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The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

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The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby divergentintegral » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:53 pm

Hi all, I'm new to this interesting forum. The reason I registered is that I had a very vivid dream last night, and I'm wondering about its meaning and significance. Perhaps some of you may want to help me analyze my dream. Any insights would be much appreciated, of course.

First, I'll give you a bit of personal background, and then an account of the dream itself.

Personal Background
I'm a 33-year-old male who lives in Western Europe. Born with Cerebral Palsy, I was nonetheless intelligent enough to attend a regular grammar/high school and then university. There, I majored in mathematics, but due to a variety of personal problems (and a fair bit of laziness and passivity, to be quite honest), I had to leave without a degree after many years of trying. At the moment, I don't have a job and am kind of forced to move back in with my mother.

So, in a traditional sense at least, I haven't made much of a success of myself. On the other hand, I'm not too unhappy with my life. My disability pension is enough to pay the bills, and I have some nice friends I like to hang out with. After not having touched my math books in quite a while, I've even found the energy to try and solve mathematical problems again, as a pleasant pastime.

The Dream
The main protagonist of my dream was a mathematician called G. H. Hardy. (See this Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._H._Hardy.) Hardy is definitely someone I admire. I thoroughly enjoyed his autobiographical essay A Mathematician's Apology and his classic textbook An Introduction to the Theory of Numbers, as well as those of his papers that I could understand.

Anyway, in my dream, Hardy was still a young man, about to pass the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos (the final examination for the BA degree at the time). This must have been around 1898. As the very last test before passing, Hardy is asked to create a certain complicated chemical compound using only basic chemicals. I'm pretty certain practical chemistry wasn't in the degree requirements for mathematical scholars of the day, but hey, it's a dream...

Hardy goes about his task in a very clumsy and inept way. He tries to pour a few drops of acetic acid solution (I could read the label) into a flask, from a very large and wide-rimmed bottle. Of course, he spills some of the stuff on the table, leaving an ugly stain. Then he hands the flask to the examiner, with an anxious expression on his face.

The examiner says: "We will have to put this through the mass spectrometer." (Pretty sure those weren't around back then, by the way.)

Some time later, the examiner says something to the effect of: "Though your concoction was very impure, we admit that you have created the required compound. You have passed your final examination." Here the dream ends and I wake up.

Though the plot sounds simple enough, it was easily the most vivid and "realistic" dream I've had in many years. Does it have any deeper significance than that, however? I've heard for example that Jung attached a lot of importance to alchemical symbolism. Would my dream fall under that heading? Thank you for reading.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Athanor » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:39 pm

After listening to a dream (and there were literally many thousands of them in his practice of sixty years), Jung always silently said to himself “I do not know what this dream means”.

Doing so was meant to prevent his falling into the trap of a quick analysis based on what similar dreams of other people had meant in the end as analyzed by him over the years. That is, he honoured the psyche’s skill to tailor a dream exactly to the needs of the dreamer.

So this is to say that, although the personal background provided makes for the possibility of a much more accurate interpretation, a website interpretation by a non-professional of your very important dream can only be a general attempt at a proper analysis, a kind of broad outline that you can hopefully follow-up in a more depth way by further reading etc.

In the dream, you’re apparently present as a kind of observer during Hardy’s final examination around 1898.

This implies a certain “distance” between you and your “mentor” as it were (e.g. the long ago date and your unclear role there).

Since you admire Hardy very much, he could in some way symbolize your own basic potential as a mathematician which unfortunately has had to be put aside for various reasons.

In this sense, he would also probably represent in part the Jungian “Self” which includes the whole of the unconscious, also the ego and the body, while at the same time being the centre of this whole body/mind mix.

Hardy could be shown as a young man in order to emphasize the “potential” aspect of the Self. For example, although you made significant progress in your studies, some potentials of various kinds apparently could still exist which have to be made real in the outside world just like in the dream, i.e. Hardy’s accomplishments lie in the future after the events in the dream.

The requirement to create a certain complicated chemical compound using only basic chemicals is clearly an alchemical symbol.

The goal of genuine alchemists (although they wouldn’t have seen it in this way) was in effect a psychological one, namely, to mix together the divergent and opposite elements of human nature into a unified whole, i.e. the Self of Jungian psychology.

The diverse “mysterious elements” that made up an individual alchemist were automatically projected onto the equally “mysterious” metals etc., along with their transformation when heated and mixed with sulphuric acid etc. in the “vas”, “alembic”, or as in your dream, in the “flask”.

On analogy, it’s possible that the image of Hardy also contains the fact that, from the dream’s point of view, he was in some way “incomplete” despite his many outer accomplishments in the years ahead.

Therefore, he needed “rounding out” by way of the unusual (al)chemical test that was put to him. This state of affairs could possibly apply to yourself as well.

As you know, the world of mathematics is essentially meant to be pure and beautiful. One quote of Hardy’s that I found, and of which you may be aware, is “Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics”.

