Though we generally think of mid-life as an individual process, as a universal function, it applies to cultural changes as well. The similarities are notable, and Jung's, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, highlights the parallels.

Regarding the conversion of opposites at mid-life, Jung wrote: "Just as before... disorders arose because... opposing fantasies were unconscious, so now other disorders arise through the repression of former idols." The shift in focus over the last generation is undeniable; but increases in consciousness also depend on unconscious conditions:

"It is of course a fundamental mistake to imagine that when we see the non-value in a value or the non-truth in a truth, the value or the truth ceases to exist. It has only become relative. Everything human is relative, because everything rests on an inner polarity; for everything is a phenomenon of energy. Energy necessarily depends on a pre-existing polarity, without which there could be no energy... Therefore the tendency to deny all previous values in favour of their opposites is just as much of an exaggeration as the earlier one-sidedness.

"The point is not conversion into the opposite but conservation of previous values together with recognition of their opposites. Naturally this means conflict and self-division. It is understandable enough that one should shrink from it, philosophically as well as morally; hence the alternative sought, more often than conversion... is a convulsive stiffening of the previous attitude.... the symptoms, the rigidity, the narrow-mindedness... are unpleasant, not to say harmful; for their method of espousing a truth or any other value is so inflexible and violent that their umannerliness repels more than the truth attracts, so that the result is the opposite of the intended good. The fundamental cause of their rigidity is fear of the problem of opposites..."

Though religious fanaticism is an age-old euphemism for the fear of change, its cultural significance has declined since Jung's time. The swing toward natural science continues to gain momentum since the so-called Age of Reason in the seventeenth century. But, as Jung noted, any conversion has its consequences. The rejection of religious values inherent in the shift toward science, however, is governed by the same general fear of inner opposition as the old extreme...

The brutality of the French Revolution which followed that lofty precursor of western rationalism continued unabated into the twentieth century. Jung wrote during WWI (remember? the War to end all Wars?): "...the rational attitude of culture necessarily runs into its opposite, namely the irrational devastation of culture." A brief footnote in his 1943 revision reads: "As present events show, the confirmation did not have to wait very long.

" or other basic instinct, or complex of ideas, will invariably concentrate upon itself the greatest sum of psychic energy and thus force the ego into its service. As a rule the ego is drawn into this focus of energy so powerfully that it identifies with it and thinks it desires and needs nothing further. In this way a craze develops, a monomania or possession, an acute one-sidedness which most seriously imperils the psychic equilibrium."

The shift from metaphysics to an "objective" science is the new monomania. Technology, media, and the atrophy of a collective value-system contribute to a paper-meche individualism while denying the subjective factor; contradictory unconscious tendencies whose energy exceeds intent appear only as conscious exaggerations. Ego-values subvert common goals and dissolve group-identities into anonymous aggregates -- for those ambitious enough to exploit them. They're beginnings of a new reality, but to understand what it points to requires a dual perspective  of unconscious functioning:

"The passion, the piling up of energy in these monomanias, is what the ancients called a "god,"... A man thinks he wills and chooses, and does not notice that he is already possessed, that his interest has become the master, arrogating all power to itself. Such interests are indeed gods of a kind which, once recognized by the many, gradually form a "church" and gather a herd of believers about them. This we then call an "organization." It is followed by a disorganizing reaction which aims to drive out the devil..." The conversion into the opposite "... that always threatens when a movement attains to undisputed power offers no solution of the problem, for it is just as blind in its disorganization as it was in its organization."

The decline of the Church means evolution, and it moves forward of its own accord. Only self-examination dissolves the projections of unconscious gods onto the ideologies that shroud the real personality. The seeds of their solutions begin with those who find meaning in their self-division; and our "bipolar" natures also provide symbolic solutions beyond conscious ingenuity. To think we would "cure" this condition only adds to the conflicts. Jung wrote of today's misunderstanding of the psyche:

"No matter how beautiful and perfect man may believe his reason to be, he can always be certain that it is only one of the possible mental functions, and only covers that one side of the phenomenal world which corresponds to it. But the irrational, that which is not agreeable to reason, rings it about on all sides. And the irrational is likewise a psychological function..."

This is surely the reason we were cursed with the "disease" of spiritual conflict: to explore the meaning and purpose of development; not just as individuals but as contributors to our evolution. Will we seek solutions to the excess energy of unconscious functioning through yet more technology?

The threat of extinction -- the greatest power science owns -- may force us to come to terms with it sooner rather than later. The development of unspeakable instruments of destruction implies reason and intent. This must be apparent to a psychology devoted to discovering how our minds work; that's its business -- isn't it? Or maybe the business is part of the problem.

