Basic Concepts: the Self

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Now that we have had a fairly thorough kicking-around of the concept of the Collective Unconscious, I'm going to take Tree Hugger's suggestion and launch a few topics that focus on the specific archetypes and how they emerge in myths, dreams and religion.



I'm going to follow Campbell's outline of Jung's theory as he lays it out in "Psyche and Symbol," the first lecture in the series, Mythos 1: the Shaping of Our Mythic Tradition, which starts with the Self.



Here's what Campbell has to say:
The term Jung uses for this totality is the ‘self’. His use of this word, however, is not to be confused with the Hindu word ‘åtman’, which has also been translated as ‘self’. If we were discussing åtman, there would be no circle, for åtman is undifferentiated consciousness. What Jung means by the self is consciousness enclosed in a specific human body and conditioned in all of its experience and action by the body in which it resides: male, female; young, old; healthy or decrepit. Your body is the machine you have to live with. If you are not, for example, 6' 8" tall, blond, and blue-eyed, there's no purpose in wishing you were. So, your self is a function of the biology of your body, and in our drawing, the bounds of your experience are indicated by the circle.


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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

As I understand it, this topic is at the heart of the division between religion and science.

I'm sure we all have different perspectives, different influences, maybe even different philosophies all together in this matter.

I personally would prefer a more philosophical approach, but it doesn't really matter if, in the end, we all learn a little more about ourselves, Prof. Joe, and how his work in the history of civilization and the tales we tell has enriched our understanding of self. :grin:

Peace
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Post by eliot » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

What about the roles that archetypes play in the manifestation of personality? Is your personality shaped by the pattern of energy it has engaged? Most people can relate to a time when they felt like a child again (whether it is a pleasurable experience or a temper tantrum). Does the person who is more "childlike" or "childish" have that set in his/her personality? Or is this the influence of the archetype?
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/10/ ... 4362.shtml

This was a fresh perspective on this topic.
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hey Al! Not a fresh perspective at all... at least not to secondary school teachers. Self-esteem has been incredibly overworked, overdone, misapplied and misconstrued. We've pumped out a generation of narcissistic kids who have no problem with "I'm special!" but who can't see, or know how to look for, the good in the person standing next to them.

Concept of self has more to do with self-image: How do you believe your are seen by other? How do others actually see you in comparison? There's lots to learn from that frame of reference... much of which takes courage... sometimes great courage.

Clemsy

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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

The key to understand the relation between those concepts, Bliss - Ego - (Jungian) Self, for me is Campbell's explanation in the book THE HERO'S JOURNEY, like it was quoted by Manny on his MYTHOS-website:
it's your bliss and there's bliss behind pain too...If your bliss is just your fun and excitement, you're on the wrong track. I mean, you need instruction...Know where your bliss is. And that involves coming down to a deep place in yourself.
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

The key to understand the relation between those concepts, Bliss - Ego - (Jungian) Self, for me is Campbell's explanation in the book THE HERO'S JOURNEY, like it was quoted by Manny on his MYTHOS-website:
it's your bliss and there's bliss behind pain too...If your bliss is just your fun and excitement, you're on the wrong track. I mean, you need instruction...Know where your bliss is. And that involves coming down to a deep place in yourself.
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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I posted this in another thread, but I think it belongs here, too.
***

The Self, according to Jung, "represents the totality or sum of the conscious and unconscious processes."

"The Self is not only the centre, but the circumference that encloses consciousness and the unconscious; it is the centre of the totality, as the ego is the centre of consciousness."

Included in the Self is the Ego, the Persona, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and something Jung called the God or Christ within.

Here is the verse from the Upanisads which provided Jung with his first vague definition of the Self.
"Without hands, without feet, He moveth, He graspeth: Eyeless He seeth, (and) earless He heareth: He knoweth what is to be known, yet is there no knower of Him, Him call the first, mighty the man. Smaller than small, (yet)greater than great in the heart of this creature the Self doth repose..."
T.H.
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Post by gracie » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I often wonder if the "self" is encoded in our DNA. I'm sure we have cellular memory - my sister has proved that to us with her dreams that turned out to be real memories, after much research.

Is the self already there and we journey through a life of self discovery, or are we a palate of potential colors that allow us to paint whatever picture we want along the journey? Perhaps, a combination of each.

Some of us choose the tightrope and never tip far off course, and some of us enjoy the rollercoaster ride of taking risks, surviving the brushes with death, and the highs of tasting more of life than most.

I think that's why I love Herman Hesse's "Siddharth", because the main character lives 1,000 lives in one lifetime. I love the thought of tasting a spoonful of every flavor available, and savoring the favorites...perhaps double dipping a bit.

It seems ironic that the people we encounter with the biggest egos probably have a smaller circumference of self, and the ones that are humble have a larger circumference of self. The deeper our eyes can see, and the keener our hearing, the better we are at processing this life.

I see the ego as a balloon that keeps stretching until it pops. The self is like the eternal lotus that keeps unfolding as we nourish it with compassion and a variety of nutrients (new experiences).
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I was reading a review the other day about Paul Ekman's new book, EMOTIONS REVEALED: RECOGNIZING FACES AND FEELING TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION AND EMOTIONAL LIFE

Perhaps this is straying from the original topic a bit, but Clemsy's earlier quote about self esteem reminded me of this book review

The book actually contains pictures of women's expressions. It discusses how subtle human expressions can be, and about how well we interpret them.
The review by Rachael Combe says that

"Ekman reasons that universal expressions were adaptive because they're a form of communication. Emotions are infectious, with one person's anger or joy inspiring another's. And most people will respond with sympathy to even a stranger's grief. Which is why Ekman believes that only the clinically depressed should be medicated: If a woman lost her spouse, for example, her agony may not only be necessary for her experience, but also necessary for others to see so they can comfort her."
Although I didn't read the book yet, the review made it sound interesting. According to the review Ekman believes these universal expressions are a product of evolution. So I was thinking about what Clemsy said...
On 2002-10-11 13:44, Clemsy wrote:

Concept of self has more to do with self-image: How do you believe your are seen by other? How do others actually see you in comparison? There's lots to learn from that frame of reference... much of which takes courage... sometimes great courage.

