Issue 55 –
Disowning Instinctual Energies
by Hal Stone
With this dream my analysis was over. It may have lasted a few more months, but it was really over now. I had disowned my own dictatorial, power-oriented nature. I had disowned my sexuality. Whatever it is that we disown is projected outside of ourselves. It is projected onto other people, things, political parties. What is the image of Satan that occurs with such frequency in people’s dreams? Satan is a mythic image of what has been disowned in contemporary culture. Western culture has been forced to disown, to bury, a great deal of its natural instinctive apparatus. For civilization to evolve it has been necessary to curb our natural appetites such as aggression, sexuality and power. The curbing of these instincts forces them back into the unconscious where they undergo a change. The more they are bottled up, the more unfriendly to us they become. We refer to these energies as daemonic. The image of Satan comes up in dream material as the carrier of much of this disowned and buried instinctual material.
My Jungian years had brought me great riches. I had developed my symbolic and spiritual energies to a very high degree. The artist in me had been born. My creativity was flourishing. What I had not tapped into was the instinct life. I had very little connection to my power side outside of the Jungian community. I did not have access to my aggression, nor to my sexuality. I had little sense of money, business and finance. My Jungian psychology continued to nourish the areas of myself that were already highly developed. I couldn’t see this at the time, so the unconscious brought my brother to me to help me to separate from Hilde. He was really introducing me to my sensuality, to my Dionysian and Aphrodite nature. The later dream of the Satanic completed the job. I could no longer project my power, my sexuality, my daemonic energies. I had to take responsibility for them myself.
People get frightened when they hear such words as daemonic and satanic. All I am describing are instincts that have become repressed. They go sour. If you disown aggression, it goes sour. If you disown sexuality, it goes sour. It goes sour because it cycles back into the unconscious and there it festers. At this point we call it daemonic because it is capable of behaving in very destructive ways.
I would like to try to clarify this for you with a further example. A ten year-old girl has the following dream:
Child’s Dream of Evil
There is a large machine that is run by a bad man. The machine has a net on the bottom and the bad man presses a button and catches animals, friendly animals, who are playing on the street. The animals go into the machine and there something happens to them. They turn bad. The hero comes along and when the bad man sees him he presses a button and releases the animals that have been locked up and changed. The animals come out of the machine and they attack the hero. The question posed in the mind of the dreamer is as follows: Is the hero going to know that the animals are really good and that they are just acting bad because of what the machine did to them-or is the hero going to think that the animals are really bad and try to kill them?
This remarkable dream of a ten year old child gives a vivid picture of what I have been describing. The machine is the machine of civilization that captures the animal side, our instincts, and buries them, sometimes very deeply, sometimes not so deeply. The instincts go through a process when they are buried. They become infused with even more energy and they go sour. They come out attacking or in extreme ways. When they come out negatively, we take this as proof that instincts are dangerous, that they must be blocked at all costs. We, like our hero in the dream, do not realize that the animals are really good, and that they have been made to act badly by the repressive requirements of our civilization.
Satan, for me, was the mythic, symbolic personification of certain tendencies in me that had been repressed for many decades. They had been projected into people all around me. I could no longer do that. I had to now meet Khrushchev and Satan and recognize that they were really a part of me. The concept of the shadow was now to become a living reality, not a matter for my theoretical understanding. My childhood innocence was ending.
How had all this come about? How had I come to disown so much of my instinctual life? How had the “bad man” caught so many of my animals in his machine and transformed them into negative energies? I want to summarize this process, at the risk of repetition, because it seemed to be so critical an issue for so many of us.
Each of us is born into the world totally vulnerable. We discover very early in life that being vulnerable is not a particularly safe or easy way to be while living on the planet earth. We learn that we have to take care of ourselves, to meet other people’s expectations. We learn to control our environment so we won’t be hurt. We develop a part of ourselves that