Ep. #87 A Jungian Perspective on Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, and Addiction with Vlado Šolc

In this episode, Vlado and Shane explore a Jungian perspective on a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, addiction, and trauma. They discuss how Jungian Analysis facilitates the process of recovery, healing, and individuation.

Video Here

Individuation is a psychological process of development through which an individual becomes a unique, self-aware and autonomous person. It was first described by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst, who saw it as a central aspect of the human experience.

Individuation involves the differentiation of the individual from the collective unconscious and the development of a sense of individuality, which includes the integration of conscious and unconscious aspects of the self into a coherent whole. This process can involve the exploration of one’s personal beliefs, values, desires, and fears, as well as the resolution of conflicts between these aspects of the self.

Individuation can be a lifelong process and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including cultural and societal influences, past experiences, and personal growth. It is often seen as a key aspect of personal growth and self-discovery, and can lead to greater self-awareness, self-acceptance, and a deeper understanding of one’s place in the world.

Ep. #87 A Jungian Perspective on Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, and Addiction w/ Vlado Šolc - YouTube

Dark Religion and Conspiracy Theories

Saturday April 29

9 AM – 1:30 PM

This program will be presented in person at First Community – Location: 1320 Cambridge Blvd., Columbus, Ohio 43212

CEUs are available

To register click here 

Conspiracy theories have been gradually occupying larger domains of cultural and political life. This presentation will take a symbolic perspective and offer a non-dismissive understanding of the reasons for strong adherence to conspiracy theories. Solc uses the term “dark religion” to describe all forms of fanatical, radical and extreme religions. His research shows how dark religion leads to profound conflicts on both the personal and cultural level—including terrorism and wars. surveys the vast contemporary cultural and religious landscapes. In this program he will discuss different psychological phenomena and dynamics underlying religious extremism and fundamentalism; show how the Self influences the way one holds onto a radical creed; introduce some mythological and clinical parallels, and explore our own feelings when confronted with Dark religion.
Vlado Šolc is a psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst practicing in Glendale, WI. Vlado received training from C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and Charles University in Prague. Vlado is an active member of IAAP and Aurora Medical Group. Vlado focuses on psycho-spiritual crisis (loss of life’s meaning and direction), mind-body connection (psychosomatic issues), immigration & cultural issues, and women empowerment (emancipation). His specialties also include treatment of addictions, individual and marital psychotherapy with adult, and youth populations. Vlado lives in constant awe about the miracle of existence. Vlado has presented in North America, Asia and Europe. He is an author of numerous articles and depth psychology-oriented books: Psyche, Matrix, Reality; The Father Archetype, In the Name of God – Fanaticism from Perspective of Depth Psychology, Dark Religion, Individuation and Democracy in the Time of Conspiracy Theories.

Participants will learn:

  • The psychological phenomena and dynamics underlying dark religion and conspiracism.
  • The definition of the ego and the Self as used in Jungian theory.
  • How the Self, namely non-credible representations of numinous energies, influences the way ego holds onto the dark religion & conspiracy theories.
  • What constitutes that adherence to be considered excessive, unhealthy.
  • The mythological and clinical parallels of the phenomena.
  • How to identify the difference between spirituality and Dark religion.
  • Where conspiracism and creed overlap.
  • The basic idea of numinosum in Jungian psychology.
  • The phenomena of identification, inflation, possession, and split-off.

Program Updates (constantcontact.com)

Three Ways of Why: A Conversation with Jungian Analyst Vlado Šolc about the Journey to Self

In this episode, I’ve brought back Vlado Solc, Jungian Analyst and psychotherapist practicing in Milwaukee, WI, my hometown. Vlado is a co-author of the book, Dark Religion: Fundamentalism from the Perspective of Jungian Psychology. After listening to this episode, you might want to listen to our last chat about his book in Episode 26 of Season 1. It’s titled Self-Reflection in a Time of Conspiracy Theories.

All along, you’ve been learning about Jung’s theory of individuation, which is the framework for exploring your unconscious. I didn’t start using that exact term until my last interview with Dr. Joli Hamilton. That episode is number 48 and titled, Staying Committed to Self When You’re in Relationship. It was a fun conversation about individuation not only being an individual experience, but individuation of a relationship too.

