Flying Dutchman Syndrome is the Pact You Make to Play Out Projections Like Theater

A nautical look at the impact of the parent-child bond on your sense of self + strategies for docking the ship

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

How to embrace your archaic identity without getting waterlogged

Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote that every person projects implicit models onto those they interact with based on an architecture of primordial images common to all humans. He believed that this network, the collective unconscious, formed the foundation for the individual human psyche. Jung’s theory of projection was an elaboration on his analysis of the archaic identity or participation mystique, a phrase he borrowed from anthropologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl.

“Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.” Oscar Wilde

Stevens explains this state of disillusionment like this: “When actualization has been deficient, [a person] finds themselves, despite their conscious will in the matter, sucked into personal involvements and situations which promise to bring to light characteristics adequate for the constellations of the un-lived archetypal elements.” While the captain of the flying Dutchman must find someone willing to die for him to finally dock his ship, parents and children cling to their projections, slapping them onto anyone interesting, until they can disentangle their ego from their caregivers. When the people they idealize also thwart the archetypal containers they’ve been squeezed inside, conflicts occur, and the quest continues.

Recognize your own flying Dutchman quest

“We seek our medication according to the configuration of a wound.”-Charles Eisenstein

Flying Dutchman syndrome manifests in two distinct ways: On one level, your interactions with your children or caregivers will be saturated with conflict. You’ll feel a sense of pushing against a big metal door. No matter what you say or do, nothing changes. Neither party understands each other.

If you want to dock the ship, remember this

“People talk about how there are no frontiers left anymore; actually it isn’t true, you can turn your living room into the helm of Magellan’s ship, it’s simply that the great unexplored dimensions are internal and psychological.” — Terence McKenna

The better you know yourself, the less it matters whether those around you have withdrawn their projections about you. If you commit to constant reflection, soon it’s going to take significantly fewer emotional or intellectual resources to interact with people beyond the limits of your projections, even if those you interact with are still overlaying projections onto you.

Forget will power, resistance, mistakes, cause and effect, bandages, petrochemical fertilizers. Reprogram your subconscious mind

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