Jungian psychology

In this dream he is walking through a sunny, hilly landscape when he comes to a small wayside chapel. "The door was ajar, and I went in. To my surprise there was no image of the Virgin on the altar, and no crucifix either, but only a wonderful flower arrangement. But then I saw that on the floor in front of the altar, facing me, sat a yogi - in lotus posture, in deep meditation. When I looked at him more closely, I realized that he had my face. I started in profound fright, and awoke with the thought: 'Aha, so he is the one who is meditating me. He has a dream and I am it.'"

From one of C.G. Jung's dreams (von Franz, Dreams, p.18)

This is a quick introduction on some basic concepts in Jungian psychology. I'm having a really hard time explaining in my own words what Jungian psychology is, though, so I'm going to make this page into a series of quotes from Marie-Louse von Franz. These are taken from the lecture "The Hidden Source of Self-Knowledge" in the book Dreams. Like the rest of this blog, this page is a work in progress... Hopefully I'll be able to actually think of something to say about this, eventually! But in the meantime, enjoy von Franz's intelligent, insghtful and clearly written explanations
Jung has chosen the term Self for the soul-center in the unconscious, borrowing it from East Indian philosophy. Although this can lead to misunderstanding the Self to be the same as the ego, it is important that what is implied is its relationship with the human individual, for that is how we find it represented in dreams
(von Franz, Dreams, p.12)


"Projection" is a psychological term which describes how our own issues can cloud our ability to see others clearly and objectively. This is because both what we hate, as well as what we love, about others is often at it's base repressed parts of ourselves that are unconsciously "projected" onto others.
People in one's immediate neighborhood experience our projections as emotional exaggerations. Personally, I listen almost unconsciously to the tone in which analysands speak about their marital partner, their friends and enemies, and I have discovered that I simply "switch over" whenever a certain undertone of hysterical exaggeration is heard together with the rest of the patient's statement. Then one can no longer quite believe what is being said, but instead listens to an interesting (unconscious) self-presentation of the analysand. . . . 
(von Franz, Dreams, p.16)
We probably project all the time, in everything we do; in other words, in addition to those other impressions which are conveyed by the senses, there are always psychosomatic influences from within, so that we have a general impression of our experiences; Gestalt psychology demonstrates this in many individual cases. Therefore we must either widen our concept of projection to such an extent that, like the East Indians, we look upon everything as projection; or we must draw a line between what we still refer to as projection and what is a relatively objective statement concerning outer objects. Jung suggested that the concept of projection be applied only where there is a serious disturbance, that is to say, where either the person who is doing the projecting or all those in his immediate vicinity unanimously reject the statement in question. For the usual mixture of subjectivity in our image of reality, a mixture which is limitless, Jung uses the expression archaic identity, archaic because this was man's original condition, namely one in which he saw all psychic processes in him as "outside" - his good and evil thoughts as spirits, his affects as gods (Ares, Cupid), and so on. Only gradually were certain psychic processes, which were visualized before as exclusively "outside," understood as processes within the experiencing subject himself, as for instance when the Stoic philosophers began to interpret the goddess Athena as insight, Ares as aggressive passion, Aphrodite as erotic desire; this, so to speak, was the beginning of an "incarnation" of the gods in man.

How far such a process can go - a process, that is, of an increasing development of consciousness - is therefore not easy to forsee. We still know pitifully little about objective man, as Jung emphasized time and again. In spite of being disturbing and socially dangerous, projections also have a meaning; for it is apparently only through projections that we can make ourselves conscious of certain unconscious processes. Through projections there arise, first of all, those fascinations, affects, entanglements which then force us to reflect on ourselves. There is no becoming conscious without the fires of emotion and suffering. The disturbance of adaptation which is closely linked with every projection leads, if all goes well, to reflection (if it goes badly it leads to homicide and murder). Re-flexio, however, means that the image which has been "radiated" outward onto another object is "bent back" and returns to oneself.
(von Franz, Dreams, p.14)

The Self behind the self

In Jungian psychotherapy we use dreams for the most part to guide the analysand to certain insights or self-knowledge, for there is no psychic healing and no progress without self-knowledge - self-knowledge, however, in the sense of recognizing what one is (As Gerhard Dorn describes it), not in the superficial notion which the ego has about itself . . .

(von Franz, Dreams, p.11)

What Jung called the Self is not what most people think of when they talk about them"selves." Usually, when we think of our "self" we're thinking about the center of our consciousness, or what Jung calls the Ego. The difference between the Self and the Ego are described below.
Now we will consider with the great wonder, the quite amazing fact which lies behind every dream phenomenon examined in this way: Who or what is this miraculous something that composes a series of dream images? . . .  In general, who or what looks at us more clearly and relentlessly than one's best friend or enemy could ever do? It must be a being of the most superior intelligence - judging from the depth and cleverness of dreams. But is it a being at all? Does it have a personality or is it something more like an object, a light or the surface of the mirror? In Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung calls this something "personality No. 2." He experienced it first as a personal or at least half-personified being. "There was always, deep in the background, the feeling that something other than myself was involved. It was as though a breath of the great world of stars and endless space had touched me, or as if a spirit had invisibly entered the room - the spirit of one who had long been dead and yet was perpetually present in timelessness until far into the future."

Personality No. 2 is the collective unconscious, which Jung also later called the "objective psyche," for it is experienced as not belonging to us. . . .  It is "something" which is experienced by the subjective ego as its opposite, like an eye, so to speak, which observes one from the depths of the soul. In his Philosophia meditativa, Gerhard Dorn, a follower of Paracelsus, has given a most illuminating description in many respects for this experience of the objective psyche and of the personality transformation resulting form this experience. In his view, the alchemical opus is based on the act of self-knowledge. This self-knowledge, however, is not what the ego thinks about itself, but something quite different. Dorn says, But no man can truly know himself unless first he see and  know by zealous meditation . . .  what rather than who he is, on whom he depends . . ."
(von Franz, Dreams, p.5)

The search for Self

Throughout history the search for this Self has primarily taken place within the context of the dominant religion or, more infrequently, in philosophy. The goal of all of these systems - mysticism, philosophy and psychology - is wholeness, the integration of this larger Self or, maybe more accurately, the integration of the finite ego into this vast, expansive Self. This gives us a flexible personality that is rooted in something that nourishes us and gives us strength. Jungian psychology accomplishes this by working through psychological disturbances but there are many paths to the same goal.
The lengthy naves of our churches, far from the intersecting aisles and from the altar, reflect the fact that, as Jung once mentioned in a letter, that in our culture man is experienced as being far away from God; God is "wholly other" (Barth) and we forget that He is simultaneously the most intimately known in our innermost soul. The paradox is better known to East Indians; for them the atman-purusha, the Self, is the innermost nucleus of the soul of the individual and at the same time the cosmic, divine all-Spirit.
(von Franz, Dreams, p.13)
[T]he mandala (as the principle image of the Self) has a strict mathematical order - like the symbol of the mirror - for, seen from a physical point of view, only those material surfaces which have no distortions, whose molecules are well-arranged, are capable of reflection. Therefore, it would appear as though the truth of one's own being were reflected there, in the innermost core of the soul - from there come our dreams, which show us how we really are, whreas the disturbing projections come from partial complexes which have made themselves autonomous. This is why Zen masters tell their pupils, time after time, that they should free their "inner mirror" (Buddha-mind) of dust.
(von Franz, Dreams, p.17)

Related pages

Jung's four functions ("personality types")
Integrating the four functions
Relationships and individuation
Archetypes, astrology and Jung's functions (oh my!)
"Psychic warfare"
Power or love

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