Learning Wisdom from the Collective Unconscious

Learning Wisdom from the Collective Unconscious

It was C.G Jung who named the ideas, language, aesthetics, art, dance, myth, symbols, values, artefacts and song shared between cultures as the ‘collective unconscious’. It is in these that we find the true meaning of culture.

In 2018 I was asked to give a keynote address at a NAOSH risk and safety conference in British Columbia, Canada, the launch of Health and Safety Week.

The conference theme was ‘make safety a habit’ – a clear declaration that NAOSH has little idea of what a habit is, the dynamics of habit nor how the unconscious formation of habits was not something they should be promoting. A habit is something does unconsciously when the reward is gone. Habits are activities that are done without rationally thinking. We all know that when a situation changes we don’t want people to carry on their activity in blind habit, this is dangerous.

The NAOSH event was sponsored by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE). There is a video of the event here: https://vimeo.com/269663607/4c9f223916 I am not surprised that Engineers or safety people would know little of the psychology of habits and addictions, but they should. Amazing all this interest and blaming about complacency without knowing what it is. The addiction of Safety to Scientism and Behaviourism (https://safetyrisk.net/the-curse-of-behaviourism/) simply retards it from understanding much outside of its own discipline. The problem with Scientism is that it dismisses the validity of anything that is not empirically verifiable. The following article demonstrates the dilemma: https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2012/01-02/smoking-out-evil-spirits/

The conference was opened by the First People’s of the Songhees region, of the Salish People. An elder gave the ‘welcome to country’ and wore traditional garments explaining how each had significance and spiritual importance. See Picture One. Songhee’s Elder. The vest was worn to protect the heart and the head band was to protect from using wrong language. Wow what amazing myth/symbology. I thought we should get millions of those head bands so people in risk and safety could talk less nonsense to people (eg. ‘’safety is a choice you make’, ‘all accidents are preventable’ and ‘zero harm’)

Picture One. Songhee’s Elder.


The headband was made of a woven maple and I thought I could just go to a tourist shop and buy one. Turns out this head band is a very rare thing to get a hold of. So I asked my sponsor Jeff Lyth (https://spor.com.au/podcasts/conversation-about-a-new-approach-to-safety-with-jeff-lyth/) if he could locate one for me. The symbolism of that band was so powerful, what a great artefact to use in narrative and illustration about wisdom.

With the rise of social media and all this instant focus on filling the air with immature infantile noise, here was a wise Songhees elder sharing with us the wisdom of contemplative reflective language. Of all the things presented at this NAOSH conference, this was the most profound and helpful presentation.

In the end I did get a maple Songhees head band. Jeff got especially woven for me and it sits on display in my glass semiotics cabinet in my study. What a wonderful symbol of maturity, wisdom, learning and metaphysics. Words you won’t hear in the Scientist safety sector. See Picture Two. Maple Head Band.

Picture Two. Maple Head Band.


Of all the fixation in on PPE in the safety industry wouldn’t it be nice if maple head bands were compulsory. Maybe this head band could to help Safety stop talking shit to others.

Hey, maybe we could get some made for a few politicians.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

3 Replies to “Learning Wisdom from the Collective Unconscious”

  1. Hey Frank. Certainly would expose the insincerity of scientism and positivism in the safety industry. They certainly don’t believe in empirical verifiability.

  2. The cancer of safety has permeated every corporate behemoth and has degenerated into a tyranny of bureaucracy with the ganglions of blame, fear and retribution in an otiose attempt to obscure duty of care and due diligence.

    This is promoted via our peak association body with asinine shibboleths such as zero harm and reinforced by cohorts of neurotic Tonton Macoutes masquerading as certified safety professionals.

    Whenever I see grandiose job titles such as vice president of safety, it merely indicates the moron is a socially autistic malapert and about as articulate as our incumbent federal education minister.

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