Today we will explore the Jungian concept of Individuation – the process of becoming an individual as developed by Carl Gustav Jung. Martin Schmidt states that “Jung saw it as the process of self realisation, the discovery and experience of meaning and purpose in life; the means by which one finds oneself and becomes who one really is.” (

Jung said that this means ‘becoming an “individual”, and insofar as “individuality” embraces our innermost, last and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self.’ Jung frequently said, ‘Don’t imitate!’ ‘Everything strives for wholeness’ and the individuation process is ‘the expression of biological process… by which every living being becomes what it was destined to be from the beginning.’ The individual can either frustrate or assist the process, but one can neither initiate nor stop it. It happens of itself.

Individuation is an expression of that lifelong tendency in the human psyche to differentiate and integrate those aspects of the self that have at an earlier date either been devalued or have ‘perished’ from conscious life. Therefore, the basic principle at work in individuation is ENANTIODROMIA (‘enantios’ = ‘opposite’; ‘dromos’ = ‘running towards’). There arises a compensation in the unconscious.

There are two stages to the process of Individuation:

i) birth to mid-life.

ii) 35/45 onwards.

Let’s explore each of these stages…

i) The psyche’s task in this stage is the formation and consolidation of the ‘ego’ or ‘ego complex’; the development of a ‘persona’ or personality; choosing a vocation, etc.

ii) ‘coming to know one’s other side’ – undeveloped in the first half of life and to develop a new centre for the psyche which Jung calls the SELF. Looking deeper we may see the contra-sexual ingredients in one’s psychic life (ANIMA/ANIMUS) and the dark side (SHADOW).

The goal of Individuation is the emergence of the SELF (i.e the totality of all that we are as individuals).

What do you think about the Jungian process of Individuation?

You might also like to read about:

Jung on Religion

An Assessment of Jung’s Treatment of Religion

A Comparison of Freud and Jung on Religion

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