Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Oak Tree… Mandala … My Inmost Self

September 25th, 2008 · depth psychology, dreams, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, mandala, Meaning, Psychotherapy, The Self, wholeness

Most of the analytical psychology of Carl Jung ultimately revolves around Vibrant Jung Thing Tree for Self Blog   the idea and image of the Self.  It is here that his approach differs from that of so many other psychologies.  What exactly does Jung mean when he uses this term?

He certainly doesn't mean just the ego.  For Jung, the ego is the centre of our consciousness, but it is not the whole of our personality.  Not by a long shot!  As he states,

…the self comprises infinitely more than a mere ego, as the symbolism has shown from of old.  It is as much one’s self, and all other selves, as the ego.  (C.G. Jung, “On the Nature of the Psyche”, in Jung, Collected Works, v. 8, para 432)

It's very hard to describe in a few words exactly what is meant by the Self.  The Self is, among other things, the sum total of what we are.  It's an image of a human's fullest potential and of the wholeness of the human personality.  In the words of Jungian Andrew Samuels:

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The self as a unifying principle within the human psyche occupies the central position of authority in relation to psychological life and, therefore, the destiny of the individual. (Samuels et al., Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis, p. 135)

The destiny of the individual.  So the ego is not "running the show".  It may think it is, in the midst of its incredible, franticFaces for Vibrant Jung Thing Self Blog busyness, as it tries to balance all the demands of life, and to pursue its pet projects and seek its goals.  But there is more at work in us than that. 

Most people have had the experience of moments at some point in their lives of a profound truth, where we somehow touch on destiny and on what we are meant to be, and where we get a sense of something bigger than our everyday selves that is at work in our lives.  We can really "feel ourselves" at those times.  Some people may attribute a religious significance to such moments: some may not.  Abraham Maslow in his psychology speaks of "peak experiences".  Sometimes such experiences can come in dreams; sometimes in meaningful coincidences, what Jung calls "synchronicity".  At such times, we can become profoundly aware that something within us is striving to come into being.  Often people have the feeling that we do have a destiny, that our lives are moving toward something that we can only dimly intuit, at best.                                                                        

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