The Mindful Mind
Mindful Mental Health
Counseling & Coaching Services
In this area I will discuss information that I feel is pertinent to areas of my interests and areas of research related topics that apply to my program and mission.
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Modern Society and the Developing Adolescent : Identity and Imagination
Back to the Future...
An ongoing series of educational and informational entries ...
Imagination - Life is what you make it !
In the world of Psychology, Carl Jung’s concept of the active imagination refers to it as a method to communicate with the unconscious through the use of symbols and imagery. The unconscious shadow, which is the epitome of our “dark side”, can be accessed through the use of active imagination as a means to explore the depths of the shadow self. Through this dialogue, the opportunity for self-awareness may work to integrate disowned parts of the self and the development a more cohesive sense of self.
According to Jung’s theory, images given form through artistic expression are also a way to connect with and examine influencing archetypes (or distinguishing characteristics) that are present. The use of story to communicate these images is another way to connect to the self. The re-occurrence of images in this process allows an awareness and acceptance of what is present, establishing a connection to presence, mindfulness and empathy; working toward a greater level of self-actualization and a more cohesive sense of self.
Humans have the ability to develop and learn as they grow, but all the while, the complementary part of their selves often remains unconscious, in the dark. If each individual self is visualized as a seed that needs nourishment in order to flourish, the essential elements of food and water are physical necessities to live, but without emotional nurturing, the self will not thrive.
Technology and Human Development
Modern cultural mores and values have shifted and changed. Current life priorities are often predominantly dependent upon material items and technology to achieve success in educational, career, and social aspirations. Today’s children and adolescents generally depend on technology as much as do adults, although for young people this dependence can develop into a crutch needed for survival, often resulting in the sacrifice of their personal development. For adolescents facing the task of identity versus role confusion, the pressures of the projected expectation of success remain constant, while the level of obstacles has increased.
The media at large, communicated through manufactured devices, are swiftly replacing interpersonal relationships that existed in the past. Technology in modern culture has manufactured products to meet the expectations of the demands of a high-paced society and is moving full speed ahead and setting the “dangling carrot in the sky” (Koehn, 2007) as the unattainable standard of measure. Technology has become a supreme external locus of control, a fabricated ideal that has hooked the egos of many of today’s developing youth. The external object often presents an irresistible image that may engage a relational cycle of mutual dependency.
Adolescents who are currently at odds with achieving a sense of identity and self and who are lacking in social and developmental skills are often unable to handle life and its stressors. The result is an increasing amount of regressive symptoms such as depression, anxiety, despair, and discontent. Stuck in the phase of identity versus role confusion and unable to meet their expected task, the symptoms of their failure further perpetuate the cycle of their impeded individuation.
In my experience counseling youth, many adolescents have lost sight of themselves. In an adolescent’s failed attempts to connect with his or her authentic self, a false self becomes a haven in which he or she is at risk of being entombed. A number of youth are so deeply tethered to external objects, that their identities are mirror reflections of the ideal false selves with which they are infatuated and consumed.
The increasing symptoms of despair and discontent among developing adolescents reflects the cultural shadow at large, but more so emphasizes society’s inadequacies in response to this epidemic. Addressing the current struggles of today’s adolescents is critical in order to support them in their plight, but it is also essential in ensuring the welfare of future generations as well.
Utilizing Jungian depth psychology’s process of engaging the active imagination creates an opportunity for discovery, dialogue, and acceptance that can prove to be an invaluable catalyst for today’s youth in nourishing a relationship that is conducive to integration and development of the true self. As a large contributor to this work, the use of art and imagery opens a channel of inquiry and exploration between the conscious and the unconscious as a means of reestablishing the lost connections. The collaboration of Jungian perspectives and art therapy, within a safe environment, can benefit developing adolescents by redirecting their attention internally and educating them on ways to discover their true selves.
Source: Modern Society and the developing adoloescent; Indentity vs Imagination by Joanna Gates *Copyright 2009 /Pacifica Graduate Institute
Virtual Reality - The Chicken or the Egg?
In a time where we can travel anywhere we desire… by boat, plane, train,car, etc. Before the telephone we recall the days of the pony express and the value of a piece of mail to communicate with others that were far away; with no ability of knowing if it would reach its destination, leaving the inevitable feeling of wonder ( would we ever know what has become of it or the ones we are trying to reach).
Now, forget radios and records, even cd’s now, we can immediately listen to music, talk and even travel the world with the can click of a button. Immediate gratification – but at what cost? And now with overflow of technology, where do we draw the next line? With the next generation of tv, cel phones, computers etc. popping up every other day- and the exposure to which no one is aware of. Even cigarettes come with a warning label!
Technology is a tool, and should not be a crutch used for dependency. Though with society’s dependency on technology individuals are not only relying on their devices for everything and exposure is becoming so great that even homeless wait in line (not for food, clothing or shelter), but for free cel phones!
Due to this exposure, and reliance, individuals have lost simple abilities to problem solve, to use eye contact as well as other interpersonal skills. And this starts effecting brain development in children especially! When adults are praising their infants for using face time and children have movies and games every where they go, in order to sit still or to behave. Even adults are glued to their devices and often cannot even sit through a meal or walk down the street without staring at their phone!
Individuals are becoming dependent on devices and no longer can rely on themselves, furthering them from their SELF. This false sense of reality is a facade; a double edged sword to our industrial progress, relaying on a connection that truly is a Dis-Connect.