So today, we’re going to go deeper into Jung’s theory of individuation in a way that you’ll be able to relate to and will enhance your practice of self-reflection.

The foundation of my chat with Vlado is an article he wrote titled, Three Ways of Why

YouTube: Ep. 50 Three Ways of Why: A Conversation with Jungian Analyst, Vlado Solc #healing #therapy #midlife - YouTube

Dark Religion, Conspiracism, and The Religious Instinct with Jungian Analyst Vladislav Šolc

Episode - Listen Here

In this episode, Shane and Vlado discuss the psychology behind conspiracism, fundamentalism, and mythologies. Using a Jungian framework, they examine how and why conspiracy theories become powerful psychological tools. Other topics include the religious instinct, the unconscious, morality, individuation, purpose, meaning, and psychological defense mechanisms.

To understand the profound rise in conspiracy theories in recent times, Vlado explores how conspiracies function as an unconscious protective mechanism against the inferiority of consciousness and subsequently also inflates the ego. Conspiracy theory adoption is archetypal in nature and parallels mythological structures. The strong resistance of conspiracism to rational correction can be understood by examining how the “Inadequate and noncredible representations of numinous energies in consciousness unwittingly contribute to the creation of structures with notable mythological parallels” (Šolc, 2019).

“Thinking is free from the unconscious influence of the Self only to the extent that it is able to recognize and to relate to numinous contents, on one hand, and to withdraw projections from the object, on the other. A symbolic perspective offers a nondismissive understanding of the reasons for strong adherence to conspiracy theories. Exploring conspiracy theories as symbols rather than rational constructs offers more fruitful solutions to our current social problems.” (Šolc, 2019)


Šolc, V. (2019). Dark Religion and Conspiracy Theories: An Analytical Viewpoint. Jung Journal, 13(4), 14-34. https://doi.org/10.1080/19342039.2019.1676142

Conspiracy Theories and Unconscious Suffering: An interview with Jungian Analyst Vladislav Šolc

I try to approach them the Jungian way – with understanding and love. I try to involve them in a dialogue but also to listen. Attempting to convince someone about the opposite only increases mutual resistance.”

Bizarre conspiracy theories, but also fundamentalist religions are found in history of humanity from times immemorial. Many different fields strive to understand those phenomena better. One of them is psychology. Jungian analyst VLADO ŠOLC examines them from the perspective of depth psychology.

How did you become interested in conspiracy theories?

Basically, through Jung. When I studied at the Jungian Institute in Chicago with George Didier, a colleague of mine, we researched fundamentalist forms of religion. Then we discovered various interesting parallels between those aspects of religiosity and conspiracy theories.

What are those similarities?

They manifest through archetypal patterns. These are for example demonization of natural events, the fight between good and evil, solutions to big cosmological questions, grandiose heroic fantasies, promise of salvation or redemption. Or a belief that a politician is a chosen saviour. Take for example QAnon’s conspiracy theory that claims that a powerful pedophile [democrats] satanists bleed children and extract from them adrenochrome, a substance that assures immortality. It is an ancient idea of the elixir of life. You see they perhaps envy that democrats have access to this divine privilege while they suffer and have so much anger. Conspiratorialists believe that Hollywood celebrities, influential philanthropists or billionaires are part of this cult. Well, a person who is going to bring an end to this is Donald Trump. During the final judgment day that Q called a storm all of them will be brought to justice and America restored to its lost greatness. Note the parallel with the apocalypse (Biblical revelation). The QAnon movement compounds too many parallels with the cult.

What role does the Dark Religion play here?

We can see it in the mode of how people approach such “theories”. We speak of archetypal fantasies. The main attributes are rigidity, literal and concrete thinking – remarkable lack of symbolic comprehension. Ego thus adheres to those contents through fascination and almost unshakable “faith.” Authorities and teachings are idolized and deified. They are elevated to the realm of gods. Then there is no questioning them as they hold the “truth.” Take for example the Flat Earth theory; its followers close their minds to any evidence or critical reasoning. They do not want to have their beliefs questioned. The truth is not as important to them as the benefits they receive from their theory. It’s a matter of immediate gratification. All investments would have to be replaced by higher value to be abandoned. They do not see it at the moment. All criticism is thus rendered as scam and manipulation. Here’s a strong similarity with fundamentalist creed that we termed Dark Religion, or theocalypsis.

