifest a sort of electronic "spin" of their own, like the electrons surrounding the nucleus of an atom.  When they are stimulated by a situation or an event, they give off a burst of energy and jump levels until they arrive in consciousness.  Their energy penetrates the shell of ego-consciousness and floods into it, thereby influencing it to spin into the same direction and to discharge some of the emotional energy that has been released by this collision.  When this happens, the ego is no longer altogether in control of consciousness or ,for that matter, of the body.  The person becomes subject to energic discharges that are not under the ego's control.  What the ego can do, if it is strong enough is to contain some of the complex's energy within itself and to minimize emotional and physical outbursts.  But, to a degree, none of us is wholly responsible for what we say and do  while in the grip of a complex.  Needless to say, this does not constitute an effective defense in a court of law.  Sometimes society demands a higher standard than the psyche will allow.

The complexity (pardon the pun) of the psyche is becoming apparent.  In fact, Jung's theory was sometimes called complex psychology (rather than the more than usual name for it, analytical psychology): both complexity and the concept of complexes are fundamental to his view of the psyche.  The psyche is made up of many centers, each of them possessing energy and even some consciousness and purpose of their own.

 In this conceptualization of the personality, the ego is one complex among many.  Each has its own specific quantum of energy.  When we speak of the ego's energy, we call it "free will."  If we wish to refer to the amount of energy tied up in a complex, we can speak of the power of our inner demons.  These are the irrational compulsions that can seize us and do with us more or less what hey want.  A complex generally creates its effects within the domain of consciousness, but this is not always so.  Sometimes the disturbances occur outside of the psyche altogether.  Jung observed that a complex can affect objects and other people in the surrounding world.  It can act as a poltergeist or a subtle influence on other people.

To get the basic structure of the complex, it must be broken down into its parts.  "What then, scientifically speaking, is a ' feeling-toned complex'?  Jung asks.  "It is the image of a certain psychic situation which is strongly accentuated emotionally and is, moreover, incompatible with the habitual attitude of consciousness."  The word "image" is key here.  It is an extremely important term for Jung.  Image defines the essence of psyche.  Sometimes Jung uses the Latin word imago rather than image to refer to a complex.  The "mother imago" is the mother complex, as distinguished from the actual mother.  The point is that the complex is an image and as such belongs essentially to the subjective world; it is made of pure psyche, so to speak, although it also represents an actual person, experience or situation.  IT should not be mistaken for objective reality-- for another actual person or a material body.  The complex is an inner object, and at its core it is an image.

Complexes operate in a similar way, only in humans they seem to be only quasi-instinctive rather than truly instinctive.  They act like instincts in that they produce spontaneous reactions to particular situations or persons, but they are mot purely innate in the same way that instincts are.  Mostly they are products of experience-- trauma, family, interactions and patterns, cultural conditioning.  These are combined with some innate elements, which Jung called archetypal images, to make up the total package of the complex.  Complexes are what remain in the psyche after it has digested experience and reconstructed it into inner objects.  In human beings, complexes function as the equivalent of instincts in other mammals.  Imagoes, or complexes, are, in a manner of speaking, constructed human instincts.

"This image has a powerful inner coherence, it has its own wholeness and, in addition, a relatively high degree of autonomy, so that it is subject of the control of the conscious  mind to only  a limited extent, and therefore behaves like an animated foreign body in the sphere of consciousness."  Each of these features of the image-- its inner coherence, its wholeness, and its autonomy-- are important aspects of Jung's definition of the complex. A complex possesses psychic solidity;  it is stable and endures through time.  Left in its own space without intervention or challenge by ego-consciousness, a complex tends not to change very much .  One can witness this in repetitions of the same patterns of emotional reaction and discharge, the same mistakes, the same unfortunate choices made over and over again in a person's life.

Analysis tries to uncover the complexes and expose them to the conscious reflection of the ego.  This intervention can alter them somewhat.  In analysis a person learns how the complexes function, what triggers their constellation, and what can prevent their endless repetition.  Without such intervention on the part of the ego, a complex will behave like an animated foreign body or an infection.  In the grip of a complex, a person can feel quite helpless and emotionally out of control.

