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The Individuation Process
Journey To Wholeness

Note: Words in red will its show definition when your mouse hovers over the word. Words in red and underlined also have a link to another page that provides more information

The Individuation Process
Individuation is the development of one's individual personality through a bringing-to-consciousness and assimilation of unconscious tendencies

Individuation is the process of integrating the conscious with the unconscious for the purpose of realizing or fulfilling one's talents and potentialities. Individuation is a self analysis/self discovery, the analyzing of the psyche to discover what aspects {emotional} are out of balance and need resolution. It is a developmental psychological process during which innate elements of personality {psyche components existing from the time a person is born} and the experiences of the person's life become integrated over time into a well-functioning whole. It is a completely natural process necessary for the integration of the psyche. Individuation has a holistic healing effect on the person, both mentally and physically.

Individuation Begins at Birth
Individuation is part of the separation/individuation process that begins at birth. When an infant is born, he/she is merged with mother. For the infant in this symbiotic relationship, there is no differentiation between you and me: mother and infant are one. As development proceeds, an infant and then toddler emerges from the symbiosis and begins to become a separate person. After the early stages of separation, we individuate from mother and become a separate self. This unique self, separate and different from any other self, is developed by the process of individuation.

Jung believed that a human being is inwardly whole, but that most of us have lost touch with important parts of our selves. Through listening to the messages of our dreams and waking imagination, we can contact and reintegrate our different parts. The goal of life is individuation, the process of coming to know, giving expression to, and harmonizing the various components of the psyche. If we realize our uniqueness, we can undertake a process of individuation and tap into our true self. Each human being has a specific nature and calling which is uniquely his or her own, and unless these are fulfilled through a union of conscious and unconscious, the person can become ill {psychologically and possibly physically}.

Jung and Freud
{Jung was a one time student and protege to Sigmund Freud}
Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud agreed on the most basic hypothesis: in addition to the rational, conscious aspect of the personality, there is another realm of the psyche of which man is normally not aware, which they called the unconscious. But they soon disagreed as to what the contents of the unconscious is. Freud maintained that the unconscious was composed of repressed, traumatic childhood experiences that involved the clash of emerging instinctual needs and the oppressive reality of the family and society. Freud believed a repressed memory of an early childhood sexual abuse or molestation experience was the essential precondition for hysterical or obsessional symptoms. Freud's psychoanalysis was then developed as a technique, consisting of free associations, designed to bring such conflicts into awareness and thus deal with them from an adult viewpoint.

Jung understood and acknowledged the enormous importance of sexuality in the development of the personality, but he perceived the unconscious as encompassing much more. In addition he saw in unconscious material, especially dreams and fantasies, an unfolding of a process. This process was uniquely expressed in each person, but it had nevertheless a common structure. Jung called it the "individuation process" in which the potential of a person's psyche is seeking fulfillment. The concept of Individuation is considered by many to be his major contribution. It is a process which generally takes place in the last half of life - a time in the life cycle neglected by many other psychologists. While the first half of life is devoted to making one's way and establishing oneself in the world, the last half can be a time of psychological development, of moving toward awareness, integration, wholeness. Jung broke from 'Freud's insistence that sexuality must be all there is at the core of people’s problems'.

Jungian psychology, or analytical psychology, is fundamentally distinct from the psychoanalytic school and its 22 theoretical orientations regarding human mental development. Jung's approach was on a meaningful life with particular focus on personality development during the second half of life and substantive contributions to society. He also believed psychic self-care was essential to the well-being of humankind. Jung's theory has served as the basis for new strands in psychology, including depth psychology and archetypal psychology, and has been advanced by his students, academics, and professionals who study and apply his methods.
More on Jung and Freud
Note: In my analysis of dreams I use Jungian techniques and concepts to identify the symbolic meaning{s} of dream images. I agree with Jung's theory of a meaningful life with a particular focus on personality development during the second half of life. But I also utilize Freudian concepts of traumatic childhood experiences {or experiences/influences that possess 'numinous' energies} in identifying the foundations of adult tendencies that many dream images point to.
The Way to Individuation
Jung felt that Freud's concept of the unconscious was limited and overly negative. Instead of simply being a reservoir of repressed thoughts and motivations, as Freud believed, Jung argued that the unconscious could also be a source of creativity. While the theoretical differences between the two men marked the end of their friendship, their collaboration had a lasting influence on the further development of their respective theories. Jung went on to form his own influential school of analytical psychology.

The slideshow on the left illustrates Jung's concept to the unconscious and his theory of Individuation, his theory of personality {Myers-Briggs Personality typology is based on Jung's theories} as well as other aspects of Individuation {click on image to access slideshow}.
Other Pages on Individuation
--Individuation and the Union of Opposites
--The Shadow in the Individuation Process
--Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious
--The Self In Jungian Psychology
--Anima/Animus-Masculine/Feminine Aspects
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The major goal of Jungian therapy is Individuation through the integration of the Ego and the Shadow
citation: mind-development.eu/jung.html

According to Jung, the Ego - the "I" or self-conscious faculty - has four inseparable functions, four fundamental ways of perceiving and interpreting reality: Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition. Jung's concept of the ego is designated as the area of personality of which one is consciously aware. Generally, we tend to favor our most developed function, which becomes dominant, while we can broaden our personality by developing the others. Jung noted that the unconscious often tends to reveal itself most easily through a person's least developed, or "inferior" function. The encounter with the unconscious and development of the underdeveloped function(s) thus tend to progress together.
More reading: The Four Ego Functions

Being opposite the Persona, the Shadow is not generally acknowledged or accepted by the Ego, but when integrated (rather than repressed) it can be very useful to the individual in seeing or realizing the full aspect of the inner self. This energy can be re-directed positively into waking life. For example, a positive side of the Shadow is to provide strength to an intimidated person.