What was your way of understanding those phenomena?

Our approach was a priori Jungian. We recognize and study the role the unconscious plays when it comes to human behavior, including feelings and cognition. We were concerned especially with unprocessed emotional contents that are consequently projected onto the outside world where they are perceived as images and form mythical stories. Such images often find archetypal expressions precisely in what we call conspiracy theories. To their followers they serve as containers for holding disturbing, unprocessed negative emotions; those can be now under certain control in the mind of a conspiratorialist. Conspiracy theories allow for the creation of superiority feelings and help relieve anxiety and the like. Conspiratorialists consider themselves a special, strong persons capable of accepting the “dark truth” of a given conspiracy. In their own eyes of course, they stand on the side of good; they are heroes of their own myth.

How can contents of personal unconscious lead to adherence to conspiracy theories? 

more here

Dose of Depth

Self-Reflection in a Time of Conspiracy Theories: A Conversation with Vlado Solc, Jungian Analyst & Author of Dark Religion: Fundamentalism From the Perspective of Jungian Psychology

Enjoy my chat with Vlado Solc about what's beneath the surface of fundamentalism and conspiracy theories. He is the author of  (written in partnership with George Didier). Dark Religion: Fundamentalism from the Perspective of Jungian Psychology.

Episode Here

Dark Religion: The Psychological Roots of Fundamentalism and Conspiracism

Conspiracy theories have been gradually occupying larger domains of cultural and political life. Conspiracism seems to replace or supplement fundamentalist religious beliefs while it supplies material that is in turn used for endorsing political and ideological agenda.

This presentation will take a symbolic perspective and offers a non-dismissive understanding of the reasons for strong adherence to conspiracy theories. Approaching conspiracy theories as symbols rather than rational constructs offers more fruitful solutions to given problem than put forward by traditional psychological schools.

Dark Religion with Vlado Solc


Live Presentation Saturday June 4 & 11, 2022 Noon - 2pm Pacific / 3 - 5 pm Eastern via Zoom

Is global warming a hoax? Is Earth actually flat? Is the CIA responsible for the attack on the WTC in New York? What is Quanon? Why do many adhere vigorously to conspiracy theories? The rise of irrational beliefs, fake news, alternative facts, and conspiracy theories, along with fundamentalism, fanaticism, and propaganda of governments calls for a no-holds-barred depth psychological exploration. This course will examine depth-psychological phenomena and dynamics of dark religions and their connection to conspiracism.

Three Ways of Why

“I no longer seek the cause of a neurosis in the past, but in the present. I ask, what is the necessary task which the patient will not accomplish?”

Jung, CW 4, par. 570

Precise questioning is conditio sine qua non of successful analysis. When asking questions, the analyst not only asks the client, but also poses questions to his or her own self. While communicating with the client, the analyst “looks” inside, and there, asks questions and “listens” for answers. The analyst not only actively searches in his memory, where he/she seeks understanding, but also observes feelings, images and ideas that passively arise from unconscious. The analyst’s psyche mirrors and at the same time complements missing links of the complex life situation of analysand and also his/hers own. The analyst not only helps the patient to find a new, “broader” meaning of his problem, but also enters the field in which both could undertake transformation.

The analysis is a creative team-work. In a way it is a maieutic, Socratic method of dialogue with the difference that the objective of analysis is to ask questions in such a way so they contribute to the revelation of a fuller life story, i.e. self-knowledge. The aim is not to achieve some kind of logical truth, but rather a new attitude; the greater degree of freedom that includes the acceptance of painful also-truths. The so-called behavioral therapies basically focus on the patient’s conscious intentions and analyze whether these intentions are in conflict with the demands of the given reality. In Jungian analysis there is a third variable that enters the healing process, and that is unconscious. The unconscious has its own intelligence: it can have its own will, its own intentions and secrets, or even an “opinions,” which could often be at odds with the opinions of the ego. It is the “Other” that we also dialogue with during the process of analysis.

Conscious and unconscious

Let’s ponder for a moment on the paradoxical relationship between conscious and unconscious. Conscious, just like the unconscious, has no “substance” that we can quantify, measure or localize per se. We can only know about it via our own conscious medium and thus through its own subject.  The very fact that the psyche can never be objectified – even though it can be perceived that way during the states of extended consciousness – by definition makes it an unconquerable mystery.