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Comment by klemens swib on October 7, 2015 at 11:14pm


Jung has bequeathed us with some incredible tools in regard to understanding the psyche and especially in regard to the archetypes. And then along came Hillman who depotentiated the power of the archetype and replaced it with the poetic posey of the self indulgent imagination.That is exhilarating and exciting stuff for an english class but it amounts to a detour ending in a dead end when it comes to understanding the archetypal constituents of the psyche. It puzzles me as to why the majority of Jungians have allowed such a desecration of Jung's ideas to go unchallenged for so long. As per our discussion, considering Christ as an archetype in the Jungian sense opens up an incredibly new dimension into the understanding of the operating drive embedded in the core of our Christian civilization.

Comment by Evan Hanks on October 7, 2015 at 7:20am


Pardon my delayed response. One of the advantages of discussion is that it compels one to clarify one's views. Each cherry-picks the subject according to his/her own need -- and rightly so. Your argument (on the 28th) about the archetype of Christ concerning individuation, materialism, and Jung's symbolic work was well-put. I have no philosophical argument with your views of history, Christian or otherwise -- only to say that our basic conception of the opposites is outmoded. Not only is the momentum of conscious aggrandizement circular, it achieves ever greater status than before. Though technology and the creativity of thought may convince us that we're doing everything right, the unconscious opposite has much to reveal in terms of our inability to stop killing each other as Aleksander pointed out, and I know you agree with that.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. 

Comment by klemens swib on September 27, 2015 at 10:43pm

Evan Aleks

I've seen videos wherein Jung and Von Franz wherein they have well this is my remembrance talked about the nature that the madness that is extant in the world. My recollection is that Jung described events taking place in the world as being the machinations of our untamed and unconscious human nature... I am satisfied with the homeric suitors explanation i presented. We are only partially civilized and as individuals and our christian civilization has a tough tow to hoe ahead of it..

Comment by klemens swib on September 27, 2015 at 10:35pm
In principle i am applying my understanding of Jung's empirically derived concepts and observations on the nature and operation of the archetype onto the symbol of Christ. The archetype/instinct has a purpose and goal of transforming us during the course of the completion of its own developmental unfolding. Theoretically the archetype should be altering the nature of our consciousness via inspiring us to fulfill  some part of our own maturational destiny in concert with the archetypes completion of its own developmental destiny.
The Mystery of Christ's death and resurrection offers mankind a solution to the problem posed by death itself. Death being defined by the end of our material existence. So Christ overcame the laws of the material universe by overcoming death. And we to are promised eternal existence if we symbolically die and are reborn in Christ and thereafter we follow the gospel according to christ. Following the gospel of christ we supposedly go out into the material world and impose the spiritual kingdom of christ based on compassion and love upon it. Taming materiality to do so. And around this great mystery our christian civilization was constellated. We participate in a mystery and mission which emanates from within the archetypal realm... the Unconscious. Jung has laid the foundation from which we can discover observe and attempt to understand the complex and dynamic multidimensional unconscious  forces that are shaping our individual lives and our civilizational trajectory.
Taming matter is definitely ambiguous and poorly defined because  the archetype/instinct that is inspiring us to perform this function did not provide us with much in the way of instruction. The Neoplatonists provided an independent intellectual  description of the end game for human existence. We have been individuated or separated from the self and the possibility is held out for some to reintegrate with the self in the end time of our personal existence. Homer may have even articulated the actual path we must take in the Odyssey.  But it is my reading and understanding of Jung's stress on the importance of individuation in the second half of life that lead me to the hypothesis that christ is the archetype of individuality which leads us back to reunion with the self aka heaven. We are dealing with hypothesis conjecture and speculation here...But we have absolutely nothing until we advance into the unknown and drive our lance into the ground and let our speculations constellate around it. 
I personally suspect it is individuation and the birth of the individual in the first half of existence and individuality finding its way back to the self in the second half of like. Christ being the archetype of individuality. Meaning Jung hit the nail on the head but he didn't develop a greater theory of individuation..Maybe because he was an empiricist first and foremost.
As for the rest of the issues you raised. We channel our sexuality to help tame it. In the matriarchal construct this is done by the structuring the tribe around the mother son and brother sister incest taboo. We individually channel our sexuality by trail and experimentation in the first half of our own existence. Taming our material nature can incorporate channeling it. 
It is not only the japanese who acknowledge and accepted the beauty of the body and material nature. The  Greeks did as well. Taming/channeling material nature does not one is repressing the beauty of materiality. But christianity arose in a climate of great and grotesque decadence. The Roman empire possessed too many female slaves and the roman population had too much time on its hands. The civilized world at the time of the rise of christendom was falling apart from within and without... From such direly decadent conditions a repressive mentality was adopted by the christian church.
As to the phallus it is a recognized element of christian and arab religiosity. Just take a look at almost any church building. The central element of the church structure is a disembodied phallus. Even Dionysos was know to punish those who misunderstood the spiritual nature of his phallic manifestation with nymphomania and Satrysis. I suspect the decadence of the roman world has distorted Christianity's concept of the body and our sexuality....Hey we shouldn't have adopted the psychopathic gold of the Old testament either... Jung's insights into human psychology can help us to address some of these deficiencies built into christianity by the church fathers and their descendants.
Sexuality is a much more bigger problem in the first half of life. Christianity is a religion of the second half of life. Overlaying the christian doctrines on problems encountered in the first half of life can lead to problematic outcomes... Understanding how the sexual impetus is channeled and integrated into the development of the individual character is a different topic altogether. however..
Comment by Evan Hanks on September 27, 2015 at 10:14am


