In this post, I want to present another example of the associative workings of the unconscious mind. Years of strenuous psychotherapy and much “soul searching” have made me sensitive to the meaningful little clues and useful responses the unconscious scatters through our lives. We all have these experiences, but many of us, not understanding their potential value just shrug them off. I recorded this simple incident in one of my notebooks. To set the scene, I should mention that I was living the hermit’s life in a forest shack on the edge of the Canadian wilderness at the time.
The human mind has two aspects, one of which can be a nag and the other a source of great wisdom. (Image: Gutenberg)
One of psychology’s most popular images is that of the gatekeeper strategically positioned between the conscious and unconscious minds to prevent certain unconscious contents from emerging into conscious awareness. We imagine some sort of autonomous process that filters out the unacceptable while allowing only “the good stuff” to pass. The trouble with this notion is the way it absolves ego of any responsibility for what is happening. If the process is autonomous, who, or what, is deciding what will pass through the gate and what will not?
Our mental gatekeeper, the origin of repression is entirely of our own making. (Image: Wikipedia)
What we are talking about here is repression and how it happens.
Creative people worth their salt have an inner critic. This critical faculty is essential for the production of high quality work. External criticism can point to larger problems, but only after the work in hand has reached a certain point. The moment-to-moment decision making (keeping this, discarding that) of the creative process must be based on an internal critical assessment. Furthermore, while most creators value feedback from others, they recognize that ultimately the work as a whole must meet their own standards and satisfy their own inner critic.
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche suspended his inner critic, decided his writings were spectacular, and suffered a massive ego inflation. (Photo: public domain)