Is psychological balance and fitness primary or is the individuative drive central to our psychology? Obviously, individuation exists as an unconscious impetus, because we must leave childhood naivete behind and become responsible individuals. Also in adult life we want to make headway in order to feel good. But which is the egg and which is the hen?

Arguably, individuation is secondary to psychological harmony. After all, should personality experience stagnation, then the individual would like to break out from the stagnant condition, even if much has been accomplished. What's the point in living in a beautiful castle if one is bored? So the foundational principle is perhaps that life must keep flowing. But this also means that growth will occur.

In Poul Bjerre's (1876-1964) thought, individuation is a function of the continual process of "death and renewal". Any achievement of wholeness will sooner or later turn into a stagnated condition, from which personality must break free. It means that wholeness as a goal also means psychological death. On this view, wholeness is an ambivalent symbol. Although being a goal for personality, its backside is stagnation. It's the important realization that St Augustine made, i.e., that it is not worthwhile to strive after a worldly paradise (v. "City of God").

Bjerre, who was one of the first psychoanalysts, saw destruction as a central theme in individuation. If personality is stuck, a renewal must be invoked. But this means that the old Self is abandoned and what has been achieved is thrown off. Thus, individuation can mean destruction, in the sense of breaking out of an old shell. Yet, it conflicts with the psychoanalytic notion of integration, central to which is to integrate disowned aspects of ourselves. In Jung's thought, individuation consists in collecting psychic content into a 'complexio oppositorum'. The principle of negation is given little weight. Rather, what counts is assimilation. Yet, evidence suggests that negation is very central. A woman recounts her dream:

"I have had recurrent dreams of a woman living in an ivory tower, or other buildings, and being forced to leave. In one dream I was admiring the garden outside the woman's tower. A disembodied voice said: 'This is beautiful, but all this must change.' --In the period following, my life became much more "real" and a lot less beautiful."

The conclusion is that personality isn't imprisoned in childhood, but we are wholly capable of changing our ways. It's just that people are reluctant to abandon old habits of life, including cognitive habits. For various reasons personality remains stuck. It could be due to insecurity or inertia. (I write something about Bjerre's view of individuation, which involves also negation and destruction, here.) From this perspective it is easier to understand this dream from my early twenties:

"I entered a huge library with an enormous cupola, which had a pinkish plastering. In its centre was a round mandala with four black circles in square formation. I was awestruck. On the outside was the blackness of the universe. A voice said: 'These are the holes through which the soul leaves at the moment of death'."

In this dream, the quaternity, which is supposed to mean life's fulfilment, acquires the meaning of death. The dream seems to compensate the ideal of quaternary wholeness by associating it with death. Indeed, to collect all knowledge in a huge library is symbolic of intellectual wholeness. But it is a deadly backwater, too. So the quaternity is like the Mother of Life and Death--it is ambivalent.

The four is regarded a feminine number, contrary to three, which is masculine. Arguably, the quaternary focus of Jungian psychology is misguided, because one shouldn't pledge allegiance to any single archetype. The trinity and the quaternity are opposites, denoting different kinds of wholeness. This complementary dynamic must remain at play.

Mats Winther

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Yes, it's difficult to put in a short form. It's more like dynamics (and maybe being wrong at some point) than bouncing from one random to another even more random opinion. Carl Bildt came to my mind as he, as it seems (and I don't think I should agree with you or anyone else, even though I'm doing my best to be open for new facts), randomly chooses an opinion about the latest conflict and sticks to it (

I realized that my puer aeternus article had not much flesh on the bones, so I have improved it (here).

I also realize that the huge library of my dream wasn't a "backwater". Rather, the dream compensates my disillusioned attitude during that period. The books represent the adventure of the spirit, which is being contrasted to the Death Quaternity. So the dream encouraged me to adapt to life through spiritual passion. One must take root in life one way or the other, before it is too late, when it is time for the soul to leave through the four holes. I also had another remarkable dream on this theme, long ago:

"Before the creation of the world, angels were sitting on pillars that reached above the clouds. Beneath was an endless sea. They were involved in a discussion about the futility of worldly creation, because whatever you do, the result is so diminutive compared with one's intentions. One of the angels took down the discussion on a piece of birch(?)-bark. This piece of bark dropped to the ocean below, and I could see it sailing like a boat on the endless sea. Thus, the realization that creation is futile became the first item of creation in the world."