You anticipated part of my response to Klemens, so I'll include that here instead of there. Whether it's too complicated to address the taming of materiality in terms of Christian ideals, or not complicated enough, I'm not sure. Certainly, 'taming' is the professed spiritual intent; that it's gone terribly astray is pretty obvious. As dubious as it may appear from a collective view, my point remains that -- just as in the mid-life process -- to resolve the confusion inherent in the projections of ego onto spirit, the shadow-side can only be confronted by the individual who looks inward. This is precluded by adherence to any ideology, and it's the purpose, I think, of every religion and not just Christianity, to safeguard the individual from being swept away by collective contagion.

Comment by Evan Hanks on September 27, 2015 at 9:13am


About your last response to me, I do want to say that the idea of 'taming' is as ambiguous as most notions which compensate human frailties. It's interesting to me that older Japanese ideas of religion didn't center on taming nature but learning to accept it and live with it. I don't really know much about Shinto ideas beyond that, but I know it was a nature religion much different than the centralized projections of a developing Western consciousness and its aggressive compensations.

I lived in Japan for a couple of years in my mid-teens (late sixties), and they still held annual festivals devoted to the phallus as a tribute to what Jung called the creative male principle -- or, the Western philosophical version of logos: as Neumann explained, the masculine symbol of consciousness. Its need to tame belies its inferiority in the face of greater powers. This seems to fit the conflict between the Christian ego and nature – which, however you want to look at it empirically – is god, or, at least a greater one than any we’ve yet conceived in our projections. That we in the West identify with it almost exclusively seems certain. My shtick is that the acceptance of our material natures psychologically is a coming home to that natural reality we were made in the image of: animals with the vulnerable and dangerous gift of consciousness which recognizes only itself as power -- an obvious compensation for the underside of our historical spiritual weaknesses.

Comment by klemens swib on September 26, 2015 at 9:38am


The majority of serbs are Orthodox Christians... Eastern Christendom's major difference with Western Christendom is their belief that the kingdom of heaven resides within. Building the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is a Western Christian ideal. Dostoevsky discusses some part of the psychological differentiation between the orthodox and the western mind in 'Notes From The Underground'... The western christian is a man of action who focuses on a  goal then he puts his head down and goes for it. The eastern orthodox christian is for ever asking why and this ends up in creating an Oblovomovian character. It took Goncharov and I'm going from memory here about 59 pages to get this good hearted idealist but nonaction orientated character out of bed.. A great novel nonetheless. Let's not get sidetracked here...

Christianity being the heir to the patriarchal civilization is taming a different aspect of our material nature than its patriarchal predecessor. The patriarchy tamed the depressive aspect of nature and established a spiritual kingdom in the material realm. It did so in conjunction and concert with the birth of the independent masculine personality...aka the individual... Yes, Jung's concept of individuation is a royal road into understanding the internal aspect of nature. ...But the great power and force of the patriarchy was fatally flawed. The mortality of the human condition enabled the lust for life and longing to retain ones material connection to corrupt and undermine the constituents of the patriarchal order and patriarchy itself. The christian archetype arose to deal with this problem. The problem of the second half of life. Learning to accommodate to the biological inevitability of our death..our material end.... Overcoming our attachment tothe manic aspect of our nature. The archetype of individuality itself is guiding us through the maturation process. And who said the discovery of the collective unconscious and the existence of the unconscious for that matter was not one of the greatest insights of our civilization. 

So Jung has done a massive amount of empirical observation on archetypes emerging and doing their thing in his patients. They take possession and then they unfold to fulfill their archetypal/instinctual imperative. It is during the unfolding of their destiny that the archetype lets simplify this and say completes its own developmental destiny and in so doing transforms the patient. Our christian civilization constellated around christ. The archeytpe has taken possession of us and is doing its thing. Solving the problem of overcoming the manic aspect of nature so as we may ultimately reintegrate with the self in the end as the neoplatonists maintain.