In contrast, Hardy is compelled to perform in the dream a procedure which involves an acid, something which cannot be called “beautiful” in itself.

He’s shown as being anxious and clumsy in having to deal with something other than a pure mathematical exercise. In addition, the spilling of the acetic acid “leaves an ugly stain” which the real Hardy might very well have abhorred.

However, the dream appears to make the inclusion of the acetic acid an important element of succeeding in the test.

It seems to “complete” the “solution” to the problem or “test” which you yourself are also apparently meant to engage in.

From even the brief review of his life that I made, it does seem that Hardy had a “sour” side to him as possibly symbolized by the acetic acid in the dream.

For instance, another quote reads: “It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that.”

He also did not disguise his distaste for applied mathematics although he was instrumental in creating the highly practical Hardy-Weinberg law.

These quotes suggest that he felt little sympathy for “earthy reality”, but without accepting this “fly in the ointment” side of things, wholeness is by definition not possible.

So it could be that being mathematically minded (as also shown by your enjoyment of his essay “A Mathematician’s Apology”), you too might have some innate difficulties in accepting the sometimes very challenging facts of three-dimensional reality.

Of course, your medical condition would be one of these and there’s no easy way to avoid this unpleasant reality.

As Jung also writes:

“In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life.”

Here he was speaking of acceptance of the “shadow” which is composed for the most part of repressed desires and uncivilized impulses, morally inferior motives, childish fantasies and resentments, etc. -- all those things about which one is not proud.

The shadow is not, however, only the dark underside of the personality. It also consists of instincts, abilities and positive moral qualities that have long been buried or never been conscious.

So the dream could be saying that if you are able to actively work at dealing with this and other practical realities more fully, you can indeed “pass your final examination”.

The fact that you’re 33 suggests that this could be a “memento mori” dream (Latin for "Remember that you must die"). Although we think of ourselves as still being young in our mid-30’s, from the point of view of dreams, we’ve passed the half-way point of our lives, and this type of dream spontaneously appears around mid-life and later in order to remind us of this point.

The reality is that if a conscious application to completing ourselves by developing any as-yet undeveloped innate potentials isn’t begun around this time, it could be too late to do so in the end.

As Yeats writes in “At Algeciras”:

“Greater glory in the sun,
An evening chill upon the air,
Bid imagination run
Much on the Great Questioner;
What He can question, what if questioned I
Can with a fitting confidence reply”

Anyway as mentioned, without knowing much about you, this way of looking at your significant dream might not fit your personal circumstances very well, but I hope that these ideas can be helpful in some way.

If anything does seem to fit your own situation, I often recommend the book “Meeting the Shadow”, edited by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams. It covers the concept of the earthy, shadowy, emotional and instinctive side of human nature that we may not feel very comfortable with, and covers how to deal with it in detail. It's easy to read, being composed of many short articles by various authors inside and outside the psychological community.

Other books to choose from on this subject include “Owning Your Own Shadow” by Robert Johnson, “Romancing the Shadow” by Connie Zweig and Steven Wolf, “Make Friends with your Shadow” by William Miller, “Your Shadow” by Robin Robertson, and “A Little Book on the Human Shadow” by Robert Bly.

If you’d like to explore alchemy from the Jungian point of view, perhaps a good start would be “Transformation of the Psyche” by analysts Joseph Henderson and Dyane Sherwood. It begins with a good introduction to Jungian concepts as related to the development of the personality although it might take a while for your mathematical mind to take to the 16th century alchemical colour imagery which is central to the book’s subject. However, I think in the end you’d find the analysis of the imagery, along with actual case material, to be very insightful and interesting.

You may also like “The Quotable Jung” by analyst Judith Harris. Unlike other compilations that are just random listings of various quotes, the author of this book has years of analytical practice, allowing for a rational and apt listing under applicable headings of interest.

In any case, please feel free to comment on, or to ask any questions about, this particular way of looking at your dream.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:17 pm

A person with CP dreams of expertise but marred by
divergentintegral wrote:very clumsy and inept
. This is likely a frequent self perception or worry.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby divergentintegral » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:41 pm

Athanor
Thank you very much for writing such an extensive outline for a Jungian interpretation of my dream. I'm quite pleased with it, as it fits the psychological data of my life with remarkable accuracy.

The one thing that strikes me the most about your whole analysis is that indeed I have been thinking rather much about my mortality lately, and about the limited time that I may have left to realize my full potential. (Jordan Peterson, whose video lectures you may have seen on YouTube or elsewhere, has helped usher in this phase of heightened self-reflection.)

As an aside that might interest you, the main reason why I flunked out of university (apart from experiencing periods of general laziness and apathy) is that I found it increasingly difficult to perform well on exams. The homework went alright, and the few mathematical essays that I had to turn in were even highly regarded. But as soon as a sheet of exam problems was put before me, my IQ seemed to drop at least 30 points. The joy and creativity I experienced when solving intricate problems in the comfort of my own home was replaced by an inability to even recall basic facts. This tendency to crack under pressure had always been present, but it grew worse and worse, and persists to this day, despite several visits to mental health professionals.

