As a species, humans have certain norms of behaviour, many of which we share with other animals. We tend to find a partner of the opposite sex and produce children. We care for our children. We have strong feelings about territory. In groups this becomes nationalism and, like ants or some group animals, we fight to defend our territory. We elect leaders, and have complicated rituals regarding group status or personal ‘face*. We seek outward signs of our status, and wherever possible show them.
Talking to individuals, these drives are often hardly recognised. Yet they are powerful enough when manipulated to gather huge armies of people who then march to their death. They are behind enormous hostility between neighbours and nations. Although irrational, and not in our best interest to be influenced by, millions of us are moved by them as if we had little will of our own.
The feelings behind them, although seldom acknowledged directly by our conscious self, are often raised to religious status.
The procreative drive, the election of leaders, the parental and child raising urges, are all to be seen in the Christian religion as the bones behind the robes and rituals. Why does Catholicism ban the condom and divorce, make a giant figure out of the Pope, worship a woman with a baby in her arms, if it is not based on these mighty urges and biological drives?
Dreams reveal that much of human life arises out of these patterns.
The patterns are in us unconsciously. We often venerate the norm’ of these patterns and raise them, religiously or politically, to a level of tremendous importance.
The problem is that many of these patterns are no longer serving us well. They are habits developed through thousands or millions of years of repetition. While they remain unconscious we find it difficult to redirect them or even admit to their influence in our life.
Thereare, of course, many other aspects of the unconscious, such as memories of childhood trauma, the dream process, the image formation process and sensory apparatus. It is enough to begin with if we recognise that a lot of ourself and our potential remains unknown to us because it remains unconscious, or a pan of our unconscious processes.