Carl Jung: Your Self selves

by cheri block sabraw

W.G. Sebald’s 2001 novel Austerlitz  concerns, among many things, what happens to a person when memory is suppressed. In Sebald’s novel, Jacques Austerlitz suppresses his childhood memories, the only ones he has of his mother, father, nanny, and the surroundings in his city of Prague.

Put on a kindertransport  at the age of 4 in 1939 to escape Nazi deportation, little Jacques becomes  Dafydd Elias, the son of a Welsh couple. It isn’t until he is a grown man, visiting an antiquarian bookstore in London and overhearing a radio show on which two women are sharing their experiences as children on kindertransports, that his suppressed memories begin to bubble up, painfully popping and disturbing him.

As he travels to Prague and to the former concentration camp outside of Prague, Theresienstadt, he forces himself to bring to Ego the deep sadness that Unconscious has been harboring for him. Like an enormous cosmic pressure valve, the Unconscious will surrender its holdings when the Ego becomes unhappy.

Jung observes that the self is the Ego. But, he says, we have another part that is connected to a power far greater than ourselves. Some call this power God.

Jung says that we have a soul but that just the use of the word soul begins to work against its true meaning. He says that the soul is the Self (with a capital S). He observes that the Self is not a noun but rather a verb.

He says, The Self Selves.

What this means is that our soul force, the Self, will not be denied its true mission in our brief but important earthly possibilities. Should we deny the Self, it will make itself known, in some way.

It is a verb.

Which leads me to the question: what is your Self telling you to do?

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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28 Responses to Carl Jung: Your Self selves

  1. To quote William SaroyanL “In the time of your life–live!” The whole thing is over in the blink of an eye.

    • Cheri says:

      Great book, The Time of Your Life. I also liked My Name is Aram.

      Do you remember that Herb Caen was good friends with Bill Saroyan. They used to smoke together.

      Saga advice, Sage.

  2. Cyberquill says:

    Heidegger said that “the nothing itself nothings.” (As per Jung, the “itself” presumably itselves.)

  3. Cheri says:

    I’ve never understood anything Heidegger said which says a lot about my intellectual capabilities.

    • Cyberquill says:

      Blocks block, so you’re blocking out the meaning of Heidegger’s reflections. (Granted, Jung’s junging is generally easier to wrap one’s block around than is Heidegger’s heideggering.)

  4. I’ve never heard if Heidegger but I have a note that Herb Caen wrote to our Doberman Max.

  5. Richard says:

    My Self is telling me to try to think of some other verbs with a capital letter.

  6. Christopher says:

    ”…… what happens to a person when memory is suppressed……..”

    The obvious answer is that your suppressed memories disguisedly emerge in your nightly dreams in the form of nightmares.

    But, what about “forgotten” memories as opposed to “suppressed” memories? We, all of us I feel sure, have had, as adults, dreams in which we seem to be looking up at everyone, even though we’re not prone in the dream. Obviously these are forgotten memories of very early childhood.

    Think also of the times you’ve smelled a certain smell, and immediately you’re transported back to when you were a child and you had smelled that smell for the first time.

    Perhaps this dynamic was at play when Jacques Austerlitz overheard the radio show in the bookshop?

    • Cheri says:

      Very interesting distinction, Christopher.
      I think you are right; that is, your discerning the difference between forgotten memories and suppressed ones reminds us all about childhood “happy” memories that are brought to the fore by sensory experience.

  7. Brighid says:

    My Self is currently not speaking to me, so I am lost between a fence post and a cow pie… sigh

  8. Man of Roma says:

    My Self, as far as I understood from your writing, seems not to be talking to me, but, for some strange reasons, I feel that I am following Him, in all the things I do. Whatever I choose to read in bed, before going to sleep, it is because I follow Him; the woman I chose for my life, it is because of Him; the things I write in my blog, it is because of Him again (which shows He is very patient with me). And so forth.
    Your post makes me want to read some Jung.

    All the best
    From Mediterranean West

  9. Richard says:

    Since Jung, the mystic, said that the majority of his neurotics were those who had lost their faith, I imagine we might regard his not-quite religious ideas as therapies.

    Freud, the atheist, when treating his neurotics, would, I imagine, have had quite a different angle on those very ideas, which he initiated, and for which he coined such terms as id repression, conscious, unconscious and ego.

    Should I then approach your question as an aspiring believer or an aspiring non-believer or simply as a neurotic?

  10. Cheri says:

    The question should be approached from who you are. Only you know that, but I have my guesses.
    Jung was a believer which is why I pay such attention to his words. They make a lot of sense.
    As I have written about before, by the time we are in late mid-life, we instinctively know if we are moving with our Self or against it.

  11. Richard says:

    Religion is a universal obsessional neurosis (Freud); neurosis is myth (Garth Wood); religion is myth (Jung).

    Do nothing, wait and watch (Richard’s Self).

  12. I wilI get there first Richard so I will let you know. (Kayti’s Self)

  13. Cheri says:

    Not for many years, Kayti.

  14. I don’t plan on it. I’ve been promised a trip to Africa to see the lions by 2 of my daughters, Would you like to come too 3rd daughter?

  15. It won’t be till my 90th, so you have ti8me to make up your mind.

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