Read Full Article HERE

Book Reviews Dark Religion: Fundamentalism from the Perspective of Jungian Psychology. (2018). By Vladislav Solc and George J. Didier. Chiron Publications

Reviewed by Gerald A. Weiner

In the time of Trump, in the time of troubles, there is a great need to understand how we got
there. The writings of Vladislav Solc and George Didier, take us beyond a narcissistic sociopath into the
religious space that supports him.
Didier and Solc analyze and explain how the dark side of the Shadow, what they call “Dark
Religion” has shaped radical fundamentalism. They take this one step further and tell us that we should
oppose all forms of moral absolutism. For them, individuation is both a psychological and a religious
process. The two are inseparable. The authors are continuing C.G. Jung’s quest to understand the
numinosum. To them, extreme religion threatens our very existence.
In their introduction, the authors pose questions that should be important to all of us. How
does one recognize Dark Religion? Who are the most vulnerable to its seduction and alluring energy?
What happens when a person becomes possessed by the energies of the Self that are not made
conscious? Why is it that spirituality remains part of human nature and one of our most essential needs?
Throughout the book they answer these questions from a Jungian perspective. They also provide us with
interesting examples of client cases, all of which furthers our knowledge of Dark Religion.
According to the authors, Dark Religion obscures the true nature of spirituality and cripples
one’s relationship to numinosity. The fundamentalist believes he/she has established one-to one
correspondence of identity with God. By doing this they confuse their own will and actions with the will
and actions of God. In extreme cases it becomes easy for them to justify murder in the name of God.
Solc and Didier provide us with many insight into this thought process. As they explain, the
fundamentalist hides behind the image of God and assumes God’s authority as their own. Only they
know the will of God. (...)

Read more here.

Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: A God’s or Devil’s gift?

I must emphasize, however, that the grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil. Sometimes the probate spiritus recommended by John cannot, with the best will in the world, be anything other than a cautious and patient waiting to see how things will finally turn out.

C. G. Jung, CW9, Part 1

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world. And it has caught humanity unprepared despite all past experiences. What is happening to society, to everyone at this special time? “Big questions come from a small virus,” says Vladislav Šolc, a Jungian Analyst living and practicing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Eva Bobůrková Interviewed Vlado Šolc.

What are we experiencing today, can you describe it?

About 100 years have passed since the last major pandemic of the so-called Spanish Flu, which broke out in 1918 and claimed 50 million victims worldwide. Despite its disastrous impact, it took the WHO 30 years after that pandemic to establish a coordinated system of prevention and detection of global epidemics. Early intervention apparently prevented major spread of later respiratory epidemics such as Singapore (1957), Hong Kong Flu (1968) and later H1N1 (2009). Coordinated cooperation between governments and non-government organizations has been able to prevent the spread of Ebola, and to significantly mitigate the effects of classic influenza, malaria, or the Zika virus. However, the COVID-19 epidemic shows that mankind is not prepared for a virus that has a relatively long incubation time (5 days – 2 weeks), is highly infectious and shows a low symptom rate of the infected (95%). Again, nature has shown that even a virus whose mortality is – compared to the Black Death plague (1347-1351) which exterminated more than half of Europe’s then population) – is relatively low, yet it can disrupt even stable economies. Only with a few exceptions in the Pacific (Taiwan, New Zealand, or South Korea) the highly developed countries that boast of their advancement of science and technology have been surprised, or we should say humbled. This crisis has shown the importance of preparing for a possible global pandemic and how dangerous it is when science is not taken seriously!  All of a sudden we woke up from big “Hollywood” fantasies of our readiness for biological warfare or alien invasions. Pandemic COVID-19 has brought about an inevitable confrontation with reality.

How do you see this confrontation as a Jungian Analyst?

