Just when we thought there were no more heroes anymore Nelson Mandela dies.
In him the world has found a hero. This heroism hinges on him surviving 27 years in prison and returning to political life without retribution or bitterness.
The term unconscious mind was created by Sigmund Freud. The unconscious mind is full of thoughts that we are unaware of and unable to be scrutinised. Unconscious thoughts have a strong influence on our behaviour laid down in our experiences in childhood. Painful events which hurt us in early life are “forgotten” and repressed in the unconscious. We cannot avoid them as they did happen. But as a defence mechanism we can avoid the pain they caused us by burying them.
This mechanism would be ok if it worked. It does in a way: but the unconscious has a nasty habit of popping up when we least expect it. Take a painful event like bereavement. If the feelings of the bereavement are avoided and not dealt with at the time they will force themselves up from the unconscious into the everyday life of the conscious. For example you might feel overwhelmingly sad at a distant bereavement which is inappropriate to the relationship you had with that person. Not only are hurts locked in the unconscious but also dreams, wishes and desires.
Our desire to have heroes has never waned. We live in a world when every part of peoples’ lives is exposed. It is difficult to have heroes when all human weaknesses are laid bear. We want our heroes to be unlike us. Dynamic, successful, moral and with no uncertainty or hesitation. We want heroes to look up to. To tell us how to lead our lives. To solve the unsolvable.
Few in the 21st Century transcend the scrutiny to the status of hero. Perhaps when they do they become more heroic? Nelson Mandela has done this. He suffered graciously for the cause of democracy against apartheid. He gave his freedom to an idea of a free South Africa. Never mind the cronies, his marriage to Winnie and his role of Father.
The role of the unconscious mind has a large part in this. We need to dream of the hero to avoid the pitfalls of our own flawed characters. We need to wish that there are heroes who will conquer all. We need the hero to have something to aspire to.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2013
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.