Hardy was a peculiar character, psychologically speaking. If you're interested, I recommend reading a copy of A Mathematician's Apology that includes C. P. Snow's long preface, which contains his personal recollections of Hardy. Based on (admittedly) very incomplete information, I'd say that Hardy, for all his intellectual brilliance, didn't have a romantic or sexual life in the ordinary sense of the word This is relevant to our present discussion, because I too have some insecurities relating to that domain of life. I understand that the alchemical symbolism found in dreams often has an erotic undercurrent as well, right?

Anyway, I have rattled on long enough now, and it's getting late in the evening for me. Again, i thank you for your insightful comments. If you have any more to say, I'd be most open to that. Finally, I will definitely try and pick up some of the books you recommend. Best wishes to you!

Sheena
That's the nail on the head. I do dream of expertise, but often find myself to be not an effective person at all. Can't even kick a dent in a pack of butter, is a local expression around here. That's me in a nutshell.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:30 pm

Glad for the feedback that my assessment of the dream gave you some clarity. Hope you make it useful instead of getting lost in another complex, this time Jungian, puzzle to prove something about yourself.
Note the compulsive negative irrational self attribution:
divergentintegral wrote:Can't even kick a dent in a pack of butter, is a local expression around here. That's me in a nutshell.
Work with that. Get help if you need it. No one can be as good as a compulsive perfectionist expects himself to be. If you do use psychotherapy in addition to correcting the cognitive bad habits you will uncover the pain that you use this self-imposed suffering to cover.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Athanor » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:19 pm

Hi again,

I’m glad that the interpretation of your dream was helpful in some way.

I’ve seen various programs over the years where Jordan Peterson and other psychologists were discussing various issues. Personally, I found regarding these various interviews etc. that over a period of time, Mr. Peterson’s approach, while generally helpful in some ways, seemed a little too “rational” and not really open to the influence of the psyche per se.

Some time ago, I became even more cautious about his viewpoints when I saw an interview with him and his daughter Mikhaila Peterson. The latter discussed her various physical and psychological ailments including depression which she now outlines on her website. She also claims that depression and other ailments can be cured by diet alone.

While strictly speaking, she’s accurate in saying on her website that she had a depression, I recall that the symptoms she described during the interview were more along the lines of a psychotic depression, the symptoms of which quietly shocked myself and a very experienced moderator with over twenty-five years of experience.

What especially concerned me most at the time was that, when she described how she simply stopped taking her medication in these circumstances in favour of a new diet, her father said nothing (as far as I can recall) about how doing this would not be considered a safe procedure except in the rarest of situations.

Currently, her website cautions against any such cessation of medication before symptoms have ceased from trying a new diet, and I’m assuming Dad had subsequently something to do this when she actually created the website in later years.

In any case, you may also enjoy a Jungian related podcast at http://jungian.ca/resources/videos/

It’s unfortunate that you found it increasingly difficult to perform well on exams. I’m assuming that, unlike where I live, universities don’t accommodate persons with various disabilities when writing exams. For example, here students are able to apply to have an extended period allowed for writing various individual exams, or to write the exams alone in a room etc.

Of course, there are some complaints from other students and others about this, but on the whole, the procedures in place work very well.

So if this type of thing isn’t permitted where you live, perhaps this could be a chance to start a crusade, as it were, and to practice being in touch with outer-world realities in a good way!

I don’t know if any of the health professionals brought up this subject, but it’s possible that your tendency to “crack under pressure” when writing an exam might be a symptom of an underlying situation that causes a certain type of dream to appear, namely, where a person isn’t prepared for the test or can’t find his or her way to the proper room etc. etc.

On analogy, schools, classes and exams etc. tend to represent in dreams certain generally accepted collective roles and attitudes that an individual in a given society is expected to meet as part of fitting in with the group.

For instance, institutions of learning are funded by public taxes and/or “established” alumni groups etc.

They’re also usually overseen by various collective boards and committees etc. which have certain views and standards about what constitutes a “good education” etc.

So in the past, maybe you felt you “didn’t fit in” enough with certain “expected” ways of acting in the school environment etc. and this understandably might have made you feel anxious in an overall way to some extent. However, this may have been mostly unconscious.

If so, extra pressure might have built up over the years regarding any such anxiety because it understandably couldn’t be dealt with enough, given the pressures of studies etc. that existed.

Therefore, the idea could be that, when faced with proving your “basic worth” to “society” in the form of pleasing examiners, the unconscious pressures may have become unbearable.

This description of school-related types of dream touches on the purpose of dreams in general.

