Money, Pluto, Psychotherapy

 

 

If our imaginal sex acts are verboten, underworld activity that
we'd want no one else to see, what does it tell us that psychotherapy
patients often would sooner reveal the kinkiest details of their sexual
practices than reveal exactly how much money they have or make?

Numbers are unsentimental. We may be "at sixes and sevens," or
like to simultaneously give and receive oral sex ("69"), but most
numbers have little eros, little sentiment of their own. And in this
way they give an accountant's eye view of the world, a view which
when applied to ourselves can feel quite confronting--say when we
look at our year's history with money at tax time.

"Money is like a whore who will sleep with anyone." And we
often cheat on ourselves when it comes to money, such as not
spending enough of it for the right things, or spending too much on
what we don't really need. And so, "the wrong" part of the soul is
always getting a hold of our money, just as it can with our sex.

Certainly, our dollars are promiscuous. What came in my pocket
today may go home tomorrow with you. And sometimes our self
esteem and our finances go hand in hand, our "inflations" and
"depressions" rising and falling, as our economics and our
psychology share the common language. Easy enough to mistake
"net worth" with our worth as a person.

In this way money can be a way of keeping score with ourselves,
and as such, easily appropriated by the superego. Like most women
with their bodies, we either have too much or too little wherever we
look--sometimes feeling a twinge of shame in either case. Most of us
feel slightly "off" in some way, when it comes to money.

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Like a gold-digger, psychotherapy raises the issue of money even
before the first date. In the initial intake, both sides are checking out
how much it will cost them, weighing that against "how much we
need it," how much we need what the other one brings. And the
check left in the consulting room, usually after the act is done, is part
of therapy's ritual.

What is it saying, that you give me money, or I you, to talk about...
what?

The practice of psychotherapy is an underworld service, like
gambling or prostitution.
(Or I find something enlivened by framing
it thus, some right relation to the archetype). The night before Jung
hung out his shingle to practice psychotherapy, he dreamed he was
opening the largest brothel in the world. Being of the underworld,
therapy is the domain of Pluto.
Pluto is called "He with many
names"--and one of those names is "the Good Counselor."

Like our erotic fantasies, the therapeutic environment provides an
imaginal structure, where its safe to have, hold, and explore
ourselves. Here we can reveal or discover what has been invisible,
hidden or buried. In the scrutiny of this imaginal structure we are
vulnerable to ourselves--as well as to another person--who at times
becomes the stand in for different parts of the world.

But a good therapist is eventually going to do more for many of his
clients than just be stand-in, or "support." He or she is also going to
be hierophant, and like the lover, "initiate us into the archetype."
And what I am saying is, the archetype is Plutonic.

Like a good whore, the "good counselor" often charges a lot for
his service, his servicing the soul--what the market will bear. We
are going to die, and my time--the time I have left--means a lot to
me. I charge (value it) accordingly. This, if self-justifying, also
seems true to the archetype. Pluto (Ploutos) means "riches." If his
realm is where we feel exposed, ashamed, overwhelmed, "carried
away," then perhaps the god has grown rich on all that we're
shamed by. All our wrong purchases (all that we've "bought into"
that now must be let go of), all the ways we've used money (or sex or
anything else) to "reach for the narcissus," all of it funneling down to
Hades...

And so, therapy's consulting room a Plutonic cave (abode of
Hecate?), where hopefully we'll finally have the right kind of
conversation about whatever it is we've needed to have the right
conversation about. Here we are not only vulnerable (like
Persephone)--but here we also can search and grieve (like Demeter)
for what so stabbingly seems missing in our lives .

 

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As I've suggested, part of the reason we have so much confusion
about money, feel so awkward about either our having or not having
"enough," is that in some way it mirrors how we feel about
ourselves.

But also, money is confusing for us (like sex and relationships) in
that we are being asked to deal with what is apparently an
important part of life, while having received almost no educative
training. So in such a materialistic culture as ours, we are almost
"set up" to have a problem here, or to feel that we do.

Why is "practical investing" not a course in every high school
curriculum? While the nation is gripped by the TV show "Do You
Want To Be A Millionaire?" why aren't kids taught that almost any
idiot can become a millionaire--or close to it-- if only he will begin
soon enough, be disciplined in contributing regularly to a retirement
fund, and leave the rest to the magic of compound interest?

I know many wonderful people who, in attempting to evade the
culture's materialistic shadow, wind up remaining somewhat
youthful and naive in this part of their lives. As if it's "spiritual" to
not pay very much attention to what's going on with our money. It's
as if such people are still living in a Father Knows Best scenario, with
them still being a child. This is not having the right kind of a
relationship to Plutous/riches.

Something of the puer here in delaying so long in coming into a
right relationship with money, in taking responsibility for this part of
one's life. When the inner father is absent (or his values, his value
scorned), this often leaves the inner child running the show--and the
same could be said about too much undisciplined, "impulse"
spending.

If there are different stages of life, might we not give a little to
whatever god presides over each? A few drachmas for the daughter
and mother, a little spare change for the crone. (Contributing to a
retirement fund is valuing and providing for the senex, its sense of
"social security." But as we will see, the childish part of the soul
doesn't have a historical perspective, and so feels "I want it now!" --
which may be sacrificing my future, as well as my maturity).

Like sex, we tend to try to shield our children from money, how it
talks, where and how it multiplies. This sends our money down to
the Underworld, keeps it invisible and unconscious, where it becomes
harder to fathom the purchase that feels ill-conceived, versus the one
bearing the flavor of right action, the money well spent in support of
real need. Our unconsciousness here makes it hard to see what part
of the soul is getting or spending our money--and this as true of
governments, as with ourselves.

 

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