PAYING ATTENTION: What Are You Spending It On?

Jul 8, 2021

Photo Credit: Erica Marsland-Huynh via Unsplash.com

We plainly pay attention, using the finite currency of time and energy issued in the 24-hour increments that add up to a life—well spent? We have choices and constraints about how we allocate our attention, and today’s world competes fiercely for it in unprecedented ways. No wonder, for power is the ability to command or hijack attention, even if it warps reality with untruths.

Jung particularly valued the attentional dimension of “dreaming, or fantasy-thinking” experienced in reverie, dreams, and creativity. And like mothers, lovers, and psychotherapists, we can give others the unconditional attention that brings soul into being. All we have to do is practice paying attention to what we pay attention to.

 Here’s the dream we analyze:

“A large lesbian woman, Sally, has four adopted boys. Their home is the top floor of a brick industrial building (like a power station) in the shape of a square, with a quad in the middle. They are visited by Kirsty and Phil (hosts of British TV shows about property/home improvement), and the first room they visit floods with seawater as the tide rises and falls, leaving tide marks on the furniture. One of the boys (aged 9) insists that the room is not fit for purpose and tugs on the sleeves of the adults, but Sally says it is OK. The other boy runs around like he has ADHD. As they move around the building, Kirsty and Phil discover all kinds of problems. There is an industrial kitchen covered in grease and grime. The roof leaks and the home isn’t warm or protected. In the one habitable room, two boys (one black, one white) are stored in a Walls ice cream freezer. Kirsty and Phil worry that the freezer is on, but they touch it and think it is off. The boys both have their eyes open. Kirsty and Phil realize that their cheerful, anything-is-possible attitude won’t work this time. They don’t sugarcoat things for Sally, telling her that the building is condemned and they need to move. They suggest that she sell at a loss. Sally nearly argues with them: she is angry and feels betrayed, but then she comes ‘round. Sally is a life skills coach, and Kirsty and Phil ask her for a session, which she says she will provide for free, but they want to pay her in full. This will allow Sally to recoup her losses and find another property. The 9-year-old anxious boy should have been listened to.”


Warzel, Charlie, “I Talked to the Cassandra of the Internet Age.” The New York Times, 4 February 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/04/opinion/michael-goldhaber-internet.html

The Social Dilemma. A docudrama filmed by Jeff Orlowski in 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Dilemma  

Ian McGilchrist. The Master and His Emissary. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0300245920/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_1W6M13WYQRW5X006XFHW

Daniel A. Hughes, Jonathan Baylin, and Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. Brain-Based Parenting. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0393707288/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_SG8Q283NW3NSTAV3BQBP

John Gottman. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0553447718/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_8XM6QBQMXNJ8M7K8X9GR


Learn to Analyze your Own Dreams:  https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. NBS

    This was such a terrific episode (as are all of them). I have been trying to find information about a Jungian interpretation of ADHD, particularly in adults. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations?

  2. Dalyn Badis

    Hi there,

    I hope this message finds you three well as we enter February and winter’s slow departure.

    I am a new therapist; slowly, chaotically finding my way in this work. I continue to learn so much from this podcast. Thank you. It’s a constant resource in my practice; helping to add so much texture and dimension to my viewpoint.

    I’m reaching out with a topic suggestion. Nearly all of my clients (teens and adults) come in with an ADHD diagnosis. As common as this diagnosis is, I am somewhat mystified by it and often ask myself “what exactly is happening for this person and why?” I’d really like to hear your perspectives on ADHD, its relationship to developmental trauma, and its mythic constellation.

    Thank you for considering.

    Take good care,
    – Dalyn B.


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