Eighty-Nine Words of Dissociation

This weekend I read part of a long paper published in 1902 that included observations of a medium in action. On Saturday, a few minutes after starting to read, I heard myself think that I should slow down. I was reading the text as if it were a novel. So I read for twenty or thirty minutes and then did something else. An hour or two later I returned to Volume 1 of Jung’s Collected Works, to “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena,” his doctoral dissertation, and read some more. And I did the same on Sunday. Now, on Monday afternoon, I pick up the book again and see that about half of the 1902 text, which comprises the first section of Volume 1, remains unread. Of what I’ve read so far, I find myself focusing on two sentences. In a word, both sentences seem to deal with dissociation. The first time I read both of these sentences, on Sunday afternoon, I sensed that they would require several rereadings. Perhaps to calm myself, I counted the number of words in each sentence, forty-seven in the first, and forty-two in the second. What came to me as I reread them was that Jung seemed to describe a state of mind in which the person was dreaming while awake. I imagine myself in Jung’s head as he wrote these two sentences in his mid twenties. He seemed to know from personal experience that consciousness couldn’t control the psyche. Consciousness originated in the psyche. I’m drinking coffee as I write these sentences, and the caffeine in my system seems to help the creation of thoughts: perhaps Jung was writing about how a personality becomes lost in the unconscious for a period of time, whether it be minutes, an hour, or longer. This paragraph seems to be reaching its end, and I’m disoriented, as if I were momentarily lost in my own mind. No one said reading Jung would be easy.

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