Notes taken from Jung’s “The relations between the ego and the unconscious”
In reality human nature bears the burden of a terrible and unending conflict between the principle of the ego and the principle of instinct: the ego all barriers and restraint, instinct limitless, and both principles of equal might
In the first part of Faust Goethe has shown us what it means to accept instinct and in the second part what it means to accept the ego and its weird unconscious world
But if the person has a greater personality within — that is, a possibility of growth — then a psychological disturbance will occur. That is why we always say that a neurosis is in a way a positive symptom. It shows that something wants to grow; it shows that that person is not right in his or her present state and if the growth is not accepted then it grows against you, at your expense, and produces what might be called a negative individuation. The process of individuation, of inner maturing and growth, goes on unconsciously and ruins the personality instead of healing it. That is how the death-tree, the death-mother tree and the life-tree are essentially connected. The inner possibility of growth in a person is a dangerous thing because either you say yes to it and go ahead, or you are killed by it. There is no other choice. It is a destiny which has to be accepted.
There are actually people who have the whole meaning of their life, their true significance, in the unconscious, while in the conscious mind is nothing but inveiglement and error. With others the case is reversed, and here neurosis has a different meaning. In these cases, but not in the former, a thoroughgoing reduction is indicated.
A “value” is a possibility for the display of energy. But in so far as a negative value is likewise a possibility for the display of energy — which can be seen most clearly in the notable manifestations of neurotic energy — it too is properly a “value,” but one that brings about useless and harmful manifestations of energy. Energy in itself is neither good nor bad, neither useful nor harmful, but neutral, since everything depends on the form into which energy passes. Form gives energy its quality. On the other hand, mere form without energy is equally neutral. For the creation of a real value, therefore, both energy and valuable form are needed. In neurosis psychic energy 3 is present, but undoubtedly it is there in an inferior and unserviceable form. The two reductive theories act as solvents of this inferior form. They are approved caustic remedies, by means of which we obtain free but neutral energy. Now, it has hitherto been supposed that this newly disengaged energy is at the conscious disposal of the patient, so that he can apply it at his pleasure. Since it was thought that the energy is nothing but the instinctual power of sex, people talked of a “sublimated” application of it, on the assumption that the patient could, with the help of analysis, canalize the sexual energy into a “sublimation,” in other words, could apply it non-sexually, in the practice of an art, perhaps, or in some other good or useful activity. According to this view, it is possible for the patient, from free choice or inclination, to achieve the sublimation of his instinctual forces.
The finest horses, the fastest cars, and the most amusing parties may very likely fail to allure the energy, although it would be rational enough to think that a man who had devoted his whole life to serious work had a sort of natural right to enjoy himself. Yes, if fate behaved in a humanly rational way, it would certainly be so: first work, then well-earned rest. But fate behaves irrationally, and the energy of life inconveniently demands a gradient agreeable to itself; otherwise it simply gets dammed up and turns destructive.
It has become abundantly clear to me that life can flow forward only along the path of the gradient. But there is no energy unless there is a tension of opposites; hence it is necessary to discover the opposite to the attitude of the conscious mind. It is interesting to see how this compensation by opposites also plays its part in the historical theories of neurosis: Freud’s theory espoused Eros, Adler’s the will to power. Logically, the opposite of love is hate, and of Eros, Phobos (fear); but psychologically it is the will to power. Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking. The one is but the shadow of the other: the man who adopts the standpoint of Eros finds his compensatory opposite in the will to power, and that of the man who puts the accent on power is Eros. Seen from the one-sided point of view of the conscious attitude, the shadow is an inferior component of the personality and is consequently repressed through intensive resistance. But the repressed content must be made conscious so as to produce a tension of opposites, without which no forward movement is possible. The conscious mind is on top, the shadow underneath, and just as high always longs for low and hot for cold, so all consciousness, perhaps without being aware of it, seeks its unconscious opposite, lacking which it is doomed to stagnation, congestion, and ossification. Life is born only of the spark of opposites.
We can therefore formulate the occurrence as follows: in the introvert the influence of the object produces an inferior extraversion, while in the extravert an inferior introversion takes the place of his social attitude. And so we come back to the proposition from which we started: “The value of the one is the negation of value for the other.”
