The Two Million-Year-Old Self

The Two Million-Year-Old Self

The Two Million-Year-Old Self

The Two Million-Year-Old Self

Synopsis

With the evolution of human consciousness, nature has finally become conscious of itself. It has taken eons of time, this lumbering progress through the minds of reptiles, mammals, and primates, and it is still working its purpose out in the archetypes of the collective unconscious encoded in the most ancient parts of the human brain. The recent evolutionary history of our species, which Jung personified as "the two million-year-old human being in us all", is still active in our dreams, myths, psychiatric symptoms, traditional healing practices, and typical patterns of behavior. And it is still struggling to help us survive in the often alienating conditions of the modern world. Through a wide-ranging review of developments in anthropology, ethology, sociobiology, neuroscience, psycholinguistics, and Jungian psychology, Anthony Stevens explores the nature of the two million-year-old Self and examines ways in which the contemporary world both fulfills and frustrates its basic needs and intentions.Drawing on,his experience as an analyst, Stevens evokes dreams and psychiatry to reveal a compelling and challenging view of the two million-yearold Self as embodying no less than the will of nature, providing ancient wisdom that we neglect at our collective peril. By granting close attention to nature's mind, Stevens argues, we not only further personal wholeness but help redress the gross imbalances of our culture, which are threatening the destruction of the earth. For the ecologically concerned, this book offers a dramatic new perspective on our future relations with our planet.

Excerpt

Anthony stevens is a bridge builder. in this quintessential product from his pen, he makes connections between analytical psychology, anthropology, behavioral biology, dream psychology, psycholinguistics, psychiatry, and alternative modes of healing. Stevens once wrote to me: "Since childhood I have had a love of building bridges. Being a psychiatrist and an analyst as well as having been trained in experimental psychology, I am naturally interested in bridging the gaps between these three disciplines. in particular, I feel drawn to examine ways in which their disparate findings and theoretical constructs may parallel, complement, and ultimately fertilize one another."

Like Jung before him, Stevens meaningfully links analytical psychology with related developments in other disciplines, thus making the hypothesis of archetypes amenable to empirical study. This process began with the publication of his Archetypes: a Natural History of the Self in 1982, in which Stevens argued that comparative studies (mainly between ethology and analytical psychology) can throw light on the ways in which the archaic influences our lives in such fundamental areas as the development of attachment bonds; the contribution of myth, ritual, and religion to the development of personality; and the maintenance of group solidarity. in that book, he also began to as-

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