The Image of the Ocean
|Il Mar Ionio non lontano dalla nostra casa a Isca Marina|
The Oceanic Feeling
This expression, I believe, is a wonderful one which means that ecstatic feeling we humans get on occasions when we experience a unity with a greater "power," or find ourselves overwhelmed by the mystery of life, or are carried away by falling in love with another, or are aesthetically moved by some piece of art, or, if you are religious, you will call this an experience of or an encounter with the divine. These are all ways basically of describing one's encounter with the oceanic. Freud reduced practically all our desires ultimately to the sexual impulse and the thwarting and repression of those desires to be the cause of our neuroses. I am one with Storr in his acknowledgement that Freud was right in seeing a similarity between the feeling of unity with the universe and the feeling of unity with the beloved person, but very wrong indeed to dismiss such experiences as merely regressive illusions.
Let us return to Storr's words here for insight and illumination:
Without a doubt biology plays a very important role in the human psyche by way of sexual desires and impulses, but such is most particularly evident during the first part of the human lifespan. We owe much to Carl Gustave Jung for this insight, for it was he who said that the human lifespan can be divided roughly into two parts, phases or halves - the first which runs from 0 to 35 and the second from 35 onwards. In the first part of life, the human creature seeks to propagate its species, form unions with other creatures and form families. The second phase is concerned with making some meaning of what life is in itself anyway, what the overarching purpose of life is and how he or she can find their true vocation or life project. This second period is one of exploring the depths of the psyche - hence the term "depth psychology." It is also a time for the exploration of the personal unconscious and indeed the collective unconscious, or in the famous words of Freud, it is a period where we "make the unconscious conscious."
So the second part of life is all about the pursuit of meaning and purpose in life, of plumbing the depths of the psyche for direction, unity and integrity. Here we return to all those virtually synonymous terms I listed in my opening paragraph above. In all this, I find Jung's idiosyncratic insights into depth psychology personally rewarding, especially the Jungian way of working with and teasing out one's dreams. To this extent, I love his definition of personality which runs thus: "the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being." ((Quoted, ibid., p. 191)
|Freud and Jung, left and right in front row|