Join the Depth Discussion: Making Meaning of Mayhem —Week of August 1, 2013

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At the moment of writing this first sentence I have no idea what to write about here. 

If you are not alone, then you are a member of some community, you belong to something. Accepting without questioning and contemplating a myth (not necessarily spiritual or religious; any component of collective identity would do) or religion isn't really understanding. Also, I see the word "understanding" as something more or less final without any need for big improvements or dilemmas. It seems that understanding in that picture is used to describe something I would call hints and intuitions, feeling something and hoping that you are right (and still open to be proven wrong). This hope of being right can also be understood as not being alone or being at peace with oneself.

Not bad for an improvisation. :-)

A living religion is important in that it supports a rich mythology true to an intuitive understanding of the psychological world of archetypal energies that exist in our collective unconscious. Religion gives these archetypal energies names, places, and dramatic stories that speak to something deep and moral within us. They are personal forms of Gods and Goddesses who walk with us, giving familiarity and meaning to the crises and emotional disasters of everyday living. Even more important, they point the way to a pilgrimage through the labyrinth of terrifying danger and destruction in hopes of resolution and wholeness. A religion’s divinely beautiful temples give a temenous of both the aesthetic and the spiritual underlying and transcending everyday reality. Its accompanying demons challenge us to become more critical, separate, and individual. This mythological reality brings a depth of intriguing significance to the attempted sacred personas of a culture’s public figures, their art, literature, poetry, music, dance, and films.  

A living society embraces these myths and celebrates them as a mob consciousness in the form of rituals, cultural holidays and festivals over the course of the year cycle. These holy days repeat cyclically through many decades and over centuries, linking us in consciousness to all that has come before and even reaching forward into the future toward those who will come after us. 

What first comes to mind is what fascinating creatures we are! We still have our circadian rhythms, often deeply compartmentalized in our psyche. Animals have their rhythms tuned to sleep, safety, food, predators and prey. As humans we have created mirrors to these rhythms and created myths and rites layer upon layer which both align us with our deeper stories that are in a place words can scarcely define...working with mental with mental health diagnoses I have been able to see tremendous soul work in integrating these belief system mirrors, these stories. In positing our myths and archetypes as safe templates for thought and self discovery I see former taboos broken down to be less of the "other" and more of or shared experience, hence dissolving fear in examination and finding pieces of ourselves in these stories, constructs and archetypes. In this way of approaching myth and archetype I've seen fear dissolve and self discovery embraced across a wide variety of backgrounds. It lands up serving an important role in healing and integrating more of the mirror which is after all a veiled illusion of separateness...

I am fortunate to have had conversations with Marion Woodman related to these ideas.

I think on one level she is referring to the ability to hold the paradox; what C.G. Jung would have referred to as "holding the tension of the opposites" to allow a "third transcendent function" to emerge that allows an archetypal understanding that both bridges and transcends an untenable life situation. The "meaning making" function comes through utilizing metaphor, symbol and image. Marion referred to "metaphor" as the bridge that connects the opposites, serving  as  "transformer" between the Archetypal world and the material world in which we daily reside. We thus; can connect Spirit and Matter,  imbuing matter with spirit. We are then embodied soul and live on two levels.

Thank you for this opportunity to muse on one of my favorite subjects and connect with others musing also.

Those who don't learn from mythology are doomed to repeat history!

"any communication" - Maybe at some point people are tired of trying.

I've read your post "Tired. "No Aleksandar, there is a definite mental block involved in order to keep up the participation mystique with the psyche's destructive reactionary mythology. No one can become individuated in the Jungian sense of the word as long as one is caught up in the participation mystique. I am very wary of so-called Jungians, because most are fakes with ulterior motives, Hillman being a prime example. Please note, I am not political, and neither was Jung, C.G. Jung, C.W. Vol.18, paragraph # 1301: 

"As a psychologist I am deeply interested in mental disturbances, particularly when they infect whole nations. I want to emphasize that I despise politics wholeheartedly: thus I am neither a Bolshevik, nor a National Socialist, nor an Anti-Semite. I am a neutral Swiss and even in my own country I am uninterested in politics, because I am convinced that 99 per cent of politics are mere symptoms and anything but a cure for social evils, About 50 per cent of politics is definitely obnoxious inasmuch as it poisons the utterly incompetent mind of the masses. We are on our guard against contagious diseases of the body, but we are exasperatingly careless when it comes to the even more dangerous collective diseases of the mind."

