Becoming: An Introduction to Jung's Concept of Individuation reflects my hope to leave my grandchildren and others of their generation an understanding of the ideas of Carl Gustav Jung. His idea of a process called individuation has sustained my dedication to my lifelong work of psychoanalysis, and it saddens me that the principles that guided me have been dismissed by the current trends in psychology and psychiatry.
We psychotherapists know the value of Jung’s approach through clinical results, that is, watching people enlarge their consciousness and change their attitudes and behavior, transforming their suffering into psychological well-being.
Psychology’s fascination with behavioral techniques, made necessary by financial concerns and promoted by insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, has changed the nature of psychotherapy and has attempted to dismiss the wisdom of Jung and other pioneers of the territory of the unconscious mind. We psychoanalysts have played a part in the loss by not transmitting our message clearly. For a combination of unfortunate circumstances, many of the younger generation, including college and medical students, are deprived of fully understanding their own minds. Those with a scientific bent are sometimes turned away from self-reflection by the suggestion that unconscious processes are metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. Superficial assessments of Jung have led to the incorrect conclusion that one must be a spiritual seeker, or religious, in order to follow Jung’s ideas about personality. I would like to correct that impression.
Some university professors tell me that they are not allowed to teach Jungian psychology. Secular humanism and positivism have shaped the academic worldview; therefore, investigation into the unknown or unfamiliar dimensions of human experience is not valued. But this attitude contrasts with the positive reputation Jung enjoys among therapists, artists of all types, and philosophers. Those without resistance to the unconscious because of their creativity, open-mindedness, or personal disposition are more likely to receive Jung’s explorations without prejudice or ideological resistance. There is a lively conversation going on about Jung’s ideas in journals and conferences among diverse groups of thinkers which does not reach mainstream psychology.
Becoming is for those whose minds are receptive to the unknown, and I hope it will help some of us to think—more with respect than dread—of the possibility that we act unconsciously.
In organizing Becoming, I wanted to prepare for understanding “individuation” by identifying the historical and philosophical contexts in which Jung was situated, and then addressing the question of where this approach fits with the cultural issues of today. If we were reading this as a play, Part I would set the stage and introduce the main characters. Part II describes the action of individuation as it presents itself on the current cultural stage. Part III is like director’s notes for those who have curiosity for more discussion; it amplifies the basic ideas in each chapter and is called “Lagniappe.” This term, common in Louisiana, means you will get a little something extra, like a thirteenth donut when buying a dozen. It is not necessary to read Part III in order to understand why I find the concept of individuation important for each of us, but it is a little something extra that some may enjoy.
Part I INTRODUCTION
1 A Question of Principle
2 Avoiding Recipes, Accepting Responsibility
3 Reality of the Psyche
4 A Philosophical Moment
5 Defining Psyche, Soul, Mind, and Spirit
7 A Brief History of Individuation
8 Two Ways of Individuating
Part 2 INDIVIDUATION IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
9 The Opus: Finding the Spirit in Matter
10 Inner and Outer
11 Two Halves of Life
12 Sexual Identity
13 Relationship to the Collective
14 World Cultures
15 Individuation: Heroic and Mercurial
16 Elitism and Exceptions
17 Beyond the Depressive Position
18 Transcendent Traditions: A New Myth
19 Transcendent Traditions: Jung and Buddhism
20 Other Transcendent Traditions
21 A Question of Endpoints
Part 3 LAGNIAPPE . . .
About the Author:
Deldon Anne McNeely received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Louisiana State University and is a member of the International Association for Analytical Psychology. A senior analyst of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, she is a training analyst for their New Orleans Jungian Seminar. Publications include Touching: Body Therapy and Depth Psychology; Animus Aeternus: Exploring the Inner Masculine; and Mercury Rising: Women, Evil, and the Trickster Gods.