"Certain experimental investigations seem to indicate that [the complex's]  intensity or activity curve has a wavelike character with a wavelength of hours, days, or weeks."  The stimulus that provokes the complex may be slight or great, of long or short duration, but its effects on the psyche can continue for extended periods of time and can come into consciousness in waves of emotion or anxiety.  One of the signs of effective psychotherapy it that the complex-induced disturbances perservaerate for shorter lengths of time than they did before.  A more rapid recovery from complex-induced disturbances indicates increased ego strength and integration of psychic material, as well as decreased power in the complexes.  A shortened perserveration time means that the complex's power has diminished.  Nevertheless, it must be recognized that a complex can never be completely eliminated.  The wavelike effects of complex "aftershock" are exhausting and draining.  The discharge of a powerful complex can consume an enormous amount of psychic and physical energy.

Further on the structure of the complex, Jung describes it as being made up of associated images and frozen memories of traumatic moments that are buried in the unconscious and not readily available for retrieval by the ego.  These are repressed memories.  What knits the various associated elements of the complex together and holds them in place is emotion.  This is the glue.  Furthermore, " the feeling-toned content, the complex, consists of a nuclear element and a large number of secondarily constellated associations."  The nuclear element is the core image and experience on which the complex is based-- the frozen memory.  But this core turns out to be made up of two parts: an image or psychic trace of the originating trauma and an innate (archetypal) piece closely associated to it.  The dual core of the complex grows by gathering associations around itself, and this can go on over the course of an entire lifetime.  If, for example, a man reminds a woman of her harsh, abusive father by his tone of voice, by his way of reacting to life, y his intensity of emotional response, and so on, he will understandably constellate her father complex.  If she interacts with him over a period of time, material will be added to that complex.  If he abuses her, the negative father complex will be further enriched and energized, and she will become all the more reactive in situations where the father complex is constellated.  Increasingly she may avoid such men entirely, or on the other hand she may find herself irrationally drawn to them.  In either case, her life becomes more and more restricted by this complex.  The stronger the complexes, the more they restrict the range of the ego's freedom of choice.

That complexes can be modified by later experience is of course to the benefit of the individual, and the healing potential of psychotherapy depends upon this.  Therapy involves a kind of thawing out of the frozen memory images.  It can restructure the personality to some extent because transference allows the therapist to stand in for (among other figures of the psyche) the parents, both mother and father, at different stages of therapy.  When a parental complex is constellated by the therapist the patient's experience of a different kind of parent figure adds material to the old complex and builds a new layer into, or over, it.  This new structure does not entirely replace the old, but it can importantly modify it, to the point where the complex no longer restricts a person's life in such a debilitating way.  The harshness of an abusive parent imago may be softened-- thawed out-- or offset by new structures.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

map of the soul (introduction)

from the Introduction of Jung's Map of the Soul

Jung's map of the psyche is a massive acheivement of intellect, observation, and creative intuition.

I come back to the question I asked before: Is there really a system in Jung's works?  Is he a systematic thinker? The answer is probably a guarded yes.  The theory is coherent, in the same way that Switzerland is a coherent country although the population speaks four different languages.  The whole hangs together even though the parts look as if they could stand alone and function quite independently.  Jung did not think systematically in the way a philosopher does, building on basic premises and making certain that the parts fit together without contradiction.  He claimed to be an empirical scientist, and so his theorizing matches the disorderliness of the empirical world.  An intuitive thinker, Jung lays out big concepts, elaborates them in some detail, and then proceeds to other big concepts.  He backtracks frequently, repeats himself, and fills in gaps as he goes along.

A story is told of Jung by his students in Zurich.  Once when he was criticized for being inconsistent on some point of theory, he responded:  I have my eye  on the central fire, and I am trying to put some mirrors around it to show it to others.  Sometimes the edges of those mirrors leave gaps and don't fit together exactly.  I can't help that.  Look at what I'm trying to point to!

taken from JUNG'S Map of the Soul by Murray Stein

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

map of the soul: Surface: Ego-Conscious

ego-consciousness is a prime feature of the territory he was exploring.