Hi Charlotte,

If you participate in what Jung refers to as the participation mystique, you would not know it because this kind of participation is entirely unconscious, which is why it can be very dangerous when the psyche in negatively constellated, i.e., reacting against cultural decadence, the destruction of the ecological environment etc. Even if you consciously know you are destroying the environment and acting decadently, this is not the same as the participation mystique aspect of one's relationship with the mindlessness of the masses. For example, all anorexics consciously understand that they are acting self-destructively, but unconsciously they are all in a destructive participation mystique that is viscerally experienced as something positively enchanting and aimed at the greater good, hence the mind-bending paradox of self-destructive behaviour.


(I deleted this in order to edit it and re-post it.)

Because Marion Woodman doesn’t explain the things in an articulate manner I have taken the liberty to add the missing words and explanations:


Unless cultural rituals support the leap from one level of consciousness [or stage of life] to another, there are no containing walls within [the individual’s experience of life with] which the process [of developing the personality or a new attitude] can happen. Without an [Jungian] understanding of myth or religion, without an understanding of the [actual and symbolic] relationship between destruction and creation, death and rebirth, the individual suffers the mysteries of life as meaningless mayhem—alone [because there are no cultural rituals or initiation into the next stage of life and the type of consciousness that it requires]. To ease the meaningless suffering, addictions [including anorexia nervosa] may develop that are an attempt to repress the confusing demands of the growth [i.e., developmental] process which cultural structures no longer clarify or contain [in the context of the meaning and purpose of life]. (Woodman, Marion, The Pregnant Virgin, Published by Inner City Books (1985), Toronto, p.24)


Instead, the modern socioeconomic agenda uses seductive and regressive enticements that arouse desires for the ‘ten thousand things’ that Buddhism says is the cause of suffering.


            I am focussing upon the problem of anorexia nervosa because Marion Woodman’s series of books partly deals with eating disorders, and anorexia nervosa is the focus of my own project The Queen of Wonderland.


Re the “understanding of myth and religion:” The reason why analysts do not understand what anorexia nervosa is in itself is because they do not understand the nature of the mythology that is being spun in the psychic background of the anorexic. There is more than one mythic theme involved in anorexia nervosa, which is why it is so difficult to understand.


Re the “understanding of the relationship between destruction and creation, death and rebirth:” The relationship between creation and destruction is that at each stage of life the previous attitude must be destroyed so that a new attitude can emerge that is suitable for the stage of life that one is entering. Symbolically this means the death of the obsolete life and the rebirth into a new life. Not understanding this leaves the individual stuck in an attitude that has become obsolete and a source of suffering because it is maladaptive.


Re: “addictions [including anorexia nervosa] may develop that are an attempt to repress the confusing demands of the growth [i.e., the developmental] process which cultural structures no longer clarify or contain.” Contrary to Woodman’s assumption that addiction is “an attempt to repress the confusing demands of the growth process,” I see the phenomenon of addiction as a psychic reaction in the form of a seductive delusional inspiration rather than the individual’s deliberation. The purpose of the psyche’s inspiration is to engage the individual in a course of self-destructive behaviour as a provocative statement against the culture for neglecting psychic hygiene. “Neuroses are in most cases not just private concerns, but social phenomena. (C.G. Jung, C.W., Vol.9i, ¶.98)” Re destructive and self-destructive behaviour: “if we step through the door of the shadow we discover with terror that we are the objects of unseen factors. To know this is decidedly unpleasant, for nothing is more disillusioning than the discovery of our own inadequacy. . . .  the greatest danger threatening us comes from the unpredictability of the psyche's reactions. (C.G. Jung, C.W., Vol.9i, ¶.49).” “It is, in fact, one of the important tasks of psychic hygiene to pay continual attention to the symptomatology of unconscious contents (C.G. Jung, C.W., Vol.9ii, ¶.40).”



