The Psychologist and the Unconscious


Long ago and far away when I was in college and graduate school three men led me onto very different roads.

Leslie White

First came Leslie White, the father of cultural anthropology. An old man walked out on a stage before a bunch of college students and utterly mesmerized us about the meaning of the extrasomatic cultural stream. This was my introduction to the human unconscious because he spoke of something outside of us that flowed and shaped our lives.

Sigmund Freud

Then came Sigmund Freud who spoke to us about our unconscious. Call it what you will, it is a force which also shapes us and our lives. We tend to think we are in charge of ourselves but when the unconscious is noted we find we often are not in charge and that we sift murky waters. His work was fascinating and important.

Carl Jung

But shortly I was introduced to Carl Jung who spoke about our personalities and the world of myth in ways which were stunning. The three men come together and point out to us that we are constantly trying to manage a world which is rich, constantly changing and, to put it mildly, is challenging. Truth is amplified and shouts uncertainty. It became clear to me how uncertain our inner world is and what magnificent promise it offers.

The World of Fiction

Certainly as we enter the world of fiction as writers we know that creativity is demanded and that we must make a contribution which goes beyond simple story construction and coherence. But often we aren’t prepared for what occurs.


Having been fascinated by Jung and by the presence of images of mermaids across the world I thought to construct a book featuring these fascinating women. Little did I know what was lurking. A book became three books and more are threatening to appear. Not only did the story expand but there were characters who became demanding. They expanded their substance and may appear unbidden.

The Lesson

In the end I had to face an obvious lesson formed out of the work of the three men mentioned above. In our minds we are not stable entities and when we open work such as fiction we face the intrusion and wonder of what we harbor and what is rampant around us as stimuli and reality in all its forms, subtleties and substance. When we write we must be prepared for a torrent of inner richness from all kinds of sources. And therein lies substantial creativity and possibilities which can enrich us and our readers. What comes are not just stories but the richness of our lives. The writer discovers the range of influences within and the reader can explore possibilities which go beyond the form of what is contained in the book.

In the end I have had to listen to an important message. Get a grip psychologist! And attend to what these very concepts truly mean.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Seeking Guides




What body of knowledge has been most revealing to you?

Anthropology as Guide

In college someone told me I might find it interesting to take a course from an anthropology professor by the name of Leslie White. Why not? I thought it might be interesting to find out about people across the world and how they were researched. Since it might relate to primitive cultures I thought I could get into mythology, spirit worlds, the paranormal and things primitive and spiritual in many ways. It proved to be a life changing experience.

He was the father of cultural anthropology. Before us stood an elderly man who was dedicated to teaching in addition to organizing his field. Few august professors of his age and distinction took the trouble to try to engage students so young. But his passion was comprehensive and his thinking cutting edge.

His tests were a revelation. They were all true or false questions. At first they seemed trivial. And then the storm struck. You could only answer them if you clearly understood what had been covered. When they were passed back to us we went over them. It was astounding. His logic and relationship to the subject was flawless.

Finding Something Fundamental

From then on considerations of the impact of culture was central to my thinking. He referred to it as the extrasomatic stream because it had a life of its own outside of the individual. The more we examined the concept, the more powerful it became.

Carl Jung had grasped at something similar when he posed the existence of the collective unconscious. It was never accepted, but when Leslie White posed it as extrasomatic, it took on inescapable meaning.

It becomes a little clearer if we think of it in terms of what we are seeing in information technology. We are experiencing the movement of massive easily available data which is shaping our thinking individually and collectively. In the huts of Africa people are charging their cell phones which they use to communicate and do their banking.

This flow of information and communication is affecting regimes and overall we are seeing how it can limit authoritarianism. We each carry within us our culture of origin and how it is being shaped. There is nothing which is not affected by culture. Jung observed that he saw alchemy as indicting that changes were occurring which led to the Enlightenment. The argument is complex, but fundamentally it speaks to the extrasomatic cultural stream.

Then There is the Implication of the Rise of Women

And today we have a new enlightenment in the rise of women. A number of forces are gathering together to create one of the most important shifts in human history. We are seeing a deep and broad reshaping of the meaning and place of women. It is of such depth that it is sweeping through the cultures of the world which probably suggests the impact of information technology. Leslie White shaped my thinking and opened the view to make sense of the swirl of forces in our cultures and it gives us an eye into our personal future and the future of humankind. How could I not bring the rise of women into the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

If you haven’t delved into anthropology there is an illuminating and in depth article available on Wikipedia. It covers its many facets. American anthropology – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Who are your guides and where do you find them?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon page