Author: Jan Scholten
Theme: individual, person, I.
Theme: worth, self-worth, god and bad, ethics.
Theme: family, parents, father, protection.
Theme: body, lust, vital, food, sex.
Individual Person I
The most important theme of the series is the individual. The first distinction a child learns to make is that between himself and the rest of the world. His mother helps him confirm this fact. Children gradually learn to trust in themselves, they learn that the ‘I’ is strong enough to tackle the world. Jung has called this process ‘individuation’.
If the development of the ‘I’ is hampered or disturbed in any way they will develop all sorts of fears and questions about whether they are allowed to exist in this world. They will get stuck on questions like: ‘Who am I?’ ‘Do I have the right to be here?’ etc.
Another aspect of the theme regarding personality is the Persona, the mask, the part we show to the outside world. This still leaves the question who this person really is. This question plays a role in the whole theme of ‘I’ or ‘Self’, because everybody experiences an ‘I’, but doesn’t find it easy to define what that really is.
Identification with the body
The main identification in the Carbon series is with the body. Many people have the delusion that they are their body. The boundary of the body is the skin. That is why the skin is a very important organ for the Carbon series. Anyone and anything outside the body can be dangerous, a threat and can easily be seen as an enemy. So there are many fears in the Carbon series: fear for infections, diseases, cancer, dangerous animals, lions, crocodiles, other people, crowds and so on.
The quest to find the ‘I’ leads to the question of self-worth. They want to know what they are worth, what their abilities are. The sort of questions they ask themselves are: ‘what am I worth, what does my life mean and what are my abilities.?’
Value meaning: good and bad
This goes together with the general theme of wanting to determine the value of life. It is not only their own value they would like to ascertain, it is also the value of everything else, so their own value can be be measured against that. They search for the meaning of life, the essence of things, the core of their existence.
They measure everything in terms of good and bad. The theme plays around the good things in the world and the bad things in the world and their own place amongst this all. It is the theme of ethics: Am I really a good person? And if their sense of Self has been poorly developed you will hear them say (or think): ‘I am a bad person’. At the same time they like to suppress their shadow side, the bad sides of their personality.
Body life lust
The area that is being covered here is still relatively small, i.e. their own body. They have to discover and learn to master this aspect of themselves. That is why this level has all sorts of symptoms like, picking the nose, boring the fingers in the ears, putting everything in their mouths, sucking their thumbs.
The body has to do with vitality, life force. The vital force is most prominently present in a young child. Even though the child can hardly do anything yet, he knows very well how to survive.
The instinctive energies are very important at this stage. The primary instinctive drive is to survive, linked to the fear of death. Vitality and joyfulness are the positive sides of all this. The concept of lust a central one, getting expressed as lust, lustful, lustre and lustrous. It expresses the joy of life.
Eating is another important theme. A good appetite is a sign of health and vitality. A baby will start with putting everything in his mouth to find out whether it is nice and it will react with delight when it tastes good and with disgust or crying when it tastes bad. When the normal development is disturbed the normal appetite may be distorted into addictions and the feeling of never getting enough.
Later on we get - psycho analytical terms- the anal phase, wherein the excretory processes are being explored, enjoyed and learnt to control. The control over arms and legs and body movements and the joy that goes with this power are also enjoyed at this time.
Sexuality is yet another lust that belongs to the body. It signifies the enjoyment of the body, whereby the ‘I’ feeling is being enormously stimulated. Sexuality and eroticism not only represent the joys of living, it also has an even more esoteric and celebratory aspect, as can be seen in some forms of art like the Khajuraho temple in India.
Possessions giving taking
Possessions is another one of the main themes of the Carbon series. They have a great desire to be master of the material things in life, to decide for themselves what to do, and when and how, with their material possessions.
Possessions can be seen as an external value in life, so we see the question of value come back once again. This theme can be found in the word ‘deserve’, which originally meant ‘having served a valuable purpose’. These two sides, i.e. inner value and material value may harmoniously come together in a persons life, or they might work against each other. When a Carbon series element has been frustrated in their personal development they might get totally addicted to possessions, measuring their self-worth on property and material values alone in a desperate attempt to fill the empty hole inside, forgetting that they are in danger of losing their inner values.
Giving and taking is another closely related theme, wherein we can see how someone handles material possessions. This theme reaches a peak in Oxygen, but can also be seen in the other elements in this series.
All elements show a different aspect of giving and taking. Carbon is very balanced in this respect, he knows how to give and how to take in a harmonious manner.
The early stages, Lithium, Beryllium and Boron find it harder to take and are more inclined to merely give. They are quite weak inside and can’t stand up for themselves very well. They tend to act as if they are inferior, because their sense of self-worth is not well enough developed. The later stages, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Fluor, are more inclined to take from a feeling that it is their right. Their sense of self-worth would seem to be rather over developed. They come across as being arrogant and they stick up for their rights. They tend to go to the narcissistic side, with Fluor being the absolute top, moving into psychopathic behaviour.
‘I, body, value and possessions’ are linked in a psychological sense. The sense of ‘I’ is derived from feelings in the body. value and property also have a lot in common. The body is a special form of personal property and is usually regarded as the most precious personal possession.
