Do your hackles rise every time you see Donald Trump? You could be looking into a psychological mirror
IF YOU are a man and your hackles rise every time you see Donald Trump on the TV, stop and step back for a second and consider this. Is it his politics that annoys you or is his personality reflecting back something in yourself that you don’t like?
For a woman, if it is Angela Merkel or Theresa May who makes you want to scream with rage, you could also be looking into a psychological mirror and seeing the face that you would rather hide returning your gaze.
According to Carl Jung, ‘the Shadow’ contains those aspects of ourselves that we dislike and that have been suppressed.
Jungian psychologist William Garnermann, who will be holding a one-day series of talks in Belfast on Saturday, says the Shadow is something that needs to brought to light rather than rejected.
“It’s always nice to have the man we love to hate. It frees you up and you don’t have to own things and you can deny that there are flaws in your character,” he says. “You will project your shadow on to someone who you don’t like – usually someone you don’t know very well – project those aspects of yourself that you are trying to deny and when they manifest in something that person says or does you will feel a strong negative reaction.”
Identifying your shadow and integrating it into your conscious life, accepting that it is part of you, is an important step in Jungian psychology. According to Jung, the Shadow is not something to be feared and to run away from, it is “90 per cent gold”.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist, philosopher and analytical psychologist. His exploration of his own unconscious and his researches in the fields of mythology, folklore, religion, alchemy and science led to a new understanding of the human psyche and the firm belief that consciousness was the purpose of life.
By consciousness he meant being aware of your behaviour and being responsible for your actions. Jung maintained that if things go wrong in the world around you the first thing is to put your personal, psychological world in order. He believed that dreams are a direct communication from the unconscious, constantly correcting and adjusting conscious behaviour.
Mr Garnermann will be taking three of the most important strands of Jung’s work to discuss on Saturday – synchronicity, narcissism and dreams.
“Synchronicity or meaningful coincidences happen when we are doing something right and events in the external, physical world coincide with the inner world of the psyche,” he says. “Whether it's dreaming of the winning horse at the races or accidentally meeting the individual who will further your career, synchronicity shows the interconnectedness of psyche and matter.”
According to Mr Garnermann, narcissism is the most significant pathology of our time and “the biggest obstacle to spiritual development”.
“Narcism is the curse of capitalism, it takes people away from the reality of life and connects with projection. We project our Self on to objects and we try to define ourselves through possessions. But every time we get a new car, for example, it is just replaced with a new want and the process repeats itself,” he says.
“Yet, our society and culture depends on the narcissism of individuals to oil the wheels of industry and commerce which keep us happy in our world of fantasy and make-believe.”
Mr Garnermann says Jung saw that dreams were a positive communication from the unconscious.
“He discovered that dreams use a symbolic language that can carry an emotional charge which can bring about psychic transformation. Dreams not only guide us, but can transform our lives,” he says. “Jung encouraged us to record and think about dreams. They can often appear obscure, but they are filled with symbols that can point out psychological adjustments we should make.
“For example, many people will have a mother complex – an attachment to their mother. In dreams this can manifest as images of caves or of bags, which are symbols of the womb. They are containers that can tell you about your relationship to your mother.”
Mr Garnermann is a native of north Down but is now based in Dublin where he co-founded the The CG Jung Centre in 1990 to promote the work of Jung and consciousness.
“Our studies cover all the various areas that Jung developed and especially the work on dreams and the interpretation of dreams through the amplification of dream symbols,” he says. “More recently the centre has commenced a separate course in Consciousness which is a combination of Jungian psychology and Vedic [Indian] philosophy. The Consciousness course takes the exploration of the unconscious further and is a practical application of raja yoga.”
:: The Belfast Day on Jung is this Saturday (June 10) at the Wellington Park Hotel in south Belfast, starting at 11am, and the three talks on Synchronicity, Narcissism and Dreams will be followed by discussions. Cost £50. To book visit: www.jungcentre.com