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There is a fantasy series titled “The incarnations of immortality” written by Piers Anthony. He takes the Jungian concept of archetypes and inverts it. Rather than the common man having archetypes within him Mr. Anthony  (clever man!) has the archetypes of Time, Death, Nature, War, and Fate as jobs filled in by ordinary folk. Fate of course is a three man job – no, make that a three woman job rather. These employees come and go while the role of the office stays. I think of this concept whenever encountering a revolving door of in and out staff members.

The last incarnation of The Medical Assistant (#4) quit suddenly to take an ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ job. This left me in a lurch with no word from The Boss what’s to be done. The Desk Receptionist (another archetypal job)  took over as if nothing had ever happened. Today I came to work to drop off finished forms and pick up new ones to encounter a stranger stating she was just hired as for the next incarnation of The Medical Assistant. I forget what her name was/is. It sounded like Lucretia Borgia which I hope is not prophetic. I hope #5 works out and stays awhile.

Someone got a recommendation of a lawyer we could use to write our wills. This woman would be the second one to the incarnation of The Attorney. The first one was so long ago I cannot remember her name. We favor applicants of the female persuasion; it is good to have a strong Warrior Queen type woman for legal matters.

The fellow filling the present post of The Good Doctor incarnation has done so for over a decade and I am pleased as punch he has managed to stick around. I often hear the laments from my own patients their PCPs change of them frequently sometime yearly when insurances change. People come and go so quickly here in Medicine nowadays. Gone are the good old days when your GP and you grew old together eyeing each other wondering which will expire first.

As for Urs Truly I have been The Shrink since 2005 for which my patients are most grateful*. I am an incarnation of the staunchest type well over four feet. Please don’t feed me buns and things.

 

 

*Well most of them anyway. There’s no pleasing some.

“If you were to have three wishes what would they be?”

Everyone fantasizes about this archetypal question. Every society throughout history has a version of the three wishes tale. Some entity or magical object appears to some unfortunate or smarty pants in need of a lesson and grants them three wishes. Sometimes the three wishes workswell (example: Aladdin) most mostly  they do not (example: the monkey’s paw). Usually there is an element of folly and being careful what you wish for. The wishes usually come in sets of three. Carl Jung thought three was unstable state in need of a fourth to create stability.  The motif of the three wishes illustrate his point:

The first wish is usually done thoughtlessly; its results create regret after its consequences of the wish become apparent.

The second wish tries to fix the first wish often making things worse.

The third wish is done with maturation to return things to order or to create a wiser situation. 

The ‘fourth wish’ is the conscious desire to be content with what actually has. 

The Spo-fan who suggested I write on three wishes isn’t asking for a lecture I surmise; she is curious what three wishes I would want.  

Here they are:

#1 – The ability to transport anywhere in an instant. 

Oh the sights I would see and the time I would save with the ability to pop in and out wherever I wish! I could shop for salmon in Seattle and see all the operas throughout the world. Another perk: I can appear and depart like the characters on “Bewitched” thus achieving my childhood fantasy to be Endora or Aunt Clara or Dr. Bombay or one of that crowd.  

#2 – Cure at a touch.

Imagine being able to alleviate pain or stop a child’s leukemia at a touch. Combining #1 with #2 I would pop in/out of places all over the globe to places with little or no access to health care and eliminate disease. 

#3 – What would be the third wish has varied over time. Once upon a time I thought #3 would be

to always find a five dollar bill in my pocket

but if I were to charge even a nominal fee for #2 I’d ne’er lack for money. 

The ability to find lost objects

has come and gone as well. What seems to return over and over is the wish to

Always know the right thing to say.

an you imagine? This would be better than Obi Wan Kanobi using The Force at getting what I want or getting people to behave. Apart from ‘gain’ there would be the exquisite pleasure of having said just what the moment calls for.  Come to think of it I do what I can to heal others and I have the ability to arrange transportation so this wish seems the most precious.

Let’s click our heels three times (mind the three again!) and say there’s no place like home sans l’esprit d’escalier.