It is the tool.

Not all that seems true to even the most earnest and sincere investigator's consciousness is necessarily accurate knowledge.  Much that passes for knowledge among human beings is actually, upon closer and more critical inspection, merely prejudice or belief based on distortion, bias, hearsay, speculation, or pure fantasy.  Beliefs pass as knowledge and are clung to as reliable certainties.  "I believe in order that I may understand," a famous remark from St. Augustine, may sound strange to our modern ears today, and this is often the case when people begin to speak about psychological reality.

the ego is the subject of all personal acts of consciousness

a connection to the ego is the necessary condition for making  anything conscious
the ego is a kind of mirror in which the psyche can see itself and can become aware.  The degree to which a psychic content is taken up and reflected by the ego is the degree to which it can be said to belong to the realm of consciousness.

The ego contains our capacity to master large amounts of material within consciousness and to manipulate them.  It is a powerful associative magnet and an organizational agent.  Because humans have such a force at the center of consciousness, they are able to integrate and direct large quantities of data.  A strong ego is one that can obtain and move around in a deliberate way large amounts of conscious content.  A weak ego cannot do very much of this kind of work and more easily succumbs to impulses and emotional reactions.  A weak ego is easily distracted, and as a result consciousness lacks focus and consistent motivation.

The two major attitudes (introversion and extroversion) and the four functions (thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition) have a strong influence upon the ego's orientation as it undertakes its adaptive tasks and requirements.  The ego's innate disposition toward assuming one of these attitudes and functions forms its characteristic stance toward the world and toward assimilating experience.
  Collisions with reality awaken the nascent ego's potentiality and challenge it to relate to the world.  Such collisions also interrupt the psyche's participation mystique with the surrounding world.  Once aroused, the ego must adapt itself to reality by whatever means are available.  Jung theorized that there are four such means or functions of the ego, each of which could be oriented by either an introverted (ie., inward-looking) or extroverted (outward looking) attitude.  After a certain amount of ego development has taken place, the person's innate tendency to orient to the world, within and without, will reveal itself in certain definite ways.  Jung argued that the ego has a inborn, genetic tendency to prefer one particular type of attitude and function combination and to rely secondarily on another complimentary combination for balance, with a third and fourth remaining less used and consequently less available and developed.  The combinations make up what he called "psychological types."

As a rule one of these two best functions is extroverted and the other is introverted, the extroverted function giving a reading of external reality and the introverted function providing information about what is going on within.

Broadly speaking, it is the contents of the unconscious that curtail the free will of the ego.  The Apostle Paul expressed this classically when he confessed: "I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate... I can will what is right but I cannot do it."  Demons of contrariness conflict with the ego.  Jung concurs: "just as circumstances and outside events "happen" to us and limit our freedom so the self acts upon the ego like objective occurrence, which free will can do very little to alter."  When the psyche takes over the ego as an uncontrollable inner necessity, the ego feels defeated and has to face the requirements of accepting its inability to control inner reality just as it has to come to this conclusion regarding the larger surrounding social and physical worlds.  Most people in the course of their lives come to realize that they cannot control the external world, but fairly few become conscious that inner psychic processes are not subject to ego control either.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bill Withers Liner Notes

"Stuttering is critical," he says, "because stuttering may have been one of the reasons I stayed in the Navy so long -- nine years.  I wasn't quite ready for the world.  It wasn't until I was twenty-eight that I really got a handle on my speech.  I saw that I had an acute fear of what a listener might think of me.  Shyness was part of the emotional mix.  It was also frustrating.  Because of my chronic stutter, people assumed I was sstupid.  I realized I had a gift for language -- I was probably more verbal than those who were taunting me -- but that gift was stifled.  When I processed the fear -- looked at it and understood it -- I found the strength to move on.  I found expression in writing songs.  Blues lyrics seemed too restricted to me.  Blues is certainly in my blood, but my heart required a freer form.  If there had been a commercial mainstream outlet for pure poetry, I probably would have done just that.  Saying something was far more important than musical virtuosity.  Truth is, I lacked musical virtuosity.  So my stuff stayed simple.  At the same time, if I hadn't been protecting something macho deep within me, there's no telling what I might have said lyrically in my songs.
Looking back, I see that as a stutterer I was extremely sensitive.  Any stutterer lives with a lifetime of hurt feelings.  That sensitivity served my songs.  I didn't start this little music career of mine till I was nearly thirty, so there was already a degree of maturity.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sucker Punch