Most dreams are “compensatory” or “complementary” to ego consciousness which tends to be something like a lighthouse beam which is usually very narrow and focused, tending therefore to leave a lot “in the dark”. The idea is to “illuminate” to the dreamer a broader outlook in order to take into account issues that are tending be ignored either partially or completely for whatever reason.

Exceptions occur at the extreme ends of the spectrum. For example, a starving person will have constant dreams about food, but of course, they don’t have to be made aware of this fact.

So the situation of the actual dreamer is needed in order for an accurate interpretation to be made. Without this knowledge, the presence of certain fairly stable dream motifs can point the way but inaccuracy can often be the result.

For example, if a person with Cerebral Palsy regularly dreams of being inept or clumsy, either he or she may not be accepting at all the fact of being ill and the effects it has on him or her, or more usually, the physical limitation is being used by a dream as an apt, although perhaps vexing analogy, that certain issues are not being dealt with adequately enough (while others, of course, are being handled quite well, thank you very much).

Jung would ask himself “What attitude or outlook of the dreamer is this particular dream trying to balance out?”

A “compensating” dream is fairly direct in a symbolic way. For example, Jung had a dream where he saw a female patient who was high up on a kind of balcony in the near distance. When he woke up, he had a crick in his neck from “looking up” at her. The background was that he hadn’t been able to get anywhere with this patient, and he was about to tell her that it would best if she sought help elsewhere.

But the dream told him symbolically that, by having to look up so high at her in the dream, he had been “looking down” on her in outer life. He told the patient his dream and what it meant, after which the treatment went well.

A “complementary” dream usually builds on some new insight or understanding of the dreamer in order to add to it and round it out in some way.

Regarding the erotic element in alchemy, as Jung wrote many years ago:

“For my part, I have summed up the various psychic drives or forces – all constructed more or less ad hoc – under the concept of energy, in order to eliminate the almost unavoidable arbitrariness of a psychology that deals with the power drives. I therefore speak not of separate drives or forces but of ‘value intensities’. By this I do not mean to deny the importance of sexuality in psychic life, though Freud stubbornly maintains that I do deny it. What I seek is to set bounds to the rampant terminology of sex which vitiates all discussion of the human psyche, and to put sexuality in its proper place”

So while sexuality and the erotic can be seen in alchemical works, the main meaning involved regarding sex and the erotic in that particular context mostly relates to “union”; that is, of the opposites in order to form a fully functioning totality.

Perhaps the insecurities you feel in the areas of romance and sex might possibly stem from your overall personality type.

Generally speaking, because you seem to innately prefer and enjoy thinking and the intellect as opposed to, say, values and emotions, any such leaning would tend to make forming close relationships more difficult.

It may also be that overall, you could be a generally quiet person who prefers looking inwardly so that outer demands per se may tend to feel more problematic in general.

If so, you may also like the book “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World” by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D

If you’re interested in getting an overall idea about your personality type and how this affects your everyday life, a short but very useful and clear introduction to these ideas as developed by Jung can be found in “Personality Types” by analyst Daryl Sharp. It’s available on such sites as Amazon etc. However, you can actually download it free from the publisher’s website which is innercitybooks.net

If you go to the site, just click on “e-books” on the left side of the page, then scroll down on the e-book page itself to the bottom where there are a few free books including “Personality Types”. You can then download and save it in PDF format.

In any case, please don’t hesitate to ask any other questions you might have.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:27 pm

You could get exhausted following th's instructions. But that perfectionism might appeal to this dreamer as akin to its own.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby divergentintegral » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:41 pm

Hello Athanor,

I'm really enjoying our little discussion here! Do you write professionally, by the way? Your prose just seems to flow effortlessly, and it's very well put together too.

The university authorities were in fact very humane in dealing with me and accommodating of my various requirements. At first, I was allowed to use a computer to write out my answers, and after the complexities of mathematical typesetting software proved too much of an impediment, I was allotted an additional hour to write out my script in longhand. Paradoxically, these measures seemed to make matters worse, possibly because I felt an unconscious need to "earn" the kindness shown to me. Anyway, I feel that my professors and other supervisors did all what they reasonably could do, balancing fairness towards the other students with my specific needs.

The only real gripe I have with the university is that it took so long for them to recognize that maybe I'd be better off leaving. More than ten years, in fact. This can be explained in terms of a marked difference in academic culture between America and my corner of Western Europe. Universities around here are much less like high school and thus more anonymous than the average US college. (On-campus housing is almost unheard of here, for example.) The upside is that it teaches students to be tough and self-reliant. The downside is that students with problems like mine are allowed to struggle for very long periods of time before someone notices. (Also, professors here tend to be rather remote figures, preoccupied with their research, and tuition fees are low, both of which exacerbate the problem.)

On a more positive note, I'm currently studying various programming languages, in order to try and make a living as a programmer or software designer someday. This seems a suitable outlet for my inclination towards formal modes of thought and my love of complex systems. An added advantage is that programming relies less on official degrees and examinations than on the strength and quality of one's creations.