Now i can answer your question and only because Odysseus made the long individual  journey home after the homeric world aka the Greek patriarchy self destructed at Troy. That is to say. Christians aren't the only ones who have taken on the problem of the post patriarchal struggle against the manic aspect of nature/MATERIALITY during the end game of human existence. Simply stated Odysseus is lost and can't reach home until he has fulfilled the unknown archetypally assigned maturational developmental process that will allow him to return home. And in his dominion his faithful wife is being beseiged by a whack of suitors who are all vying to take possession of his material assets and to rule over his domain/Ithica. It is not that they are not semi civilized but that they are too indolent and ignorant to make their own way/destiny. They prefer to take possession of Odysseus's kingdom rather than build their own. These are christendom's carpet bombers ... the untamed who prefer to rob and possess the tamed material content of the  kingdom of heaven christianity is creating on earth   what they cannot earn.... they steal 

Comment by klemens swib on September 24, 2015 at 1:28pm

Christianity is taming materiality with love and compassion...

had to add compassion

Comment by klemens swib on September 24, 2015 at 1:27pm


Well stated. I should stop here and give you the final word but I can't resist adding a couple of comments. Science in large part concerns itself with empirically observing, studying, understanding and taming the material universe. Taming matter and building a kingdom of heaven on earth in the process. Throw in the idealism of the scientific enterprise and its Christian roots scream out. Civilization tames but the post patriarchal Christen archetype has taken humanity to an altogether new dimension in regard to the taming process. Unlike the patriarchy that tamed materiality by force i.e. forcibily imposed a spiritually based kingdom within the temporal/material realm. Christianity is taming materiality with love...

And with that said it is not science that is the problem but our as yet untamed barbaric capacity and the attachment to materiality embedded in our individual and collective natures.  "Harping on individuality" as you put is only way to go. You get the last word ...

"The threat of extinction -- the greatest power science owns -- may force us to come to terms with it sooner rather than later. The development of unspeakable instruments of destruction implies reason and intent. This must be apparent to a psychology devoted to discovering how our minds work; that's its business -- isn't it? Or maybe the business is part of the problem."--Evan

Comment by Evan Hanks on September 24, 2015 at 11:47am


From dust we came and unto dust we shall return -- or something like that... 

"Its not that i didn’t know that but the nature of the dialogue/debate altered and distorted my emphasis during the argument of the time." -- Klemens

I know exactly what you mean; one of the most irritating things about the conscious mind is that it gets on "runs", and only reflection brings it back from its partial focus. The older I get, the more impressed (and frustrated) I am by the relative nature of thought, especially my own. To me, that's a critical point, because it makes it necessary to pay attention to oneself and others in a thoughtful, reflective way; to have a sense for one's own shortcomings as a guard against seeing them in others. It seems nature has decreed that hindsight is as valuable as foresight.

One of the reasons I think Jung was so adamant about understanding Christianity, in re-interpreting it, was that we are Christian, and if we misunderstand or repress its deeper meaning, as many do today, then the same old instincts run on in the same old way. As Jung wrote -- nothing changes in the unconscious. Few things are as striking today in the civilized/primitive world we live in. It's a profound responsibility to reflect on how and why some things change and some things don't. He stressed, too, that's it's only by becoming aware of the inner opposite that we have the opportunity to understand the compensations which drive our split behavior. As his quotes were intended to show in my post, it's the one-sided sway of materiality which only gets us deeper into the hole -- or maybe "whole"  -- as the negative aspects which first point to a new beginning. But, to retain the values that, as ideals, have forged at least the civilized part of our behavior for centuries, to me, is increasingly important. Science and materiality, as symbols of earthly reality, are a frightening truth against the everlasting life in the clouds we once clung to as a comforting compensation for individual struggle; one of the reasons I refer to it as a 'cultural mid-life crisis' -- it's a real coming to terms with mortality in more ways than one. It sends many into a frenzy of greed for what they can get while the getting's good. We're still possessed by the spirit but in a new way.

Anyway... that's my soap-box view of the subjective emergence of a new perspective on the inner world. Our unconscious behavior is prompting us to look inward to address the new problems the one-sided focus on materiality have created. Just as we created them, it's up to us to solve them. But, that's not happening collectively -- one of the reasons I harp on the individual. To me, that's where change originates, and I think history bears it out.

"...If the projection of God is going to be withdrawn.... where else is it going to fall ..... but on the ego..."

Jung and Neumann have written much about the projections science has "destroyed", and I say that because it has given us nothing to replace them but the wishful compensation of "objectivity" to mask the new god-like subjectivity of our ongoing struggles with ourselves.

Of course, we know Jung established an empirical psychology along with it for us to begin to understand what's happening in us, and why and for what purposes -- but since the projections have fallen back into the individual, it seems to me that it increases the responsibility of each, and not just the few exploiting the compensations. They have little interest in anything but themselves, not even their children -- which is astounding to me. These are things you and I both sound off about in our respective ways.

By the way, a funny thing popped into my head when I read your first paragraph -- a quote from Faust: "Now that has a reasonable sound: A grey-beard talking sense at last is found."


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