What Is Individuation?

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What is individuation Carl Jung

“Even a million zeros added up together do not add up to one”

Carl Jung

Carl Jung & Individuation

Individuation is, according to Jung, the most important psychological process one can go through. It is the highest step one can take to improve themselves. Undergoing the individuation process means to become a singular individual and ones own true self.

The process of individuation is to complete the personality. Bringing together all elements both conscious as well as those components suppressed in the personal and collective unconscious.

Completeness = Wholeness Of The Personality.

“One should never think that man can reach perfection, he can only aim at completion”

Carl Jung

The purpose of individuation is not to be perfect, but rather to be complete.

While the end goal of individuation is completeness, there is no ‘final step’ which you will take to become whole. Individuation is the holy grail myth. You are always looking for it but you can never find it. This is because of the existence of inexorable opposites that drive Jung’s shadow theory. Total shadow integration is reserved for characters like Christ or the Buddha. They are ‘god-like’, literally not human. We strive to emulate them but have no chance to ever become them. As you exist in the world, as a lowly mortal, there will always be a negative unintended consequence to your behaviour.

Therefore you will always have your shadow, and therefore you are always developing it in your attempt to integrate it. And since without integrating the shadow we cannot achieve individuation, individuation will always be left as the final journey you seek.

It is the holy grail myth, but don’t let that get you down, for like much in life, it is the quest in itself that makes it a worthwhile pursuit.

Individuation Carl Jung

Why Do We Need Individuation?

Why do we need individuation? Because individuation will complete the personality and without wholeness of the personality one is victim to various phenomena of the psyche.

According to Jung and his description of the psyche, the socialisation process we all undergo as we are raised experiences us a myriad of behavioural suppression which ultimately formulate our unique personality.

This suppression has occurred both consciously and unconsciously in order to ‘socialise’ us for the real world. Along the path of fitting in, our socialisation has meant that many instincts, behaviours, thoughts and motivations have been suppressed into the unconscious.

If you need a reason for why one needs to complete their personality then consider this… Every individual has the potential to achieve exactly what they wish to achieve. Complexes populate the personal subconscious, and these unconscious ‘sub-personalities’ can exert will over your behaviour. The subconscious will over your conscious behaviour is precisely what individuation aims to master… a terribly lustful act, a violent aggression, a weakness of character. The potential for horror.

These complexes exist in all of us. The individuation process rounds out the personality. It is one of the most difficult undertakings a person can ever dare shoulder.

All of Carl Jung’s work is centred towards the goal of realising individuation. The breaking down of the ‘Persona‘, the integration of the ‘Shadow‘, the acknowledgement of the ‘Psyche‘ and the steadfast analysis of your dreams all come together with the uniform goal of completing wholeness.

It is likely that very few people in history have achieved this ultimate feat.

nietzsche and individuation

The Process Of Individuation

We can only delude ourselves so long.

Do not allow problems to linger, for that which lingers manifests and that which manifests becomes unbrearable.

Carl Jung writes that the Individuation process occurs naturally as one ages and undergoes experience. The process does not necessarily require a focused effort from the individual though, because as we age, the depth and complexity of our unconscious increases whether we are intentionally striving for this outcome or not.

However, while it is true that the process is a natural occurrence, applying some awareness and acknowledgment to your individuation will accelerate and more finely tune the change.

Jung brilliantly likens the process of individuation to the process of physical maturity… Your muscles will grow despite a conscious effort, but if you focus and train for health then you accelerate and also maximise the potential of your physicality. In the same manour, we can be more proactive in the process of individuation by taking certain measures…

  1. Shed The Wrappings Of The Persona
  2. Integrate The Shadow
  3. Record & Analyse Your Dreams

“The difference between the “natural” individuation process, which runs its course unconsciously, and the one which is consciously realized is tremendous. In the first case consciousness nowhere intervenes; the end remains as dark as the beginning. In the second case, so much darkness comes to light that the personality is permeated with light, and consciousness necessarily gains in scope and insight. The encounter between conscious and unconscious has to ensure that the light which shines in the darkness is not only comprehended by the darkness but comprehends it.

