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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Mats, concerning your dream: if the quaternity represented by the four black circles (holes) symbolizes the wholeness or totality of the psyche, might the holes separate the four functions which defined your experience on earth? As you leave your defined intellectual space (library), for the freedom and blackness of the universe at death, the quaternity is present, differentiating even at this last stage. With a place to go to, death looks more like a transformation. 

Randy, I don't think it serves to make death a more acceptable theme. Rather, it serves to make the dreamer aware of its ominous presence. In traditional religion, it is a common concept that human beings have four souls that separate at death. For instance, according to Dakota indians, one soul stays with the corpse, another stays in the village, a third goes into the air, while the fourth goes to the land of souls (cf. here). Ancient Egyptians had a similar notion (Ka, Ba, Akh, etc.). I believe the dream image is predicated on this archetype. Evidently, the dream represents the quaternity as separation rather than integration.

I believe the archetypal presence of Death served the purpose of inciting the young man to adapt to life in a more authentic way. Heidegger says that the presence of Nothingness has this effect. Accordingly, one should remain aware of one's deadly nature and "spend more time in graveyards". This attititude was characteristic of Ancient Egyptians. Their own departure from the world was of momentous importance. If they could afford it, they invested great sums in preparations for their own death. Yet, they remained strongly attached to life. The ancient Egyptian mentality could best be described as Epicurean. /Mats

"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."

This may be off topic, but it reminds me why a professor of mine hates Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. Love is NOT "an ever-fixed mark" lest it become stagnant. Love *must* alter "when it alteration finds." It must be challenged. It must die and be reborn and become lost and rediscovered over and over and over again for it to grow, flow, and ultimately endure.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.


You are not off topic. How do you know that the contents of your sonnet are not in the library described in the dream. Such is the power of love huh? 

I see your perspective and it I appreciate it.  I also understand the incredible amount of energy expended in your effort to "Know Thyself'. I will not question the validity of the insights observations and conclusions derived from your personal INDIVIDUATION.
On the other hand neither Jung nor Jungian psychology could be construed as being dogmatic. He opened the pathway to individuation and then stepped back and let it transform the analysands. How could he possibly expect individuality not to flourish and find its own uniquely individual expression in his patients. And why shouldn't other forms of individual expression be unique and different than his own. The name of the game is individuality. So when you critque Jung is it from the perspective of one who has pursued his own individuation only to find that your individuated insights do not concurr with Jung's. Don't you think Jung might say viva la difference! Now lets argue about the conclusions you have drawn from your own individuationed maturational development. From the confluence of many unique individual perspectives perhaps we will get a whole different perspective on the quaternity and trinity. I suspect you are being unfair to Jung when you place so much responsibility on his shoulders. I don't say this to invalidate your perspective because I suspect it is the confluence of many unique individual perspectives that Jung was aspiring to build.
You have amplified your dream somewhat and it alters my perspective. I initially received the impression that you were impressed by the beauty of the cupola and library.... Now you say the dream made you feel like a speck... could i was severely humbled by the beauty and majesty of the vista replace I felt like a speck. It was an awesome and the same time a humbling vision. Don't mind me... It was just an alteration in my perception of your initial dream recap...Again i previously envisaged the presence of a great library as representing what you have learned and what your predestinatory image says you will continue learning/becoming... The builder of the library of knowledge and and and...all... i don' want to be presumptuous but consider the possibility that the dream is telling you that your fascination with the end game is robbing you of your capacity to become .... at least that is what you are telling me that the dream might be saying. Does the fault for not expressing your full potential lie with Jung, within yourself or both Jung and yourself to one degree or another...  it is pretty hard for me to pontificate on dreams... so i tried altering perspectives to see what might reveal itself. 
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.---mats
Jung's experiences and his effort to understand them don't need my validation. He bore witness to them. Take it or leave it. If individuation leads you in another direction or realm of conceptualization what is wrong with that. 
I have previously dealt with the gist of the Augustiniun spirit matter dichotomy. We are spirits living in a material world. I am certain Jung had a very good concept of matter and materiality. He was a true born son of the earth and he was proud of his peasant like earthiness. I am sure he was familiar with augustine as well. I suspect some of the differences in regard to explaining the spiritual/material dichotomy lay in perspective. Jungs perspective was that of an empirical psychologist... He deliberately omitted putting mystical trappings works. What can i say beyond that. Archetypes shape our existence and guide us through the human life cycle. They emanate from the Unconscious. Relationship individuality courage  Hermes the belief in order... We don't spontaneously manufacture such. They are inborn attributes that are rediscovered [in the platonic context] as we need them to deal with the ever changing vicissitudes of existence. That is one of the great discoveries of psychology in the last century... That we are largely unconscious> i don't know if my answer is satisfactory but it is what it is for the moment. 
Thanks for the cathedral material. I couldn't find it on google and was too lazy to go through my copy of memories dreams and reflections. As usual my memory of the event is diminished, so i enjoyed seeing the whole vision laid out. I do highly suspect the first dream i linked in and the cathedral dream are related. 
I will take a break before i take up this most interesting and vital topic

Klemens, you reason that the path of individuation is relative to individuality and it can lead in any direction. I think this view is too relativistic. I argue that Jung's version of individuation is Neo-Pagan in kind, because his metaphysic conflates spirit and matter. Although he reasons in terms of projection, he introduces metaphysical notions, such as synchronicity, which elevate psyche (the psychoid realm as container of objective meaning) as fundamental ontic substance.

