Depth Psychology Blog

Leaving Las Vegas

22 May 2013 5:53 PM | Silvia Behrend
Leaving Las Vegas

     I had the opportunity to accompany my husband to a work conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in May. His conference was held at the beautifully appointed Bellagio Hotel, complete with singing fountains, Chihuly glass ceilings, flower gardens, flowing chocolate fountains and what seemed like acres of pools. And, of course, there was heat and sun which is a rare commodity in Western Washington.
     Initially, I struggled to enjoy the beautiful hotel and the pool because, even though everything looked beautiful in the light, I knew that there was a dark and dangerous hidden and unknown world. I had work to do before I could order a margarita at the pool. How could I relax in the sun when surrounded by what some might call evil?
     So, I followed my training as an archetypal pattern analyst and perceived that I was sitting at the liminal space between the conscious and the unconscious worlds. The ego believes that reality is what it sees and nothing more. People are having a good time, this is what fun looks like. I can have another drink, another shot at the dice. This is it.
     But behind the bright lights, conference rooms, restaurants, gift shops, there exists an entire other city, unseen, unheard and unknown which drives the Las Vegas machine, much like the unconscious drives our ego when we are unaware. In addition to the many thousands of people that it takes to run the hotels behind the scenes: engineers, electricians, food preparers, cleaners, reservation personnel, bell hops, concierge, servers and myriad other service personnel, there are other unseen actors and forces; drug lords, pimps, prostitutes, and owners who create the illusions that feed thrills.
     It made me think of how those of us who look at the world through an archetypal lens cannot just live in the illuminated world. We live with an eye on both the conscious and the archetypal. We know that the sun and show lights are just one aspect of existence. The unconscious which is just outside our vision is the real driver. This is not to say that all is dark and pernicious, evil and death dealing. Going to Las Vegas can be a rejuvenating dip into the unconscious, it can be a healthy enjoyment or it can be a nightmare from which one wants to wake up. We have to know both realities so we are not surprised by what we are drawn to do and can choose.
Going through that thinking process allowed me to bask in the sun, order a margarita, and have a wonderful dinner with my husband. We could just sit back and enjoy what we were seeing and not seeing!
     As we were returning to our room, a visibly agitated man stepped into the elevator and incredulously exclaimed: “I just lost three thousand dollars in thirty minutes! Can you believe that?”
     I could believe it, because I knew where we were.


  • 16 Jun 2013 8:19 AM | Tim Holmes
    Very astute observations! We could say the same about the first world floating in a sea supported by the unseen labor and material of the third world (like the rare earth minerals that 'appear' in our electronics). Not to mention the human world supported similarly by nature (we will never know how much of the natural world's patters and values are destroyed by our unconscious activity). Our luxuries always have a hidden cost.

    The maturity of the race is partly measured– as in a growing child– in how conscious we become of our true relationships. When we can consciously choose our path we will have matured. Let's hope we can survive ourselves until then!
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