Jungian psychotherapy is characterized by what Jung called “the process of individuation.”
Individuation is a psychological process that differentiates and then reunites our opposites. It leads the patient to distinguish himself from group psychology and to develop his individuality consisting of the particular tendencies that naturally exist in each person from birth. According to Jung:
“There is no consciousness without the discrimination of opposites.”
At the same time, individuation brings to fruition the sources of life and creativity. The knowledge of oneself inherent to individuation cannot be gained by conscious effort alone. A meeting with unconscious contents is required. In Jung’s words:
“Consciousness does not create itself; it comes from unknown depths.”
Briefly, the individuation process is as follows:
DİFFERENTİATION OF THE OPPOSİTES:
From primary matter one differentiates what belongs and does not belong to oneself, what is individual and general, conscious and unconscious, positive and negative, child and adult. The patient becomes aware of the contradictions that are causing pain and confusion.
MEETİNG WİTH THE SHADOW:
Our shadow contains mostly unpleasant and immoral aspects which we want to believe either do not exist or that they have no effect on our lives. But the shadow also contains positive qualities, appropriate reactions, creative impulses, realistic ideas, and perspicacity – all that could revitalize our living. Nietzsche said:
“Man needs what is worse in him if he wants to reach what he has best.”
MEETİNG WİTH THE “ANİMUS” AND THE “ANİMA”:
Jung defined the animus as the masculine unconscious part of a woman and the anima as the feminine unconscious part of a man. My dreams and experiences taught me that both exist in each sex and form a single archetype.
To understand animus/anima dynamics and their interpenetrations is crucial because they have manifold repercussions – both positive and negative – notably in love relationships, marriage, the choice of a career, etc.
REUNİTİNG THE OPPOSİTES:
Communication between consciousness and the unconscious transforms contradictions into paradoxes; there is light in the shadow and rot is also fertilizer. The opposites acquire equal value and dignity; they are united again, but in a new manner.
MEETİNG WİTH THE SELF:
Progressively, the patient becomes conscious that the ego does not constitute the totality of one’s being – that there exists something greater. Through a cadenced and repeated immersion in the unconscious, the ego’s structure changes. An interior, secret, powerful and superior rule replaces the ego’s arbitrariness and submission to outside influences. For Jung, the Self is the archetype of totality. It signifies wholeness – to be one with oneself. The Self is a couple in which opposites are united. It is highly numinous, that is to say, the Self triggers emotions that transcend personal affects.
EXPERİENCİNG ONE’S UNİCİTY:
The synthesis of opposites creates a psychic balance in which they complete and compensate each other. The patient has transformed his/her primary matter, and is reconciled with himself/herself. As Jung says:
“It is the moment of election when one becomes conform to oneself.”
The experience of one’s unicity and totality manifests itself in the revelation of one’s meaning and purpose in life. This revelation is meaning in, of and by itself, a meaning that is lived as the uniting of parts with the whole.