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The Story of the Jack - A Family Tale 

homem andando sozinho pela ruas


The Story of the Jack




Once upon a time there was a man driving down an unknown street, when suddenly the tire of his car punctures. The man gets out of the car willing to change the tire, but realizes the jack is not there.

He is uncomfortable with the situation, after all, it was no longer enough to have a flat tire at night, when he was already tired of an intense day of work, on an unknown street and at night, and, on top of that, not finding the jack!

The street was deserted, no car passed, the man began to get distressed, with no prospect of solving the situation, when he sees in the distance a light on, and decides to go get help, who knows there he would find someone willing to lend him a jack?

He walks towards that house, hoping to find the help he needs.

While he walks, he begins to reflect: It will be great, they must have a car, would lend me the jack, I would change my tire, return the jack, say thanks to them, and can go back home.

 But as he walks, his thoughts evolve, changing the course of her hopes, and he starts to have the following thoughts: if they do not have a car, will they let me use the phone? What if they have a car and they still do not want to lend me the jack?

What if they think I am a bandit and they do not even open the door so I can say what I want? What if they treat me badly, saying this is not time to ring the bell of someone's house? What if they have a dog, or maybe a gun, and they put me on the run?

As he walked toward the house, his thoughts evolved wildly, anticipating all the difficulties, mistrust, and lack of goodwill of the residents of that house. Suddenly, what was a hope of help, when he was in front of the house, is overcome with doubts and uncertainties.

Finally, he creates courage and rings the doorbell of the house, but when a person opens it, he says: You take your jack and make advantage of it, I do not need your help, you are a petty person, insensitive, selfish, incapable of a gesture of solidarity, and more other things that good education does not allow me to repeat here and now.

After pouring all this anger and frustration into the thunderstruck owners of the house, he turns his back and leaves, snorting, and without a jack.

The owners of the house look at each other, thunderstruck, without understanding what had happened, observe that stranger walking away, stomped off the street, while they are trying to imagine why they were treated that way by that stranger.

I have no idea about the origin of this story, just know that it became a warning code that my family used every time someone acted leaded by autonomous thoughts and fantasies,  and not according to the facts, and this code functioned as a magical antidote, which removed the person from the power of the curse of autonomous thoughts and fantasies, bringing the individual back to reality.

I do remember particularly an aunt, who when telling a story about conflicts and misunderstandings, usually have said: - Of course this would go wrong, he or she was acting like in the story of the jack!

Popular wisdom develops very creative resources to deal with neurotic behaviors, as we see in our tale, just one warning: - You're behaving as the jack story! Like magic, he or she came out of the anxious trance, sometimes even slightly paranoid, and the feeling-toned complex had a chance to be disabled!

After many years of profession, I was able to recognize the wisdom that people who did not even know what psychology was at the time, were so efficient in putting their knowledge into practice.

So often we hear versions of the jack story, both in the narratives of patients and people around us, and if we do not have the full picture of the situation, we feel like the residents of the house who were insulted without reason.

Personal relationships are full of noise of communication, which create and feed unnecessary conflicts.


In the case of our story, the residents of the house, at least as far as we know, were not taken by any complex, as they did not rebut, did not go after the man to ask for explanations or anything that is worth it, but they did not understand what had happened, and probably never understood, because the complexes act autonomously, are unconscious even for the jack man, who did not acknowledge that what he did was nonsense.

Many times, we see ourselves in this situation, we are hit by a psychic stray bullet, and we do not know for sure what hit us, but usually it makes us aware that we need to put this person under observation.

Sometimes, this person is putted more than under suspicion, he or she starts to be avoided, or excluded for some precious group.

The greatest danger occurs when a person who had a complex episode, which means, had a feeling toned complex activated, encounters the feeling toned activated complex of someone else. In this case, we no longer have people who communicate and relate to each other, but two autonomous complexes, full of emotion and energy, taking control of the situation.

Jung says that when a feeling toned complex is activated, we do not have a complex, the complex is what has us, that is, our ego, representative of our will, education and values, loses control, in an event close to of psychic dissociation, where we are taken by something that we do not recognize as ourselves. Every time we do not recognize ourselves in a situation, it means we were taking by a complex.


However, the problem has solution.


We do not need to be at the mercy of our autonomous complexes, that is, we can turn off autonomous thoughts, trying to focus on the here and now. Of course, this depends on our life history and the difficult, or traumatic, situations we have been through, but whatever conflicts, and unpleasant situations are needed can be avoided.


Several times, patients and friends have asked my opinion about a decision, a favor they want to ask, a job or school application, full of thoughts like the man of the jack.

My first answer is: Try it! The worst that can happen is to receive a no as an answer.

Of course, one needs to be prepared to accept no as an answer, but if persecutory thoughts are present, the way the person puts himself may be inefficient, after all, if we want to be heard, we need an appropriate attitude, and coherent arguments.


Receiving a negative or a positive answer is always a possibility to be considered, as the other has the right to decide for yes or no, but the fantasy of rejection do not consider the other.


We will never know if the owners of that house even had a car, or a hydraulic jack, and if this jack would be suitable for that’s man’s car, or if they would have borrowed the jack, or if they would give him a ride, so that he could quickly have reached his car, that was far away, or if they would offer to make a phone call, so that his family would not worry, because of a flat tire.


When we do not give to the other the opportunity to speak out, we will never know of their availability, or the reasons for this availability exist or not, we choose to relate to ourselves, to our thoughts and fantasies, and this other within us can be much more difficult to deal with than the mere resident to whom we knock at the door.


What about you? Would you borrow the jack? Would you ask for help in some kind of situation? Would you give a chance to the other, or for yourself?





Jung, Carl Gustav - Complete Works

                                 Two Essays in Analytical Psychology, the unconscious, Volume 7/2

                                 The Nature of the Psyche, Complete Works, Volume 8/2

                                 Personality Development, Volume 17


The jack story was a tale, discomfort, joke, alert, judgment, finally, a way  that my family found to try to elaborate the influence of autonomous complexes loaded with affection, at a time when Psychology was not as popular as today, nor did we have Google to ask, and yet, of great therapeutic effect.

A recognition of the wisdom of my grandmother Zahya    and my Aunt Marlene,  great storytellers,    and bearers of great wisdom.

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