The mind is prone to wandering. The ego has a tendency toward striving. To ground oneself becomes a continual challenge while withstanding the pushes and pulls of life. It is as if you are a boat being pushed to and fro by the turbulence of the sea in search of an anchor to drop, which would allow, at least, a brief reprieve from the waves. An anchor fixes you to a point in a physical sense.
However, its function in this case is not a physical sense; rather, it is a mental (or psychic) image of an object that offers a sense of feeling more grounded. The mind will soon wander once more or confront another unsettling visitor who comes and knocks at our mind’s door; so it is with life.
There is always more to be drawn out from the shadows—as long as light continues to shine. The scope of the unknowable is and will always be unknown; through repetition and indirect of methods of approximations, the distance between the known and unknown can be lessened, inferences and hypotheses can be made with reasonable certainty—however, it will forever remain a limit of human knowledge to determine the extent to which content stills remains lurking in the darkness of the depths. The totality can never be reached through rational thought, only approximated; to assert otherwise is to demonstrate one’s unconsciousness by pretending to have mapped and ascertained that which, by its very nature, is unknowable, both in scope and nature.
This point of not only acknowledging the existence of that which is unconscious but also appreciating the necessary way in which it exceeds are limited ego-consciousness is a point Carl Jung raises throughout his works. Jung was emphatic that the unconscious cannot be ignored nor overlooked, and Warren Colman encapsulates Jung’s sentiment on the matter quite succinctly, writing, “Jung repeatedly insists on this radically unknown quality of the unconscious: since everything known is a content of consciousness, the very idea of the unconscious presupposes all that is unknown and, since it is unknown, we cannot have any knowledge of its nature or its limits. All that we can say about it is said on the basis of its manifestations in consciousness” (p. 157, Papadopoulos, 2006).
Therefore, according to Jung, through this acknowledgment of some unknown, unconscious factor that exists within and without, our task emerges: to form a relationship with this unconscious self from the stance of our ego-consciousness. It is through this relational bridge that we ferry back-and-forth from one side to the other, striving toward an increasing sense of wholeness. Jung referred to this as the “process of individuation.” It is a manner of forming an integrated personality of selfhood that is unique, full, and rich through the arduous and continuous process of self-refinement. A central method of this process is our relationship with those unconscious parts of ourselves and how we work toward reintegrating those pieces that are split off for one reason or another. However, all of this hinges on the connection between the two sides, conscious (ego)/unconscious, if one side is denied existence, then not only are these methods of healing not allowed, but “dangers” emerge from this “one-sidedness” that can lead to “psychic epidemics” (1959).
Papadopoulos, R. K. (2006). The Handbook of Jungian Psychology: Theory, Practice and Applications (1st ed.) [E-book]. Routledge.
Jung, C. G., & Hull, R. (1959/1990). The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1) (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, 48) (2nd ed.). Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G., Hull, R. F. C., & Shamdasani, S. (1958/2010). The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams (Jung Extracts, 37) (Revised ed.). Princeton University Press.