Saturday, December 5, 2009

Notes From The Editor

Dear Friends of The C.G. Jung Society of Vermont:
First and foremost, December brings a change to the JSVT board: Luanne Sberna has been elected to a two-year term as President and continues as Membership Coordinator; Barbara Darshan has been re-elected to a two-year term as Secretary; Chessie Stevenson and Emily Pena Murphey have been re-elected to two-year terms as Members-at-Large; and Stephanie Buck (me) currently fills the positions of Acting Treasurer and Acting Librarian as well as serving as Editor of Jung in Vermont. Sue Mehrtens, JSVT Vice-President, has taken a much needed sabatical from her participation on the board and we hope to welcome her back to an active role in shaping the society in the near future. We also want to thank Cynthia Hennard, the former Treasurer and Librarian, who recently stepped down from those two positions, for her enthusiastic support for the society during its first two-years of resurrected life.

We offer a number of essays to round out the publication year. First, Sue Mehrtens shares her thoughts on Individuation in the two-part essay Components of Individuation: Part I - What is Individuation? and Components of Individuation: Part II - Internalization of a Locus of Control. Following is the first part of an essay by the editor entitled Analytical Psychology, Science and Religion: Archetypal Field Theory and the Confluence of Psyche and Matter. As you will notice as you read these essays, we continue to have problems with spacing and hope to resolve these aesthetic concerns in the near future.

Looking ahead to next year, JSVT has a slate of monthly events for Winter-Spring 2010. Please refer to the Event Calendar Winter-Spring 2010 section of the e-journal for further information.
With best wishes for a joyous holiday season and an abundant New Year!
Stephanie Buck, Editor
(802) 860-4921

Friday, December 4, 2009

Essays - Components of Individuation: Part I - What is Individuation?

“Individuation” is a term often associated with Jung and his psychology. In this four-part essay we are going to define “individuation” and discuss some of the benefits, elements and requirements for achieving individuation (Part I). Then we’ll examine several components of it, specifically the locus of control (Part II), the locus of authority (Part III) and the locus of security (Part IV).

What is “Individuation”?

Our English word comes from the Latin individuus, meaning “undivided” or “individual.”[1] The dictionary defines “individuation” as “the process leading to individual existence, as distinct from that of the species.”[2] This definition applies the term to both animals and humans. Jung’s usage focused on humans and the concept became central to his approach to psychology.[3]

Jung recognized the importance he placed on individuation in his 1921 definition of the term:

The concept of individuation plays a large role in our psychology. In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual... as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology. Individuation, therefore, is a process of differentiation... having for its goal the development of the individual personality.[4]

In later years, Jung amplified his definition in a series of essays, describing “individuation” as

... the process by which a person becomes a psychological “in-dividual,” that is a separate, indivisible unity or “whole.”[5]

...the better and more complete fulfillment of the collective qualities of the human being,...[6]

... practically the same as the development of consciousness out of the original state of identity.... It is thus an extension of the sphere of consciousness, an enriching of conscious psychological life.[7]

... becoming an “in-dividual,” and, in so far as “individuality” embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as “coming to selfhood,” or “self-realization.” [8]

Jung felt this process of “self-realization” was a “natural transformation,”[9] something that “the unconscious had in mind,”[10] something meant to develop our individual personality.

Jung also regarded “individuation” as a solution to what he considered one of the major problems facing modern people: How to link up consciousness to the unconscious; how to bring our ego mind (consciousness) into a working relationship with our inner terra incognita, our unknown inner terrain.[11] Concern about this problem was not unique to Jung: thousands of years ago Taoist and Buddhist practitioners had also seen its significance. Jung recognized this when he noted that “... the individuation process ... forms one of the main interests of Taoism and of Zen Buddhism.”[12] Coming from a Christian background, as the son of a Protestant minister, Jung also recognized a Christian relevance to the concept, when he described individuation as “... the primitive Christian idea of the Kingdom of Heaven which ‘is within you’.”[13]

Aware of Western culture’s vaunting of individualism, Jung took pains to stress the difference between “individualism” and “individuation.” The former concept is ego-driven and fosters selfishness and lack of concern for others. (Think of the bumper sticker that celebrates “Looking out for #1!”). Individuation is very much the opposite: Over the years of inner work the process requires, the person experiences repeated crucifixions of the ego as the ego confronts and assimilates contents of the unconscious. This long-term process

... brings to birth a consciousness of human community precisely because it makes us aware of the unconscious, which unites and is common to all mankind. Individuation is an at-one-ment with oneself and at the same time with humanity, since oneself is a part of humanity.[14]

So, far from being selfish, an individuated person feels deeper responsibility to support and serve others and to foster peace, wholeness and integrity in the world.

Some Requirements of the Process of Individuation

Mention of crucifying the ego brings up the subject of what individuation entails. It’s challenging, a task for heroes,[15] not for the faint of heart or for those who can’t stand against the crowd and be different. Divisio (being divided not only from others but also within oneself), separatio (being separated not only from family, friends and collective society, but also from the person you used to be), solutio (watching the structures of your life dissolve), discrimination, self-knowledge, “a positive torture”[16]—these are just a few of the hardships likely to be faced in this work. Jung was being honest about the task when he warned “ always every step forward along the path of individuation is achieved only at the cost of suffering.”[17]

Why such difficulty? Jung gives several reasons. First, we grow up under parents and society, striving to become what is expected of us and the result is what Jung called the development of the “persona,” or mask. In many cases, the persona is not our true self. We have had to compromise, adapt, even, in extreme cases, betray our authentic nature. The process of individuation requires getting wise to this mask, that is, we have to face the fact that for years (if not decades) we have been living a lie.[18] And then we have to give up this lie, put down the mask and begin to change our life so as to live more aligned with our authentic being. Such change almost inevitably elicits remarks (maybe even protests) from those who know us best, those most deeply invested in how we used to be, those likely to be most affected by our shifting the parameters of daily life, i.e. our family and closest friends.[19]

Second, individuation requires heroism because it is hard to be different, to step out of the mainstream conventional reality and march to one’s own drummer. The work is not a herd phenomenon. You aren’t going to find many people doing it.[20] For this reason Extraverts, who tend to resonate with the collective and appreciate group activities, find the process harder than Introverts.

A third difficulty comes from the self-knowledge that is part of the process. “Self-knowledge” means becoming conscious of the unconscious: facing our shadow and becoming aware of the reality of our “inner partner,” the animus (for women) or the anima (for men).[21] The work of individuation takes us through the “swamplands of the soul”[22] in the nigredo phase mentioned in an earlier essay.[23] While Jung was clear that the unconscious takes to us the attitude we take to it,[24] for most people it takes a while (if it ever happens at all!) to develop a cheerful attitude toward the unconscious.

By this point you might well be wondering “Why bother?” Yes, Jung put great emphasis on achieving individuation but if it’s so difficult, why make the effort? Jung suggests multiple benefits.

Benefits of Achieving Individuation

Let’s mention the personal benefits first. Jung was explicit that the work of individuation was

... absolutely indispensable because, through his contamination with others, [the human being] falls into situations and commits actions which bring him into disharmony with himself.... there is begotten a compulsion to be and to act in a way contrary to one’s own nature. Accordingly a man ... feels himself to be in a degrading, unfree, unethical condition.... deliverance from this condition will come only when he can be and act as he feels is conformable with his true self.[25]

Achieving individuation allows us to be and act in conformity with our true self.

There are other personal benefits. If we stay on the path, stick with the work, we come to enjoy a widened circle of consciousness.[26] Our sense of separateness ends and we gain broader, more intense relationships with others.[27]

We also experience the apocatastasis mentioned in the previous blog essay—that “restoration” or reconstitution of our being that makes the travail of the apocalypse seem well worth the suffering.[28] Life works better. We feel deep in our bones that what we are doing, how we are living, with whom we are living (our new circle of friends) is what our soul intends for us. The quality of the people we draw into our life is better (“like finds like”). We know that the employment we take up has purchase on our soul. Our values mesh with our lifestyle and our actions speak our soul purpose.

We feel liberated from the unconsciousness of our parents, which permits our feeling “... a genuine sense of ... true individuality.”[29] At the same time as we experience a greater feeling of freedom from our past, we also experience an “... absolute, binding and indissoluble communion with the world at large.”[30]

Which brings us to the societal benefits of individuation. Time and again Jung stressed in his work that individuals matter (see the essay on “Jung’s Timelessness” in the archive of this blog). Anyone of us could be “the makeweight that tips the scales,”[31] and so, in our taking up the task of individuating, each of us is undertaking “... a healing with with universal impact” and “... laying up an infinitesimal gram in the scales of humanity’s soul.”[32] Given the critical nature of our time (as described in earlier essays), Jung would regard no individual activity to be more meaningful and useful than becoming individuated.

