These days it seems like mental health is being acknowledged and discussed more than ever before. It’s good in a way because we are getting more open to sharing our vulnerabilities, and we are becoming more open to understanding other people’s struggles. Is this because we are becoming more caring and understanding, or could it also be because more people than ever before are experiencing symptoms of mental afflictions? We are living in a time where people are isolating themselves in fear, fear of disease, fear of the government, fear of unprovoked evil. The world, in general, seems to be getting a lot more restless, and we are seeing hate and violence all around us, so it is natural for many people to retreat from life, in a way, to shut themselves in their minds, in their own little world with the people they love. Although mental health is being acknowledged, it is seen as something evil, even as a mental illness, when in reality this is not exactly the case. When we get physically hurt, the pain we feel is our body telling us that something is wrong, and according to Carl Jung, neurotic conditions such as anxiety and depression are also messages we are trying to convey to ourselves, messages not just from what’s hidden deep in our own minds, in our subconscious, but from what Jung called the collective unconscious. Jung’s famous idea of archetypes was something he arrived at by analyzing a lot of his patients’ dreams, as well as the different stories found in the books of the world’s different religions and mythologies. The main idea is that we all share a collective consciousness which is hidden from our day-to-day consciousness, much like our own subconscious is. Like the subconscious, the collective unconscious can also trigger strong impulses within us, the difference being that our own subconscious is made up of subliminal images and ideas that have stuck with us because of our own life experiences, whereas the collective unconscious holds images and ideas that are with us because we are part of a collective whole. According to Jung these ideas, or archetypes, come from the evolution of consciousness that mankind has lived through for who knows how many years. These strong values which have always been present in humanity don’t just disappear because we change the way in which outward society functions, they are still there within our psyche, influencing our personalities. These archetypes, such as building a good social structure or becoming mentally independent from our parents, are ingrained into us, and they make us feel as if there’s certain things in life that we absolutely must accomplish. Jung’s theory was that if we try to fight against these ingrained ideas, which can be referred to as the tasks of life which we all feel compelled to complete, then we will run into mental problems because we are choosing to live in a way which is contrary to what we are hardwired to become. It is true that we have free will, yet that doesn’t mean that all of our impulses will lead to our well-being. In this way of seeing neurotic disorders, we can perceive them as signs that we are not living correctly, that we are fighting against our true nature and our true calling. Often times this is because we are afraid of facing up to the tasks of life, and we try to deceive ourselves into thinking that we don’t need to achieve anything. We might convince ourselves of this by telling ourselves that the issues does not lie within us, that the issue is external, and therefore, since it can’t be fixed, we are doing the right thing by not getting involved. One of my favorite writers, Charles Bukowski, said “I don’t have any politics. I’m an observer.” In a way, I really liked it when I read that quote, because I’ve always felt this way myself. Bukowski was also an alcoholic, and analyzing that quote, along with his life, makes me wonder if he maybe had some demons of his own which he was too afraid to face. I can tell this is the case in my own life, when I analyze it through Jung’s theory. For years I’ve been getting stoned, simply because weed can make ideas a lot more interesting, it can make the inner world of my mind appear fresh and limitless, with everything the mind can conceive of and create. It also makes music and philosophy more interesting, my two favorite things to consume. I told myself that the world is fucked up, and that I didn’t need to complicate my life with it. I have my wife and I enjoy music and philosophy, so there’s not much else in the world for me other than possible trouble. Maybe I’ve really been hiding away from the world because of fear, fear of losing the foundation which I already have, or fear of unexpected trouble that could come my way in a world that’s growing increasingly turbulent. Carl Jung explains how, at the beginning of a neurotic disorder, the neurotic person might not feel too inconvenienced by avoiding life situations which may trigger anxiety, and in fact will feel some comfort in it, yet over time, as his or her life becomes routine, the person notices that something is wrong, because life has become restricted and closed off from the world. Because of the archetype which drives us to create social bonds and connections, the neurotic can’t help but feel distressed because, deep inside, from the collective unconscious, stems this feeling that they are not fulfilling something important which is imperative to their happiness as human beings. Being super interested in philosophy, psychology and spirituality, I’ve always known about and been a fan of Carl Jung, yet his body of work is so extensive and his ideas are so deep that they must be analyzed time and time again, and I had never really went too deep into what I’m discussing in this post today. However, as I research more into it, I have to admit that I do see myself in the image he paints of the neurotic person. This isn’t a reason to panic though, because again, anxiety is just a sign that change is needed, and that means there is hope for change.