From a psychological point of view, we are talking about confrontation with the shadow. We can say that the virus itself represents our collective shadow. It was there waiting in “pleroma,” scientists have been warning us about its potential for a long time, but we were paying little attention. Maybe we were even willingly ignoring it. The shadow, or what is part of us, but what we are not aware of, what we do not want to admit, we reject or minimize, does not cease to exist, but it causes unwanted and unexpected changes in our lives. And these have the ability to not only surprise, but also wake us up. The party is over, the waiter has brought a bill. All that what we had neglected and overlooked suddenly is now, in the face of loss and in the face of death so real… The ancient Greeks taught that pride (hubris) is followed by shame (aischyne), an encounter with suffering that naturally splits off the pain to protect ego. Hubris was taught to be punished by Nemesis, the goddess of righteous distribution. The one-sidedness, the adherence to the fantasies that everything is under control is now being quickly compensated by the sobering realization of our limits. SARS-CoV-2 set the mirror to our narcissistic belief that we are the masters of Nature to show us that we are actually a part of it.  Compensation is a natural process purpose of which is to establish equilibrium by supplementing or replacing the loss of opposing energy. We observe it at both the micro and macro levels; for example in the water cycles in nature, or with the immune system, where infection by a pathogen causes a fever and the like. Carl Jung understands compensation as a fundamental tool of psychological growth. Humanity as a whole experiences a phenomenon of compensation, when it has no choice but to react creatively to the new state at the general, objective, level, as well as at the subjective, emotional level. We are willy-nilly forced into introversion – that is, turning our attention inward. For Asian countries, where meditation is part of daily life it is easier than for us westerners.

How does the current situation affect the psyche in general?

Every major loss inevitably brings about confusion, anxiety and dissolution of consciousness, the intensity is distributed over the whole spectrum, depending on the strength of ego organization and social support that he or she has available. Initially, shock ensues when a person loses the ability to think rationally and basically does not feel anything specific, s/he is paralyzed by physical manifestations of panic states, fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea. One may experience an emotional flatness, or conversely uncontrollable fluctuations of emotions and sleep problems. When you add a sense of abandonment to physical and social isolation, some people may feel as if their world was falling apart. In this period, we observe a post-traumatic reaction even with some healthy people. Emergency lines are flooded with phone calls from people panicking.

What happens next?

In the next stage, the psyche’s defense system is mobilized and ego-consciousness begins to cope with the startling reality. It is as if the ego sets to create its own, alternative, reality that gives the new experience a new meaning. The first impulse usually goes back to the past, where we have already dealt with something similar, we speak of regression. Often we see denial, rationalization, that is, an expounding without the presence of affect, banalizing, negotiation and other psychological maneuvers designed to avoid stress. But affect cannot be suppressed in the long run without being compensated by unconscious energies. The built-up pressure must be manifested in some way. Thus rage, anger and frustration arise. And anger as a rule seeks an object. One is looking for the culprit “responsible” for the situation by projecting his or her anger outward; at the same time regulating their own confusion to establish a sense of control through the process of projection. Or, conversely, one can turn his anger against him/hers self, which is then manifested as feelings of shame, or even deserved punishment (sinfulness).

Tragedies and disasters are nothing new for humanity..

Yes. Wars, pandemics and famines have been decimating societies since the beginning of the anthropocene era. Great tragedies also gave birth to ideas of divine vengeance. The supernatural beings had their own justice, and thus, to some extent, the weight of human control is removed from their shoulders. You see, the gods or God now holds the scale of judgement in their hands. I do not want to be misunderstood and reduce religious faith as a spiritual process to something merely profane. I am talking here about the process of projection and its return to the self as spiritual process par excellence. Jung calls it individuation. In relation to the supernatural being, humans become self-conscious and a moral mirror is thus established. Individual emotions are differentiated and given a unique, subjective meaning. It is our individual chance to come to terms with the world and its reality.

Now, thanks to coronavirus, more people are asking ontological and existential questions. We are going deeper, the pain is gently turning us into philosophers because we encounter an awe: Who am I? Where am I? What is my quest? Can I be better, should I be better? Many of us wonder if our relationship with Mother Earth can be healthier, holier. We have the opportunity to expand our consciousness, which occurs during tense situations. The Greek word apocalypse means revelation, revealing, uncovering, thus coming the Self into ego-consciousness. Through this process the Self reveals what had been hidden, the dark aspects of the unconscious.

So the parts of the Self are being revealed to us?

If we can look at the new reality with open eyes and accept it, we are actually recollecting ourselves and integrating “dark parts” of the Self into our ego via conscious relation and change of attitude. We are creating a new, more whole view of the world. A new imago dei. We write about this process in depth in our book: Dark Religion, Fundamentalism from the Jungian Perspective.