Your notes about Jordan Peterson add another layer of complexity to my perception of the man and his teaching. I think it underscores the importance of never following any intellectual "guru" without a healthy dose of skepticism. Not that I didn't have any doubts before about some of the things he's said. He once called MGTOW (men going their own way, who eschew dating, romance, and marriage) "pathetic weasels", which betrays a rather superficial understanding of the phenomenon as well as a lack of empathy for the men involved.

My MBTI personality type, if that's what you're alluding to, is INxP, with an about even split between T and F. Does that surprise you? In any case, I do have a more sensitive, emotional side. I write poetry, for example (very formal stuff incidentally, such as love sonnets with acrostics of young ladies' names hidden in them), and I like to dabble in musical composition. The MBTI scheme appeals to my systematizing nature, though I realize that it shouldn't be applied too rigidly either to oneself or to others. Have you read some of A. J. Drenth's little ebooks on the subject, by any chance? I found them most illuminating.

Finally, certain aspects of my person seem off-putting to many women, especially those my own age. (For some reason, older women tend to find it a bit easier to connect with me.) I think it's due to a confluence of various factors: physical, personality-wise, perhaps even the broader social context. (A male friend once told me that most women are quite sensitive to how their partners are likely to be perceived by those around them.) Also, I sometimes wonder whether I might have some form of autism, as I tend to score rather high on a few of those online tests (which in themselves aren't very reliable, of course). Lately, I have been withdrawing from this whole psychosexual arena and its attendant drama. Discovering MGTOW, mentioned above, has played a part in this development. But whether MGTOW is tenable from a psychological point of view as a long-term strategy, only time can tell.

Thank you once again for listening to the ravings of a person hitherto unknown to you, who lives in some obscure corner of the world. The internet, for all its shortcomings, is a great invention. All the best to you!
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:54 pm

th has worked on those paragraphs and pastes them into everything. Again, alike to the dreamer - risk averse.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby divergentintegral » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:58 pm

Sheena wrote:th has worked on those paragraphs and pastes them into everything. Again, alike to the dreamer - risk averse.


Do you and Athanor have some kind of issues with one another? (Not a snarky question; just genuine curiosity.)
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:08 pm

What? A person can't have an opinion?
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Gus Who » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:43 am

This goes to chemistry in which your trying to crack .. ARITHMETIC Code.. and fit inn hear

... Sheena is one of those spelling bees (nose it all, opinionated types :computer: that trolls :creeping: inn)

:noisemaker: Welcome to Looney Tunes Dream Works! (Moody place)
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:08 pm

Gus Who wrote:... Sheena is
- Not your place.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Athanor » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:08 pm

Thanks for the compliment about my writing style. Although I don’t write professionally, I’ve always enjoyed working with words and try to keep it as simple and direct as possible although that isn’t always easy.

This is especially important when answering a post about dreams when you usually know little or nothing about the person who in addition knows little or nothing about how dream analysis should be properly approached.

A mini analogy still applies though, in the sense of a medical model.

That is, a person posts a dream and asks for a response = a new patient presents a group of symptoms that’s troubling them or about which they’re curious.

I carefully look at every detail that the person has written about and may look up a source to refresh my memory (all of which I’m doing when offline) = a doctor examines the symptoms carefully and consults applicable resources.

I prepare a response which quite often will have to be similar to that provided regarding the dreams of others. For example, the themes of being chased, encountering an animal, finding a treasure, being near the water, being in a storm, meeting a fascinating individual and so on appear regularly on any dream site.

Just as a doctor, after examining all of the evidence, can only say, e.g. “Unfortunately, you have hyper-tension”, and it isn’t feasible or logical for him or her to invent a different way to say this, so too the similar motifs in dreams can generally be described only in certain ways.

So just as a doctor will then hand a patient a pre-existing printout of suitable ways to approach how to manage the diagnosis, I also will often provide a description of a certain motif such as zombies, whales, the appearance of animals in dreams etc. which has been honed and previously proved successful in explaining the same motif to others.

If the person has provided ample background information, such as yourself, I’m able to provide a more custom-made response which might still contain previously used passages such as recommendations for certain books etc.

Regarding my writing style as related to Jungian matters, I’d value your opinion on a review which I posted on Amazon. It relates to a book called “Toni Wolff and C.G. Jung: A Collaboration”.

I’d be interested to know if in your view, it’s easy to follow in general terms despite its unusually long length. The description of my review is “Very good but needs to be read with a very large grain of salt”. There are only a dozen or so reviews, so it’s easy to find

An outline of Toni Wolff’s life can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toni_Wolff

Unfortunately, my review has to criticize certain issues about the book which in my opinion, spoils its overall quality when it could have been a lasting legacy to Toni Wolff. So if you could give me an idea of how you would approach the book if you were someone considering it, I’d appreciate it.

Oddly enough, the Wikipedia article uses some quotes from various books (also used by the author of “Jung and Toni Wolff: A Collaboration) that in a way highlight my overall criticism of the book I reviewed.

