He forgets that what he perceives is produced by mechanisms situated outside of his consciousness. Plato describes a scene in which the projector is in fact the sun that casts as a shadow that which is happening behind the spectators. If a spectator suddenly turns around to see what is going on at the entrance of the cave, he is immediately blinded by the sun. This explains why the spectators content themselves with what they see on the screen, and end up believing that what they perceive is the reality. Occasionally, passers-by enter the cave and explain to the spectators, who are prisoners of their fears, that once outside, the sun becomes less blinding, and reality directly perceptible. A spectator cannot directly go from the obscurity of the cave to the light of day without definitively blinding oneself. However, proceeding with a method, he can gradually get accustomed to the increasing intensity of the light. He will first perceive the real starry night, then the dawn and the sunrise, and finally everything that exists.
In the first part of the myth of the cave, Plato explains why he cannot be more explicit when he communicates with persons who have not learned how to get out of the cave, and he presents himself as one of those who knows how to get out. Having said that, he admits that we can only perceive a fraction of what is.
A psychotherapist does not hold such a black and white Manichaean view of the dynamics of human nature. Jung suggests that the shadows projected on the cave’s rock wall are more than a simple reflection of reality,32 because they form another reality that merits as much consideration that is, the psyche and the impressions it produces. The portrait proposed by a painter is never the exact copy of a face because it is also a creative act that seeks to produce a vision. Art is a domain unto itself. It has its own relevance. So do the shadows on Plato’s cave! For Jung, the fact that the psychic elaborations are not conforming copies of what is perceived takes nothing away from the wonder he feels when he studies the extraordinary construction that is the human capacity to think. To hope that the mind can capture Ideas, such as they exist, is to expect of the human spirit that it be transparent and neutral: a kind of leech that has, as its only task, that of stuffing itself with celestial nourishment. If an organism develops systems of defense and of protection, like the immune system, it is because it wants to survive. To seek to know whether one’s life is good or bad, useful or not, pertinent or not, is a luxury that is not one of the priorities of the dynamics of life, notably of human organisms.
Religious people would like it if God became each person’s highest goal; a philosopher like Plato would like it if Truth became the highest goal of every human organism. The psychotherapist is content to support a person for whom life is far too uncomfortable and help him find the type of understanding that he needs to improve his life. The Jungian psychotherapist has a deep respect for all of the productions of the mind. He understands the necessity that humans have to transform their environment into digestible shadows, projected onto the screen of the interior cinema. To seek to modify a person’s internal cinema inevitably passes through a deconstruction that aims at a reconstruction: one that is more able to defend what is at stake in one’s life. He would like to transform the black and white film of a depressed patient into one containing the full array of colors and the saturated colors of neurotic thoughts into vivid film full of contrasts. The psychotherapist is endlessly confronted by individuals who are blinded by their unshakable faith in the perception they have about what happened to them