Selfies, Self-Definition, Therapy and the Trans-Relational Quest for Meaningful Connection
This chapter will scrutinize the individual psychological, as well as the relational and transpersonal, implications of how the capacity to define ourselves – both to ourselves and to others – has become a dominant theme within the paradoxical phenomenology of our increasingly globalized and individualized experiencing of life. While the scope to define who we are to others can proliferate through use of social media identities and narratives we construct, as well as the phenomenon of changing our names to reflect culture, gender or sexuality influences in our lives, our relation to self is likewise inwardly proliferated by the freedom to ‘be reflective’. I argue that both of these opportunities can also act as pressures ‘to be’ in ways that may become demanding, elusive and confusing. I want to explore this matter primarily through a Jungian lens, and explore the tension between plurality and wholeness, as well as draw on humanistic, existential and post-modern perspectives. I address three questions arising from the wider social, as well as specific therapeutic, context: First, does the more permission and facility we have to redefine ourselves make genuine connection with self and others more or less real? Second, how could these challenges of our time possibly facilitate connections between us? Third, how could our experience and insight into the nature and impact of identity shifts and the search for personal transformation help us understand better what is happening in this area of contemporary life, individually, therapeutically and across families, groups and communities, in support of what I sketch out as meaningful trans-relational connections?