In the second part of this essay, we will examine one of the most basic components—a prerequisite—for individuation: internalizing a locus of control.


Hollis, James (1996), Swamplands of the Soul. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Jung, Carl Gustav (1971), “Psychological Types,” CW 6. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1966), “Two Essays on Analytical Psychology,” CW 7. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1959), ”The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious,” CW 9i. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1970), “Civilization in Transition,” CW 10. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1969), “Psychology and Religion: West and East,” CW 11. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1954), “The Practice of Psychotherapy,” CW 16. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Sharp, Daryl (1991), Jung Lexicon: A Primer of Terms and Concepts. Toronto: Inner City Books

- Submitted by Sue Mehrtens

[1] World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, I, 1003.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jung, Collected Works, 6, ¶757. As has been the convention throughout these blog essays, CW will hereafter be the abbreviation for Jung’s Collected Works.

[4] Ibid.

[5] CW, 9i, ¶490.

[6] CW, 7, ¶267.

[7] CW, 6, ¶762.

[8] CW, 7, ¶266.

[9] CW, 9i, ¶234.

[10] CW, 91, ¶530

[11] CW, 9i, ¶523 and 620; cf. Sharp (1991), 67.

[12] CW, 91, ¶602.

[13] CW, 7, ¶373.

[14] CW, 16, ¶227.

[15] CW, 9i, ¶281.

[16] CW, 11, ¶411.

[17] Ibid.

[18] CW, 7, ¶310.

[19] Jesus recognized this when he warned that from now on there will be a mother against a daughter, father against a son, etc.; Luke 12:51-53.

[20] CW, 6, ¶761.

[21] CW, 7, ¶310.

[22] This is the title of a book by James Hollis that examines in depth the journey to individuation; Hollis (1996)

[23] The 4 phases of alchemy—the nigredo, albedo, rubedo and citrinitas—were described in the three-part essay “Jung’s Prophetic Visions and the Alchemy of Our Time,” posted to this blog in January, February and March 2009.

[24] CW, 16, ¶329.

[25] CW, 7, ¶373.

[26] CW, 11, ¶401.

[27] Ibid. and CW, 6, ¶758.

[28] CW, 11, ¶401.

[29] CW, 7, ¶393.

[30] CW, 7, ¶275.

[31] CW, 10, ¶586.

[32] CW, 16, ¶449.

Essays - Components of Individuation: Part II - Internalization of a Locus of Control

Components of Individuation:

Part II—Internalizing a Locus of Control

In Part I of this four-part essay we noted that a pre-requisite for achieving individuation was internalizing a locus of control.

What does this mean?

Defining “Locus of Control”

I encountered the term “locus on control” in the works of Jungian analyst and astrologer Liz Greene.[1] It refers to the placement (locus) of one’s sense of responsibility or power. In the normal course of child development, the locus of control gradually shifts over time from the parents to the adolescent until the mature adult recognizes and takes up his/her responsibility for living as a well-functioning adult in society.

Jung’s consulting room was full of people whose personal development from child to adult was not normal. Jung’s clients had parents who were negligent, slothful, neurotically anxious or soullessly conventional.[2] Or their parents were clingy, and, as a result “... exercise an extremely bad influence over their children, since they deprive them of every opportunity for individual responsibility.”[3] Others of Jung’s clients were scarred from years of carrying their parents’ unconscious complexes, and, lacking the wherewithal to assimilate that complex, they remained stuck in “infantilism.”[4] Other clients had lived unconscious lives, “carried by society and to that extent [were] relieved of [their] responsibility.”[5] Whatever the personal history, the core situation was the same: externalization of a locus of control, an abdication of personal responsibility.

