You may notice that as I answer this question about “psyche,” the Greek word for soul, I personify her. I do this because her intention toward the well-being of all of us is like that of a beloved friend, and yet I do know that psyche is an inner dynamic, a process. It is psyche who brings dreams, myth and intuition, three of her favorite ways of communicating. What’s important to know is that every dream and myth is for our benefit, even if it is unpleasant.
Psyche is explained in Carl Jung’s Analytical Psychology, as the “totality of all psychic process, conscious as well as unconscious” (Jung, Collected Works 6, para.797).
What does this mean? It means that we are much more than instinct or behavior.
To understand psyche, we recognize that we experience each other and the world in a subjective and objective way. We have a personal unconscious and and a personal consciousness. We are all individuals, yet we are part of each other’s experience. Just as we are recipients of inherited physical traits and physical organs, we have inherited psychic structures (human beings suffer, we strive, we are lovers and community builders, we desire growth). So even as we are unique individuals, we are part of a collective consciousness. Psyche is that part of our being that balances all of this delicate complexity.
Most importantly psyche desires our transformation. She wishes that we change and grow. Like a friend she works to help us transform into our most gorgeous inner selves. It is she who sends us dreams, with images that possess meaning. Each dream image is on the cusp of conscious awareness. Psyche asks of us that we tend to her dream gifts by searching for associations to each image within the dream (this image reminds me of…).
And why does psyche do this? Well, there are three reasons:
1) For the sake of correcting an attitude (a man or woman might think he or she is fearless, yet doesn’t notice the failure to speak the truth).
2) Psyche may want to affirm a choice that we have begun making, even if we don’t know it. For instance, one might have decided to change careers and not be aware of such an inner stance.
3) And sometimes psyche wants us to know something BIG about our life or our fate, something that without her help, would remain in the darkness of the unconscious.
In my forthcoming memoir I call Imaginal Figures I share personal stories in which psyche guided me from a life in breakdown to breakthrough, from a time of confusion and sorrow to a place of great inner joy.
This entry was posted in Imaginal Psychology, inner life, Psyche, transformation on August 9, 2014.