The Psychological Meaning of the Chilean Miners
I had just begun my series on “Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth” when our attention was again drawn to the fate of the miners trapped at the bottom of the mine at Copiapo, Chile. This is a story that embodies resilience, if there ever was one. The world’s media have been following the fortunes of the miners with tremendous verve and intensity. Why is it that this story grips us so?
Frankly, from a symbolic perspective, there is so much that could be said about a group of miners trapped in the bowels of the earth, and finally coming to the light of day again that you could write a very hefty book about it.
Clearly this story is an incredible embodiment of human resilience. To wait in a precarious chamber of rock for 66 days for a tunnel to be dug down: could it really get much worse? It would be a test of any human being’s sanity to have to wait in this manner is such confining and threatening surroundings.
And the world waited with the Chilean miners. In an emotional, and even in a quasi-physical way, we experience to some degree what it is that they experience. With them, we share in their longing for a return to the surface, to the world of light. Their experience reminds us of all those aspects of human life where things seem to be beyond our control, where the only way to “get through” is to endure, to be patient, to be resilient. We share in their hope for freedom, and for the restoration of their own lives, because, in their hope we find our own hope, our own need to “get through” in life, that we will some day get beyond the difficult things with which we have no choice but to deal.
Sometimes human life takes us into the darkness. We are lost; we are disoriented; we are trapped. What we need then is to find that hope in which we can endure, and find a way back into the world of the living. This can be as true in the world of psychological growth and case studies as it is in the mines of Copiapo.
Do you have reflections or thoughts on the meaning of the events around the Chilean mine rescue? I would certainly love to hear about them if you do. Does their story resonate in any way with your own?
Good wishes to all of you as you make your own personal journey to wholeness,
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst
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© 2010 Brian Collinson