The second in a two part series on Unconscious Processes on Display
The Red Book was first published in 2009, even though it was written and illustrated from 1914 to 1930 by C. G. Jung. this unique work reveals the non-rational aspect of this extraordinary man’s mind . It is the personal exploration of the inner world of a brilliant, accomplished, and well educated man, seen in the context of his culture. The Red Book provides insight into the primitive aspects of mind that produce our dreams, spirituality, religion, and love. This is a book of dreams, visions, and self-analysis. Its symbols date from past centuries – long before TV, advertising, or the internet began to change the world.
For the last 70 years this beautiful book has lingered unread in a vault in Switzerland.
I recently heard the editor of The Red Book, Sonu Shamdasani, speak at UCLA. He explains the book as an exploration of one man’s irrational mind. Some might say it is a study of Jung’s madness – though Jung wasn’t mad. He could always separate himself from his images and dreams and return to daily life to function with clarity. Crazy people do not have this ability – they are often unable to perceive reality . It appears that Jung did what any of us could do: he studied his internal process with gusto.
Jung pursued his own subconscious depths with intriguing results. Reading the book inspired me to look for more of myself, to search for the meaning of my personal symbols. Such self scrutiny requires me to take myself very seriously, which is oddly disturbing and scary.
Dreams and fantasies tell us so much about ourselves. They reveal the secrets to our souls, once we know how to decipher them. They typically pass under the radar of our consciousness and remain unexamined by our reason. Dreams offer unsolicited images that are clues to our deepest emotional truths. Our challenge is to decipher their meaning given their context.
Non-rational parts of our minds can be spooky and frighten us. It can me fascinating yet scary to start noticing our irrational sides. Yet we all have crazy parts. These irrational aspects of our psyche work steadily, hidden from our view. Working according to their own special logic they are not easily deterred from their goals.
I find my craziness frightening; no doubt so is yours. However, I don't find my clients craziness scary. Experience has shown me that it is dangerous to pretend we are governed by reason when we are not. It is safer to learn about our crazy parts, to see how they effects us, so that we can manage them better.
Jung was a brave and brilliant man. He studied the images and narratives that came to his irrational mind and was able to examine his mind from numerous perspectives. Nonetheless, he kept this work private for fear of appearing insane.
Looking at the Red Book prompted me to take myself more seriously. It suggests a way to consider your own inner world with a flourish.
Here are some ideas for constructive introspection:
- Keep a pad by your bed to write down your dreams; put it on your nightstand every night as a reminder
- When you are first waking up, keep your eyes closed and look inward toward you dream
- Grab for bits of your dream,rehearsing key elements over and over before opening your eyes
- Write down notes when you are first waking up - in bed or on the toilet.
- Think about your dreams while you are in your bed, bathroom, shower or going to work
- Look for details, story lines and associations to flesh out the stories in your dreams
- Talk to someone about your dreams
- Paint your dreams
Paying attention to your inner world lets you know more of what's going on beneath the surface.