Filling Absence in the Psyche With Self

"Eros is dynamic and shape-shifting. As energy, it is always going somewhere, seeking to connect, to fill in, to transcend. Just as Nature, we are told, abhors a vacuum, so our psyche is terrified by emptiness. Seeking to fill that emptiness, we all too often fill it with ourselves. Wheresoever space opens, into that hole flies projection.”

Filling Absence in the Psyche With Self

This photo was taken in a village about an hour out of HaNoi, Vietnam.  On just about every lane and street in the village, racks of paper-thin rice sheets were drying.  Even the temples were being used for their surfaces as an aid to get the “rice paper” dried.  But, of course, the reason for including this photograph here is not for the purpose of telling you about the village, but about relationship and connection.  The playfulness of these children and their curiosity about the foreigner taking the photos, friendships as men walk down the road – these are also pictures of relationship.

As I teach here in China, though I am isolated from most communication by very poor Chinese language skills, it is easy to see that people here are as much into the pursuit of relationships as people in the western world.  What is very interesting how this quest for relationship in built into almost every corner of one’s psyche.  Even a withdrawal into a space away from people contact is about relationship, trying to make a different relationship happen.  But the most overt instances I see here in China occurs on the campus where I teach and on the streets near the campus as well as in the upscale shopping areas where the young people congregate to window shop, be seen, see others and fantasize.  It is spring in ChangZhou and the hormones are flowing.  Eros is alive and well.

“. . . eros is the desire for connection. Surely sexuality may be subsumed under that motive, but eros is richly differentiated and may be found in many venues. … Eros is always present, at least implicitly, when connection is sought . . .  music is erotic; prayer is erotic; violence is erotic; language is erotic . . . the permutations are infinite . . .

"Eros is dynamic and shape-shifting.  As energy, it is always going somewhere, seeking to connect, to fill in, to transcend.  Just as Nature, we are told, abhors a vacuum, so our psyche is terrified by emptiness.  Seeking to fill that emptiness, we all too often fill it with ourselves.  Wheresoever space opens, into that hole flies projection.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 34)

I think this is an easier way to understand how even withdrawing away from an “other” is not really drawing away from connection, away from “eros.”  We fill the space designated for “other” with “self.”  And when this is done without consciousness, one is caught in an erotic narcissism.  But when filling the empty space with “Self,” and consciousness expansion that in turns is inclusive of all others, then connection becomes whole or holy, a connection filled with love that is filled with eros as though one has engaged in the holiest of marriages.


Robert G. Longpré is well known among people interested in Jungian Psychology because of his excellent site, Through a Jungian Lens, parts of which are reproduced here by permission.  He says the following about himself:

"I am wearing a backpack in the photo because that is often how anyone would see me at this point in my life.  I am on a journey of soul, a journey in search of meaning and in search of self.  I am a retired school teacher and school administrator having taught in various schools in Saskatchewan, Canada.  I was a principal for a number of years as well.  Intermingled with my career in education was a second career as a psychotherapist.  Needing to take care of students with issues and later, teachers with issues, I took a number of university and certificate courses to allow me to work more effectively and safely with those whose care I was entrusted.  My counselling focus eventually shifted to include others and to include some “depth” work.  The depth work had a foundation in Jungian psychology.

"Now that I am retired, I am currently in Calgary, Canada working on my writing, my journey through a personal “Dark Night of the Soul” with my wife of forty-one years sharing most of my days and dreams.  Our children and grandchildren have their own homes in both Canada and the U.S.A.  For those interested in these things, I have three children and six grandchildren.

"Since retirement, we have travelled to a number of countries with some becoming places of part-time residence over the past five years. We lived in Changzhou, China for the better parts of four years.  Three months in Costa Rica during one winter, and three months in the Yucatan, Mexico during another winter were other longer stays during this time.  Added to this was a month in Rajasthan, India, a month in Thailand, and a month in IndoChina with most of that time spent in Vietnam.  This past winter break, I spent a a break of ten days in the Philippines.  Of course, if you are a reader here, you are already aware of these things as the selection of photos talk about my response to being in all of these places.  In travelling with a camera, I discover myself through images of both the known and the unknown."

May 18th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Posted in James Hollis,Jungian Psychology

Tagged with consciousness, eros, erotic, HaNoi, individuation, Jungian Psychology, other, projection, relationship, self, Sony A550 DSLR, The Eden Project, Vietnam

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