Positive as well as negative occurrences can constellate the inferior counter-function. When this happens, sensitiveness appears. Sensitiveness is a sure sign of the presence of inferiority. This provides the psychological basis for discord and misunderstanding, not only as between two people, but also in ourselves. The essence of the inferior function 11 is autonomy: it is independent, it attacks, it fascinates and so spins us about that we are no
Since we cannot develop backwards into animal unconsciousness, there remains only the more strenuous way forwards into higher consciousness.
But the real therapy only begins when the patient sees that it is no longer father and mother who are standing in his way, but himself — i.e., an unconscious part of his personality which carries on the role of father and mother. Even this realization, helpful as it is, is still negative; it simply says, “I realize that it is not father and mother who are against me, but I myself.” But who is it in him that is against him? What is this mysterious part of his personality that hides under the father-and mother-imagos, making him believe for years that the cause of his trouble must somehow have got into him from outside? This part is the counterpart of his conscious attitude, and it will leave him no peace and will continue to plague him until it has been accepted. For young people a liberation from the past may be enough: a beckoning future lies ahead, rich in possibilities. It is sufficient to break a few bonds; the life-urge will do the rest.
The only person who escapes the grim law of enantiodromia is the man who knows how to separate himself from the unconscious, not by repressing it — for then it simply attacks him from the rear — but by putting it clearly before him as that which he is not.
Man has two aims: the first is the natural aim, the begetting of children and the business of protecting the brood; to this belongs the acquisition of money and social position. When this aim has been reached a new phase begins: the cultural aim. For the attainment of the former we have the help of nature and, on top of that, education; for the attainment of the latter, little or nothing helps
But any weakness of instinct (which may have many causes) is enough to hinder a smooth unconscious transition. Then all progress is delayed by conflict, and the resulting stasis of life is equivalent to a neurosis. In consequence of the standstill, psychic energy flows off in every conceivable direction, apparently quite uselessly.
If we analyse these two modes of reaction more deeply, we find that the optimistic self-confidence of the first conceals a profound sense of impotence, for which their conscious optimism acts as an unsuccessful compensation; while the pessimistic resignation of the others masks a defiant will to power, far surpassing in cocksureness the conscious optimism of the first type.
But even in these lesser proportions the essence of the conflict is easily recognized: the arrogance of the one and the despondency of the other share a common uncertainty as to their boundaries.
Nor is he altogether so happy in his fund of knowledge as to be able to hold out alone; at bottom he feels isolated by it, and the secret fear of being left alone with it induces him to trot out his opinions and interpretations in and out of season, because only when convincing someone else does he feel safe from gnawing doubts.
Outer attractions, such as offices, titles, and other social regalia are not the only things that cause inflation. These are simply impersonal quantities that lie outside in society, in the collective consciousness.
Many fathomless transformations of personality, like sudden conversions and other far-reaching changes of mind, originate in the attractive power of a collective image, 4 which, as the present example shows, can cause such a high degree of inflation that the entire personality is disintegrated. This disintegration is a mental disease, of a transitory or a permanent nature, a “splitting of the mind” or “schizophrenia,” in Bleuler’s term. 5 The pathological inflation naturally depends on some innate weakness of the personality against the autonomy of collective unconscious contents.
Naturally the only thing that can thrive in such an atmosphere is sociality and whatever is collective in the individual. Everything individual in him goes under, i.e., is doomed to repression. The individual elements lapse into the unconscious, where, by the law of necessity, they are transformed into something essentially baleful, destructive, and anarchical.
Hence 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. Society, by automatically stressing all the collective qualities in its individual representatives, puts a premium on mediocrity, on everything that settles down to vegetate in an easy, irresponsible way. Now, all that I have said here about the influence of society upon the individual is identically true of the influence of the collective unconscious upon the individual psyche. But, as is apparent from my examples, the latter influence is as invisible as the former is visible. Hence it is not surprising that its inner effects are not understood, and that those to whom such things happen are called pathological freaks and treated as crazy. If one of them happened to be a real genius, the fact would not be noted until the next generation or the one after. So obvious does it seem to us that a man should drown in his own dignity, so utterly incomprehensible that he should seek anything other than what the mob wants, and that he should vanish permanently from view in this other. One could wish both of them a sense of humour, that — according to Schopenhauer — truly “divine” attribute of man which alone befits him to maintain his soul in freedom.
To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.
