Dancing With Our Unconscious

Being creative and realizing our talents involves self-awareness and respecting who we really are, including our unconscious depths.

In an interview about her film “Flightplan,” Jodie Foster commented, “When you’re a dramatic actor you look for films that hit you in the gut, in this unconscious place that really moves you, and then you can’t help but make the movie because it’s something that you fear and you want to know more about it.”

Jodie Foster

She added, “I think that every film that I do, even though it might not relate to me autobiographically, has some very personal pull in there and there are questions that I ask myself that I can’t really resolve any other way.” [From darkhorizons.com interview by Paul Fischer, Sept 15 2005.]

In another interview, Foster says she was attracted to the film because of the “full journey of the character, the primal connection to children. It hits you in a very unconscious primal place. That’s what makes the best drama and I’m a dramatic actress.” [blackfilm.com]

In a 1991 interview, she acknowledged “There are certain sorts of unconscious paths you choose.”

Photo from article: SVFF: Jodie Foster Talks About Iconic Films, Dreams at Sun Valley Film Festival – “I make movies about people who are trying to reach out to communicate but somehow can’t. I’m attracted to stories of loneliness and the beauty and the curse of being solitary.”

[See on of my related articles on that topic: Nurturing creativity in solitude – with quotes by Ani DiFranco, Erica Jong and others.]

~ ~ ~

We all have hidden or shadow aspects of our minds and souls, but actors and other artists may have a greater appreciation for the unconscious, and more consciously make use of those depths.

Shadow-Dance-coverThis image is from the book Shadow Dance : Liberating the Power and Creativity of Your Dark Side, by David Richo, which quotes depth psychologist Carl Jung to explain the unconscious:

“The shadow is the negative side of the personality, the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious.”

And in her book Archetypes for Writers, Jennifer Van Bergen writes about making creative use of our unconscious, using the alternative term subconscious.

Van Bergen notes, “Some people view the subconscious as merely a dumping ground for stuff the conscious mind cannot or does not want to handle. Others consider that the subconscious only exists for people who have ‘problems.’

“They think that if you are healthy, your subconscious will just fall into line with your conscious mind.

“Neither of these ideas is true. The subconscious actually operates – in everyone – as an independent mind. It perceives, processes, and retains things that never enter the conscious mind at all.”

She adds that we “all have material in the subconscious. In fact, it is where nearly all our material is found, but that material cannot gather itself together, emerge, and become part of a work of art (or our life) unless the conscious mind allows it.

“If the conscious mind is not ready, there will be no reason for information contained in the subconscious to be absorbed into consciousness or permitted to emerge.”

In an article on his Change your thoughts blog, Steven Aitchison writes about hypnogogia: “the state we experience just as we are falling asleep. We are not quite conscious but we are not fully asleep yet. The brainwaves are going from the alpha and beta states to the deeper delta and theta waves usually experienced in dreaming. Therefore, it is like the bridge to the unconscious.”

For more, see Hypnogogia – The bridge to the unconscious.

But accessing and making use of our unconscious may take a willingness to confront fear, revulsion or other feelings in response to what we find, or even being “wrong” to others.

Artist and teacher Aviva Gold thinks “In order to express the uninhibited depths of our originality and soul we must risk being unacceptable to a prevailing, polite, status quo and thousands of years of rigid Judeo/Christian ethic.

“To do our job as artists well, we need to be outspoken, meticulously honest and authentically emotional, which means that we and our art may express rage, grief, destruction, depression, death and sexuality….

“Our art may show up as flamboyant, aggressive, morbid, corny, disgusting, primal, spiritual, provocative and totally outrageous.”

[From the book The Soul of Creativity: Insights into the Creative Process, by Tona Pearce Myers.]

For more on all this, see my article Using Archetypes to Develop Complex Characters, and Jennifer Van Bergen’s article Archetypes for Writers.

Also, see the pages Depth psychology and The Shadow Self.

Article: Collaborating With Our Shadow Side


Carrie Barron, M.D.How to Uncover the Unconscious and Release Creativity – online class (from the en*theos Academy for Optimal Living) with Carrie Barron, M.D.

“The unconscious is a treasure trove of novel ideas, innovations, odd combinations and original thought. It is where instincts, passions, wishes and dreams reside.

“Accessing the unconscious through honoring dreams, intuition and wispy random thoughts can help us be more creative, authentic and content.”


Originally posted 2007-08-10 22:50:17.

1 comment

What do you think about these topics?