Ophelia Syndrome Commentary

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Karl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and called the founder of analytical psychology1; he described “individuation” as “the process of learning to differentiate oneself from others…. It means to discover those aspects of the self that distinguish one person from another. (p. 2)” Essentially, he states that individuation is the metaphorical DNA of one’s personality; without individuation, we would all be the same—drones, rendered unnecessary. As described by Plummer, Ophelia Syndrome is the inability to think or act for ourselves. Those suffering from Ophelia Syndrome are incapable of producing original thought or coping with the unknown. They would rather be safely misled than creatively uncertain. Plummer stated that Ophelia Syndrome was most commonly manifested in university students and “middle managers in American corporations” (p. 3). He attributes this to lack of individuation—or rather, the inability to learn to think for ourselves. It comes from being too reliant- on our boss, on our professor, on our parents, etc. Plummer described a great teacher as “[having] a reputation among students”, as “challenging, fair and tough”. He says that they must be a “partner in learning” and that “they refuse to do your thinking for you” (p. 3). I find his appraisal accurate due mainly to the very title “teacher”. A teacher must to exactly that- teach. A teacher guides and supervises and corrects when necessary, but a student cannot become a scholar without Hamlet stated, “…there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so” (II.ii.254-255) and follows that with “What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty!... in apprehension how like a god!” (II.ii.314-317). I thought that this was the best illustration of nihilism in the play and connected with it due to the weight given to the power of thought- a power given exclusively to man to do with as he wished. Through ‘the power of positive thinking’ or through negativism, we govern our...
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