Its mentality is an instinctive one; it has no differentiated functions, and it does not “think” as we understand “thinking.” It simply creates an image that answers to the conscious situation. This image contains as much thought as feeling, and is anything rather than a product of rationalistic reflection. Such an image would be better described as an artist’s vision. We tend to forget that a problem like the one which underlies the dream last mentioned cannot, even to the conscious mind of the dreamer, be an intellectual problem, but is profoundly emotional.
When the Buddhists say that progressive perfection through meditation awakens memories of former incarnations, they are no doubt referring to the same psychological reality, the only difference being that they ascribe the historical factor not to the soul but to the Self (atman). It is altogether in keeping with the thoroughly extraverted attitude of the Western mind so far, that immortality should be ascribed, both by feeling and by tradition, to a soul which we distinguish more or less from our ego, and which also differs from the ego on account of its feminine qualities.
Society demands this as a kind of surety; each must stand at his post, here a cobbler, there a poet. No man is expected to be both. Nor is it advisable to be both, for that would be “odd.” Such a man would be “different” from other people, not quite reliable. In the academic world he would be a dilettante, in politics an “unpredictable” quantity, in religion a free-thinker — in short, he would always be suspected of unreliability and incompetence, because society is persuaded that only the cobbler who is not a poet can supply workmanlike shoes.
To present an unequivocal face to the world is a matter of practical importance: the average man — the only kind society knows anything about — must keep his nose to one thing in order to achieve anything worth while, two would be too much. Our society is undoubtedly set on such an ideal. It is therefore not surprising that everyone who wants to get on must take these expectations into account
When we examine such cases critically, we find that the excellence of the mask is compensated by the “private life” going on behind it. The pious Drummond once lamented that “bad temper is the vice of the virtuous.”
Whoever builds up too good a persona for himself naturally has to pay for it with irritability. Bismarck had hysterical weeping fits, Wagner indulged in correspondence about the belts of silk dressing-gowns, Nietzsche wrote letters to his “dear lama,” Goethe held conversations with Eckermann, etc.
But there are subtler things than the banal lapses of heroes. I once made the acquaintance of a very venerable personage — in fact, one might easily call him a saint. I stalked round him for three whole days, but never a mortal failing did I find in him. My feeling of inferiority grew ominous, and I was beginning to think seriously of how I might better myself. Then, on the fourth day, his wife came to consult me. … Well, nothing of the sort has ever happened to me since. But this I did learn: that any man who becomes one with his persona can cheerfully let all disturbances manifest themselves through his wife without her noticing it. though she pays for her self-sacrifice with a bad neurosis. it is exactly as though the unconscious suppressed the ego with the very same power which drew the ego into the persona. The absence of resistance outwardly against the lure of the persona means a similar weakness inwardly against the influence of the unconscious.
Outwardly an effective and powerful role is played, while inwardly an effeminate weakness develops in face of every influence coming from the unconscious. Moods, vagaries, timidity, even a limp sexuality (culminating in impotence) gradually gain the upper hand.
The persona, the ideal picture of a man as he should be, is inwardly compensated by feminine weakness, and as the individual outwardly plays the strong man, so he becomes inwardly a woman, i.e., the anima, for it is the anima that reacts to the persona. But because the inner world is dark and invisible to the extraverted consciousness, and because a man is all the less capable of conceiving his weaknesses the more he is identified with the persona, the persona’s counterpart, the anima, remains completely in the dark and is at once projected, so that our hero comes under the heel of his wife’s slipper. If this results in a considerable increase of her power, she will acquit herself none too well. She becomes inferior, thus providing her husband with the welcome proof that it is not he, the hero, who is inferior in private, but his wife. In return the wife can cherish the illusion, so attractive to many, that at least she has married a hero, unperturbed by her own uselessness. This little game of illusion is often taken to be the whole meaning of life.
We should do far better to realize that the tragic counterplay between inside and outside (depicted in Job and Faust as the wager with God) represents, at bottom, the energetics of the life process, the polar tension that is necessary for self-regulation. However different, to all intents and purposes, these opposing forces may be, their fundamental meaning and desire is the life of the individual: they always fluctuate round this centre of balance. Just because they are inseparably related through opposition, they also unite in a mediatory meaning, which, willingly or unwillingly, is born out of the individual and is therefore divined by him. He has a strong feeling of what should be and what could be. To depart from this divination means error, aberration, illness.