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Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections thought this entry funny as it bears no resemblance to what they do.  So they let it by.

The first sentence of this entry has been rewritten so many times I have lost count. Several topics were all trying to get out at once each shouting over the others that theirs is the proper matter upon which to write. It is a good example of “The board meeting’ metaphor I sometimes use to sum up how the mind works via Jungian psychology for my patients. I decided not to pick from the multitude of cacophonous ideas batting about like bats in my belfry but write about the matter in itself. Serves them right for shouting.

Imagine if you will attending a board meeting in which you are the CEO. Your seat is properly at the end of the table from whence you look to your left and to your right to see a long line of attendants all eager to speak up and all of them believing they could do a better job at running the show than you. You the CEO is the Ego. Your conscious self has to take in their input to determine what to do and how to run the business which is Psyche Inc. meaning you. Let’s look at these attendees. These are the complexes each with its own agenda and make up. None of them are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but a mixture of emotions, memories, and ideas with positive and negative attributes. Here’s an important point: you can not fire them (although at times you wish you could). Your job it to hear all the voices and make a conscious decision while ascertaining none of them get out of hand or worse yet try to push you/Ego out of the executive chair and proclaim THEY are now in charge, the new Ego, the leader of Psyche Inc.*

Let’s use an example. Urs Truly (CEO of Spo Inc.) is sitting with the agenda whether or not to walk Harper. Around the table are the usual always-there members: The Warrior, Mr.Worry nee Anxiety, Mr. Spock (as I call The Thinker), The Clown, and The Martyr. Not always present are a few drop-ins. Today my inner-Auntie Mame showed up as well.**

After hearing the modest proposal to go for a walk Mr. Anxiety immediate jumps up as is his wont in a gummy panic to spew why this is a bad idea, listing the many bad things and worse-case scenarios that could happen. Mr. Spock, quietly waits his turn or talks calmly under the ruckus and weighs the logic of a dog-walk now, later, or not at all. The Clown doesn’t really contribute but makes silly jokes and banter (not helping). The Warrior who sees everything as a battle whether or not there is one starts planning a route stratagem to avoid others least there be a dog fight. Mr. Martyr of course complains why Someone doesn’t do this more often why is always us that has to walk the dog. You can guess what my inner-Auntie-Mame suggests:  it is a marvelous impulsive idea and we should do so at once without another moment thought.

Board members (complexes) are a boisterous bunch sometimes apparent and sometimes so quiet as to be not consciously heard. The latter are actually more dangerous to lead the Ego by the nose or even hoist him out of the CEO chair. In the end Ego has to say “OK guys everyone has spoken I’ve heard your views and I have thought this out. My decision is to go on a walk in twenty minutes after I finish ironing. Don’t question me”. Sometimes the complexes complain or even try to ‘gang up’ on him to change his mind. A healthy Ego responds by affirming their input is valuable (even Mr. Worry’s) but they are not the boss. Ego is.

So goes the mind in all its endeavors. A conscious person has immediate emotional reactions and contradictory thoughts and feelings but he/she will pause and reflect and decide before acting (out). The more aware you are of The Board Members (who and what they are) the better for Psyche Inc.

Go thou and do likewise.  I am off to walk the dog.

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*By the way this way this is where we get the word ‘shrink’. A psychiatrist’s task (at least the Jungian ones) help the analysand ‘shrink’ bloated complexes to proper manageable sizes so the overwhelmed Ego can get back to running the place.

**Archetypes are universal, but it is up to the individual to give them personal names. The Trickster has as many names throughout human history as there are stars in the sky. My Trickster is presently wearing the name tag “Raven” which fools no one at the board meetings as everyone knows The Trickster despite his many disguises.

