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This Jungian Life

Oct 21, 2021

Jung said of the parent-child relationship: “Nothing exerts a stronger psychic effect upon the human environment, and especially upon children, than the life which the parents have not lived.” Jung understood that parents could unconsciously compel children to fulfill parental dreams or compensate for disappointments. Parental shadow creates an urgency to purge, perfect, or prolong a psychic legacy. It may manifest by taking on a parental aspiration, making up for a parental deficit, rebelling against parental constraints, or being subsumed by parental dictates. When personal libido is tied to parental needs, energy for life is hijacked by anxiety, ambivalence, and ambiguity - and it is up to us to reckon with it. If we do the work of differentiating from our parents, we discover ourselves. By doing so, we may truly redeem them and free ourselves. We serve life best by claiming it. 

Here’s the dream we analyze:

“I am in what seems to be a decrepit apartment building, and I get the sense that the rooms of the building are interconnected and continuous. There are emaciated animals roaming the rooms, and there are two figures aside from myself: a large grotesque man sitting at a dining table and a tired-looking baker. The grotesque man seems to demand food and the baker brings him cake and other food. The large man begins eating like an animal, with his bare hands, throwing scraps behind, resulting in the animals fighting over them. In a climax, from the door leading to the other rooms, I can hear the sounds of hundreds of footsteps and the screams of children running toward the door into the room. The dream ends just as hundreds of hands begin to pass the threshold of the door.”


 Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.


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