A Jungian Psychotherapist & Suburban Life, 6: Cars
The symbolic may be the commonplace, as a Jungian case studies well knows; other than pets like dogs, what could be more commonplace in suburban life than cars?
Not only are cars commonplace in suburban life; they are common in our dreams. The ancient gods had their vehicles or mounts that they typically rode; so our vehicles often appear in dreams as representations of our “way of getting through life”.
Automobile as Possibility
When Henry Ford mass produced the automobile, he created a world of transportation possibility that had been previously unimaginable. So often the auto represents a real dimension of freedom in the lives of individuals.
The Car and Our “Drive”
It’s not accidental, in our culture that we refer to a highly motivated individual as “driven”. We can easily relate driving to a way of being aggressively in control: driving can be a direct expression of aggression. This association with aggression is at the root of many road rage incidents.
The Car and Persona / Identity
in North American society generally, and in suburbia in particular, the car that a person drives is seen as directly connected to a person’s social mask or persona. In modern suburbia, the car one drives can easily mark one as an estimable, successful person… or not. So one aspect of car ownership is that it can become something that we hide behind — as something that hides a person’s individuality. A Jungian case studies knows that cars in general, and especially in suburbia, are part of personal identity, and also hide it.
The Isolating Container
Most cars constitute a sealed off vessel that travels down the road. This can lead to a sense of being cut off from the external environment. What happens in the world outside the car is something that doesn’t affect me, and from which I’m disconnected.
One complaint that Europeans often have about North American cities and suburbs is that they are “60 Kilometre / Hour Cities” where we whizz by things in our cars at 60 KPH, and we are disengaged from the outer world outside our automobile containers, except for the endpoints of our journeys.
Does our car dependency symbolize disconnection from other people and the world; life in a world of isolation, tunnel vision, alienation from nature, as John Brack’s painting seems to portray?
The Car in Your Dreams
As 21st century people, and especially as suburban folk, we often find ourselves in our cars in our dreams. Often, there can be a lot to be learned from these dream car journeys.
In your dream, where are you going?
How are you getting there?
Who’s driving your car? You, or someone else?
The images of car travel in our dreams can often tell us a great deal about our lives, and the needed direction of our journey towards wholeness.
Does Hermes Drive A Mercury?
When a Jungian case studies works in individual therapy with a client, material objects from our everyday lives can take on great symbolic importance, and reveal much about our individual lives.