It is very philosophical. The dream says that the spiritual passion of transcendency, standing apart from the world and realizing its futility, which is characteristic of contemplative and trinitarian tradition, is in fact a way of taking root in life, and becoming part of creation. /Mats


Their is an element of predestination in the dream. I suspect you have added extensively to your spiritual library since you experienced it. 

I am just going to throw something in from the blue at this point. I don't know whether it is significant or means much of anything.Maybe you already have incorporated my awkward perception into your analysis.

Is the spiritual/cupola--phallus/library [THE TRINITARIAN SYMBOLISM]  built atop and obviously attached to the quaternity symbolism in your dream a picture of the bigger/complete dreamer/human.. We are a symbiotic species. But for the difference of an X or Y chromosome men and women both have the same underling genetic foundation. The dream would then be a picture of your totality...  both your masculine and your underlying feminine root/nature. This would make the dream uniquely personal for the dreamer... I'm not up to date on the literature in regard to the quaternity and trinitiy. but can i suspect both the trinity and quaternity can be viewd as two different parts of a whole phenomenon. Meaning there might be an orientating dimension to the quaternity and trinity symbolism... and the  mystery of course as well... I had to deal with the problem of the appearance of feminine archetypes in the masculine psyche and vice versa... The human symbiosis explains much... especially the context of the patriarchy...

Klemens, it is certainly predestinational, but I think it has collective meaning, anyway. The Jungian notion of the quaternity means fulfilment in terms of psychic integration. But the dream says that the quaternity means the opposite, namely the soul's disintegration, its splitting into four aspects.

The dream represents conscious accomplishment and engagement in the form of a vast library--a kind of temenos, or paradisiacal wholeness. The message is that conscious zest is central. It could signify the Aristotelian passion for the wonders of the natural world, or the more abstract Platonic enthusiasm for the Forms, as it comes to expression in the fine arts, for instance. It means to take root in life.

For instance, I remember how fascinated I was with a book about flowers and herbs, and their ingenious ways of propagation. It surprised me, because it's not a very Jungian theme. Jung wasn't very interested in the natural world. He told his gardener's son not to say "stars". He should call them "planets", instead (as retold in a Swedish Jung paper). So he didn't even know that the stars are distant suns.

Jung presents an alternative to the traditional ways of taking root in life. He claims that it's possible to strike down roots in the unconscious. Thus, he renounces spiritual tradition, such as mysticism. He downplays religion and repudiates modern art. Of course, he draws on philosophical tradition, including Kant, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, James, Cusanus, etc. But he provides a warped account of their ideas in order to accommodate them within his own psychology, which puts the unconscious in the foreground. Dorneus and alchemical tradition is subjected to psychologization, whereas The Book of Job is subjected to grotesque misinterpretation. He emphasizes that intellectual consciousness mustn't be overly developed, because it leads to psychological one-sidedness. The foundation of the universe is the unconscious, in the form of Unus Mundus--esse in anima.

Jung's repudiation of historical varieties of conscious tradition serves the purpose of elevating the alternative path of the unconscious. But it is not possible to take root in the unconscious, because unconscious is protean nature and a quagmire. We cannot establish the transcendental function as the pillar of our lives. In this sense, Jungian theory has been faulted. Arguably, the dream of the "Death Quaternity" downplays Jungian psychology by portraying the central Jungian symbol in negative light.

Jung still remains within the confines of intellectual decency. At least, he thinks highly of comparative religion and mythological studies. One should balance out the unconscious with worldly adaptation in the form of work and family, etc. But in Hillman's Archetypal Psychology it has taken a turn for the worse. The puer aeternus should not strive to take root in life, because life is a phantasmagoric quagmire. Illusion becomes an ideal. But Hillman's thought is present already in Jung, which David Tacey has shown ("The Darkening Spirit").

