Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
~ Carl Jung
Initially, I assumed that the “unconscious” he referred to the place in our brains where our experiences, beliefs and memories are undetectably stored. You know, psychology stuff: ego, subconscious, id. Old memories from childhood lurking beneath the conscious frame of reference, directing thoughts and coloring our current experiences. In other words, post-birth experiences that came from nurture; the environment in which we were raised.
As if we’re born as blank slates written upon by our parents, friends and the larger culture we grow up in.
Perhaps given the state of science at the time, that’s all that Jung did mean.
But now we have a lot more science to expand that quote out into some truly mind-boggling territory. In my mind, it’s now a case of including both nature and nurture into the equation.
More and more scientific research is revealing that our slates are only partially blank at birth, ready to accept whatever chalk lines might get drawn by life. But the majority of the remaining territory is already marked at conception with engraved instructions.
For me personally, it has been incredibly liberating to discover that only some of my unconscious scripts were installed after birth.
The person that I call “I” or “Me” is a bundle of reactions, some of which were pre-programmed and some of which have been learned, and most of which are a combination of both. The same is true for you. Our lives are a complex combination of both nature and nurture mixing like fluids to influence our experience of life. …
I now more broadly interpret “unconscious” to mean anything that you aren’t aware of that’s causing you to respond with certain actions, or experience things in a certain way. It could be something from your past long buried (nurture) or it could be hard-wired into your neurochemical response set (nature). Similarly, as long as it’s operating undetected by your conscious mind, yet resulting in certain responses, I’m calling that the “unconscious”, too. …
The current Epstein sexual predator case just reminds us that many men often live out their lives thoroughly subject to the biology of sexual hormones and the drive to reproduce, with about as much free will as a rutting elk during mating season. …
Women can somehow detect better genetic matches [of immune systems] using their noses. But where the study got really interesting — and made the Jung quote explode in many directions for me — is when it further revealed that women who are on birth control pills lose this nose-DNA-detecting superpower. The pharmaceuticals act as a disrupting agent.
Now imagine the poor woman who gets married, decides it’s time to have children, goes off her birth control pill and then, once her hormones have shifted back to her natural baseline, wakes up one day thinking “Crikey, who is this loser?” Somewhere deep and ancient inside her, the former ‘man of her dreams’ now smells entirely wrong. A bad match.
So, they break up, at great emotional, logistical and financial disturbance. She moves on, goes back on the pill, marries another great guy and then repeats the whole process. Again, the new man just smells wrong.
Lacking the proper frame for what is happening, she manufactures all sorts of stories to match the experience. “He’s a bad provider. Doesn’t share my interests. Doesn’t speak my love language. Has bad hygiene…”
Which explains a lot of modern life, perhaps. Feminism, anyone?