Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Do You Look So Familiar?

(This blog was originally posted on January 19, 2016)

Photo by Sara Fogan

It is human nature to draw comparisons between things (and even people) we see in the world around us. How many times have you looked at someone and said, “He reminds me of so-and-so”? Have you ever mistaken a large tree stump or branch as an animal or even a prowler lurking near your house before realizing what the object actually was?

Sometimes I wonder why these inanimate objects take on shapes or images that are so familiar to so many people. Psychologist Carl Jung wrote about collective metaphors and believed that humans all over the world shared images and meanings regardless of their background or geographic location. Hypnotherapist and Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D., might consider these images subconscious knowns, created by information that is shared from one generation to the next to help make sense of the world. Our suggestibility—how we learn—facilitates this process.

For example, this Good Morning America segment featured a special-interest report about a rescue cat named Kory, whose physical features seem to eerily resemble those of Adam Driver. For those who don’t know or recognize the name, he is the actor who portrays Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Apparently an animal shelter originally posted the kitty’s photograph on-line just to attract potential adopters for the stray. Their strategy worked, big time. Internet browsers quickly noticed and commented about the physical similarities between Kory the cat and the Star Wars bad guy. Now Kory the Cat’s new Forever Family know him by his new moniker:  Kylo Ren. I wonder if the cat would have received so much love and attention quite so quickly if someone had not pointed out this resemblance to other Star Wars fans out there. How much of their interest was in adopting an adorable adult cat versus the idea/fantasy of having a cuddly, real-life, feline representation of the blockbuster film living in their home?

Last week, someone posted a photograph on Facebook of an image she had seen while taking pictures of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). The picture featured an image of a running wolf. The woman didn’t even need to include text with her post to explain the shape she had seen. Since it was shared on a Facebook page that is dedicated to wolves and wolf conservation, no explanation was needed, anyway. We all knew what the shape represented, and many people commented that they had seen/recognized the wolf right away. I certainly had. Again, though, I had to wonder: was the shape a Jungian icon that our collective subconscious minds immediately recognized? Or, did we recognize the wolf image because we saw it on a specific forum that is dedicated to honoring wolves?

On other occasions, people have shared pictures of clouds that took on the shape of a dolphin or orca (killer whale). Just a couple of days ago, someone posted a picture of a sunrise where rays of the sun perfectly intersected at right angles, just like a cross.

While I have never yet seen anything so impressive in a cloud formation or sunrise or sunset, I have noticed a lot of repetition in the shapes and forms of various objects that seem to occur naturally in the environment. Case in point: A couple of years ago, the chocolate-chip cookie dough formed the shape of a heart while it baked in the oven. Or, so it seemed to me. This shape probably came about because I inadvertently cut the cookie when I slid it off of the tray. I was so impressed by this image that I took a picture of it (and the symbolism of its shape) to keep for posterity. When I bake, I like to think and tell people who enjoy my treats that the secret ingredient that makes them so yummy is that I bake them with love. In this case, my secret ingredient took on a literal form.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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