Dissociation and Posthumanism
Alongside the great advances of the Digital Age, its darker shadows are now well apparent. Mis/disinformation, tribalism, depersonalization and distractibility have become prominent features of online life and its eclipse of ‘offline’ life, changing the personal and collective psyche in radical ways. The virtual world is not only competing with the everyday world, it is altering our relationship with reality. Not only have we become the tools of our tools, as Thoreau and McLuhan observed, the commodification of the earth has devolved into the commodification of human life, as Heidegger predicted.
Many disciplines, including cognitive-behavioral psychology, have aided and abetted these trends, convincing us the mind is a computer and the body is a machine. In such ways, the groundwork has been laid for the predicted merger of ourselves and our devices. However, this posthuman prospect is not only an outgrowth of our thinking and innovation, it is also the result of a pervasive dissociation and psychic numbing generated by the digital way of life, which is disconnecting us from the emotional basis of being.
If, as Jung proposed, ‘emotion is the chief source of consciousness,’ his work also demonstrated how dissociation from emotion is the chief source of unconsciousness and leads to a ‘loss of soul.’ As I will argue in this paper, emotion, feeling life and the capacity to differentiate values generated by these foundations of psychological life have to be considered in light of this contemporary movement toward unconsciousness. And the posthuman outlook must be contemplated in light of the resulting loss of soul.
Glen Slater, Ph.D. is co-chair of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in California, where he has taught for over two decades. He edited and introduced Varieties of Mythic Experience (Daimon-Verlag) and the third volume of James Hillman’s Uniform Edition, Senex and Puer (Spring Publications). He has published a number of essays in Jungian journals and essay collections, presented his work at IAJS gatherings, online forums and at Jung Societies in the U.S. and Australia, and he is on the editorial board of Spring Publications.
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