For example: “Many considered her [Wolff’s] therapeutic skills to be superior to Jung's, as Tina Keller attests: “I think of her work as an 'art.' She was a most gifted therapist. I told Dr. Jung he could never have helped me as Toni Wolff did."[12] Irene Champernowne concurs: "I always felt as if I were even nearer to Jung’s inner wisdom when I was with her than when I was with him in the flesh. She was . . . the inner companion of his journey through the unconscious."

The key phrase is “many considered” instead of, say, “some considered” or “a few people considered” (which would be closer to the truth in my opinion since as far as I’m aware, there are no other documented statements such as those above). So this illustrates in a small way what the author of “Toni Wolff” often does in an overall similar way; that is, she tends to exaggerate Wolff’s albeit great contributions while subtly or otherwise negating Jung’s which I don’t believe is correct or helpful.

At the very least, reading my review might help you to see even more clearly how even among highly trained psychological professionals, they’re not immune to influences from the psyche. So their advice and guidance etc. is, as with Jordan Peterson, often best taken with a “grain of salt”.

While it’s very unfortunate about your time at university in spite of the attempts of the faculty to help you, now you’re moving forward with many experiences behind you which, although often perhaps unpleasant, can still serve you well in helping to orientate yourself as you explore a career in programming.

As to the MBTI methodology, I agree with your approach not to apply it too rigidly. Personally, I don’t pay much attention to MBTI in general because of the “labelling” tendency which you mentioned.

As you probably know, it was developed in the 1940’s by sourcing Jung’s “Personality Types”, but I’m virtually certain that it’s never been in any way vetted or supported by, say, the C.G. Jung Institute or any other official body related to Analytical Psychology then or now.

Jung himself viewed it as only a useful initial tool to help with certain patients, coming to dislike the overdone “labelling” that his own students were adopting.

I even once heard what seemed to be an official pronouncement from the MBTI organization that surveys showed how the American Armed forces consisted mostly of Introverted Sensation types. Even the briefest reading of a description of this type in “Psychological Types” would show that, if true, the U.S. military would be in a lot of trouble since everyone in such a group would appear to be very quiet and immobile, not what you need in a war zone.

If true, this announcement shows how little understood the type theory is among the MBTI organization itself. For example, the facts are that a person who is understandably ignorant of the type and function theory, and who takes one of the many self-administered online tests could often be mistaken about at least certain results that were obtained.

This is because the psyche is always at work balancing the outlook of the person. So a person who is an extrovert could genuinely believe that he or she is an introvert.

A close collaborator of Jung’s, Marie-Louise von Franz, explained how it’s not what a person feels they are (introvert or extrovert), it’s what they DO. So for one moment of the day on various occasions, an extrovert may have a profound feeling that they’re experiencing something very important within. This makes him or her believe that they are introverted. But if one examines the nature of their usual activities during the day which they’re good at, doing so would reveal that he or she has a preference for the extroverted mode of living and not the introverted.

As in most psychological matters, a spectrum exists where for some people their preference is clearly introverted or extroverted, while in others it’s not so clear.

With you, it looks like you probably do have a preference for the introverted orientation. This doesn’t exclude being able to handle more extroverted tasks etc. quite adequately even though you may not prefer this side of things as much.

Although it could be considered a stereotype, it’s true that a more inward looking person usually takes longer to get to know, and this probably could affect your relationships with women of your own age.

My belief is that statistically, there continue to be more extroverts that introverts in Western societies, so that many of the women you meet are probably extroverts among whom only a few might fit into a longer relationship where your different outlooks would complement each other.

“Still waters run deep” but certain types of extroverted women or others unfortunately haven’t as yet had the capacity to take the time to discover your extensive inner world, but don’t give up.

Just to mention that thinking and feeling (valuing) are also on a spectrum. A clue as to which approach works best for a person would be to ask which of the two would be used for the most crucial decisions in one’s life. Or the person could be asked to consider which one of them “comes and goes” and is not always available as opposed to the other one that is essentially “always there” in normal circumstances (and not for example in your case where exams became unusually hard to deal with because of difficult and unusual circumstances).

How hard it is even for Jungian professionals to deal with the issue of type and functions comes up in my review as well.

But your approach is best in the end: you listen to the natural impulses of your psyche and engage in both thinking and feeling activities. One way to look at it is that, while you probably could never make a living with your poetry and music, it’s still a vital, necessary and enjoyable part of your life.

In my view, the ever-increasing narrowness of the school curriculum in many jurisdictions which leads to music, art and physical education etc. being dropped or severely curtailed is unfortunately tending to turn many kids into robots who try drugs more easily or even suicide can become viewed as an escape from the emptiness of their young lives.

