The Individuation Process
World famous psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung created “Jungian Theory”. He describes the individuation process as becoming self-actualized and aware. Discovering and embracing ones true self. It might sounds simple but it requires deep understanding and time.
We grow up wondering “who we are”, a never ending conversation with the universe. Jung developed guidelines for people to be able to get closer to their primal light. The “Who am I?”
The ego is the center of consciousness though it is not who you are. It is your sense of uniqueness and how you distinguish yourself from others. With our consciousness we experience everyday life. Our unconscious is our backstage, our hidden self that continues to work and grow with the conscious mind. Unconscious tendencies can be stronger than conscious. Our unconscious balances our lives and forces us to be our better selves.
Individuation is the discovery of the divine in yourself. This is a long and painful process. We need to face our shadows and accept ourselves so we can move forward. Once a person has accepted their personal shadow and reached the individuation process one becomes conscious of relationships with everything that lives and the universe.
The individuation process naturally occurs in our minds. When suppressed, one does not feel like themselves they feel depressed and crave more. Jung has expressed how our modern world does not give enough opportunity to experience our shadows.
The process begins with understanding you persona or mask. We then become conscious of our shadows or suppressed ego. We become conscious of the masculine and feminine or Animus and Anima in each other. It is necessary to look past the paradox and accept both the superior and the inferior, the rational and the irrational, the order and the chaos, light and darkness, yin and yang.
Freud coined the term transference to describe projection in an analytical setting. Projection is when you unconsciously inflict your own thoughts and feelings onto another person. Transference can also refer to projection from a client to a therapist.
Projection happens to everyone. We change how we view the world by allowing our ways of belief and choices get in the way. Our inner world significantly influences the outer world. Powerful unconscious feelings may allow you to project onto others and could bring a healthy person to their knees. “We project in order to know who we are.” Freud developed transference-neurosis, where the original source is brought to light and broken through.
Transference isn’t always a bad thing, it can be positive. In the psychology of Transference Carl Jung says the key to success is the ability to endure the tension of the opposites without abandoning the process, this allows one to grow and transform.
The textbook definition of transference is “the inappropriate repetition (in the present) of a relationship that was important in a person’s childhood”. It’s common to have deep repressed feelings from your parents and to take them out on your partner or children. Though it can come from anywhere in your past.
The Collective Unconscious
Jung’s collective unconscious concept is based on his experience with schizophrenic patients he worked with in a psychiatric hospital. The collective unconscious is with us from birth and effects every living being on this earth. It is our imprinted primal knowledge.
Clan of The Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel is a novel about primitive humans. The tribe is so deeply connected that they did not talk, they just grew up knowing and never having to learn. This is how we are all connected. We might not be primitive beings anymore but we still have the capability to tap into the collective unconscious.
Jung says it is from instinct and archetypes. Analytical psychology examines a person’s relationship to the collective unconscious. It can be overwhelming for individuals as well as scary and healing. The collective unconscious is shared with other humans and is made up of memories from our ancestral and evolutionary past. Fear of the dark, spiders or snakes could be an example.
Jung knew that this concept would be strange to understand at first but once thought about it would make sense. He had to defend his theory from critics, calling it mysticism. He has always taken a scientific route and started to prove to people that there is much more than the individual. This is what set Jung apart from Freud.
Haven’t you heard “we are all connected”! Well our collective unconscious is what connects each one of us. The reason we are all on this earth, not why you are.
Archetypes are thoughts and images that have universal meaning like dreams, art and religion. Jung identified many archetypes but there are 4 that are most significant. Those 4 are the persona, anima/animus, shadow and self.
The persona is our mask we hide our real selves behind. The anima/animus is the feminine within each man and the masculine within each woman, it controls our attitude toward the other sex. The Shadow is our animal side, it is the source of both our creative and destructive energies. Finally, there is self, where you start the individuation process.
Jung says these archetypes come from the collective experience of men and women living together. Still the world we live in discourages men to connect with their feminine when women are more encouraged to embracing their masculine.
Jung believed archetypes organize ideas in the psyche and are a part of the fundamental principles of energy and matter. Archetypes are believed to control the human life cycle. They are components of the collective unconscious and they serve us by organizing, directing and informing human thought and behavior. They are inherited potentials that are discovered when they become conscious through behavior, images and your interactions with the world. These archetypes form a commonality between all humans, though the individual and their culture makes us all unique. In Greek ‘arche’ means beginning, origin, cause, or primal source principle. It also means supreme rule. The ‘type’ means blow, pattern and primordial form.