It is highly damaging not to develop conscious passion, which some call love, because there is nothing else in life, except the final journey. Thus, the realization of the Death Quaternity has a positive function, because the powerful archetype impels us to adapt to life before its too late, to find an outlet for conscious libido. Jung's notion according to which conscious passion is reduced to salaried employment and societal responsibility, doesn't hold water. It isn't good enough. Regardless of what Jung says, it is perfectly fine to become passionately interested in abstract forms painted on a canvas, or become captivated by the natural world, such as the world of insects and flowers, or devote oneself to religious studies, meditation and prayer. As long as we take heed of our dreams, this is the proper way of individuation.

On the surface, it seems that Jung's repudiation of conscious passion concords with spiritual apophatic tradition. But one must keep in mind that the latter represents zest for the spirit, for the conscious substance itself, which is God. The spiritual pilgrim opens his eyes to the Forms, or the soul-sparks, present in the natural world. Detachment from the temporal means to establish another fervour, which is the light that surrounds existence. Mystics keep using the notion of love, that is, conscious passion, as such.

However, in Jung's thought, it represents opening the gates to the unconscious, allowing for unconscious invasion. This is really a completely different notion, which accords with LSD therapy. Except for therapeutic purposes, it represents a blind alley for personality. I put forward that it is essentially different than apophatic and kataphatic mystical tradition, which are really the two sides of the same coin.

Mats Winther


I just threw in predestination because you did not originally mention it in relation to the library discussed in your dream. I wasn't second guessing you but highlighting the beauty of the library and the thought and effort that went into creating it. 

The dream represents conscious accomplishment and engagement in the form of a vast library--a kind of temenos, or paradisiacal wholeness. ---mats winther

the predestinational aspect of your dram says there is something within your soul or life force inspiring you to consciously build up the library... The source that is inspiring your conscious effort is embedded in your psychological equation and in the Unconscious as well???

As to what the quadratic destinational path taken by the soul at the moment of death  who is to really know. I was reminded of the multiple babushkas in those russian wooden eggs. You open one of them and another resides inside and so on...What you dreamed of might have been the first event in a bigger mystery. Doesn't the neoplatonic self/one lie beyond your dreams experiential event horizon. A reunion with the ONE. The unknown and the unknowable are aptly named. 

So he didn't even know that the stars are distant suns.--mats winther

but humanity is pretty dumb and very insecure about having their ignorance exposed...

I am going to reword your critique on Jung for comparisons sake. Jung discovered that traditional ways of taking root in existence had personally failed him. God was dead. The ego becomes God and the ego deemed itself to be beyond good and evil.  Thereby modern man is disconnected   from his own soul. IT IS UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL aka Jung to find the pathway to reconnect modern man with his own soul... Via Individuation. If he denounced mysticism spiritual tradition and religion to SOME arguable extent then he did so because he found them to be irrelevant to the problem confronting modern man...his disconnection from his own soul. 

He puts the Unconscious in the foreground because he found the solution to modern mans dilemma in the Unconscious. I agree with you on answer to job though i gratefully adapted one of his brilliant ideas from it. On alchemy i agree with you but for my own reasons. I presume by intellectual consciousness you are referring to the thinking type in his typological formulation. Logic works in a system. As Jim Rickards said  all the 160 IQs the federal reserve board employs can't get the job done because the system they are performing their logical acrobatic show in is faulty, hence their logic gets them nowhere. Reconnecting with the soul the unconscious the irrational is just what the one sided thinking types need today. 

I would argue the Unconscious is firmly rooting and inspiring your desire to build a vast and library in the conscious domain. Well lets say there are unconscious/archetypal forces shaping some part of your desire to build such a wonderful library. 

I don't believe Jung ever claimed to be the measure of all things. He guided many people to the discovery of their own uniquely individuating life force. His patients weren't cookie cut and processed like freuds... with oedipal complexs et al..Finally Jungs passion for building and designing was demonstrated by the construction of his own home/tower. 