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I’ve gone more pagan this Christmas as demonstrated via my fondness for The Icelandic Yule Lads and their various relatives trapping about on the European continent at this time of the year. The Winter-man Archetype of the old man who provides some goodness at the winter solstice* has either a Shadow side to him or some sort of malevolent side-kick. Usually this pal is in the shape of a monstrous demon; he beats/whips/eats/carries off the kiddies who had been nasty that year. The two make a balanced pair like a staid old couple. North America’s Santa Claus has no ‘Shadow side” but the threat of a lump of coal if you are bad which no ones gets anyway. Carl Jung said when there is no balance Psyche strives to make such. We’ve done a good job filling this sorely needed post in the creation of The Grinch and/or the adaptation of The Krampus. Jung must be laughing in his grave.

One doesn’t have to scratch deep to uncover the archaic and it’s even easier to do at Christmas as so much of the holiday is borrowed from ancient practices and beliefs. My Protestant ancestors smelled a rat about the whole thing and they weren’t wrong. If you take away the pagan parts of the holiday it looks as empty as a grocery shelf in the south the day before a predicted snow storm. They went so far as to ban the whole thing.** Curious!  The modern Puritan takes the opposite approach about banning the holiday as a pagan travesty and thrusts the greeting of ‘Merry Christmas’ at you like a slap across your face.  Back to Herr Jung I suspect this is why Krampus/Grinch are coming back into consciousness.  The birth of The Divine Child is an archetype in itself but it lacks ‘Shadow” – no fun that. We need something to balance the sweet saccharine of the Nativity scene.***

This Christmas I am channeling as much munificent ‘Yule energy’ as possible to provide my parents with what they need this season> this may be much hohohoing but assistance in lifting. Krampus energy will be brought out in case of emergencies especially if my dear siblings and niblings are too in touch with their Spo Energies.  Oh the pain. As stated it doesn’t take much to get quickly in touch with the archaic. I hope the switches are strong enough.

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*It is more appropriate nowadays to call this event “The December solstice” not the “The Winter solstice”. It helps to remind us Northern Hemisphere-centered folks half the word is not experiencing cold and darkness but the opposite.

**It didn’t work. People like to party.

***The Divine Child isn’t lacking a bad guy. Remember King Herod? There is always some evil adult not wanting his/her power usurped.

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Brother #4 texted he recently saw “Curse of the Demon” which he thought was “stupid”. This is a disappointment. I remember when we were lads Brother #2 and I were scared silly by this movie; we locked the bedroom door and set up booby traps lest the demon come in in the night and pass us the runes and eat us. [1] Despite our fears of demons Brothers #1-3 (apparently not #4) were intrigued by such beings. Our Halloween decorations always included devils in their Jungle Red tights and pitchforks. [2]

Hsw6P

untitled Demons have existed throughout time and in every culture because they are archetypes – and Urs Truly loves an archetype. [3] Maleficent supernatural beings vary in their size, shape, intelligence, and motives but they are on the whole a nasty lot. Where they come from and who made them and what is their point isn’t always clear. Like Santa going to all houses on Christmas Eve it’s best not to think about it.  Like many monsters demons have evolved over time into entities that are silly, cute, or sexy. This is a pity for demons were handy creatures to blame for all wrong-doings and fears.  Demons were a kind of solution.

The western civilization psyche takes the approach if you can’t suppress something baptize it into the Christian mythos. Demons in the western world are fallen angels the henchmen of Satan. It is curious to read the history books about folks who were accused of trafficking with demons. A lot of demonic intercourse was literally that: sexual.  Men were seduced in the night by Succubi while the medieval women were ravaged by Incubi.  Demons (the male ones) were often described having  ponderous phalluses and appetites. One gets the impression ‘demon’ was just a euphemism for hot and uninhibited sex.  I am all for hot unbridled sex but I prefer my demons without this sort of morality.  In the lingo of Dungeons and Dragons demons from the East are ‘chaotic evil’  while the ones in the West are ‘lawful evil’. [4]  Despite our collective horror of demonic  influence and possession we like to dress up and parade around as demons both to scare off the ‘real ones’ and to revel in their deviltry.