If we can hold our fears and anxieties present in consciousness, we can develop compassion. We can understand and develop the need to help others, to focus on solutions rather than on worries. We can start acting more rationally, asking ourselves what realistic options we have available, how to utilize positives and the like. If our consciousness embraces reality, reintegrates dark aspects of the Self and creates new meaning we are talking about the spiritual process of transformation. It is the acceptance of the fuller reality and mindful adaptation to it that is the goal of psychotherapy and analysis. If the ego is unable to do so, it can get stuck in primitive escape-fantasies cut-off from reality, then we are talking about lingering in a regression state. At the broader, social level, this is reflected in an increase in fundamentalistic, “apotropaic” coping approaches that we have termed Dark Religion (theocalypsis). These include calls for mass prayer similar to those in the Middle Ages for the defeat of the virus, the rise of conspiracy theories and other superstitions detached from reality.

President Trump was claiming until recently that covid-19 is a hoax…

Yes, the “hoax devised by the Democrats to deprive him of power.” Unfortunately, many of his followers truly believe this and refuse to follow the protective measures recommendations or orders. Donald Trump called the investigation of the Russian interference into elections a witch hunt, and he succeeded to avoid consequences because he countered every statement by a new lie. Victims of coronavirus cannot be concealed and their loved ones cannot be fooled. Thus, one of the unexpected side effects of a pandemic may be general awakening, sobering from the lies Trump has bet on, lies that have worked for him until recently. The reality of death cannot be avoided, lied away and that is why this pandemic will perhaps contribute to the rise of consciousness.

So are there any possible positive effects of the pandemic?

In the United States, where up to a third of the population deny or dispute science or where third of the population believe in bizarre conspiracy theories, an outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic may re-awaken the importance of science. In a country where a week of treatment on respirator could cost $70,000, the demand for health insurance, paid sick leave, and preventative care will undoubtedly become main topics of the upcoming elections. We began to understand more and more that homelessness is a health risk for the society as a whole.

I believe that many people will try to live more healthy, quit smoking and will cease eating meat. The field ecopsychology, which studies the relationship between humans and environment, will gain even more importance. We will study more in depth the zoonotic diseases and how human activity contributes to them. Questions of income inequality, international cooperation, climate change and the health of our planet in general are becoming the number one topics during the elections.

Plagues can change religious beliefs and behavior, but also reveal the need for social stability, interconnectedness of society, fair arrangement between rulers and workers. Pandemics have led to the development of hygiene, medicine and the industrial revolution in general. All epidemics have shifted society towards cooperation and improved the quality of life of the community. Even in this epidemic we can expect changes in this direction. Here I would like to quote Carl Sagan:

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

What challenges is the pandemic presenting us with?

The pandemic showed differences in the efficiencies of the solutions various systems have utilized. Totalitarian regimes that were able to impose an immediate curfew, separated children from their parents, or even let whole families starve, got the virus spread under control more quickly… So called free, western countries are up against the challenges of their own way of being… It looks like the freedoms that we enjoy in democratic countries are a disadvantage in this case, so we will have to reach a compromise between security and some of the freedoms losses if we want to win over the virus. We can expect greater interconnection of technologies and electronic monitoring such as smart quarantines and the like. But in the US, people are already afraid of government monitoring, reluctant to provide their phone number or address. So we are facing a big unknown in this direction, no one really knows what the future will bring. The world will change, for sure, but whether better or for worse cannot be said at this time, because history is a process that flows beyond good and evil.

But it is certain that delusional beliefs, conspiracy theories, or misleading religious ideas sometimes complicate the course of convalescence more than the virus itself. 

For manipulations who use various -isms, mass solutions, or fundamentalist religious ideologies epidemics are a psychological breeding ground. Emphasis on education, self-knowledge are the most important antidotes against the decline of humanity. Carl Jung’s words have not lost their validity today:

“We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger. And we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man … far too little. His psyche should be studied — because we are the origin of all coming evil.”

“Thanks to” the pandemic, scientists, doctors and economists have regained their respect. But new conspiracy theories emerged too. What makes people still want to create those and follow them even more passionately?