The big contradistinction between you and Jung is you had a wonderful spiritual dream to guide your existence. jung did not. He had troubling dreams that bespeak of serious psychological disruption. Jung wasn't programmed to be a mystic... He was programmed to solve serious problems pertaining to his own personal psychological equation....He is a pioneer who brought the detached modern individual  Christian consciousness onto the path that will rediscover Gods/Unconscious tole in shaping our humanity and destiny... The Freudians and effette hillmanian posseurs with their romantic sensibility have not a clue as to the importance of individuation for the individual but for what the birth of this new Jungian type of homo individuatis will mean to our civilization and culture...

Jung's first dream

In contradistinction to mat's dream. This is not the dream of mystic but of someone who was psychologically under the gun from the gitgo. As I said previously Jung gave us the tools with which to approach the Unconscious to reconnect with our own souls. That is the gift. The other gift was the introduction of the empirical methodology into the study of the Unconscious/psyche/analytic psychology. One must look inside oneself and find ones own individual path. A path that even indeed might be a mystic one, if that is where ones individuation and underlying nature leads one. Jung is not the be all and end all of existence. He was mortal and could only do so much. I know you are not blaming him for not catering directly to your mystical bent....

I hope we are both working on the problem of orientating ourselves to Jung's contribution to psychology. In his life and in his works he presented a new paradigm for humanity. A uniquely  individual paradigm. He was the trail blazer for individualities entry as a player in our collectivist Christian civilizational dynamic. God died within our christian civilization because we have psychologically matured to the point where the ego and individuality are ready to emerge and take center stage. The psychological problem of the day is our newly emergent ego must learn that god may be dead but the ego is not God. The developing ego's role is to discover his limitations and reintroduce God back into the psychological equation. This is our christian duty and our civilization task. This is the what the individual must do if mankind/the individual is going to eventually take responsibility for his own destiny....

I can't seem to find a link to Jung's dream of God pooping on the church. I was intending to close this response with Jung's discovery that the church was dead and in need of renewal. Well there goes my God is dead so the ego becomes god parallel. Inside Jung was a furious God who would not accept the death of the church and God he inspired Jung to reconnect with his own soul and renew our religious roots... whatever... 

Klemens, the problem is just this, that Jung makes his important discoveries paradigmatic for human life. But there are other aspects to existence, also. Of course, when I was young, I thought I had found the essential truth about "everything" after having read Jung. But the dream places me in a humongous library where I feel like a little speck. So the dream says: "Look what you have missed out on!" And then it portrays Jung's quaternity as as disintegration, as Death.

Jung simplifies matters too much when he portrays human existence as One, a complexio oppositorum of this-worldly life and psychic fulfilment through integration of the unconscious. I have proposed that the problem is more complicated than how Jung portrays it, and that the human Self is complementary, having at least two sides. This accords with St Augustine's position. Eugene TeSelle says:

"In Augustine's thinking [the metaphor of two cities] meant differentiating between two modes of life and two concrete communities which he called the earthly city and the city of God, expressed in, but not identical with, the state (or civil society) and the church. Before he arrived at that position, however, he understood the duality (not dualism!) in a variety of other ways. At first he thought it possible to live fully in both cities at the same time, to be bathed in the divine light yet active in the material world. Then he came to the conviction that this is impossible under current conditions--that we are so firmly enmeshed in the sensory world that we can be citizens of the city of God only through faith and hope, or through the momentary ecstasy that he called "alienation" from the world of the senses. Duality, in other words, may be built into the human situation." ("Living in Two Cities", p.xi)

Indeed, in our mode as earthly citizens, God is dead, just as Nietzsche says. But in our other mode of existence, in the City of God, He is live and well. Duality is inbuilt in the human situation. Jung's youthful vision of God destroying the Basel Cathedral is MDR, pp.36-39:

"I thought it over again and arrived at the same conclusion. "Obviously God also desires me to show courage," I thought. "If that is so and I go through with it, then He will give me His grace and illumination."

"I gathered all my courage, as though I were about to leap forthwith into hell-fire, and let the thought come. I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky. God sits on His golden throne, high above the world—and from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder.

