Sunday, May 06, 2012


I was at dinner on Friday night, at a French restaurant with 3 other friends. My one friend mentioned that this was the night of the "supermoon", a full moon (in Scorpio) that is astronomically at perigee (closest point to the Earth). If you believe in astrology, this means things will get incredibly intense and emotional during this phase. Whether the supermoon or no, this was very true for me.

Since I've returned from vacation, I've felt like I'm driving full speed at a brick wall. All the decisions I made in January were turned upside down, and now I don't know where I stand on any of them, including situations that I vowed I was done with. There is an excellent video of Carl Jung talking about the archetypes. He talks about the Anima (which would be the Animus in my case), and how when one meets someone who approximates that image, they are hopelessly caught by them and can't get out. "They come to me and say, 'For God's sake doctor, you have to help me.' But there is nothing that can be done. They are captured." I have attempted to wrest myself free of such projections, but I have to say I have not been successful. Whenever I seriously try, I just break down. I must say this is unusual for me, because usually time will loosen the grip. But it hasn't.

In addition, I'm still stuck between the Ph.D. and the counseling degree. The very rational part of me says to go for the counseling degree, and not bother with the Ph.D. It's more practical, has more long term application. But my intuition has kicked into high gear (like it did before I got married, and I stupidly ignored it), and seems to be saying NO, don't do that, you won't be happy.

I suspect this is because much of what is taught in counseling programs is cognitive behavioral therapy. While this has some short term uses, I am dead set against the premises that it is based on. "Psychology" is about working with the "psyche" (loosely translated as "soul"), and modern psychology assumes there is no soul. While there may not literally be a "soul" in the sense that religion has taught (or maybe there is), it is clear that consciousness is a complex thing, and cannot be reduced to a bunch of chemical reactions. Most notably I see cognitive behavioral therapy dealing with suffering in the way an M.D. deals with suffering--prescribe a painkiller. All of their solutions are rational, and the mind is not rational, and reasoning alone does not solve archetypal problems. If it did, none of us would ever have any problems--we'd solve them all nice and neatly. I look at case study after case study in which people do NOT get better from this type of therapy. Whereas I look at journals of Jungian psychiatry (which combines Jungian practice with medication when needed), and find that the "hopelessly" insane become better by drawing pictures of circles and cities and describing their crises in terms of that to the therapist, who has enough sense about the patterns to help show them the way out. In many cases, the person goes back to an entirely normal life. Why should that be the case?

I've been reading a book called "The Science Delusion" by Rupert Sheldrake, a biochemist from Cambridge. Sheldrake is not anti-science; he is anti-materialism. He argues in the book that materialistic/mechanistic assumptions underly modern science, and are not questioned. He points out that these assumptions are unproven, and believing that everything can be materially explained (even though many scientists have failed to do so) actually inhibits scientific progress. Science has to admit what it doesn't know, and not take the material view "on faith". Which is what they're doing. Many hardcore atheists incorrectly assume that this worldview has been proven. It hasn't.

That doesn't mean that a Biblically literal (or any scripturally literal) view is correct, either. These are extreme ends of a spectrum. The truth lies somewhere in between. I have always been interested in the things that don't "fit" in with our current knowledge, that don't pan out neatly in experiments, or entirely defy experimentation. Scientists tend to handle these things by either shrugging and calling them coincidences, or claiming they are hoaxes. Why? Because they don't fit in with a material world view. They are trying to make everything fit that world view, and sorry, I'm just not convinced. I have seen too many things myself that don't "fit", and have read cases of many others that do, and they are not "irrational" dreamers--often they come from very militaristic or scientific backgrounds. Simply sweeping them under the carpet because "they can't be possible because they don't fit my worldview" doesn't make the materialists any better than the uber-religious that insist things have to be true because "their scripture says so".

For me, this has translated to an interest in phenomenology--the study of experiences and patterns of experience. This deals with what may or may not be "factually" true, but is felt to authentically be true. The question becomes--what experiences make people believe certain things so strongly? It is the quest of depth psychology, and the real heart of healing people who feel "split". I don't know what Consciousness is, exactly--I know a lot of metaphors for it. But where it comes from and where it goes to is not a question science has answered. They prefer to believe it isn't real. But they wouldn't be scientists without their consciousness. The answers science has given to this conundrum only raise more questions. In a Psychology Today blog, a neuropsychiatrist admitted that though he acted as if all consciousness had its source in the chemical reactions of the brain, he really had no idea if this was true. We know that these things happen or generate certain reactions, but we don't know why, and it's the chicken and the egg all over again. What comes first?

While I am interested in psychic phenomena, there are so many less controversial things that are mysteries. For instance, psychosomatism. How can people have horrible illnesses that have no physical origin? Never mind your stomach aches, there is a rapid increase in Morgellon's Disease, which produces oozing sores. Not hives, sores. No one knows how these things happen or how to cure them--they have no apparent origin. Giving the sufferers stress-relieving drugs like Xanax or Valium does not usually help. It's not a simple reaction to stress; it's something far more complex and not understood.

In any event, this is where my interests lie, and it's difficult in a scholarly and scientifically materialistic culture to find a niche. Financing is a big part of the problem; I could go to the Jung Institute to become a Jungian therapist, but it will end up costing me $80,000 out of pocket. There are no scholarships or fellowships, and the required therapy isn't covered by insurance. I could get a fully-funded Ph.D. in religion, potentially, but the question of whether or not I'd have to leave my job comes up. They don't generally give you such generous fellowships if you still plan to work full-time. I could still get a research Ph.D. overseas, but then the funding issue comes up again. In short, I have no answers right now, but a lot of energy to get going.

Which brings us full circle (pun intended) to the full moon. Here is a photo of it (courtesy of NASA). I hope your weekend has been less intense than mine.

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