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Jungian Psychology

Beautiful Landscape

The crux of Jungian, sometimes referred to as depth or analytic, psychology is individuation. "Individuation" refers to the lifelong process of truly knowing one's full Self. As noted, this is considered a process, not an actual endpoint, given the expansiveness of the psyche both at the individual (personal) and collective (universal) levels. According to psychiatrist, Carl Jung, the "Self" represents the center as well as the totality of the psyche. It is known as the supraordinate archetype of wholeness and encapsulates both conscious and unconscious territories of the psyche. An "archetype" is a universally recognized pattern sourced from "prima materia," the primordial matter that constitutes life. Because archetypes are considered indefinable due to their preverbal, unconscious nature, these patterns typically manifest as symbols. Unlike signs (which have singular, fixed meanings), symbols impart an infinite number of meanings. As such, a single archetype can evoke the full range of paradoxical emotions. Similarly, archetypes can appear at both the psychic and material levels given that "psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, and moreover are in continuous contact with one another and ultimately rest on irrepresentable, transcendental factors."


According to Jungian psychology, the instinctual drive to individuate is an inherent predisposition we are all born with. The "fundamental relationship between conscious and unconscious is compensatory" such that the psyche is chronically navigating between these two collaborative worlds over the course of realizing one's Self. For example, when consciousness appears to unduly outgrow its rightful breadth (which can be personified as narcissistic grandiosity), unconscious material will simultaneously flare up with the intent of rebalancing the psyche and humbling the self-righteous ego. (For instance, the person may experience a number of dreams in which they are thematically 'knocked down a peg,' such as falling off a high cliff.)


Given the ongoing give and take of conscious and unconscious, psychotherapeutic change is considered spiral or coil-like in nature. Each gain in consciousness results in a broadening awareness of the unconscious and a consequential readjustment of the psyche as a whole. As such, the psyche is chronically in-flux. Jung poignantly described, "There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the Self." The intent of this approach is not to rid symptoms; instead, Jungian psychology focuses on the development of wholeness, acknowledging that each of us is neither 'all good' or 'all bad.' We are each a composition of a various psychic structures, and to truly know one's Self, is to relate to all of these entities.


Jungian psychology has been applied across disciplines and is known to integrate elements of mythology, religion, alchemy, astrology, philosophy, physics and so on. Over the course of therapy, one can expect a heavy emphasis on dream analysis and the use of expressive arts, sandplay, and active imagination exercises with the aim of accessing unconscious material.  


Quoted material was derived from the following sources:

Stein, M. (1998). Jung's map of the soul. Chicago, IL: Open Court.

Jung, C. (1989). Memories, dreams, reflections. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

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