Carl Jung

Shedding The Persona

The process of Individuation is always ongoing and the first step must always be same.

Shed the self of the false wrappings of the persona.

The persona is the mask through which we interact with society. It is the personality we portray onto others. This is not for the purposes of being ‘fake’ or to ‘impress’, rather it is simply the consequence of having undergone years of certain behaviours being encouraged alongside certain behaviours being shunned.

The formation of the persona begins very early in life as the pull of conformity causes you to align exclusively those parts of your personality that suit the social expectations of the day while rejecting those parts of the personality which clash with social norms.

Failure is to confuse your persona with who you truly are.

“One cannot Individuate as long as one is playing a role to oneself; the convictions one has about oneself are the most subtle form of persona and the most subtle obstacle against any true individuation. One can admit practically anything, yet somewhere one retains the idea that one is nevertheless so-and-so, and this is always a sort of final argument which counts apparently as a plus, yet it functions as influence against true Individuation.

It is a most painful procedure to tear off those veils, but each step forward in psychological development means just that the tearing off of a new veil. We are like onions with many skins, and we have to peel ourselves again and again in order to get to the real core”

Carl Jung
persona and individuation

Integrating The Shadow

Without the integration of the shadow, individuation is unthinkable.

The shadow is your dark potential that goes unacknowledged which can exert will over your behaviour through projection.

The articulation of the shadow is one of Carl Jung’s most well known contributions to the psychological literature and as well a concept Jordan Peterson has spoken about extensively.

The greatest danger to civilisation is not in the weapons we have at our disposal but in our inability to understand our own selves.

Carl Jung

To begin facing your shadow is to withdraw your projections from the external world and then integrate these elements of our personality into conscious awareness. In other words, to face your shadow is to acknowledge your potential for darkness, and then rather than avoid it because it detests you, bring it into the light of day and take ownership of it.

The integration of the shadow is so important in the process of individuation because the shadow holds influence over our personality and affects our behaviour.

Much like the universal battle constantly waged between light and dark and good and evil one must recognise the battle waging within oneself. Each person must contend with both the good and evil which lies within.

I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they have no claws.

Shadow and Individuation

Analyse Your Dreams

Each step towards individuation is constantly occurring and forever running simultaneously. Rounding out the personality is a heroic feat.

Jung’s firm emphasis on the interpretation of dreams is what has landed him outside the mainstream of psychological thinking. There is a spirituality attached to Jung’s idea of the collective subconscious and for this reason, less emphasis has been placed on Jung’s dream analysis.

The purpose of recording and analysing your dreams as a necessary step towards individuation is for you to peak through the window of your unconscious.

The shedding of the persona and integration of the shadow are efforts always manifested in the conscious realm. You might be dealing with the unconscious, but all changes are made in consciousness. When you are dreaming, however, a whole manner of unconsciousness is given chance to manifest.

Your dreams offer you entry into a wonderful world of unhinged reality dominated by projections of both your personal and your collective unconsciousness.

For the purposes of individuation, analysing your dreams allows you to bring into consciousness many phenomena that have been suppressed along your journey of socialisation as well as much which is common to all experienced in the collective.

Individuation is to achieve wholeness, and completeness is not possible until everything in the unconscious has been brought into consciousness.

Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of will.

Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation.

Carl Jung
dream analysis and individuation

Carl Jung On Individuation

We can only delude ourselves so long. A million zeros added up together do no add up to one.

Jung considered the world within, the unconscious, to be as real as the world without, the conscious.

Individuation is the most important step one can take to improve themselves. This is the ultimate goal of the accumulated works of Carl Jung, true mental fitness and the personal realisation of the hero within all of us.

individuation carl jung

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