"So that was it! I felt an enormous, an indescribable relief. Instead of the expected damnation, grace had come upon me, and with it an unutterable bliss such as I had never known. I wept for happiness and gratitude. The wisdom and goodness of God had been revealed to me now that I had yielded to His inexorable command. It was as though I had experienced an illumination. A great many things I had not previously understood became clear to me." (Jung, MDR, pp.36-39)

Jung understands the Basel Cathedral as the burden imposed on us by our Christian heritage. But I think it really signifies the destructive capacity of the Self to obliterate "stagnant wholeness", because the cathedral is a symbol of the Self. Arguably, the vision projects a renewal of the Self, wholly in line with the ideal of ego abandonment. But such a thought was anathema to Jung, because the Self is like a never-ending building project. It cannot be destroyed, allowing a new Self to grow in place of the former.

But, in fact, what was shattered was his former Self, not our Christian heritage. He threw out the whole of trinitarian tradition, because he needed to break free of naive childhood faith. But Christian mystics also repudiate naive religiosity. For example, St John of the Cross exposed religious frauds, such as stigmatization.

Mats Winther


That is a massive article mats. You have inspired me to take the risk and deem the puer aeternus the psychological remnant/throwback from the matriarchal epoch. I had toyed with this idea for years but i didn't understand how to  fit the puer into my own work. And now come the qualifications  marie louise von franz includes the individuating male within her definition of the puer. She is obviously refers to a male who has been individuated but who has not as yet attained the capacity to exist as an individual and thereby the capacity to root his character in the masculine/patriarchal matrix. This type of male has been stuck in the individuation process and is unable to escape the pull of the maternal complex. Yet there is no going back for the individuated character because he has been individuated. 

So set that aspect of von franz's definition of the puer aside and then we can say the puer aeternis is a psychological throwback from the matriarchal era. he is the masculine denizen of a no longer extant matriarchal order.

We encounter this puer character out of his matriarchal context. Therefore we see him in isolation. Within a matriarchal construct he would have his social unit and the mothers dominate and establish the bearings by which he orientates his character and existence. His primary function being to spreserve the species and hence the matriarchal order. You can exhibit a lion in a zoo but to see the true lion in action you must go out into the jungle and observe him in operating in his own domain. 

The matriachal masculine character has valiantly and honorably shouldered the responsibility of preserving the species from the beginning of mankinds existence until the time when the individual and the patriarchy/civilization were born about 10,000 years ago. Well there may have been a transition period prior to the emergence of the individual. Therein the individuated response to existence was activated and the struggle to synthesize the individual got underway. In short the mothers activated the archetype of individuation instead of the species prservative archetype within their male children.

 One shouldn't dismiss the matriachal character out of hand.... he had the same human intelligence but it was yoked to necessity of securing the survival of the matriarchy and the species. For example a self proclaimed puer aeternus like hillman has an above average intelligence and made quite a significant impact on some. What an utter disaster he has been for jungian psychology.

So the matriarchal man is as you say an inhabitant of a different branch of the human tree. Species preservation is dominant and the expressions of individuality that manifest within him are subordinated. 

I'm going to stop here but before i do I'd like to to say the following quote from your article made me think of Odysseus. On his journey home he was not always harmless but he was wise and as cunning  as a serpent.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”

Klemens, I discuss this notion in my article 'An intrusion of matriarchal consciousness' (here). Although M-L von Franz discusses the puer aeternus as a form of immaturity predicated on the mother complex, she also says that society harbours individuals that psychologically belong to an older epoch. She recounts how she met with a Stone Age man living in the Alps, who walked about naked during the summers. He was at one with nature.

Arguably, many pueri aeterni belong to this type, i.e., they are psychologically a throwback to a pre-Christian mindset. These people have always existed. Ancient Greek society was heroic and oriented toward achievement. Nevertheless, Epicurus's philosophy became enormously popular. As many as 400,000 people lived in Epicurean societies around the Mediterranian, until they were closed down by the Christian emperor in the 6th century. They worked just enough to sustain themselves, and for the rest of their time they focused on feeling good among their fellow Epicureans. Life was not about achievement, truth-searching, or exploration. Rather, it was all about feeling content and happy. So these communities were like modern retirement homes. Of course, it must have been perfect for people suffering from illness or handicap, but the phenomenon can't be explained without a notion of congenital matriarchal psychology. Why on earth would strong and able men want to throw away their lives like this?

