“It is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer, but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason there is no adequate protection from psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.”
The Symbolic Life. C.G. Jung.
An unfortunate trend during the pandemic is that many people are slipping into inflammatory self-destructive behaviors and numbing themselves, even as our own planet earth is heating up. The prolonged exposure to the collective contagions of fear and confusion are creating traumatic stress. Psychic and biological maladies that were dormant or already activated before the pandemic are flaring up. The development of addictions to numb the pain, especially to comfort foods, the internet, drugs, smoking, vaping, money, shopping etc., is consuming us. We are becoming “addicted” to hypervigilance, anxiety and depression. Understanding the archetypal patterns of addiction – chaos, shame, self-destruction – is key to awakening the healing Self to calm the distress and reclaim life force for rebirth.
Ultimately, there is no blame for this existential human predicament, but seeking blame, projecting onto outer enemies, and self-attack are part of the archetypal process that imprisons us. The damage is evident in the very young, even the unborn. Children as young as seven are being medicated with antianxiety and antidepressant drugs in unprecedented numbers. Food addictions affect people of all sizes, but the fact that 80% of Covid victims hospitalized are overweight, compels us to come to grips with the root causes of the epidemic of obesity. The spiraling rise in metabolic diseases in people of all ages has led to increased prescriptions to compensate and numb the symptoms. Unfortunately, these drugs do little for the underlying causes.
Will we be like the proverbial frog in the slowly heating water who does not sense the increasing danger of boiling to death? In actual experiments the frogs do jump out, but many of us humans just go into a numbing trance. Advances in the science of body and mind, preventative medicine and nutrition, are essential to meet these metamorphosing challenges. How might we personally awaken and turn down the heat on our inflamed pain bodies? To do this we must somehow bring mother earth, our ultimate source of nourishment, along with us on the quest to heal ourselves.
Timothy Lyons, LCSW, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist in private practice for individuals, couples and families in Capitol Hill, D.C. and Takoma Park, Maryland. He has a certificate for postgraduate studies from the Philadelphia Jung Institute and is a frequent presenter at the Jung Society of Washington. His postgraduate studies also include infant observation and art therapy. Tim’s work is further enhanced by his studies of Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, yogic philosophies, Hatha yoga and Qi Gong. He has also completed teacher training in Trul Khor (Tibetan yoga). His earlier career as architect and editor includes writing for the Washington Post, and lecturing at the Smithsonian Institution.
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