I was reading into Edward Whitmont (The Symbolic Quest) this afternoon, inspired to go there after listening to Bonnie Bright’s evocative conversation with Craig Chalquist. (http://bit.ly/h2nVh5). And I was fascinated by his discussion, in the first chapter, about autism.


After describing autism, as Jung did before him, as subjective, image-directed and associatively logical (as opposed to causally logical), he points out the strong cultural bias against this order of thinking. It’s a judgment, really, that expresses itself in the pathologizing of those whose reality is internally located. Both he and Jung (CW3 ¶37) point out that the doctors who make such proclamations base their idea of ‘normal’ on observation of severely disturbed psychology. Whitmont also notes that the ‘normal’ population adapts to external reality with a will-directed thinking that makes the “external world usable.” Well, I thought, we’ve seen the dire results of such ‘normal’ and exploitative thinking.


What I also read into this discussion is a commentary on the significant rise of autism in the children of today’s world. And it makes me wonder. Is it possible that our cultural emphasis on utilitarian and goal-driven thinking has birthed a shadowy problem-child? Have we inculcated, through public education and television for starters, such a one-dimensional way of being that it has constellated a reactive eruption from the unconscious of the repressed and so-called ‘inferior’ thinking?


I know this is simplistic, and I do not want to romanticize or diminish the scourge of autism in any way. I know there are many people who suffer with autism who live in a hell that has nothing to do with an introverted idyll. And I know that there may be many tangible and rational ‘causes’ of autism - some of which may also have to do with the choices we have made about how to be in the world. This is a complex issue, indeed.


It’s just a thought. . .

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Comment by penelope jane fields on April 1, 2011 at 4:11pm


Thank-you for this opening door.


Someone said that when we individually and/or our culture tend toward polarizing in a particular way or tend to a particular preference, the opposite force is constillated, magnified, manifest. Control and chaos are partners in the wider dance. It may serve the vast play that entertains us, to enter the fields of experience from time to time in which what is polarized becomes complementary and those natures may feel their natural bliss, unconditionally. We can enter other realms compassionately and surrendered to the wondrous possibilities.


Comment by Alison Vida on February 13, 2011 at 8:55pm
Genevieve - stunning video, thank you.
Comment by Genevieve Jacobs on February 12, 2011 at 5:24pm
Comment by Alison Vida on February 9, 2011 at 7:23pm

Thank you, Melissa Jane and Bonnie, for your responses - giving me much to consider.

I am intrigued to reflect on "mercury" : its obvious connection to Mercurius, his role in the evolution of consciousness, and the place of suffering in the healing of the huge splits or dissociations we are seeing all around us. 

Mercurius is a compound of opposites, and the alchemists were primarily concerned with his dark side, the serpent. CW 14 ¶ 480. 

And I totally appreciate the expansiveness of your suggestions, Bonnie. (I don't know how you find time to do all this in the midst of a training! This site and your presence are a blessing.) Expanding our concept of what is normal, creating larger containers to allow us to hear what psyche is saying, so that both the individual and the group can incorporate the wisdom that is coming through. We all need to step into larger and larger fields.

Comment by Bonnie Bright on February 8, 2011 at 1:40pm

Hi Alison: Thank you so much for this thought-provoking and I think, highly significant, post which you have written in a beautiful and sensitive way. It evokes a number of things for me. First, I am in a training with Stan Grof at the moment and he wrote a book called Spiritual Emergency where he spends a good amount of time talking about how our culture has established a concept of "normalcy" that doesn't allow deviation, and when the unconscious breaks through for some individuals, sending them into crisis (like Jung during those years he wrote the Red Book), as a culture, we tend to make it into pathology and either put them on meds or into an institution. Of course, many traditional peoples, when someone went into crisis, would surround that person and tend them in a safe container, allowing the process to work itself through in a place of love and support.

Second, I recently watched Oprah's video of her interview with Jill Bolte Taylor on Oprah's Soul Series webcast (you can find it on Oprah's web site). Jill Bolte Taylor is the woman who was a neurologist and witnessed herself having her own stroke, then later wrote a book about it called "Stroke of Insight". The phenomenon she describes of having that rupture in her left brain and leaving her in a world filled only with images where language no longer worked as it had before is remarkable to say the least, and your comment that "those whose reality is internally located" somehow seems completely associated with Jill's story. It made me wonder if the phenomelogical reality that she as well as those with autism--as well as some others, no doubt--have some common ground.  Barry Cottrell in his book "The Way Beyond the Shaman" also describes our ancient ancestors as having a similar method of perception before the shift during the ice age to a more will-directed making the "external world usable" type of thinking (mostly because they had to evolutionarily in order to survive).

Your idea about autism being the shadow of this will-directed thinking and our heavily action-driven, goal-oriented education system and culture really resonates with me personally. You should develop the idea into a paper if you feel called: I would love to read it!

Comment by Melissa Jane on February 8, 2011 at 9:32am
I think autism is an expression of our culture's shadow on a variety of levels. Those who suffer with autism are like canaries in the coal mine: they are warning us of the great costs of our dissociation from the Earth, our bodies, and our emotional centers. I've spent many years fact-checking articles for a magazine that frequently covers the biological aspects of autism, namely the connection to the disorder with the use of a mercury-derived preservative in vaccines. So I see it mostly from a biological perspective. But I do see the disorder as a way science--and western societies in general--fail to take into account the body as a whole system--spiritual, emotional, as well as physical. (Unlike, for instance homeopathy, that views the human being holistically.) Also, success of programs such as Son Rise indicate a psychological base for the disorder, as Son Rise takes a primarily psychological approach to healing it.

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