Jung said we cannot deny nor destroy The Shadow and this includes Demons. . We must be wary and be on guard for them and their shenanigans yet revel in their Shadow energy. They make our psyches whole. Despite their ugliness demons have vivacity and who doesn’t like a good scare?

munich-krampus-run-DSC8802

 

[1] I saw the movie again later on in life and I thought it would be a scarier movie if the director hadn’t fully shown the demon. Sensing ‘there is something there” is always more spooky/scary than an actual monster.

[2] People are nebbish nowadays about devils at Halloween as this feeds the anger of The Fundies who see Halloween as a satanic ritual. Not only they can’t take a joke but they don’t know their history.  Oh the pain.

[3] The Archetypes I work for are being difficult. Some demon possessed them to shampoo the rugs in The Board Room, which hasn’t seen soap since the time of King Cnut. Several carpets just fell apart. I daresay it was the dirt that was holding them together. Now TBDHSR are obliged to go to Crate & Barrel. Oh the horror.

[4] I suspect this reflects my own proclivities about things but I shan’t go there.

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Before the Sunday matinee [1] The Arizona Opera had outside in the lobby a table replete with hats, bonnets, boas, and other wearing apparel to pass the time until curtain call. You donned some gay apparel and got your photo taken. As you can see I chose the crown. Other than Burger King paper-types Urs Truly has never worn a crown he remembers. There was no archbishop to lay it one me; like Napoleon I had to do it myself.  Ensconced on my pate the crown made me feel very virile and noble. I wanted to say to the others in the lobby arise my people and look me in the face but no one paid me any attention but the next one in line waiting her turn to stand in front of the Arizona Opera sign. 

It’s good to be King. 

‘King’ is a very important archetype; it is vital for men to get in touch with it. [2]. I have heaps of Lover and Magician energy but not much King. I’ve struggled all my life claiming my crown as it were. As a boy I didn’t feel worthy of such and many seemed to agree. One of the aspects of King energy is honor: you are seen as a strong leader, particularly by your fellow men.  A gay man has a hard time with this.  Another area where I continually strive for King energy is at work.  Being an employee (not the owner) makes it hard to touch and carry King energy. 

Of course, every archetype has its negative/Shadow energy.  Good King energy is a first among others, who takes council; he is not a dictator nor is he surrounded by yes men. He takes ultimate responsibility; he doesn’t blame others when the kingdom fails.  

Some say King energy is outdated and it should be scrapped:

Number one: this is an embedded archetype in our collective Psyche; it isn’t going away. 
Number two: attempts to replace it is ‘president’ energy or emasculate it  is not going to work either.  People who want  the King beheaded should rightfully balk at Shadow-King energy – but not the King. 

I will probably have to work on King energy all my life, allowing myself to claim it like Arthur pulling the sword out from the stone. I need not be afraid of its power and awesome responsibilities. [3] 

All these thoughts ran though my head after as I wore and then put down the crown.  It was made of some sort of foam rubber – not metal and fine jewels as should a proper crown. True King energy is isn’t bestowed from without but from within.

King 

This noble stone King sits in my office; he reminds me of his presence within me. 

 

[1] “Fidelio” for thems curious which one. 

[2] Spo-fans of the female sort have “Queen” energy – not queen as the spouse of the king but queen as the one in charge. Think Queen Victoria or Catherine the Great. 

[3] An immature or avoidant man doesn’t want King energy but to stay as Prince or Child or something like that. It is not mature male energy. We all know these sorts. These types in charge of a proper King make a poor country. I won’t name names here. 

I am not a fan of Robert Heinlein. There are many reasons for this but one of them is about the traits of his novels’ heroes. They are often ‘The self-sufficient man’. The fellows could do everything themselves thus never needing help from others. Mr. Heinlein extols his readers (mostly boys) to be likewise and he castigates thems who do not. Asking for help is a sign of failure. The truth is the opposite: we continually need help. We are a species that evolved to live in groups and cooperate to achieve our survival. All day long we seek assistance from others.