Although Marion Woodman had a good understanding of eating disorders, she was unaware of the most significant mythological theme being spun in the psychic background of anorexics’ minds. There is an ego taboo and a cultural taboo about understanding anything about this mythological theme, which is why absolutely nobody understands what anorexia nervosa is actually about in the context of depth psychology. The theme of the maiden’s descent into the underworld is the most understood mythological theme behind anorexia nervosa. But this myth only provides a smokescreen that hides the most significant mythological theme that influences the anorexic’s behaviour. Understand the mythology behind anorexia nervosa would spoil the psyche’s game. That is, anorexia nervosa possesses a cultural meaning and purpose, which is why the psyche provide the smokescreen effect and a foreboding sense of taboo against penetrating the miasma in order to keep the game spinning.


My book project, The Queen of Wonderland, explains the mythology that has the anorexic in its thrall. Unfortunately, I am not receiving any communication re my work even though quite a number of people are visiting my web sites, and Unless I can get some interest in my work, I cannot hope to market the book after I publish it. So, even though the text for The Queen of Wonderland has been finished months ago, it sits in limbo while I am trying to find out why I am not getting any interest in it. I realize that there is a mental block set in place by the psyche against understanding what anorexia nervosa is in itself, but you’d think that with girls and young women suffering and dying of the disorder there would be someone out there who would be sincere about their interest in curing the disorder, rather than supporting all the pseudo explanations that uses anorexics as valuable assets to be groomed as lifelong users of expensive and potentially harmful psycho-pharmaceutical drugs.

Malcolm, this discussion within a discussion is seriously challenging my capability to comprehend and respond, even though I find it both interesting and disturbing. I suppose (I might be wrong) that, of all substances, heroin addicts are similar to those anorexic individuals who are sick and tired of a decadent world without passion or purpose. Like I've already written, I'm seriously challenging myself while trying to make a coherent opinion and comment. I'll finish it with two Youtube videos. - Mastodon - White Walker (Game of Thrones) - The Prisoner - The General (a computer/machine/soulless surrounding incapable to answer "Why?")

Hello Aleksandar, I looked at the youtube videos you provided links to. You should realize that I do not have either TV or Internet service where I live. I have seen some TV programmes while staying at my sister's place, but for the most part I am unaware of most TV stuff. The video re "Game of Thrones" suggests how an individual who has arrived at a difficult point sees Shadow projections because he has not understood or accepted it in terms of psychic reality. And the question "why", re the Shadow, cannot be answered. We can only accept the paradox of the Shadow within our own psyche.

I am familiar with the TV series The Walking Dead because I have the videos. I decided to do an analysis of The Walking Dead because it is said the be the most popular TV series ever. Whenever something involving undead things become hugely popular it is because it is saying something about our culture in metaphors that can be interpreted in many different ways. I interpret it in a Jungian sense where the undead represent unwanted thoughts, compulsions and feelings. The adventures of the heroes of the show represent some of the underlying conflicts taking place in our culture. I have an analysis of some of the themes on my web site The Art of Tragedy

In my analysis I analyse one of the most disturbing human characters of the first several seasons of the show. I also explain some of the factors behind why anorexia nervosa is not allowed to be understood. The modern technological age gave rise to an epidemic of self-harming behaviours, but cannot explain "why," The result of the question "why" is portrayed in The Walking Dead as the breakdown of the technological culture into a dystopia.

Malcolm, it is a very demanding subject matter, which requires time and effort. One cannot expect people to dig into it, because they have so much else to do. For some reason, authors are reluctant to presenting a concise summary of their theory. This is how it should be done, in the form of an abstract. Moreover, one should produce a more professionally looking website, with black characters on whitish background. Your website looks like if it was made for New Agers.

But even then, it's difficult to receive attention. Many Jungian authors, with doctor's grade, earn no money on their books. There is so much literature, so much competition. Yet, ideas may, over time, slowly affect people. This is how it works, I believe. Ideas evolve on the collective unconscious plane. My own articles have received no special attention either. I never expected them to. I write mostly to get a better grasp of a subject, and it is intellectually stimulating and fun.

However, I believe that ideas are like seed that are dispersed. They may come to fruition in the future, perhaps in some other author, who has picked up on some of the good aspects. Even if one's theories aren't perfectly correct, they may spawn new and better thoughts. It is a collective project.  

M. Winther


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