Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Erel Shalit - The Hero Myth and Jungian Psychoanalysis

“Where id was, there ego shall be,” proclaims Freud. By interpretation, the unconscious is made conscious. Interpretation is the sword of psychoanalysis, splitting the enigmas of the unconscious into intelligible slices of consciousness. A symbol’s multitude of meanings becomes the unitary signs and banners of consciousness. The ego, which in Jungian thought stands at the center of consciousness and conscious identity, may be stiffly bound to the totem of collective consciousness, to norms and conventions. Alternatively, the ego may bravely turn around to face what lies in the unconscious.

For this purpose, the ego needs the hero. The notion of the hero in Jung’s analytical psychology represents that particular aspect of the ego that ventures into the darkness of the shadow, searches for “the treasure, the princess, the ring, the golden egg, elixir of life, etc.,” which, as Daryl Sharp says, all are “metaphors for one’s true feelings and unique potential.” By means of its hero-function, the ego turns toward the Self and a vital and dynamic relationship between them is made possible. As Joseph Campbell succinctly says, “The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world.”

….The central, nuclear myth of Jungian psychoanalysis is the Hero-myth, because the psychological essence of the hero is to abandon the kingdom of the ego, to challenge the norms and obsessions of collective consciousness and the persona—the face of social adaptation—and to search for meaning. The absence of meaning is the essence of neurosis, which, Jung says, “must be understood, ultimately, as the suffering of a soul which has not discovered its meaning.” When Sartre says that man is “the incontestable author” who, condemned to freedom, “is responsible for the world and for himself as a way of being,” he speaks of heroic man. (pp. 17-18)

 Erel Shalit (2008). Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, Fisher King Press.

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