the unconscious

The unconscious, a journey into the depths of the human spirit

by Marketa Juristova

The human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons. The connections between neurons are called synapses, and there are about a trillion of them in the brain. The number of people who have ever lived on earth is also approximately 100 billion, according to the latest calculations, and it is quite possible that the number of connections between living and non-living people may be as many as the number of synaptic connections in the brain.

Why am I talking about this? I would like to use a model of the brain to explain how the family unconscious works.

So imagine an organism that looks schematically like a human brain. We could call it the central brain of humanity. Its surface is made up of neurons – people who have a functional body shell, that is, they live, they perceive the senses of the surrounding – external world. We will now call them surface neurons. We can think of them as such branched off spurs, spurs of a family tree – a family tree.

Living people have their own consciousness, but also a very strong component that „pulls“ them in a certain direction, this component we call the unconscious.

What is the unconscious? I believe that consciousness is a subset of the unconscious with a small caveat, a time delay. It takes a while for the information that the conscious mind records to become part of the unconscious. So the unconscious contains not only everything we consciously perceive, but also what we are not aware of ( e.g. subliminal information). Consciousness literally peeks out of the iceberg of the unconscious as a kind of tip. Thus, consciousness only perceives the world above the surface, but the unconscious can perceive everything.

In addition to the conscious perception of the world around us, which spontaneously and automatically becomes a part of the unconscious, we also put away into the unconscious – we displace our painful emotional experiences and some wishes, which is a kind of defense of our conscious self. These components are then no longer accessible to the conscious mind.

We now return to the original model of the central brain of humanity. As I have already stated, beneath its surface are neurons that represent generations of ancestors that have already died. They no longer have any conscious component, only an unconscious one

The family unconscious is then understood as the connection of the unconscious of individuals through their parents (genetic nodes) and their ancestors. Individuals are thus unconsciously connected to their living and non-living relatives. Sometimes this connection is clearly evident, such as mother-child, siblings, or a particularly strong bond between twins. Sometimes, however, emotionally strong bonds that reach into the unconscious component can also develop between people who are not related to each other. I’m sure you know of such couples connected by a mysterious force we call love.

So the connections between people (in our model, neurons) go along the lines of the family tree and below the surface of the central brain. Generation by generation, layer by layer, the deeper we go, the more the interconnectedness becomes apparent, the incredible labyrinth of neurons and synapses runs deeper and becomes simpler. In the lowest layers of this common central brain, we are almost all connected to each other because our genes come from just a few individuals (forefathers and foremothers). On the other hand, there are eight billion neurons (living individuals) on its surface – we are the ones who pull the imaginary thread of unconsciousness of all previous generations behind us. On this thread we are therefore pulling fragments of the unconscious of our ancestors. What are these fragments? First of all, they are unprocessed traumas, experiences from the moments between life and death, experiences on the edge of human existence. From an evolutionary point of view, this is understandable and important; descendants should respond to life-threatening situations. But the family unconscious is probably not just the emotional remnants of trauma, but also certain patterns of behaviour, thinking and wishes. In fact, I think that the family unconscious in its deeper layers is also the collective unconscious as understood by the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung. These deeper realms include the so-called archetypes, orthodoxies common to the whole human family, going across time and cultures.

Now, I’m going to make this a little complicated, but believe me, I have a good reason. Try to creatively modify your idea and from that big common (central) brain in your imagination, create a planet whose surface is just an ocean. The surface neurons are ice crystals floating on the surface of the ocean, very close together. The synapses and neurons going under the surface form water currents. Then in the middle of the planet there is no solid core, but a massive water vortex of the collective unconscious that pulls all the strands together. The strength of the springs and the water vortex affects the individual ice crystals, which therefore travel in certain paths on the surface of the planet. Sometimes these paths seem to be predetermined. Now you may be asking why the change in model, why didn’t I talk about the water planet right away? Because I wanted to first show the interconnected unconscious of the family members (the blood bond), I think it is easier to imagine the neuronal connections first and then conjure up the currents in the ocean. And why am I talking about a water planet? Because this model better shows how much influence the unconscious has on our waking consciousness and behavior. An ice crystal doesn’t have much chance of changing the flow of water, much less moving the giant vortex at the center of the planet.

So what does this mean for us? If our ancestors didn’t (and couldn’t) consciously process their traumas, or the traumas of their ancestors, we have them in the unconscious too. How many misfortunes, natural disasters, wars, suicides, and other life-threatening events have our families experienced? Do you know? Some of them, such as wars, epidemics, or natural disasters, are even common to larger numbers of individuals and families, sometimes even entire nations. The unconscious and unconscious tensions (currents) have tremendous power and influence people’s perception of reality and their decision-making, their reactions and especially their emotions. They also influence the behavior of large masses of people-nations that share a common history of trauma.

If we want to make truly free choices and use our full potential, we should be in a certain balance with our (family) unconscious. For example, have you ever tried to observe yourself during a stressful emotional event? Maybe during an argument. Do you tend to react in a certain way that is unpleasant to you? Doesn’t it pull you into a certain pattern of behavior even though you’re not experiencing anything overwhelming? The therapeutic management of the family unconscious has been the focus of depth psychology for several decades. Using various techniques, therapeutic psychologists attempt to „pull“ displaced traumas (which may be several generations deep) out of the client’s unconscious, process them on a conscious level, and thereby unburden the client’s consciousness.

The unconscious is a very powerful phenomenon that also addresses us in dreams. Thus, it provides us every night with a special therapy that is literally essential for our survival. Although you may sometimes think that your dreams are nonsensical, silly, sometimes annoying or painful, I believe that dreams are always just as they are meant to be. Why do I think that? Because the unconscious directs them, and the unconscious is nature. Do you know a better director? Dreams are in a sense like breast milk, its composition always adapts to the needs of the baby, just as dreams adapt to our current physiological and psychological needs. Therefore, we should pay attention to our dreams, try to understand them and perhaps learn to communicate with the unconscious (our inner self). I am convinced that this communication-understanding has many health benefits.

I also think that the space we perceive in so-called lucid dreams (the dreamer is aware that what he/she is experiencing is a dream) is the space below the surface of the ocean of an imaginary water planet. I believe that we have access to these places in the lines-currents of our family unconsciousness.


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