I thought we could celebrate imperfections today, and consider our “flaws” as facets of the gems that we are. I took this metaphor from an article on psychopathology and Jungian analysis by Sandner and Beebe (1995). Psychopathology refers to an aggravation of maladaptive patterns or complexes to the degree that it seriously limits our lives through symptoms of mental illness. However, the existence of complexes is what makes us human. They are created when the worlds of family and circumstance clash with the world of Self.
But pathology in the Jungian model is not considered as simply an “illness,” or a blip on our life’s radar that has to be squashed for as quick a return to the status quo as possible. Sandner and Beebe (1995) highlight; ‘In the Jungian model, the patient endures the illness in order to become well; the illness contains the ‘germs’ of wholeness” (p. 303). They continue:
“The nucleus, the dynamic origin of every complex, is connected to the collective unconscious and a part of the Self. This relationship to the Self introduces a paradox: the production of complexes not only leads to a divisive injuring but also provides a new way of achieving integration. Complexes participate in the Self’s effort to replace an initially unconscious state of unity with a conscious state of wholeness. Their dual nature explains how splitting, even to the point of psychic injury and neurosis, is necessary for the evolution of consciousness and ultimate personality integration.” (p. 302)
The woundings and response patterns are different for each of us. Some of us might be sensitive to circumstances that others don’t think twice about. And we each have our own modes of coping. But this, too, is a sign of our own unique journeys.
Hence, the cut of our diamonds. Sandner and Beebe, describing complexes and our reactions to them, write:
It takes many different forms in different individuals, much as a sharp blow with a hammer on one diamond will cause quite a different fracture line than it would on another. Variations in internal structure, planes of structural weakness, and basic temperamental disposition make the difference.” (p. 301)
So no comparing ourselves to others, thinking, why does this bother me so much, while so-and-so has smooth sailing? Instead, think of our lives as flawed but unique gems that capture light and shine in their own sparkling and subtle fashion.
Have a good week!