Throughout my workday I listen to patients’ fears. There are usual ones like public speaking, flying, and animals with nasty pointed teeth. “Asking for help” is a subtle but ubiquitous anxiety for most, which is odd as we all do it and need to. Many people avoid asking for help as they fear rejection or the judgment of others for doing so. I think men suffer most from the Shadow side of the Self-sufficient Man archetype.*

I try to teach patients it is OK to ask for help. To better their chances of getting results and feeling good about the process I give’m a few tips. We tend to ask for help badly, You would think by now we would be good at it. Many ask do so in an apologetic manner (I’m sooo sorry to bother you) and don’t communicate the specifics.  We often ask for help via text or email thinking this is the best way. Studies support the opposite: we are much more likely to get a ‘yes’ reply if we ask for help face to face or a phone call. Another matter to consider: we are awful at registering a person wants or needs help, yet people often assume our loved ones can sense we need help so they don’t directly ask and become upset when the others don’t pick up on our allegedly obvious vibes. I can’t remember the exact term for thi, but it is based on the illusion of transparency. Bottom line: you have to ask, even those you think should be able to read your mind.

When I need help I first tell my Self-Sufficient Man Complex shaming me yeah, I hear you but buzz off. Then find the person I want to ask and do so face to face. “I need your help” I say. Then I state in simple, realistic, and clear words what I want. “I need you to call this patient back for me to say she needs to come in” or “I want you please to call Hector (the groundskeeper) to come tidy up the yard” or “Thank you! I can’t get into my account I want you to help me figure out why not”.   Another tip: if there help was helpful, tell them about it later. “I wanted to let you know your help was really helpful, thank you”.

Let’s stop giving The Self-Sufficient Man more libido (psychic energy) than he needs or deserves.

mohandas-gandhi-leader-interdependence-is-and-ought-to-be-as-much-the

 

*The cliché of men not asking for directions touches spot-on this archetype.

This is not a movie review but a Jungian psychological treatise on the large lizard.

I have just returned from seeing the new ‘Godzilla’ movie. For a couple of hours  I watched Mr. G. and his chums run around the screen. What they were doing I am not clear but that is not really the point. The audience and Urs Truly was there is see Kaiju A.K.A. Japanese monsters knock each other about. I’ve been a ‘Godzilla’ fan since my youth. I suppose I wasn’t disappointed in the movie; I got my money’s worth. The plot was one of the zaniest things I have seen on screen in a long time but I won’t go into detail lest Spo-fans reading this are planning on attending (I vote ‘yes’ you do just don’t expect Oscar performances). 

Sitting in the movie I thought about what Godzilla is rather than what he was doing. Godzilla has become an archetype in our collective psyches. Like most iconic creatures he’s changed over time. “Every generation gets the icons it needs” said one of my teachers* Godzilla is a personification of the atomic bomb. The first Godzilla movie was deadly serious with the big guy as an evil attacker (bomb) unleashed onto Japan. Over the decades Godzilla slowly transformed into the protector/guardian of all mankind not just Japan. 

In the early movies Godzilla and pals walked clumsily around model towns and knocking them down; we don’t see people actually hurt until aftewards in a scene where the children burned from radiation piled up in hospital.  Today’s movie had several shots of people being hurt by the monsters’ shenanigans. Curiously we don’t see the consequences of Godzilla. He’s seen from afar as we root him on while he busily destroys Boston. Today’s Godzilla movie has a lot of contemporary issues tied into the plot, making Godzilla not only a good guy but necessary for the survival of mankind. At one point the humans are GIVING him atomic energy to revivie him. How far we’ve come when he was the Shadow destroyer rather! 

After the movie Someone went to work leaving me home alone this afternoon. I purposely turned off the TV and phone to calm things down after all that IMAX agitation. 

I may read the online reviews  to see if people liked the movie or not. I suspect they did not but not because of the many maxims and the overacting. I think people will be disappointed when they didn’t see the Godzilla they wanted. If you put an archetype on the big screen you better be conscious what you are doing as you are playing with fire or in this case radioactive breath beams.  

