2008-07-21 17:29:26 UTC
analysts alive today. For one thing, he actually knew Jung very
well in person (even though Jung died in 1961 and so most of those
who knew him are gone). For another thing, Johnson is a very good
writer and has produced quite a few books. He is now writing with
a co-author named Jerry M. Ruhl. Their newest book is more or less
hot off the press (October 2007). I have just now gotten around
to reading it and I found it to be extremely good. It is about
"unlived life" and matters that arise in the second half of life.
It is wonderful. He comes at the thing from all different angles,
brings in the perfect stories to illustrate his points, and so on.
It is a very easy read, but yet quite deep at the same time. A++.
Title: Living Your Unlived Life
Subtitle: Coping with Unrealized Dreams and Fulfilling
Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life
Author: Robert A. Johnson & Jerry M. Ruhl
Binding hardcover, 272 pages
I am going to post something from the early pages (page 32). It is
very simple stuff which we all probably already know, but it is well
done and strikes me as having a freshness about it.
In childhood we all have heroes whom we worship because they
carry some of our unlived capacities. These may be athletes or
celebrities, but often they take the form of someone immediately
in our lives. For a ten-year-old boy or girl, the twelve-year-old
who lives down the street is often looked up to as a hero. The
ten-year-old wants to imitate the older child. He walks like him,
or she wears clothes just like her older model. We all know the
power of fashion, and especially how fashion runs through a
neighborhood of adolescent kids. The style of shoes, the type of
haircut, all those things you've got to have. This is a form of
hero worship. When we're young we need projections to pull us into
Two years later, when the ten-year-old is twelve, he or she has
become the characteristics that once were projected onto the
twelve-year-old. These potentials have been assimilated and
realized. Now he (or she) hero-worships a fourteen-year-old and
has a new ladder to climb.
I remember vividly my own early hero-worshipping. It was so
strong. Albert Schweitzer was a great hero of mine, chiefly as a
musician and a humanitarian. ... Then along came this powerful
dream in which I actually ate him. ... When I told an early mentor
about this dream, he patiently explained, "Don't be disturbed.
This means you are going to have to be an Albert Schweitzer, in
some form. All heroes need externalizing. These are potentials in
you that are becoming ripe for development." ...
Eventually I was able to claim my own unrealized potentials
rather than always projecting them upon a hero. ...
Of course, potentials that are projected and emulated are not
all virtues from a societal perspective, and we must not idealize
childhood. Children also pick up bullying, coarse language,
cruelties, fear, greed, and a host of other "anti-heroic" and
limiting qualities... Not all of the projected contents of the
unconscious are golden.
It is important to understand hero worship as the precursor for
another archetypal experience by which we all can grow or falter:
romantic love. ... By the teen and early adult years we begin to
look for ways to complete ourselves through a romantic partner.
Hero worship evolves into a search for our missing pieces by
worshipping a soul mate. It is a painful fact that a good deal of
what passes for romance is actually our own unlived life reflected
back to us.
Take a few moments to look back on your personal relationships.
What were the qualities that made your love interests attractive
when you first met? What made them shine? The qualities that we
most admire in a prospective partner are unlived potentials that
are ripe for development within ourselves. ...
... As a relationship progresses, so often we demand that others
fill in our missing pieces rather than utilize the relationship
for mutual growth in consciousness. No one notices at the time,
but in-loveness obliterates the humanity of the beloved, for we
are really looking at our own incipient potentials. And precisely
because we have not reclaimed them as our own, we act out
unfinished business and relive old wounds with the very people we
profess to love. So often we unfairly require our partners to
carry what is unlived in us. ...
Love, as practiced from the egocentric perspective, is finding
someone to use. "I love you because you are good for me, you
complete me." I once heard a client say that she had broken up
with her husband because "he doesn't fulfill my needs anymore."
Now she wanted to use someone new to get her requirements met. In
contrast to this, love is the understanding of the identity of
oneself and the beloved. That's the only true union that a human
being is capable of realizing; otherwise it is just casting about
for mutually agreeable bargains. People think that hate is the
opposite of love. Actually, power is the opposite of love. Love is
identity with the other, while power is the desire to control the
other for our own purposes. --Robert A. Johnson & Jerry M. Ruhl
And so people tend to end up trying to force their "loved one"
to behave in whatever way will enable the projection to continue.
The whole thing can degenerate into a power struggle. Entire books
could be written about this, and they have been (see The Eden
Project by James Hollis for one).
Right before I posted this, I posted some similar text from the Tom
Laughlin book. It is interesting to see the two together. In both
cases we look at relatively shallow (maybe shadow material or else
something that will make it out of the shadow with a little luck)
projection and then roll forward from there to look at the deeper
level where the "contra-sexual" anima/animus projection begins. If
we went a step further, we would be looking at projection of the
Self. Of course, these things seem to get a bit mixed up an end up
overlapping at times, but the general structure seems to be there.
It is not uncommon for some fellow to hate his nearby neighbor, be
romantically interested in one particular woman who lives farther
up the street, and take some guy from New York (perhaps a cable TV
evangelist) to be a Messiah of sorts. There seems to be a trend
by which the Self projection ends up on a political figure or some
other such thing more often as we move into the modern world, but
it is the same general thing (although maybe even more disturbing
to see). It is in any case something in the individual trying to
be realized, and it often seems to fall into a sort of three-level
scheme. The whole thing is really the Self.
I enjoyed the way that both Laughlin and Johnson illustrated the
most basic facts of projection, and included positive as well as
One of things that would eventually come up if we looked deeper
into the topic of projection would be the effect it has on the
person who receives the projection.
"I am always amused whan someone informs me that they are on
the spiritual path and working on getting rid of their ego.
If you destroy the ego, you are psychotic, not enlightened.
Westerners trying to be rid of their ego often end up with
an inflation in the guise of spirit (we are too far gone,
too individuated to return to simple pre-egoic consciousness).
However, you can move the ego into relationship, in service
to something greater." --Robert A. Johnson & Jerry M. Ruhl