What Star Trek Can Teach You About Your Psyche

If you clicked on this because of the title, you are probably a Trekkie, but if you have never seen Star Trek, I welcome you to boldly go on a journey into your psyche and nerd culture. 

For the uninitiated, most of the scenes in Star Trek take place on the bridge where Captain Kirk sits in the center, and the crew report from their stations, all working together to explore strange new worlds.

The scenes on the bridge frequently consist of discussions or debates between its three main characters – Captain Kirk, his second in command and science officer Spock, and chief medical officer Dr. McCoy. These discussions are often about who, what, where, and how to navigate the episode’s challenge. The rest of the crew on the bridge also help alert and support the captain in making decisions. 

You may be wondering, “What does this have to do with the psyche?” Thanks for sticking with me. First, let’s look at Carl Jung’s idea of The Self, which he defined as the unified unconsciousness and consciousness of an individual.

In this analogy of the parts of the psyche, Kirk represents The Self, Spock represents a more logical part, and Dr. McCoy represents a more emotional part. The discussions between these characters represent the internal conflict between The Self, Logic, and Emotion. If Spock or McCoy were entirely in charge, decisions would not be very balanced. 

In addition to The Self or captain, there are more crew members on the bridge or parts of the psyche that take on roles in aiding making decisions. As in Star Trek, the problems arise when the crew members step into the captain’s position and control the ship. Things usually turn chaotic pretty fast. 

According to Richard Schwartz, when The Self (or unified essence in this analogy) is in the captain’s chair, this helps to return these crew members or parts to their natural and useful states. For a deeper understanding of these concepts, check out the book Self-Therapy.

You may want to navigate your psyche but you are unsure how to do that on your own. Finding a trained therapist can help you explore your inner world as you discover how to navigate the final frontier to live long and prosper.

Written by: Dustin Ellis