The Introvert, Subjective Life, and the Reality of the Psyche
Here’s a quote from Jung that I’ve been looking for for a long time. It is a classic comment of Jung’s about the reality of the inner life and the psyche.
“And so, you see, the man [sic] who goes by the influence of the external world — say society or sense perceptions — thinks he is more valid because this is valid, this is real, and the man who goes by the subjective factor is not valid because the subjective factor is nothing. No, that man is just as well based, because he bases himself on the world from within.
“…the world in general, particularly America, is extraverted as hell, the introvert has no place, because he doesn’t know that he beholds the world from within [italics mine]. And that gives him dignity, that gives him certainty, because nowadays particularly, the world hangs by a thin thread, and that thread is the psyche of man…. Nowadays, we are not threatened by elemental catastrophes…. We are the great danger. The psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the psyche? And so it is demonstrated in our day what the power of the psyche is, how important it is to know something about it.
“Nobody would give credit to the idea that the psychic processes of the ordinary man have any importance whatever. One thinks, “Oh, he is just what he has in his head. He is all from his surroundings.” He is taught such and such a thing, believes such and such a thing, and particularly if he is well-housed and well-fed, then he has no ideas at all. And that’s the great mistake, because he is just what he is born as, and he is not born as a tabula rasa but as a reality.”
“The Houston Films” in McGuire, William, and Hull, R.F.C., eds.,
C.G. Jung Speaking (Princeton: University Press, 1977)
“[A person] is not born as a tabula rasa, but as a reality.” That is quite a statement that Jung is making there. The challenge is to see the reality of ourselves, as in some sense a unified whole. To see ourselves as something more than the lump sum aggregate of all the conditioning that we have experienced in our lives, and to see our inner experience as something real, something substantial. And then, to go on the adventure of discovering that reality, of having the courage to know ourselves as what we most fundamentally are.
My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,
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© 2009 Brian Collinson