• Sat. May 18th, 2024

Psychological perspectives

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Anger and hostility are natural human reactions to long spells of frustration and under-achievement. It is not for Muslims in general to analyse the role of others or for others to give direction or counsel to Muslims, but it is certainly what Muslims themselves need to do on their own. A self-analysis that focuses only on what we need to do on our side to promote and advance our own future but more importantly, sort out our present.

There are several approaches to analysis of problems, analysis of mental processes being one of them. A fundamental principle of problem solving in psychoanalysis is the belief and professional conviction that problems encountered by the mind can only be corrected when the forgotten or repressed source of a problem resident in the deep unconscious sectors of the psyche is brought back to consciousness. Awareness is half the cure. This is therefore also an attempt to bring back to surface the hidden psychological sources of problems in the hope that awareness will at the least trigger problem solving desires, even if solutions appear to be a long way off.

Most issues are not always as straightforward as they might appear to be at face value. Attempting to analyse the hidden agendas, vested interests, and dynamics of the forces for maintenance of status quo where this can only be done by blocking the path of progress of those at whose cost vested interests remain in their respective positions of privilege, exploitation, power, control or other wicked pursuits is therefore never a straightforward task.

Sigmund Freud is generally accepted as the father of modern psychoanalysis. However, none of his well-known disciples or close associates followed Freudian concepts as espoused by Freud himself. Two main arguments against the validity and reliability of his theories were, firstly that his thinking was greatly influenced by the confines of the largely matriarchal Jewish society in Vienna that he was born into, which manifests itself in the significantly dominating role that the mother plays throughout his analysis of the human mind. Secondly, and in my view the more potent argument was put forward by his most brilliant and talented associate, Carl Gustav Jung.

In his words the problem with Freud was that he never came across a sane person in his life. Freud’s theories were limited to the problems that generally infect the abnormal mind. They did not go beyond that to look into how the healthy, creative and normal mind thinks and operates.

Having taken that uncomplimentary position about the parochial parameters of Freud’s understanding of the human mind, Jung spread the scope of his quest for establishing the truth to almost all parts of the globe. I was privileged to have been a student of the legendary Dr. Mohammad Ajmal for four years as a Ravian [called so because of the local River Ravi] at the prestigious Government College in the historical city of Lahore and offer no apologies for also being a devoted follower of the theories of Carl Gustav Jung in the subject of psychology. Dr. Ajmal served as head of department of Psychology for a long time, later served Principal of the same college, Vice Chancellor of the Punjab University and as Secretary Education in the Government of Z. A. Bhutto. He was also invited as a visiting professor at the prestigious Chicago University during that period. I have to mention him as a mentor and one of the greatest influences for me and countless other students during developmental stages of higher education. He was immensely articulate, intellectually honest and benevolently firm as an administrator, dedicated educationist and intellectual, all those fine attributes packed in one mortal frame. That breed of educationists and intellectuals is what the country sadly misses at present.

Jung’s vast travels led him to several conclusions. Principle among them was his inference that the human mind had several universal patterns of behaviour some of which transcended generations, which he referred to as “archetypical patterns of behaviour”. These were resident in a massive aggregate database of humanity which he referred to as the “collective unconscious”. He met people from all religions and races as well as those without any religious beliefs in various far away parts of the world such as East Africa and as far as India. He also observed that people believed in various religions and some believed in none and concluded that whether a human being stood on one side of the religious fence or the other, the fact remained that the idea or concept of God influenced every human mind without exception and Jung considered it his business to simply study those influences and how they impacted on the behaviour and psyche of individuals or groups of individuals in an impartial manner. He therefore went on to study even the relatively obscure disciplines of Sufism, Alchemy, etc. in order to develop a better and more balanced understanding of the human mind. His approach was global and included the healthy or creative mind as much as the deviant ones, a study of mankind, not just local societies. His school of thought came to be known as “analytical psychology”, which is reflected in the title; the concepts of persona and shadow archetypes being fundamental to Jung’s theories. This is primarily a comparison of the current confrontational and intolerant breed in society responsible for almost all present troubles and sorrows with members of the society as it existed before religious fanaticism was injected as a political doctrine in the mid-1970s. The analysis applies equally to Pakistani expatriates in particular and Muslims expatriates from elsewhere in general living in various parts of the globe but manifesting home grown isolationist attitudes in adopted alien environments.

Zahir Kaleem