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Episode 081 - Empathy

This Jungian Life

Release Date: 10/17/2019

UGLY DUCKLING COMPLEX: the painful path of transformation show art UGLY DUCKLING COMPLEX: the painful path of transformation

This Jungian Life

We all understand the Ugly Duckling complex because we lived it at one time or another. Hans Christian Anderson’s famous tale paints a poignant picture of a child’s experience of rejection only because he’s born in the wrong nest. People who seem different or have not yet matured into their natural beauty endure a kind of scorn that can bring them to despair. The ugly duckling’s capacity to endure and find refuge once he is recognized by fellow swans can hearten us during the long winters of our lives.   As an individuation metaphor, the tale dramatizes how many of us feel...

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SHADOWS & HIGH STAKES: understanding gambling show art SHADOWS & HIGH STAKES: understanding gambling

This Jungian Life

Understanding gambling illuminates the amalgam of desire, risk, and reward that defines our interactions with a capricious world. The lure of gambling, entwined within the fabric of human history, irresistibly draws us to its mesmerizing dance of fortune and chance. Exploring the gambler's psyche, we'll discover the psychospiritual elements that pull us towards Lady Luck. Gambling's allure is steeped in mythology. The concept of chance, the Moirai of Greek lore, the Roman Goddess Fortuna, and the I Ching from ancient China evoke the numinous aspect of luck, symbolically guiding us through its...

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WHISKERS of WISDOM: A Jungian Analysis of ‘Puss in Boots’ show art WHISKERS of WISDOM: A Jungian Analysis of ‘Puss in Boots’

This Jungian Life

Something about a cat wearing clothes has captured our imagination for over 500 years, so it’s about time we tackle a Jungian analysis of Puss in Boots. Anthropomorphized felines have enthralled us for half a millennium, making Puss in Boots perfect for our discussion. From enchanting fairytales of yore to modern viral videos, our fascination with pets in human attire and mannerisms persists. Whether a parrot blurting expletives or a dog groaning human words, we’re captivated. Through Puss in Boots, we might better comprehend this instinct to imbue our pets with our psychological traits....

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ARCHETYPAL IMAGES: the soul's language show art ARCHETYPAL IMAGES: the soul's language

This Jungian Life

Thomas Singer, M.D., Jungian Analyst and president of  joins us to decipher Archetypal Images and explain the essential role of A.R.A.S. in collecting and curating them.  Archetypes, as cosmic blueprints, dictate universal patterns of the collective unconscious, transcending personal experiences and cultural variations. They mold our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Archetypal images are their visible expressions, emerging in dreams, myths, and cultural narratives, providing a visual language linking psyche to self. They adapt and evolve across cultural contexts.  Archetypal...

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MEDUSA’S MANY FACES: The Evolution of a Myth show art MEDUSA’S MANY FACES: The Evolution of a Myth

This Jungian Life

The symbolism of Medusa, one of three Gorgon sisters in Greek mythology, has fascinated artists, writers, and philosophers for centuries. Initially a monstrous creature with snake-writhing hair and a petrifying gaze, Medusa has undergone numerous transformations. The earliest known account of Medusa appears in Hesiod’s Theogony (c. 700 BCE), where she is portrayed as a mortal Gorgon sister with a deadly gaze. Ovid’s Metamorphoses (c. 8 CE) ascribes Medusa’s monstrous appearance to a curse from Athena, punishing her for desecrating the temple with Poseidon. Medusa’s terrifying image...

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The DARK TRIAD: tracking wolves in our midst show art The DARK TRIAD: tracking wolves in our midst

This Jungian Life

Understanding the Dark Triad can help us navigate mysteriously troubled relationships in all spheres of life. Psychologists coined the term to describe a trifecta of malevolent personality traits: narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Although less sinister than any one full-blown personality disorder, it still affects the soul plagued by it and those in reach of its host. Narcissism has become a widely-discussed topic, often misused to describe anyone who is frustrating or displeasing. At its core, narcissism is a soul-sickness, with individuals exhibiting entitlement, devaluation of...

