Introduction to Carl Jung - Individuation, the Persona, the Shadow and the Self

Editorial for Academy of Ideas article and video

From the article :

Jung conceived of the psyche, or one’s total personality, as composed of  a conscious and unconscious realm. The unconscious realm he split into  the personal unconscious and  the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious  is largely composed of repressed elements from one’s personal history, while the  collective unconscious is composed of instincts and archetypes which are common to all human beings. Archetypes  can be viewed as evolved cognitive structures which influence emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Archetypes provide structure to different parts of the psyche and the psyche functions optimally when there exists a harmonious balance between these parts. Unfortunately, according to Jung, few people function in an optimal manner. Rather most suffer from imbalances where some parts of their personality suffer  from inflation, or over-expression in consciousness, while other parts suffer from  deflation or underdevelopment whereby they lack proper expression in consciousness. Imbalances, Jung believed, often lead to the development of neuroses and a lack of vitality in life.

Working to bring about proper expression of the various archetypally structured elements of one’s personality by confronting contents of the unconscious and thus obtaining self-knowledge, is the purpose of the individuation process.  It is important to note that this process occurs spontaneously if unimpeded as contents of the unconscious naturally strive for outward expression in the world, or as Jung put it  “Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation”.