Dancing on Thin Ice

To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine. —R.W. Emerson

Tag: photomontage

inner voices

Inner-Voices-

These are some of the characters that like to have shouting matches inside my head, the manifestations of my psychosis. My particular brand of psychosis involves the fragmenting of my Self and my reactive comprehension of who I am. My thoughts and feelings take on lives of their own, becoming disparate inner voices over which I have no control, each of which is like a different “me.” I lose all sense of who I really am and thus my connection to reality is severely impaired if not altogether broken. Personal continuity is irrevocably fractured and I disengage from people and projects—my life—until such time as the episode ends and there is once again only one “me.” Then I am faced with the daunting and often humiliating tasks of repairing relationships where possible and of rebuilding my life from the pieces into which it has been splintered.

While the language I use here is deliberately non-clinical, my descriptions are subjectively accurate and true.

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the shadow

shadow-pulp

Cover art by George Rozen

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!

I doubt that the writer had in mind anything other than the fictional crime fighter when he penned the now-famous words that began each broadcast of The Shadow radio thriller, but it’s an interesting coincidence that those opening words were beginning to resonate with American radio listeners around the same time Carl Jung was also writing about a shadow, though one of a rather different type.

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.¹

This shadow, or shadow self, is part of the unconscious mind encompassing repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, instincts; everything that is undeveloped and denied. One of the psychological mechanisms of the unconscious is projection. Whatever we disown or deny about ourselves is projected onto other people. Anything we feel is too negative to express — whatever runs counter to our self-ideals — is projected onto the outside world. Jung also wrote that if we don’t recognize and acknowledge our ownership of these projections,

(t)he projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object — if it has one — or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.²

In other words, consciously or unconsciously we create our own realities. In the preface to Up From The Deep I list the events that completely and forever changed my life: the losses and betrayals that led to six years of homelessness and heroin addiction that almost cost me my life, my lengthy hospitalization, and my recovery in a Sixth Street hotel. The title Up From The Deep refers to my subjective experience of a psychological transformation — in Jungian terms, the integration of my ego and my shadow self — that began when I awoke in the hospital, overwhelmed with the ineffable sweetness of just being alive. To Jung’s observations I would add this: self-acceptance comes only with self-forgiveness.

the-shadow

“The Shadow” (2006)

1. Jung, C.G. (1938), Psychology and Religion
2. Jung, C.G. (1951), Phenomenology of the Self

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