You could argue that this is appropriate for the personality that is congenitally pagan. But there is no reason to invent the wheel again, because paganism is live and well. The problem is that the Jungian view risks leading people astray, in the same sense that ideologies lead people off the right path. For instance, think of how many people have wasted their lives in servitude to Marxism and Communism. I discuss psychological dependency on Jung in three cases (Henderson, Pauli, von Franz) :

"In an interview (cf. Wagner, 1985) Henderson recounts a dream where he is seated in a church together with his colleagues. Jung appears as a clergyman and holds a speech. Afterwards all people in the pew rise and exclaim repeatedly "mandala! mandala!", similar to how historical Christians would call out hosanna! Henderson said that the dream was indicative of his ridiculous attachment to Jung." (here)

Jung's contributions to psychology are important, but he dons the role as high-priest of a Neo-Pagan movement; a mixture of Neoplatonism and psychology. Late in his life, he wrote to an English friend: "I have failed in my foremost task to open people's eyes to the fact that man has a soul, that there is a buried treasure in the field and that our religion and philosophy are in a lamentable state." So he really expected to revolutionalize Western culture during his lifetime, which is ludicrous. After all, when he died, he had more followers than both Jesus and Buddha had at the end of their life. One can hardly hope for more.

His ambition was that the diverse religious and philosophical creeds should be abandoned for his own strange worldview that conflates Kantian, Neoplatonic and alchemical themes. In Mysterium Coniunctionis he claims that God and gods are really "debatable images from the psychoid realm", whereas religious belief is characteristic of "naive people" (p.551). He clearly states that religion is all but obsolete and that his metaphysic is the proper solution. But it also depends on blind belief, because the psychoid realm is transcendent in the absolute sense. Yet, he argues that, unlike other belief-systems, his notion isn't fraught with self-contradictions, and it makes better sense. But this isn't true. Logically, it doesn't hold water.

Mats Winther


as ever and always you raise questions and challenges that force one to re-examine ones thoughts and opinions. Of course this is not one of the unanswered questions I meant to address but on this reading it caught my attention

you reason that the path of individuation is relative to individuality and it can lead in any direction.-mats

Individuation fosters the creation of the individual in the first half of life. The individual is one who has been individuated and has systematically acquired the capacities to survive as an independent psychological, physiological, emotional and material entity. The culmination of the individuation process in the first half of life leads to the emergence of the authoritarian or patriarchal personality.... One must become an individual before individuality in itself becomes the main actor in the second half of existence.

Individuality can lead in any direction but as it blossoms it follows an individual path through " a defined growth process' that culminates in providing the ego with a solution to the end game of existence. The second half of life is learning about how to let go of our ever diminishing material existence. 


 Neo-Pagans we are as much as we are christians. We emanate  from the Greco Roman well spring as much as the christian one. In fact if the the New Testament was not Hellenized Jesus would never have been taken up and promulgated by the civilized world of the time. I suspect your affinity for some of the Gnostics might be preventing you from developing a pro Neo-Pagan approach to understanding our historical legacy.... One might try plugging Christ into the position of the God who was destined to replace Zeus, Agape the demenor of the New testament God is a Greek creation. The greeks concept of  a God of Agape is a massive advance from the the all powerful forcefulness of the patriarchal Zeus. And the God of agape was so antithetical to the psychopathic old testament god that Marcion tried to cut the Old Testament out of the christian bible. Don't underestimate our Neo-Pagan ancestors as they were the progenotors of our civilization....


sorry for the delay in taking up your interesting and challenging material. I was preoccupied with some personal matters. 

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.


For Jung the basel cathedral was dead wood.  He inherited this problem from his father,  a pastor, who had lost his living connection with christianity. Jung was the modern man in search of his own soul. He successfully made that reconnection for himself and opened up the pathway for others to follow in his footsteps. This is the problem of our age.

The basel cathedral was destroyed because it had lost its connection with the living gospel of christ. One should rather consider the destruction of the cathedral and the coincidental death of God as an evolutionary advance in christian consciousness. Our evolving Christian consciousness had attained a state where the ego was able to separate itself from the unconscious to the extent that when the cathedral/God were removed the ego was able to assert itself to the point wherein the ego became God.

Jung collected a whack of mandalas and other symbols of the self. They were not all completely identical. The self images were also capable of evolution. He even called christ a symbol of the self somewhere in his writings....along with the wise old man... assuredly the king as well.... 

Well let's put it this way the self is not destroyed in the basal cathedral collapse. It is The ego's conceptualization of the self that has proven to be inadequate. Due to the ego's growth God has died as well as the basal cathedral/church. A new iteration of the self would ordinarily be born from the disarray and the resolution to it.... just a quibble as i agree with most of the paragraph i included


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.--mats

We aren't mimicing monkies or commercial opportunists so we all have to break out of a strictly jungian mode and derive our own individual understandings and interpretations. I expect this is what Jung expected of his readers and students as well. I couldn't find the response on your differing interpretation of the quaternity and trinity but I meant to attach this comment to it. I salute you for your achievement....


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