Jung on Responsibility, the “Blame Game” and the “Search for the Magical Other”

Jung’s writings are replete with calls for individuals to recognize and take up personal responsibility:

... the maturing personality must assimilate the parental complex and achieve authority, responsibility, and independence.[6]

… you could treat yourself if you don’t succumb to the prejudice that you receive healing through others. In the last resort every individual alone has to win his battle, nobody else can do it for him.[7]

... every man is, in a certain sense, unconsciously a worse man when he is in society than when acting alone; for he is carried by society and to that extent relieved of his individual responsibility.[8]

The bettering of a general ill begins with the individual, and then only when he makes himself and not others responsible.[9]

Making others responsible is what some call playing the “blame game.” When we play the “blame game,” we blame others for our current situation, and these “others” are most often our parents or other adults who played a prominent role in our upbringing. Jung provides an example of the blame game in “Symbols of Transformation:”

Faced by the vast uncertainty of the future, the adolescent puts the blame for it on the past, saying to himself: “If only I were not the child of my very ordinary parents, but the child of a rich and elegant count... then one day a golden coach would come and... take... his long-lost child back with him to his wonderful castle,...[10]

Clearly, Jung was familiar with this fruitless fantasy. He probably had many patients who were into playing the blame game. He recognized it as a morally lazy and ultimately frustrating endeavor,[11] as he explained to a Swiss Fräulein in a letter of 23 January 1941:

There are a whole lot of facts in your letter which you’ll just have to face up to instead of tracing them back to the faulty behavior of other people…. There are countless people with an inferior extraversion or with too much introversion or with too little money who in God’s name must plod along through life under such conditions. These conditions are not diseases but normal difficulties of life. If you blame me for your psychological difficulties it won’t help you at all, for it is not my fault you have them. It’s nobody’s fault. I can’t take these difficulties away from you, but have merely tried to make you aware of what you need in order to cope with them. If you could stop blaming other people and external circumstances for your own inner difficulties you would have gained an infinite amount. But if you go on making others responsible, no one will have any desire to stand by you with advice.[12]

As long as we see our problems as “out there,” caused by others, as long as we focus on assigning blame, we are refusing to face our own responsibility for dealing with the hand that Fate has dealt us.

This is not to say that Jung absolved parents of blame. He was quite blunt that most children who were brought to him with psychological problems were not the people he really needed to treat. Most of the time “problem children” were carrying their parents’ complexes and

In a case like this what would be the sense of talking to the child?... Such a procedure would ... burden her with a responsibility which is not hers at all, but really belongs to her parents....[13]

Jung would then try to treat the parent or parents, but sometimes the parents didn’t want to hear that their unconsciousness was the real cause of their child’s problem. Rather than take up analysis with Jung themselves, they would leave.

It is not uncommon for people to have experienced poor parenting. Lots of us have come away from our youth scarred, warped or injured from all sorts of tragic events. Jung was explicit that, whatever our personal histories, the key to successful living is accepting that, as adults, we are responsible for the rest of our lives. If in some way or ways our life is not working, blaming others will only keep us stuck in our “stuff.”

Likewise, searching for the “magical other” who will transform our reality and bring us happiness is another trap that will keep us stuck. James Hollis, Jungian analyst and prolific author, wrote on this “search for the magical other” in his book The Eden Project. He describes the “Magical Other” as that person who “will lift from us the terrible weight of our freedom and responsibility.” But he notes that “no one can ever do that.”[14]

Given our “culture of longing,”[15] we don’t want to hear this. I encounter many people in my work who continue to search, year after year, for a “magical other” who will solve their problems, relieve their loneliness, fix their finances, or serve as a buffer from the cold world outside. These people don’t want to hear that responsibility for all these complaints rests with themselves. They continue to externalize a locus of control.

Why does this matter?

There are several reasons why this matters. First, externalizing a locus of control infantilizes.[16] Jung is explicit about this. Living without taking responsibility for one’s life keeps us immature. It stunts our growth and thwarts our development.

Second, externalizing a locus of control fosters our gullibility and impressionability, at a time and in a culture where a finely honed faculty of discrimination and a critical mind are essential. Lacking an inner locus of control, we become prey to sly politicians, lying business people, shrewd salesmen and slick con artists eager to sell us a line or bilk us of our fortune.