The hero belongs to the Carbon series as well. He starts with the search for the meaning of things, the essence of the self, the holy grail, the enchanted princess. The hero feels he is being driven by fate, he has no choice but to fulfill this personal quest. He has to face gigantic problems and terrible fears to reach his goal. Only by acting out the great warrior will he eventually overcome his fears and rise above himself.
The story of the hero starts when he receives his first call to fulfill his quest. Suddenly and without warning he is asked to take on this task and he usually reacts with great enthusiasm. This is the first stage of Lithium.
In the second, Beryllium, stage the hero realises it isn’t going to be that easy. It will all seem too much for him and he will refuse to take it on. (Campbell, 199
). In the third, Boron, stage he gets help, often in supernatural form. He is offered some magic tools and spells which will help him overcome his fears and doubts.
So he starts out, on his way to perform this great task. This is the stage of Graphites, who accomplish his task, either shaking with fear, or with his eyes stubbornly fixed on his purpose, looking neither left nor right.
In the Nitrogen stage the hero is swallowed up by Jonah, the whale, (Campbell) and, being imprisoned and locked up in his process, will have to find a way to get out.
In the Oxygen state our hero is nicely on his way of getting to his goal, but he is being tempted by all sorts of diversions. This is Ulysses being seduced by the Sirens. Of course it is up to the hero not to let himself be diverted from his purpose.
Finally we have the dragon who is guarding the grail, or the princess. Fluorine could be regarded as the dragon, the last stage in this series.
In the Neon stage the hero has finally succeeded. He has slain the dragon, broken the magic spell and freed the princess, whom he also marries of course. And they lived happily ever after, like in all fairy tales.
But then the hero has to return to bring out a report (Silicon series) on his victories and he doesn’t want to go. He refuses to go back and tell his fellow beings about his adventures.
Fairy tales of magic
Thinking magic is an important theme of the Carbon series. There is very little rational thinking yet, they live in a world of fairly tales and myths. In a certain sense this could be called a primitive world. There is little rational control in it all. But this is also the very essence, the deeper meaning, the dynamic force of life. It contains a feeling of being all powerful, the hero who can fulfill his purpose with the aid of magic. It is the magical world of the child. The child who tries to make sense of our elusive and frightening world by way of stories of magic and mystery. They are the Tarzan and Batman stories, wherein the hero fights the bad forces with superhuman strength and a dose of magic. The hero is often superman and the heroine superwoman.
When their sense of self-worth is not stimulated to develop properly they become very feeble and fearful. They feel they are useless and worthless. They find themselves in a world full of threats and they are not up to facing it. The whole world is their enemy and a threat, but they dare not take up the fight. Their inability to stand up for themselves makes them insecure and they can’t make decisions for themselves. Their nature of their fears is always vague. These people are afraid but they don’t know what for. They are not real phobias. More an assortment of vague fears that can eventually become so strong that it rules their lives. They dare not leave the house anymore and they only feel at ease when they are at home. They can’t bear to be alone. They can’t work because of their fears either. Hyperventilation is one of physical expressions of this state.
They try to forcibly keep things under control as long as they can, which can result in obsessive behaviour, like checking the kitchen tap a hundred times. They simply don’t trust themselves. They may get depressed and even suicidal. When they are under stress they may turn psychotic, also from the use of drugs, alcohol or marijuana, or the confrontations during psycho therapy.
We usually find a pronounced ‘I’ weakness to be the result of a disturbance in the development of the child at a very early stage. The whole consciousness of being an individual person has been disturbed. The ‘I’ weakness expresses itself in a lack of control over impulses and little possibility of sublimation. It is accompanied by feelings of total power on the one hand, and total powerlessness on the other hand. A sort of magical train of thoughts, thoughts that go backwards and forwards between two extremes. This split occurs particularly on the subject of good and bad. They tend to see themselves and others as either totally good, or totally bad.
Contradictory thoughts about other people are impossible for them to handle. When the other person has made done one tiny thing wrong they are immediately classified as totally bad.
In psychiatry we would call these borderline disturbances, on the border of diseases like neurosis, hysteria, schizophrenia, masochism, narcissism, dependent and antisocial personalities. Disturbances in sexual behaviour such as promiscuity, sadism and perversions also belong in this range.
As far as the stages of life are concerned this phase would correspond with that of the little child. A child is learning to differentiate. The most important differentiation is between himself and the other. These people are often childish in their behaviour, as if they haven’t properly completed the childhood phase of life.
Fears: vague, the unknown, strangers, disease, death or death of a family member or friends, loss of family and friends.
Lack of trust in the world.
Mood: timid, unsure, doubting, indecisive, controlling, obsessive, depressed, << thinking he is bad, listless, apathetic, feeling useless, suicidal disposition.
Aggression: over-assertive, fundamentalism with violence, the’ violence of purity’.
Contacts: pseudo relationships, dependent, <- discussion and compromise.
Mental: disturbances in consciousness, dissociating, forgetful, lack of concentration, chaotic, psychosis, mania; > at home, > with family, > support of farther figure, < trifles, < frustrations and challenges.
Causes: loss of family or relations, neglect in childhood, abuse, incest, absent parents, orphans, being beaten, violated, emotional violence, too much praise, being spoilt.
Problems in the development: late dentition, learning to walk and talk, late sexual development. Or early sexual development.
Vertigo, light headedness.