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SYMBOLIC MEANING of HAIR: what's your look saying? show art SYMBOLIC MEANING of HAIR: what's your look saying?

This Jungian Life

The symbolic meaning of hair is both personal and cultural. It serves as an expressive medium through which we silently communicate. Sporting bed-head might convey a carefree attitude, while a polished prom-night hairstyle expresses maturity. Hair carries various announcements to our community. Its historical significance reveals ancient values that continue to influence our self-presentation. It is a malleable medium. Unlike body parts such as fingers or feet, it constantly grows, allowing for continuous transformation, and it resists decay. These universal attributes make hair an archetype....

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THE WHALE: a film about trauma, obesity, and the undying hope to connect. show art THE WHALE: a film about trauma, obesity, and the undying hope to connect.

This Jungian Life

We are born with a drive to connect meaningfully with our caregivers. When that is thwarted by fate, deprivation, or hostility, our psyche rallies, it redirects our instincts to the imaginal world where archetypal forces can care for us, and our intolerable feelings can be hidden in a cast of inner characters. We still long for compassionate connection, but the inner figures of our caregivers are intolerable, so sometimes the archetypal mother hides in food—and we follow.  In the recent film “The Whale” starring Brendon Frasier, we meet his character Charlie, an English teacher...

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PAN: archetypal source of panic disorder show art PAN: archetypal source of panic disorder

This Jungian Life

Piping through mountains and glens, the great god carries the relentless procreative power of nature. He symbolizes the archaic level of psyche from which all wild instinct rises; feared during war as his panic could undo even the Titans and attacked in the Common Era as the image of the devil.  Half man and half goat, Pan’s untamed sexuality evoked rapture and impulsivity. As the god of shepherds, he ushered young men into puberty, introducing them to the spring rut in their flocks and their own bodies. In the first 30 years of the Christian era, Plutarch wrote that a sailor heard a...

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CAN JUNG’S HOME WITHSTAND REPURPOSING? show art CAN JUNG’S HOME WITHSTAND REPURPOSING?

This Jungian Life

It seems that an intrepid consortium of impact investors, real estate developers, and the Swiss Tourism, Farming, and Dairy Products Oversight Authority have created a juggernaut heading for  in Kusnacht and his famous tower in . The enterprise called Große Böse Wölfe Hinein Unterwäsche has announced its plans to finalize the acquisition of Jung’s estate and transform it. The modernization of revered sites is familiar across the world. Saddled with mounting maintenance costs and increasing government regulation, British Estates have been repurposed as luxury...

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More Episodes

Empathy, the ability to feel into the suffering of another, is an intrinsic part of being human. We have such a capacity to imagine others’ experience that we react physiologically and emotionally to painful situations even in film. We are surprised, sometimes shocked, when the empathy we expect in a given situation is not forthcoming. Although empathic deficits create wounding, an overly empathic stance can also be problematic, fostering psychic stasis. Jung related empathy to the causal, or “mechanistic” aspect of analysis, in which painful past experiences are traced to their origin in order to more fully integrate feelings, expand consciousness, and depotentiate a complex. However, Jung also emphasized the “abstract,” or “final-energic” direction of traumatic experience, which is more objective and relates to achieving a state of equilibrium. We are thus asked to hold the tension between empathy for feelings—our own or another’s—and a more objective stance toward meaning, choice, and action.

Dream
I'm standing somewhere that is slightly above the level of the ground, and looking down on an alley that has water below. I know I have come to get into the water, but while looking at the way to get to the water is very steep and harsh. So I think of jumping. The water is very, very clear, and I see that after a few meters on the side of the wall that I'm standing on, it gets very deep and blue. So I think it might be very dangerous, if I throw myself in, and can't swim. I don't believe anyone will be able to either find me or help me get out of the water. So I don't jump. But for the rest of the dream I continue carrying a secret with myself that I should have jumped, but I haven't. It feels like having to do something, but not doing it.