A theory of ghosts: note on methodology

When I left off this line of thought in my previous post, I concluded that ghosts are a different sort of thing than persons. They are better seen as psychological patterns, appearing in a narrative around a personification. 3. Now all this talk about psychological “patterns” may sound a little vague. Patterns are forms or dynamics that occur repeatedly (and recognizably so). But whether we see a...

Projections, patterns, and depth

In our lived experience we navigate both an external world of objects and a subjective stream of psychological states. This is how the surface of reality presents itself to us. But both the external world of objects and the subjective stream of psychological states have a certain depth to them: they exhibit recurring patterns.

Projection, spirit, and self-knowledge

The problem with projections is two-fold: partly, they falsify the object; and partly, they contain pieces of the subject’s own personality which should be recognized as such and integrated. Or, to put it differently: projections complicate both knowledge of the outer world and the inner world — knowledge of the soul, or self-knowledge.

Self-misunderstanding and the mirror of Narcissus

A while ago, I have posted some reflections on “the mirror of Narcissus”, a phrase that Tim Wu uses to characterize the Instagram culture of mass self-presentation in pictures. That phrase implies some kind of narcissism. But is that just a vague association with an old myth, or is there a deeper connection?

Self-representing archetypes

According to Jung, the archetypes of the collective unconscious are psychological patterns. An archetype thus represents how we (human beings) typically live through and experience certain situations. What kind of situations?

The hypocritical mirror-critic

Returning from his year-long stay on a Greek island, the protagonist of The Magus makes an intermediate stop in Rome. But he compares his impressions unfavorably with those he had in that other Mediterranean world: The sun shone as certainly, the people were far more elegant, the architecture and the art much richer, but it was as if the Italians, like their Roman ancestors, wore a great mask of...

The mirror and the mask

What we see, when looking into the symbolic mirror, are those parts of ourselves which we would normally avoid to look at, and which we carefully also hide from others. These are part of the personal unconscious and make up, in Jungian terminology, our “shadow”. The false face that we show ourselves and the outside worlds (as long as we ignore the shadow), is called the “persona” (in the ancient...

Mirrors: psychoanalysis & two routes of self-knowledge

Mirrors, when they appear in a story, can symbolize something very interesting: namely, a special way of knowing something about a person. What makes it special is that others can know this about us, whereas we ourselves may not know it. Let’s see if we can explicate the idea in a non-symbolic manner: can we give an account of this special type of self-knowledge without recourse to a story (where...

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.

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