The Unconscious World of Dreams

The Psychology of Dreams - A Jungian Perspective

Understanding Your Dreams
The Individuation Process
Journey To Wholeness

Jung's approach to finding balance in life was through dreams and his 'Individuation Process'. Individuation is a self analysis, a self discovery, analyzing your own psyche and life, discovering what truths lie underneath the conscious ego-centric personality, and life. In this search of the unconscious one will confront different aspects of the psyche that influence our human fabric, our behaviour and reasons for those behaviours. Continuing with the 'The Self', the following will introduce you to the four different aspects of the psyche that influence, often unconsciously, who we are as individuals, and ultimatley collectively.

The Self
The coherent whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person

The Self is simply the centre and the totality of the entire psyche. It is the archetype which contains all the other archetypes and around which they orbit. It's something of a paradox, and extremely difficult for the conscious ego to accept.
Hero archetype: a Self symbol, but where the god symbolizes the collective unconscious, the hero is a mixture of it with human consciousness {Examples: Jesus & the Buddha}. It's an anticipation of an individuation process approaching wholeness.

In Jungian theory, the Self is one of the archetypes. It signifies the coherent whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person. The Self, according to Jung, is realised as the product of individuation, which in Jungian view is the process of integrating one's personality. For Jung, the self is symbolised by the circle (especially when divided in four quadrants), the square, or the mandala.

What distinguishes Jungian psychology is the idea that there are two centers of the personality. The ego is the center of consciousness, whereas the Self is the center of the total personality, which includes consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego. The Self is both the whole and the center. While the ego is a self-contained little circle off the center contained within the whole, the Self can be understood as the greater circle.

The Self draws its power exclusively from the collective unconscious; it is transpersonal rather than personal and is not conditioned by a person's individual experiences. The Self is both:

Symbolism in Dreams and Narratives: Because the Self is the most complex of the archetypes of individuation, its symbolism is the most rich and varied. All symbols of the Self include the characteristics of power and impersonality; symbols of the Self are never peer figures, nor are they strongly individualized, vividly personal, or strikingly sexual beings. The Self may be symbolized by:

Self Projection: Because the Self is so powerful, it contains both the concepts of Good and Evil. It is only projected onto transcendental figures, either images of God or the Devil, or religious leaders who are divinized by their followers.

Possession by the Self: Because the Self is associated with the deepest levels of the collective unconscious, it is extremely powerful. When possessed by the Self, the ego loses control of the personality through positive or negative Inflation (literally meaning "blown into"). Positive inflation results in megalomania as the ego identifies with the power of the Self and is carried away by the unconscious (in myths, this can be symbolized as deification; Herakles, for example, loses his mortal body in the funeral pyre but his spirit is carried up to Olympus by Athena). Negative inflation results in annihilation of the ego, which is completely overpowered by the Self, resulting in a state of complete withdrawal or catatonia (in myths, this can be symbolized as being swallowed up by a monster, turned to stone, etc.).

Integration of the Self: Because of its unconscious, transpersonal nature, the Self can never be truly integrated by the ego. What the ego must learn to do surrender its need to always be in control by recognizing the value of the Self's guidance and deferring to its superior wisdom. In myths this is often symbolized by the ego-bearer's learning to trust the mystical figures who are directing him/her even when their advice seems dangerous and contradictory. On the other hand, the ego must always maintain a safe distance from the unconscious, recognizing the dangerous power that can never be defeated or controlled.

Edward C. Whitmont, The Symbolic Quest: Basic Concepts of Analytical Psychology (New York: Putnam, 1969)

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