Within my research for my Master’s Thesis I was able to prove that Art & Imagination (from within) are key in developing a connection with our authentic self. Unfortunately this is what is lacking in our schools and a society that is dependent on ‘receiving’ entertainment etc. vs developing creativity and imagination from within. Theoretically individuals lacking a true sense of self face a future of developmental hurdles that may never be met, and may face identity and emotional issues. With an influx of developmental issues occurring all around us- it is time to take responsibility and look at what we are truly feeding ourselves, and our children. The symptoms are a response to larger problem effecting us all.
Modern Culture & The Matrix: Self- Sacrifice
Revisiting the need for Art as Introspection, and why I feel programs like my own are crucial, esp. at this time! For the full article visit;
This article discusses a lot of what my Thesis research revealed about the effect of exposure to technology on human development. Once it was just the t.v., now is so diverse that even cars are even equipped with DVD players, and commercials remind us we can take our shows and movies anywhere and everywhere! This is not yet including email, music, and social media etc… What has this connection to technology done to ourselves? our children?
The whole goal of my program is to help enable the individual to tap into their self through the process of creating art (in order to access the Authentic Self through the subconscious). As I mentioned in my initial blog, it was Carl Jung’s theory of the transcendent function that was the doorway to the Authentic Self, which can only be reached through the Imagination. Since expressive type of activities are being diminished in school and replaced with entertainment devices, it is even more important now that imaginative activities are done to help establish a healthy sense of Self for developing children and adolescents, but also demonstrate the potential hazards to adults as well; behaviorally, interpersonally, as well as attention span and empathy.
Revisiting some of my research, it revealed that;
Current studies have determined that technology is not only changing the way that people live and communicate, but it is also “rapidly altering our brains, influencing how we think, and altering how we feel and behave” (Small & Vorgan, 2008, p. 46). A Stanford study found that for “every hour we spend on the computer, traditional face-to-face interactions drop roughly by 30 minutes” (p. 46). Researcher explained thatas the brain evolves and focuses on new technological skills, it drifts away from fundamental social and emotional skills. Technology feeds . . . [one’s] ego and sense of self worth and becomes irresistible, but occurs in heightened state of stress, in which there is no time to reflect, contemplate or make thoughtful decisions creating a sense of constant crisis, which is directly correlated to the development of self-esteem and self-worth. (p. 47)
Recent research reviewed by Villani (2001) studied “American child’s media diet” (p. 399), finding that the amount of time children and adolescents spend with various forms of media such as television, movies, video games, and the internet, has a correlation to mood; cognitive and behavior problems such as depression, violence, sexual misconduct; and tobacco, drug and alcohol use and abuse. Further research indicated that “we are now exposing our brains to technology for extensive periods every day, even at very young ages” (Small & Vorgan, 2008, p. 47).
The developmental concern is that “our high-tech revolution has plunged us into a state of [continuous partial attention] which keeps tabs on everything while never truly focusing on anything” (Small & Vorgan, 2008, p. 47). The amount of time invested in connecting with images, individuals, games, and various other external objects through technological means involves a constant flow of multitasking which keeps the partial attention of the individual preoccupied with literally keeping tabs on everything. With this preoccupation with technology as an object of an external locus of control, an individual maintains a sense of control when “everything, everywhere, is connected through peripheral attention” (p. 47), inhibiting a full commitment to anything outside of that boundary. Although keeping in touch to the minute with personal affairs, images, and emoticons may seem intimate, in exchange, “we risk losing personal touch with our real-life relationships and may experience an artificial sense of intimacy as compared to when we shut down our devices and devote attention to one individual at a time” (p. 47).
I highlighted “external locus of control” to explain briefly how this contributes to identity formation and individuation of a child/adolescent.
An external locus of control, is the external object that an individual looks to for mirroring and self-reflection ( which when referred to in child development is primarily 1st the mother – that forms a bond with the child). We can even consider Freud’s concept of Oedipus and Electra as an example of this as well; considering the influential bond between the opposite sex of parent/child relationships. Where once we may have been asked who is our hero or role model, and likely it was a parent or teacher, is now a device, like blankets were once made to comfort, these devices are literally becoming the new pacifiers to literally pacify!
This excerpt from my Thesis explains what occurs after childhood, to a developing adolescent mind.
Today’s society can be considered as having an enmeshed attachment to technology that is yet another obstacle for developing adolescents working toward autonomy. Co-authors Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan (2008) coined the term “digital natives” (p. 43), describing today’s adolescents, who “have never known a world without computers, 24-hour news, Internet and cell phones” (p. 43). This dependency on technology is a seemingly harmless need, but for adolescents, technological media often serve as devices for self-reflection. The 10,000 things of technology are blinding them to their original quest and many are losing sight of themselves outside of its influence. In a paper posted on a Bryn Mawr College blog site, student Simone exerpt (2008) noted that in modern Western culture, children are being exposed to a greater stratum of diversity, and the period of social adolescence has thus become more complicated. She saw “problematic adolescence [as] the result of urbanization” (para. 5).
I am making this connection between the children and adolescents specifically to call attention to the importance of laying down a proper foundation for the developing individual as early as we can, and to educate people about problems that we are often not made aware of at all or until it causes irreversible damage developmentally.
*Even cigarettes come with a warning label*