Our Two Million-Year-Old Selves

I’m I’m about halfway through reading a book called The Two Million-Year-Old Self, by Anthony Stevens, an English Jungian analyst, and am finding the concepts captivating. I thought I’d share a little.

Stevens sheds light on the “ways in which the archaic influences our lives” through a kind of psychic archaeology, delving into the collective unconscious through dream images. Though Jung was derided by many for this idea, it is supported by neuroscientific evidence that dreaming activity begins in the phylogenetically ancient parts of the brain. “To encounter the two million-year-old self within is to experience the phylogeny of our species as a personal revelation,” Stevens writes, yet this primordial figure that is our constant companion is generally unknown to us.

Jung believed that the deeper, evolved intelligence of humankind lies beneath our conscious intelligence, that our private world is built upon a dynamic, universal substratum—the “natural mind.” Stevens proposes that personal and collective healing may well lie in finding this archetype within ourselves. I love that Stevens brings caring for the Earth in as a key point: “We have to change our attitudes, our institutions, and our environment in order to bring the natural life of our species once more into harmony with the natural life of our planet.”

It fascinates me to contemplate our having collective memories from the beginning of our species that emerge in dreams. “In our dreams we participate in our phylogeny … speak to the species.” Hopefully in the second half he reveals some of the signs of this layer in our dreams.

Leave a Reply