A male friend once told you that most women are quite sensitive to how their partners are likely to be perceived by those around them. Again, while trying to avoid stereotypes, I think this type of woman would tend to be an Extroverted Feeling type for whom “what everybody else thinks and values” is paramount. So personally, depending on the circumstances, I think that trying to fight such a belief in this type of woman could be very difficult and not worth it in the end.

You mentioned how you’ve taken some online tests that appear to show you’re autistic. Again, as with the MBTI tests, you luckily don’t take them very seriously which you shouldn’t.

Just as how determining one’s type and function requires many interviews with a highly trained and experienced professional, so too would any diagnosis of autism. Of course, autism too is on a spectrum so that it’s possible that your difficult life experiences, rather than an inherited condition, might have caused some autistic-like behaviours to appear.

But at the risk of turning you off Jung by outlining yet another one of his beliefs, I’ll relate the fact that his approach was, as an introvert himself, to ensure continuous interactions of an appropriate kind be made with others in order to gradually become as whole a personality as possible

And just to end off, I haven’t read anything by A. J. Drenth but I’m afraid that for me, a look at his website isn’t very encouraging. For example, neither he nor his associate appears to have any actual credentials in the field of Depth Psychology and various other areas although, for example, Drenth has somehow become a “recognized authority on personality psychology”. However, who has “recognized” him isn’t specified. Similarly, “Personality novices and professionals alike resonate with A.J.’s intellectual yet informal style”, but again, I didn’t readily see any links or other references about who these “professionals” are.

While I too don’t have any credentials per se from a Jung Institute, the difference is that I don’t in any way charge for any information that I do have about Jungian ideas etc.

Anyway, I hope you’ll be able to look at my review on Amazon, but in any case please make any comments or ask any questions about what’s been outlined above.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby divergentintegral » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:21 pm

[deleted]
Last edited by divergentintegral on Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby divergentintegral » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:02 pm

Athanor

As promised, here's my corrected post. (I had based my earlier comments concerning your writings on Amazon on the wrong review. Apologies for that.)

The thing I like most particularly about your writing style is how remarkably lucid and to-the-point it is. As someone who values clarity and precision of thought above all else, I tend to appreciate prose to a greater degree the more it embodies these qualities. And your kind and generous replies to my queries fit the bill quite nicely in that regard. Much the same holds for your Amazon review, which, to someone not nearly as well-read in (Jungian) psychology as you are, was nonetheless easy to follow.

Not having read Healy's book myself, I cannot really comment on the validity of your views, other than that they are interesting and appear to be closely and skillfully argued. Stylistically, however, I do have a point of criticism. You seem fond of breaking up your argument into rather short paragraphs, something I noticed in your replies to this thread as well. While short paragraphs may serve to increase readability (always worth considering, of course), too many of them dissipate the focus needed to hold a reader's attention. So, personally, I always try to consolidate my thoughts into a few somewhat longer paragraphs. I'm not saying that you should do the same, but I wanted to bring it to your attention anyway.

As for romantic love, you advise me not to give up. But in fact, I have, more or less. The reason is that my adventures in the erotic realm have been more like running the gauntlet of disappointed expectations and pent-up frustration than anything else. Even so, I could live with being rejected over and over again, if only I could discern some sense of improvement. But over the years much the opposite seems to have occurred. I feel more inept at pursuing women than, say, five or ten years ago. The most rational thing to do in such a case, to my mind at least, is to quit trying.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Athanor » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:57 pm

There’s no need to apologize for reading the wrong review because I should have given a more complete description on how to find it.

Thank you for again being so generous in your praise regarding my writing style, and of course I didn’t expect you to judge the validity of my views per se, but only whether they were clear, which they appear to have been.

My main concern in writing the review was to alert persons such as yourself, who may not yet be very familiar with Jung’s works, to what I view as being an underlying bias of the author. Any such situation could adversely affect their long-term perceptions regarding certain important issues. You may wonder why I might possibly appear be overly obsessive about my perceived failings regarding this book (I’ve even written a post that is as long as my review which adds more explanations and examples, but which I’ll have to post as a comment to someone else’s review on Amazon since space requirements imposed by Amazon won’t let it be added as an update). I’ll try to explain briefly why I apparently wish to protect Jung’s reputation so doggedly, even if only in my own very small way.

As my review mentions, I’ve been reading Jung’s books and those of his intellectual successors for a very long time, finding them to be, as it were, a tool that never lets you down. I’ve read and strongly agree with the opinions of various Jungian analysts who have stated how one can go back years later to passages in the Collected Works and elsewhere to find an even deeper meaning in them than was first perceived. Unfortunately over the last few years, I’ve noticed an increase in those who may appear to be fully accredited Jungian analysts (but who aren’t) writing various books on Jungian psychology. I feel the quality of these books (even those containing contributions by accredited analysts) is not up to previous standards in the Jungian community. As an example, while Nan Savage Healy who’s the author of this book has a PhD. and who apparently has some reasonably strong contacts with Jungians, she herself is not an accredited Jungian analyst. This in itself isn’t a disqualification from being able to write a valuable contribution to Jungian history and ideas. But the key point is this: in order to become a qualified Jungian analyst, as you may know, one has to undergo what’s called a “training analysis”. This is designed to uncover and master various unconscious issues which, if not conscious, would contaminate the work of the analyst with clients. Follow-up analyses are conducted regularly in the analyst’s career. In my view, Healy shows signs of certain such undealt-with “unconscious issues” which seriously affect the accuracy of her conclusions and assertions.