The barriers to individuation which we must seek to explore and resolve are contained in our 'Shadow' personality: those qualities that one would rather not see in oneself, as well as unrealized potentials. The Shadow of beauty is the beast. Because they're repressed such beliefs and feelings are typically unconscious; they influence our entire lives, tell us what we can and can not do, and drive our behaviors. Even when we're conscious of them, we tend to hide them because we're ashamed or embarrassed. We don't want anyone to know that we feel unworthy of love or that we're not good enough so we try to suppress such beliefs and deny them.
end of citation

Cinderella as a shadow figure
Cinderella is a shadow figure. She is ignored and neglected by her elder sisters. They go out into the world, but Cinderella is shut up indoors. This represents the contrast between the conscious ego (which relates to the outside world) and those parts of the unconscious that have not been allowed any part in one's conscious activity. However, Cinderella eventually escapes from her imprisonment and marries the Prince. This marriage symbolizes the joining together of conscious ego (Prince) and shadow (Cinderella), which is the end result of the penetration of the conscious mind by the unconscious and/or the penetration of the unconscious by consciousness. Symbolically - in myths and in dreams - consciousness is usually represented as male, the unconscious as female; and the sexual penetration of female by male is therfore a common symbol of the descent of consciousness into the dark cave-like depths of the unconscious. (Here is a splendid example of the difference between Freud and Jung: whereas for Freud all - nearly all - dream images were symbols of sexuality, Jung asks us to entertain the possibility that the sexual act itself may be a symbol pointing to something beyond itself.)

Shadow Projection

In order to reach the second stage of individuation {Anima/Animus}you must resist two temptations. First, you must avoid projecting your shadow on to other people. Your shadow, because it is your dark side, may be quite frightening, and you may even see it as something evil. You may therefore want to disown it; and one way of doing this is to make believe it is the property of someone else. On a collective level this is what leads to racism and the persecution of 'non-believers' {which in this context means people whose beliefs are different from our own}. These are both examples of the 'them-and-us' syndrome, where we unload our 'dark' side on to some other group, which then becomes the scapegoat that carries the blame for everything that is wrong in our lives or our society. Commenting on Jesus's command to 'Love your enemy', Jung remarks: 'But what if I should discover that that very enemy himself is within me, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved - what then?' The answer is that you must learn to integrate the dark side of yourself, which means accepting it and allowing it to proper expression under the control of your conscious mind. It will then cease to be dark and terrifying and hostile; instead, it will enhance the quality of your life, advance your personal development and increase your happiness.

The second temptation to be resisted is that of suppressing the shadow, which means putting it back into the cellars of the unconscious and locking the doors on it. {If Cinderella never realized her shadow, she would still be locked behind the closed doors which represents her unconscious desires to be free}. Says Jung: 'Mere suppression of the Shadow is as little a remedy as beheading would be for a headache.' Whatever pain or unease your shadow may cause you, it consists of precisely those parts of your total self that you need to utilize if you are to achieve full personal growth. To suppress the shadow is merely to go back to square one; and sooner or later you will be forced to come to terms with this 'dark' side of yourself.M.font>
Usually, the first encounter with the shadow leads only to a partial acceptance of it, a mere acknowledgement of its existence. Certainly it is good to confess (what appear as) the less desirable - the'dark' - aspects of one's personality: without that, no further progress can be made. But merely acknowledging these aspects does not take us very far. A lot more work is necessary.

Encounter with the Shadow
The encounter with the shadow plays a central part in the process of individuation. Jung considered that 'the course of individuation...exhibits a certain formal regularity. Its signposts and milestones are various archetypal symbols' marking its stages; and of these 'the first stage leads to the experience of the SHADOW'. If 'the breakdown of the persona constitutes the typical Jungian moment both in therapy and in development', it is this which opens the road to the shadow within, coming about when 'Beneath the surface a person is suffering from a deadly boredom that makes everything seem meaningless and empty...as if the initial encounter with the Self casts a dark shadow ahead of time'. Jung considered as a perennial danger in life that 'the more consciousness gains in clarity, the more monarchic becomes its content...the king constantly needs the renewal that begins with a descent into his own darkness' - his shadow - which the 'dissolution of the persona' sets in motion.

The dissolution of the persona and the launch of the individuation process also brings with it 'the danger of falling victim to the shadow...the black shadow which everybody is carried within, the inferior and therefore hidden aspect of the personality' - a merger with the shadow.

'The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself/herself' and represents 'a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well'. If and when 'an individual makes an attempt to see their shadow, they become aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses denied in oneself but can plainly see in others - such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions ...[a] painful and lengthy work of self-education'.

{click on image to access slideshow}