The featured podcast is the 5th in the series by John Betts on Analytical (Jungian) Psychology. Betts starts be summarising the structures in the different levels of the psyche and the points made in previous episodes.
The persona is then discussed and Betts tells us that we often have more than one persona and that these are chosen to fulfil what we perceive are the expectations of others. Without the persona, the ego is exposed to the outside world and a weak persona can cause difficulties for a person. He uses the term ‘persona up’ in a way that suggests putting our defences up and that the development of persona in adolescence is accelerated as a person experiments with identity. Betts then discusses cultural expectations of personas, for instance in terms of professional roles. Betts also suggests that overidentification with the persona may result in the eruption of unconscious material as a form of compensation by the psyche. What I found interesting was his description of the ego, when overidentifying with the persona, focusing on the external world and not on the unconsciousness. This then necessitates dreamwork, which allows the ego to re-engage with the unconscious material. My interpretation of this is that it is a difference between focusing on the internal world and the external world. However the persona would necessarily need to partly focus on the internal world – to recall the ‘rules’ necessary for behaving in a particular situation. A further point I have at this point is that it could contribute to the debate on genes (or rather epigenetics) versus environment in influencing our behaviour. Thus we have a choice to focus on that area which is influenced by our (epi)genetics – the unconscious (but also necessarily by the environment), or we have a choice to focus on the external environment or some combination thereof. Betts narration is clear, his explanations easy to understand and engaging. Through the series, the listener is able to gradually build a clear picture of analytic psychology.
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