The human desire to understand reality and to attach meaning to it is instinctive and related to consciousness. Mythologies and ritual behavior tell of an ancient effort to understand the meaning of life. Conspiracy theories could be considered as attempts to decipher the hidden laws of reality. They typically arise when a force of reality begins to deviate from the ideas we hold about the world.

In times of crisis, dark imago dei, cruel images of reality emerge, with it an urge to produce some acceptable explanations. Conspiracy theories, like religions, satisfy the desire for meaning, order, and express the will to control that order. From a psychological perspective, we can understand conspiracy theories as religious theories of sui generis, through which the ego copes with the painful or inexplicable vicissitudes of life. The less I am willing and able to be conscious of negative emotions and relate to them, the more power the conspiracy fantasies gain. Conspiracy theories are defensive fantasy constructs that falsify reality through which ego can experience a sense of relief from anxiety and other otherwise dissociating affects. They give conspirators a sense of personal power and control over reality. In a way they allow redirection of aggression, hatred and other socially censored emotions into the “theory,” enabling them thus to better manage the heaviness of life. It is the disintegration of traditional religious systems in secular societies that created a new realm for their emergence. You can read more on this topic in the article Dark Religion and Conspiracy Theories, An Analytical Viewpoint.

How do the Americans, or specifically Wisconsinites, react to Trump’s initial denial of the now harsh reality? 

The majority of the people respect the government orders. People have reduced their work and business, working from home if possible. But even here, America’s ideological divisions are manifested and many Trump followers do not trust the media and still believe his statements when he completely underestimated the seriousness of the epidemic. Trump has so far spread fictional quasi-scientific theories, refusing to wear a face mask, and encourages people to form their own opinions based on “gut feelings.” However, with the rise of the sick and dead, Trump’s popularity gradually declines. There is no doubt that his narcissistic approach does not help in a crisis, quite the contrary. He is internally divided and projects his internal conflict to the nation. He does not wish to unite Americans, he speaks only to his loyal part of the population – the part that mirrors him and that embodies the nostalgic vision of a Christian-fundamental, white, self-centered, fearful, nationalist and patriarchal country. Now he exploits pandemic and he is using it to further his sociopathic agenda of division and conflict. By its very nature, the United States will never be truly united politically and ideologically. The tough dialectical dialogue of opposites so typical for America is a source of progress and prevents one-sidedness, but Trump legitimizes irrational attitudes that divide opposites to the brink of dangerous conflict. By promoting the opening of the economy, lockdown, opposed the governors who ordered the proven social distance, he opened Pandora’s box, which most likely would not be closed by a rational dialogue.

But you are saying that Trump’s popularity is declining as the number of deaths increases…

In the article Donald Trump in the Mirror that I wrote for Vesmir, I expressed the opinion that Trump managed to appeal to his followers through rather “primitive” emotions of fear, anger and the feelings of entitlement. These emotions are now being projected onto “enemies,” such as migrants, foreigners, Hispanics, African-Americans, Democrats, environmentalists…you name it. Trump managed to awaken an authoritarian and nationalist instinct: on the one hand he puts himself in the role of savior and on the other hand he diverts attention from reality. Republicans have feared “socialism,” since McCarthy’s post-war era, and therefore remain stuck in magical thinking that Trump’s medicine will miraculously get them out of the crisis. Trump did not invent the division of society, but he is awakening old skeletons in the closets. He was able to evoke and legitimize “forbidden” emotions, which gave many people a sense of relief and an illusion of power. At the same time, they have trapped them like in a cult. Sticking to a leader can be compared to drug addiction, it is a variation of Stockholm’s abused person’s syndrome. Thus, his popularity may decline in proportion to the decline of power that Trump is now able to convey to Americans. The qualities that have brought him to power can turn into a catalyst of a fall in a crisis. In therapy of addictions, we commonly observe this enantiodromia brought about by exhaustion and crisis.

Thus far, we count mainly direct victims of coronavirus, sick, dead. Unexpected dramas also take place in isolation, in quarantine, behind closed doors. Will there be an unexpected amount of divorce, or a babyboom, or both when the pandemic subsides?

