Oh, Carl! You Jungster! You Jung-a-lung-a-ding-dong! You jokester!
Welcome to Day 14 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.
If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.
Here is today’s:
Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.”
― C.G. Jung
Oh … the art of repression. The gift of denial. I seriously wonder what would happen to all those John Wayne types if given a moment with a world-renowned, trained clinician like Jung.
They’d emerge like crying babies.
Rocky Balboa. We all remember him: 5 raw eggs a day, up at 4am, Philadelphia 1970s tough. He went 15 rounds and started crying the moment he saw Adrienne.
I get it. Our “edge” is the fantastic pressure cooker of life.
This quote actually took me some time to get around. I mean, it’s clever and has an element of “gotcha!” but I had to invert it to begin making sense with it. But it wasn’t a straight inversion.
A straight inversion: “Show me a crazy man and I will wreck him for you” didn’t quite work.
A modified inversion: “Show me a crazy man and I will cure him for you.” Meh…
Another tack: “Show me a sane man and I will wreck him for you.”
That was closer and then I started just thinking about it all and I came to my conclusion with this quote which is that Jung is saying, “Show me someone who thinks they’ve got it all figured out and I will educate him for you.” So then I naturally started thinking about repression and denial and tough-guy, chip-on-the-shoulder types both male and female that I know and that I used to be.
I recall my first time ever with a therapist. I thought I had it all together and that the reason I was there was not becuase of my reaction to something else going on. I thought for sure, it had to be because of what my toddler was doing.
Nope. It was me.
Eyeroll. Of course it was me!
Pleading: But I wasn’t anything like where I’d come from! I was cogent and linear in my thoughts! I was assertive and confident! I was functional, reality-based and focused! I was happy! DON’T YOU SEE HOW HAPPY I WAS?!
But the veneer was cracked and I began my journey. I’m glad it started although sometimes I will admit, I’m ready to get off the bus.
I see it everywhere (even still in the mirror): people humming with intensity, ready to show you how together they are. LOOK HOW TOGETHER I AM! I’VE GOT ALL THIS GREAT STUFF! I’VE DONE THIS AND THIS AND WON THAT AND GOT THAT AWARD AND DID THAT AND SAVED THAT DROWNING PUPPY, HERE’S A PICTURE! HERE’S ME AND A SENATOR!
And I think of Jack Donaghy, a fantastic character on the now-ended NBC sitcom “30 Rock.” Donaghy is what I refer to as “Boston Irish Catholic Repressed” and he likely comes in as a very close alter-ego to Alec Baldwin who plays him. I would say that Jack is the complete opposite of Baldwin: he’s Ivy-league educated, he’s a white-collar executive at GE, he’s repressed emotionally and a high-functioning alcoholic of the “Mad Men” variety and very refined. Donaghy’s relationship with his mother, Colleen, an ascerbic, reality-based, call-it-as-she-sees-it woman brilliantly played by Elaine Stritch, is rife with conflict and it is her mere presence that becomes Donaghy’s undoing in his personal cum business world. He becomes positively unhinged and it’s awesome.
For the purposes of this illustration: Donaghy is the sane man and Colleen is Jung.
Everyone has their buttons. I know a woman who works so hard to show me how together she is that she tells me the same stories about her kids almost every time I see her and then invariably, like a tape, she compares her kids’ stories with her own childhood, “which was fabulous, healthy, very happy, really, very happy childhood, my mother was a saint, I mean she worked so hard for us all all the time and she was really very hard working so she was tired but she was great, I mean she was so tired but she loved us, boy! How she loved us! And so she was you know, cranky a lot, but my childhood was wonderful, I never wanted for anything and I just loved her and my home so much and so when I joined the armed forces at 18 and went to Texas for training, it was time; I mean, I was ready, but I loved my home, but no, I haven’t gone back. I met my husband and we got married and then had kids and deployments and moving and I miss my home….” And she’s filled up her life with more gear, and more stuff, and more plants and more toys and more dogs than … but she’s so happy, really. No, really. It’s almost like she’s dying for someone to ask her, “How are you? Really? What’s with all this gear: pianos, TVs, and stuff around you?” From my cheap seats, she’s so busy herself that she never has time to enjoy it.
I guess that’s the point of this quote. We’re all a little nuts inside. That while we are shaped by where we came from and the pressures and conditions to which we were exposed, that we don’t have to pretend it was all sunshine and roses. And neither should we allow ourselves to wallow in the what-could-have-beens because guess what: they aren’t. It’s what we got now, this moment, is what we have to work with.
My hope is that we recognize it and allow ourselves to not have all the answers all the time and not have a plan or some form of compulsion to show the world we’re all that sane all the time after all.
So yeah, let’s let some of it go, the façade, and relax a little and let some sanity go. 😉