In addition, I found out in reading the other reviews on Amazon that one of them was by the editor himself of Healy’s book on Toni Wolff, one Joey Madia. In an attempt to find additional reviews other than those on Amazon, I then happened to come across Madia’s review which he had also posted on his blog “New Mystic Reviews”. On another blog, he outlines his qualifications and experience, describing himself as a playwright, author, actor, and teacher of creative writing and theatre; he also outlines his experience in publishing. However, he does not appear to have any accredited connection with the Jungian community, stating in his review that he has nonetheless read extensively about Jung and various other writers. Personally, I don’t view him as being what I would consider a suitable editor for a book that apparently wishes to be a definitive biography about one of the most important figures in Analytical Psychology.

Something else which I found unusual was that, even though Healy received grants from recognized foundations in order to write the book, it was not published by any of the regular publishers of Jungian related books such as Routledge, Shambhala, Inner City Books, Princeton, Chiron, Harper Collins or Open Court for example. Instead, I noticed it was published by Tiberius Press, a name with which I was not familiar. What I thought would be a routine search on the internet returned no website for this publisher. Apparently, the only way to contact them is by way of an e-mail address provided on the book’s title page. An unusual statement also appears on the title page to the effect that additional copies of the book may be purchased from Amazon, presumably implying that it won’t be available from any other sources.

These factors lead me to suspect, of course with no real substantiating evidence, that the author somehow had realized that the manuscript would be rejected by such established publishers as those mentioned above, not that they would be motivated by any reluctance to publish a book about Toni Wolff and Carl Jung, but rather on the basis that very qualified editors would likely detect certain telling inconsistencies in her approach about which she was probably reasonably aware.

I also had a generally poor experience similar to reading Healy’s book regarding essays in a book from a publisher named “Fisher King Press” and called “The Dream and Its Amplification”, edited by Eril Shalit.

You might like to read my review of it at the link below (a method which I should have used last time):

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-revi ... 1926715896

You may have noticed in this reply to your comments that my paragraphs are longer. Actually, I purposely use the short paragraph approach in posts and reviews etc., although like you, I prefer normal length ones. This is because I found that many people today simply won’t read anything that looks “dense”. For example, I long ago noticed on dream sites that if someone posted a very long and detailed description of a dream, it was read and replied to very much less often, even though the full text of a dream, as opposed to an “edited” version, is de rigueur in professional circles in order that a truly accurate analysis can be made.

Regarding your decision to give up on romantic love, this may possibly be something necessary to do in following your own unique path as opposed to listening to various people, including me, who say things like “Just find the right girl” etc. etc.

A kind of similar situation involved a young Robert Johnson who later became a Jungian analyst. He describes in his memoir, “Balancing Heaven and Earth”, how an unexpected and unusual meeting with Jung himself had come about because his wife Emma (who was analyzing Johnson) passed on to her husband a copy of a profound dream that Johnson had had. The latter said that it was if Jung was able to read his mind. In part of the conversation that occurred, Jung said that although Johnson had always hungered for community and probably would always continue with this yearning, this path was not the proper one for him. Jung’s advice became even more specific, that Johnson should never marry or join any organization, and that he should spend most of his life alone. It took Johnson many years to accept this advice, but after many attempts to avoid doing so, he came to realize that Jung had been right all along.

On that note, I’ll end my rant and await any reply that you may wish to make.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Sun Sep 24, 2017 4:53 pm

This dreamer is dishonest. Elides the obvious reference to CP. It is dreamer-self which is defective, not the toy or machine part. Yes, to own that and the feelings that go with such awareness, would be to feel completely exposed and unsafe.
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby divergentintegral » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:33 am

Sheena wrote:This dreamer is dishonest. Elides the obvious reference to CP. It is dreamer-self which is defective, not the toy or machine part. Yes, to own that and the feelings that go with such awareness, would be to feel completely exposed and unsafe.


What on earth do you mean? I have told everyone up front that I have CP, haven't I?
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Batman » Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:10 am

Sheena = Malik (he/she characters...)
Who is a long time regular poster, and pops up as anyone like a joker :loony: (just to stir the pot... as he was banned as Malik) and does not take "No" chit chat (as a kind of troll character here)

It sounds like he/she is testing you (spiritually)
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Re: The Mathematician Who Almost Failed Chemistry

Postby Sheena » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:44 am

True, how else would we know to reference that. But you are evading the matter of defect presented in the dream.
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