Clemsy
Our experiences with others is essential to discovering ourselves...not a new concept to me, but after reading the review it gave me a new perspective.

Any thoughts?

For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I have a thought in the form of a question. If our self is at least in part defined by our outward appearance, what affect does plastic surgery or botox treatments have on the self?

As I read your point about Ekman and his defference to perscribing anti-depressants, I thought of a person with excesive amounts of plastic surgery (no one in particular, though thinking about it now I could name several off the top of my head as there are many such people in my neck of the woods) and what it might be like if they were to be depressed, but not really look it because of some permanent adjustmant they made to stretch or paralyse the muscles in their face. Or even undergoing the surgery as a result of depression.

Is the self then the totality of the depressed clown existing only in a grand abberation of absurd contradictions and uncaring pies in the face, or is it the sadness hiding behind the painted smile, reacting with irony to everything outside of itself?
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

JR, I have to admit, the idea of plastic surgery affecting communication through facial expression, did cross my mind. In David's earlier post which contained a quote from Campbell made me think of this as well...
"your self is a function of the biology of your body, and in our drawing, the bounds of your experience are indicated by the circle."


So how much does a person's physical appearance allow others to see a glimpse of their souls...thus showing us a piece of our own. A genuine smile can communicate a whirl of emotions...a misinterpreted one can as well! Of course it's not all about appearances, but I never stopped to think about how I might be effecting the world through simple body communications.

As for plastic surgery...I've never had any surgery...but I would like to think that a person's true emotions would shine through no matter what...
of course...the number of sugeries performed on one person can be high...so who knows.

I know a lot of little children who are scared of clowns...understandable...the expressions are too much :smile:

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Here's some basic information that relates to the last few posts...

There's been a ton of research done on the universal and cultural nature of facial expression. Here's some research that was done on young children that's highly regarded.

It's much more difficult to do research with adults because as people grow up, the culture teaches them to hide some emotions and emphasize others.

Adults can willfully deceive, so what we think we see in their faces may not represent anything other than what they want us to see.

Some professional actors have minute control over every muscle and twitch in their faces and bodies. They practice hard to develop this part of their craft. I'm sure we've all known amateurs who can turn the emotion on and off like a faucet.

Here's a link to the research:

http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc98/9_19_98/bob2.htm

Most researchers agree that the basic emotions of anger, fear, sadness, and disgust are universal and biological in all populations. These emotions can usually be recognized in facial expressions. The emotions of joy (sometimes called humor-amusement) and love are also considered universal and biological, but there's less agreement about them. Of course, culture plays a big role in how these emotions are acted out in various societies.

In India, artists and sages haverecognized for centuries three additional basic emotions -- wonder, peace, and heroism. I find this fascinating in light of Campbell's work and his studies of Sanskrit and the Upanishads.

The basic concept of Self, as it is meant in this thread, is based on the work of Carl Jung. Jung described the Self as the totality of the whole psyche. Most of the Self lives below the level of conscious awareness. He said, "The Self is at once the nucleus and the whole sphere."

The Self, as it is discussed here, is bounded within the sphere. It is not to be confused with Atman, which has also been translated to mean self. Atman is not enclosed. The Self that Jung was talking about is enclosed within the biological entity of the human body.


Self-esteem and self-image, as the terms are usually used today, relate to Ego -- the conscious part of our awareness, what we think and want and fear. Physical appearance belongs in that category, too.

When we look into the face of our partner and feel on a deep level that we are glimpsing into their soul and our own at the same time, it's a pretty good bet that another basic archetype, a part of the Self, has been activated -- the anima/animus.

There's much information on all of these Jungian concepts available free over the 'net.


T.H.




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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Tree Hugger,

Thanks for the link. It was very interesting. I had not stopped to think about the cultural differences and the effects they would have on facial expressions. The topic is very appealing to me because for many years I was under the illusion that people basically had the same perspectives on life. I do not mean that I assumed everybody had the same beliefs, emotions, or feelings on certain realities...I simply believed that people were ruled by similar reasonings. I'm not sure that will make much sense to anybody..

Anyways, I realize the thread's focus was to look beyond the self into realms of conscious awareness...is it not?

So my question is...
by understanding our 'selves'/ 'egoes' and perhaps taking on other perspectives when looking at another person's 'self' and 'ego'...
does this process help one look past 'self'/'ego' into the wonder that connects us all?

I do seek to experience the true meaning of the collective conscious. Although, the idea sounds wonderful in poems and prose, I can't honestly say I have experienced this feeling...
However, if it is already a part of me...the wonder is there for the taking...but I'm still waiting to feel its beauty.

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Post by Cranky Scientist » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Scarlett, I wish you could see my facial expression now because you would see I'm smiling. uh, I thought the focus of this thread was to go beyond the realm of conscious awareness into the unconscious depths of the Self, as described by Carl Jung and incorporated by Joseph Campbell into his own work. But, hey, that's just me.

:smile:


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