A third reason why internalizing a locus of control matters relates to the Jungian concept of projection.[17] When we look at our life and see problems—situations that we don’t like, relationships that aren’t working—and then expect or demand that others change, we are projecting our own unconsciousness on to others. A very common example of this is the following: A Persephone woman[18] comes into my office complaining that her husband is a wastrel, spends all the money, leaves her little to buy food and pay the rent, and acts more or less like a little kid (he’s a puer). Her response to this situation is to wait, hoping that he will grow up. She is expecting him to change. She is projecting her own power (and puer) on to the husband, refusing to see that she is the only person in this situation who is likely to bring about a change. Days, weeks, months, even years may go by in this classic scenario, until one of three things happens: the husband dies (possibly having bankrupted the family one or more times first); the finances become so precarious that, faced with the imminent loss of their home, the woman kicks the husband out and takes up the challenge of living her own life; or the woman wakes up to the reality of her projections, internalizes her locus of control, takes back the power she projected on to her husband, and sets about creating a reality that works for her. This last is, of course, better than the other possibilities, but also the least likely, given that it requires the Persephone woman to make a descent into her inner underworld to access and assimilate her power.[19]

A final (and, to Jung, the most important) reason why internalizing a locus of control matters is that externalizing a locus of control precludes individuation. We will never be able to liberate ourselves from the wounds of parental complexes until we stop playing the blame game and take responsibility for healing our lives.[20] We will never be able to move into the fullness of our being as long as we keep searching for the magical other who will remove all our problems and create a world of bliss. The most basic of all components of individuation is facing the reality that “My life is mine and nobody else’s; I am responsible for what my life becomes; I am in control of my destiny and I can determine my future.”

No change is possible unless we change. As Gandhi reminded us, “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” No one else is going to make it happen but us. And no one but us can internalize our locus of control.

Just as important to individuation as internalizing a locus of control is internalizing a locus of authority. That is the subject of Part III of this essay.


Bolen, Jean Shinoda (1984), Goddesses in Everywoman. New York: Harper & Row.

Greene, Liz & Howard Sasportas (1987), The Development of the Personality. York Beach ME: Samuel Weiser.

Hillman, James (1979), The Puer Papers. Dallas TX: Spring Publications.

Hollis, James (1998), The Eden Project: The Search for the Magical Other. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Jung, Carl (1956) “Symbols of Transformation,” Collected Works, 5, 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1966), “Two Essays on Analytical Psychology,” CW 7. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1960), ”The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche,” CW 8. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1959), ”The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious,” CW 9i. Princeton:

Princeton University Press.

________ (1954), “The Development of Personality,” CW 17. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1976), ”The Symbolic Life,” CW 18. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Neumann, Erich (1956), Amor and Psyche: The Psychic Development of the Feminine. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Perera, Sylvia Brinton (1981), Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women. Toronto: Inner City Press.

von Franz, Marie-Louise (1970), Puer Aeternus. Boston: Sigo Press.

-Submitted by Sue Mehrtens

[1]Greene & Sasportas (1987), 58.

[2] Jung, Collected Works, 17, ¶91. As has been the convention throughout these blog essays, CW will hereafter be the abbreviation for Jung’s Collected Works.

[3] CW, 17, ¶107a.

[4] CW, 17, ¶91, 220 and CW 7, ¶263.

[5] CW 7, ¶240.

[6] CW 8, ¶36.

[7] Letters, I, 126.

[8] CW 7, ¶240.

[9] CW 9i, ¶618.

[10]CW 5, ¶34.

[11] CW 18, ¶1398.

[12] Letters, I, 292.

[13] CW 17, ¶220.

[14] Hollis (1998), 79.

[15] Ibid.

[16] CW 7, ¶263.

[17]CW 17, ¶225.

[18] The Persephone woman is a frequently-found case of the “good daughter”—complaint, obedient, diligent and conscientious, but immature and unconscious of her own personal power, which she projects, most commonly on to her partner. Because she is, in essence, still a child, she tends to attract the child-man (Latin puer), an archetype characterized by spontaneity, irresponsibility, financial profligacy and a focus on having fun. See Bolen (1984), for a portrait of the Persephone woman, and von Franz (1970) and Hillman (1979) for a portrait of the puer.

[19] As the myth of Persephone and Pluto suggests, Persephone’s abduction by Pluto was ultimately for her benefit, as it transformed her into the Queen of the Underworld, that is, it brought her to an awareness of her power. Just as the myth entailed an act of force so in the life of a Persephone woman the “wake up” is usually brought about by some forceful, striking, unpleasant event. Neumann (1956) and Perera (1981) are two books, of many, that describe the process of descent into the underworld.

[20] CW 7, ¶373.

- Submitted by Sue Mehrtens