It depends on the entrance conditions. The crisis can have a very positive effect on relatively stable families. After the initial phase, an adaptation can take place, where people learn how to utilize neglected resources. This is a desirable aspect of the introversion mentioned earlier. Those families may now have more time to communicate, they are forced to solve problems without running away, now they have to focus more on themselves. They can use that unexpected time and space to develop creativity and tame their inferior cognitive functions. It is most important right now to accept one’s own emotions and feelings, whether it is fear, anger, hopelessness, and so on and to form a conscious relationship with them. And it’s happening, I’m already seeing it with my clients. Creative activity, the observation and relation to our dreams, the humor, the daily routine connected with physical movement, keeping the mindfulness of each other in a strained conditions, those are proven to be very beneficial attitudes these days.

Unfortunately, not all relationships, families are stable…

In families with unstable, predisposed individuals, or in families where there is domestic violence, trauma, the situation is quite the contrary. The crisis and forced isolation increase aggression in some people, and abused partners, especially in socially and economically impacted families, are even more dependent on the tyrant. We are seeing an increase of incest, suicide, bipolar disorders, but also psychotic breakdowns in people with predispositions and lose inner organization. For many people the situation during a pandemic is deteriorating.

And with respect to the baby boom: in times of economic instability, fertility usually declines, on the other hand, during crisis, sexual instinct increases with aggression. The resulting figures will probably be broken down by economic and social status. In any rate, all the effects will be felt later, for example the unemployment is a strong risk factor for depression and suicide. On the other hand, to mention something positive, the work related accidents and the number of car accidents have dropped significantly.

Are we now a part of an unplanned social experiment, as Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari put it?

Harari is a very intuitive thinker. He is probably right that in times of uncertainty and fear, the powerful will try to consolidate their positions and gain additional tools of manipulation. But the Homo Sapiens experiment has been happening continuously. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe was ruled by religious fanatics, during a great crisis Hitler seized power, after the war the Communists… We must not fall for naiveté and, even in difficult times, we must carry the torch of the Greek ideals of democracy and freedom of human spirit. But we must not succumb to paranoia either, because that is precisely the way to losing our freedoms. The cure for paranoia is individuation, i.e. self-knowledge and at the same time acceptance of reality, with everything that it entails!

How is the current situation manifested in your practice? Do you have cases that are directly related to the pandemic?

Clinics have been experiencing an enormous increase in new patients interest in therapy. This is related not only to physical and social isolation and to the anxiety from the unknown, but it is also related also to the loss of work, or fear of impending childbirth but also the death of loved ones. The crisis affects all my existing clients. We are all going through the change. It depends on our conscious attitude how much we will benefit from this change, and whether SARS-CoV-2 will be a gift or a curse.

This interview originally appeared in Vesmír Magazine. It was translated from Czech to English by Vladislav Šolc.

Vladislav Šolc, MS, ICS is a Licensed Professional Psychotherapist who provides individual, group, couples and family therapy (counseling and psychotherapy) in Whitefish Bay (Milwaukee and Glendale, Wisconsin, WI 53217). Vlado accepts clients speaking English, Czech, Polish or Slovak language. He holds advanced training credentials as a Diplomate Jungian Psychoanalyst, Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor and Independent Clinical Supervisor. Vlado received his training in Europe and US: Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, Czech Association for Analytical Psychology, Brno, Czech Republic, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. The therapeutic process is a true art, and Vlado’s therapeutic approach begins where the client is at, and he incorporates an integrative and holistic approach to help attain the client’s potentials. He weaves together different therapeutic approaches, depending on the unique needs of the client. Always with the goal of respecting the dignity of the client, and providing a comfortable and confidential setting in which healing can occur. Vlado specializes on the treatment of depression, anxiety, sleep problems,  interpersonal  conflicts. His focus includes psycho-spiritual crisis and spirituality (loss of life’s meaning and direction), mind-body connection (psychosomatic issues), immigration and cultural issues (displacement from home country and grief), women empowerment and emancipation. His specialties also include treatment of addictions and marital psychotherapy with adult, and youth populations. Vlado is also involved in art and creative process and is author of several depth psychology-oriented books: Psyche, Matrix, Reality; Father’s ArchetypeIn the Name of God: Psychological Roots of Fanaticism, and most recently Dark Religion: Fundamentalism from the Perspective of Jungian Psychology.

Links: Vlado Solc’s Website | Vlado Solc’s Lectures Available on the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago Website


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