 

 

*A good example is The Vampire. Think how it has changed over time from representing the Evil that was Eastern Europe to a misunderstood rebel.

I recently reheard the story of Pandora. For thems unfamiliar with this Greek myth it is a tale ultimately about keeping hope despite sorrow.  Zeus is honked off at the mortals for having power and fire and basically just for being generally happy so he designs a guaranteed disaster to wreck havoc. He creates the woman Pandora and gives her for a wedding present a jar *  – and tells her under no circumstances never to open it. She’s curious, she opens it, and all the woes of the world fly out. Mankind is forever plagued with war, death and disease, turmoil, and strip malls. However, at the bottom of the jar is one other thing: Hope. Some god (curiously, never named) but Hope in the jar out of pity for mankind so they wouldn’t despair. Despite the woes of the world there is always hope goes the tale.

One of my professors in my residency programme taught us never remove a patient’s hope. Even with the dying provide hope to help make their departure better, less uncomfortable and more meaningful.

I have lots of patients who feel hopeless. Sometimes they present their hopelessness as a sort of challenge like a gauntlet thrown down: “Find some way why I should hope my lot will ne any better”. Sometimes all the hope I can have for them is to somehow alleviate chronic suffering to feel and function a bit better.  I am daily tried by this axiom.  Presently I have a handful of patients for whom I have nothing more to offer or to give them. They still keep coming to see me despite ,my recommendations to go elsewhere (hoping they will find someone who can think of something). You would think they would take this commonsense and logical advice: why stay when someone one can’t help you. There are many reasons why they stay with me, but one of these is hope: they still hope I can do something. To ‘give up’ and go away succumbs to the awful realization I have no hope for them.

The opposite of feeling happy is not feeling sad nor is it feeling angry. When you feel sad or angry you still give a damn about something. The actual opposite of happiness is hopelessness: the emotional conclusion things will never be better or different.

There has been a rise in the rates of depression and suicides and drug abuse in the world (particularly in the USA) correlated to the sense of hopelessness. The still voice of Hope is more readily shouted down these days by the legion of woes emanating from the jar of Pandora. The challenge is to discriminate what looks hopeless but isn’t so from the things that are unfixable. Finding Hope in every situation is becoming harder to do for me.

 

*If you are like me you grew up hearing this tale as Pandora’s box, not a jar.  It turns out the Greek word for jar got misinterpreted as box.  The up to date versions of this myth are reusing the word jar. Also in the original myth Pandora is not an innocent done in by her human curiosity. She was purposely designed by the gods as something malevolent to do Zeus’ biding.

richard_wagner_1909755Richard Wagner’s birthday is this Wednesday. For Spo-fans unfamiliar with this composer, the more you know about him the less you like him. He was so self-centered he makes Donald Trump look good. He used people and he was horrid to everyone. On top of it all he was a racist and anti-Semitic. Hitler adored him. It is hard to believe (or stomach) this louse of a person managed to make some of the most marvelous music ever made. He was certainly not the only awful man who made good art he was arguably the one of the worst – or the worst. I think so anyway. So – how do I manage my love for his music? *

We do terrible things. It is easy to focus on our Shadow elements. We forget we are also capable of marvelous things, which are often expressed through Art in all its forms. This is particularly so for music. Sometimes I sit at the symphony, feeling sorrowful by all the ills of the world, but I listen to the divine music emanating from stage and I find solace. Art does that. Art comforts me in the axiom despite ourselves we can create beauty. Herr Wagner is not unique; he is merely the extreme example of all of us and what we have. What belongs to Art belongs to all men. We cringe at the artist yet rise by his or her creation. 

In the end I just can’t hate him as he has enriched my life so much. He helps me remember not to focus on the Shadow but on the Light. 

Viking horns

 

*I know many Jewish art patrons who won’t attend any operas or symphonies doing Wagner. In Israel Wagner is not played at all. In Bayreuth Germany at the Wagner Festival they play nothing but Wagner. As a Jungian I like the notion a place that is ‘all Wagner” is balanced with a place that is ‘no Wagner”. 

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