Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kids that Fail to Act

Carl Jung, along with Freud, Skinner, Rogers, etc founded the study of the soul from a secular and medical position. For thousands of years the psyche had been the arena of Hebrew and Christian Priests as well as Buddhist and Muslim Teachers. Then, the mental and emotional issues faced by all humans became the interest of Physicians. 

But Jung, like many, cam to the field as a person that has struggled mightily with his own deep struggles.  He is quoted by  Lisa Marchiano as writing in his book Memories, dreams, reflections

When Jung was a 12-year-old schoolboy, he was shoved to the ground by another child, hitting his head on the pavement, and nearly losing consciousness. Instantly, Jung grasped the opportunities created by this attack.
At the moment I felt the blow, the thought flashed through my mind: “Now you won’t have to go to school anymore.” I was only half unconscious, but I remained lying there a few moments longer than was strictly necessary, chiefly in order to avenge myself on my assailant….
From this point forward, Jung began having fainting spells whenever he returned to class or attempted homework. For six months, he did not attend school. His worried parents consulted doctors, and sent him away to convalesce. Jung described this period as “a picnic.” Beneath the giddiness, however, he sensed something was amiss.
I frittered away my time with loafing, collecting, reading, and playing. But I did not feel any happier for it; I had the obscure feeling that I was fleeing from myself.
Eventually, Jung forgot how his infirmity arose. His invalid status was taken for granted, and he didn’t question it or concern himself with a remedy, until he overheard a conversation that shook him into awareness.
Then one day a friend called on my father. They were sitting in the garden and I hid behind a shrub, for I was possessed of an insatiable curiosity. I heard the visitor saying to my father, “And how is your son?” “Ah, that’s a sad business,” my father replied. “The doctors no longer know what is wrong with him. They think it might be epilepsy. It would be dreadful if he were incurable. I have lost what little I had, and what will become of the boy if he cannot earn his own living?”
I was thunderstruck. This was the collision with reality.
“Why, then, I must get to work!” I thought suddenly.
At that moment, Jung became a “serious child.” He went straight to his father’s study and began working intensely on his Latin grammar.
After ten minutes of this I had the finest of fainting fits. I almost fell off the chair, but after a few minutes, I felt better and went on working. “Devil take it, I’m not going to faint,” I told myself, and persisted on purpose. This time it took about fifteen minutes before the second attack came. That, too, passed like the first. “And now you must really get to work!” I stuck it out, and after an hour came the third attack. Still I did not give up, and worked for another hour, until I had the feeling that I had overcome the attacks. Suddenly I felt better than I had in all the months before. And in fact the attacks did not recur. From that day on I worked over my grammar and other schoolbooks every day. A few weeks later I returned to school, and never suffered another attack, even there. The whole bag of tricks was over and done with! That was when I learned what a neurosis is.1
An awkward and aggressive boy who was not well-liked by classmates or teachers, Jung must have welcomed the opportunity to escape from school. At childhood’s twilight hour, faced with the looming demands of adolescence, Jung withdrew from the world. For a while, his fate hung in the balance, as he drifted towards the possibility of permanent, self-imposed marginalization and infirmity.
When I was a Counselor and as a Pastor I often saw this phenomenon manifested in some of the families that came to see me. The parents often wanted guidance about how to "Motivate their son or daughter to get engaged in life and stop acting like a victim." In one Asian nation there was an epidemic of kids unable to attend school because each morning they came down with extreme stomach cramps. The worried parents were faced with a dilemma. Their child seemed really sick yet missing school meant a life of poverty and failure. 
It seems that that same epidemic has hit America. More and more young people refuse to drive, get out of bed, stop endless hours on the internet and generally fail to launch into life. It is a major concern to see so many ordinary and otherwise healthy kids stop living. They are acting an awful like young Carl and refusing to move up the Maslow Hierarchy. 
What is going on?

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