So it would mean that there is a neurotic as well as a congenital puer psychology. The latter is very much connected with ethnicity. My country, a world-renowned Nanny State, is favourite with black Africans, many of whom are pueri aeterni. They have no zest for accomplishment, but focus entirely on feeling good, while adopting a vegetative lifestyle, much like ancient Epicureans. 

However, we mustn't equate an inability to put down roots with a neurotic or congenital condition. After all, it could depend on life's circumstances and somatic illness, etc. /Mats


Von Franz did not have to encounter a stone age throwback walking naked in the Alps to encounter remnants of the matriarchal modality. The classical manic depressive psychosis is the product of matriarchal maternal techne that has gone completely off the rails. What is the depression in manic depression. It is the unresolved fear of abandonment and death that overwhelms takes possession and then psychologically devastates its victim. In the matriarchal modality the mother allies with her child and together they create a joint defence  against the unavoidable phenomenon of abandonment and death.. which a child encounters at birth. When that defensive alliance fails depression sets in big time. Now even the normal matriarchal mentality is always prone to bouts of depression as his defence against it was founded on a joint alliance with the mother. 

Individuation and the maternal techne presents its own unique individual approach to the problem of abandonment and death. The supportive and nurturing mother expects her child to make an individual response to those fears and that leads to the individuation of her child. Schizophrenia would then be the devastating result of the individuated approach which has run off the rails... 

The days of the superordinate  Mother Goddess are long behind us but the matriarchal modality which she represented was responsible for preserving the species until not all that long ago.... Individuation led to the emergence of the individual and thereupon the masculine spirit and the patriarchy were able to free the human spirit from the shackles of materiality... This enabled civilization to emerge as mankind was able to impose the rule of law and a spiritual kingdom in a material world. Unfortunately materiality was able to undermine the patriachy and we now live in the age of the Son...

Klemens, I find your theory interesting, albeit somewhat unclearly defined. You say that the Mother gave birth to the principle of individuality, which competes with the older principle of manhood. In Egyptian myth, if Seth represents the phallus of the Mother, the young god Horus, birthed by Isis, would represent the individual principle, then.

However, some interpreters say that Horus and Christ are symbolically equivalent. So I don't see how the Christ could have inaugurated the "age of the Son" in the sense of puerility, if that's what you mean.

Arguably depression equals lack of conscious passion. Thus, individual conscious zest safeguards us against encroaching depression, which was always an imminent danger in the age of collective consciousness. In traditional society, as soon as a member was expelled from the tribe, he would be overtaken with depression and likely die.

The Mother, of course, would want to protect his son, although she also represents the threatening abyss in the form of Death. But manic depression (bipolar disorder) has both genetic and non-genetic grounds. I think it's better to employ a more general term of depression. /Mats


Agreed. The matriarchal personality is subordinated to the mother complex. The mature individual by dint of completing his individuated development roots his character in the paternal/patriarchal complex. Many of the individuated do not become individuals because they cannot complete the process of separating from the mother complex. hence all these early neurotic syndromes contain an element of end the maternal dependency and take responsibility for yourself as in Grow UP!

I maintain the matriarchal women developed themselves an individuated character and then created the maternal techne to support the development of the individuated masculine personality.. whose completion of the individuated developmental cycle resulted in the birth of the individual and thus the patriarchy.

I start from the premise that God made us all inadequate so we would need each other. Some amongst us are more presumptuous and brassier than others. But at heart, and here I agree with you, i rather suspect their pretensions to lead us are rooted in their own infantile fantasies of grandeur. Throw in a touch of treachery cleverness opportunism deceit larceny et al and viola you get political pancakes. There are many more  bozos in waiting eagerly lined up behind these clowns. What can you do.

An individual must establish his place in a civilization and the material matrix... By definition he would be unconscious of much of what lies beyond the range of his conscious capabilities. That brings in the collective nature of our species, participation mystique , weltschaung et al. So inasmuch as one has acquired the capacity to exist as an individual does not automatically qualify one to lead/rule. Well that is as far as I can go... I am not particularly interested in examining the idiocies of our political class... 


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