I saw Sucker Punch with a group of people who do not know anything formally about individuation and Jungian analytical methods.  They were completely at a loss as to what this movie was about... even as an adventure movie, the narrative is discordant and hard to follow.  I counted three different parallel storylines embedded into one girl's journey to personal freedom through Enlightenment. 

By all appearances the movie seems to be about "Baby Doll" but I think that "Baby Doll" is the young girl aspect/ naive feminine side of "Sweet Pea"'s character.  My clue to this is at the point where "Baby Doll" is brought to the asylum and "Sweet Pea" is on stage dressed similarly to how "Baby Doll" is portrayed through the whole movie and "Sweet Pea" objects to the lobotomy as part of the show... And so it is the stage show that is the greater Jungian storyline for the whole movie that becomes cinematic in the rest of the movie through the more obvious "escape" narrative, and then drops into the subplot action sequences that represent the individual "struggles" that "Baby Doll" faces to overcome the physical limitations and the appearence of the obstacles of her growth.

The old man appears plainly as the guide for the girls, Baby Doll the not yet matured feminine aspect, Sweet Pea the individual essence...  In the liner notes for the soundtrack Zack Snyder thanks Richard Bach for his influence on his life, even at times when he doesn't notice it at first.  This is yet another hint to the self-awareness that this movie attempts to realize.  There is alot of discussion in reviews that Suckerpunch is misogynist and shallow, but these reviews fail to see that each character is a representation of a side rather than a fully realized individual and when the whole cast of characters can be seen as one person, the complexity of the film leaps into another category beyond what we are used to films delivering.  I look forward to observing this film's influence on pop culture and it's legacy as an artwork.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Love Lockdown and All of the Lights by Kanye West

It was the Love Lockdown video that I started to really see the depth of Kanye as an artist.  I must have watched this video fifty times before I finally figured it all out.  I knew of his critics calling him a backpack rapper and that he had been denying his "blackness".  And on 808s and Heartbreaks (the album with Love Lockdown on it), we see a very forthcoming Kanye.  And so on Love Lockdown and in the video, we see his ambivalence of what people say about him and how he feels regarding his "blackness".  The Vibe being VIBE Magazine and he's discussing his desire to move on regarding the history of what being black means and opening up to the future of what it could be.  An amazing statement, well executed.

On his next album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he goes even further into the struggles of Kanye in the spotlight.  A year after the Taylor Swift debacle, and a relatively quiet year for Kanye publicly.  I was paying very close attention to his career at this point and when I first heard this song, I realized... this guy is in therapy!!!  He's talking about shining a light on all the dark sides of his personality.  I wasn't familiar with the shadow aspect and Jungian analysis, but I could see that he was trying to rid himself of the shame he carried around with him. 
After I made this realization, I started looking towards "dark" artists.  I was looking at Goth music, Marilyn Manson, the concept of "grotesque", Baudelaire's Fluer de Mal... and in some of the critiques of Baudelaire I came across a concept of darkness, being a shadow, of something in the way of the light, as a psychological presence.  And so I started to look at this album as a confession, as he says in All of the Lights.

Forever Young by Jay-Z

There's no doubt in my mind that Jay-Z employs Jungian terminology in his lyrics.  It was actually a Jay-Z that I heard him say Young and realized that he just might be saying Jung... and so I started listening to Jay-Z with a whole new set of expectations.  It also caused me to start researching more about C.G. Jung and learn more about how Jay-Z might be using the psychologist's principles to be talking with symbols in his videos and lyrics.  I'd say there is a diamond mine of material to look through, but that my theory is well-discovered, espescially throughout the Black Album and Blueprint 3 and several songs he records with Kanye West.