Prepared by Carol A. Jacobs, LCSW
Based on the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), Jungian psychology is a vibrant, life-affirming tending of the human psyche. Jung saw the psyche as a dynamic system made up of the conscious and the unconscious: consciousness being that part of the individual that contains the ego and present awareness, and the unconscious being that part of the individual that is unknown and not easily accessible to the ego.
Through the tending of the interaction between the conscious and the unconscious, Jung developed an understanding of a wide range of psychological concepts: archetype, complex, synchronicity, personal and collective unconscious, anima, animus, myth, symbol, persona, ego shadow, transcendent function, the opposites, etc. Although these terms and concepts did not all originate with Jung, he applied them to the understanding of the human psyche. At the foundation of his personal inner work and the work he did with his patients, he came to the belief that “life has a spiritual purpose beyond material goals,” and that “our main task is to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential – to meet self and the Divine.”
This process of discovery and movement toward wholeness Jung termed individuation. Through the exploration of dreams, symbols, visions, physical symptoms, and active imagination, one has the opportunity of confronting the unconscious, which holds life-enhancing possib
ilities. Shadow material, which contains the unacknowledged and rejected aspects of ourselves, allows for the coming to terms with “the thing a person has no wish to be.” Though often seen as the negative side of the personality, shadow also includes those positive aspects that might demand a more visible presence in the world – the creative side that can stay hidden out of fear and shame. Another way of understanding this process is to think about it as a cycling of death and rebirth. With the death of old beliefs and constraints, which are unknowingly held in the unconscious, new life has space to emerge. Increased self-knowledge and expanding awareness of the Divine unfold in the human soul.
The Chrysalis Perspective
The Jungian focus on individuation and wholeness is a path both inward and outward. Through dedication to self-exploration and inner work, one has the opportunity of expanding consciousness both on the psychological and the spiritual levels. It is through the personal that the collective is
enhanced. That is, consciousness and compassion for the inner world of the self is then mirrored in compassion and love for the collective. This reflects the dedication of the broad-based exploration of spiritual growth and service to the community that is the goal of The Chrysalis Institute.
Frequently Asked Questions
Jungian work offers a unique and broad perspective of understanding both the psychological and spiritual aspects of the human psyche. Through a variety of avenues, a Jungian approach can facilitate healing from childhood wounding as well as offer exploration of the individual unfolding of our soul’s journey into a purposeful, meaningful, and boldly lived life in the world.
How did Jung come to his formulations?
He did his own inner work. His own dreams and visions compelled him to respond to his soul’s calling. He made a choice to listen, to be curious, and to explore. In that exploration he found his own spiritual path that sustained him, his patients, and ultimately those who have followed in his footsteps.
Anne Baring | The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul | Transpersonal Books, 2013
James Hollis | The Archetypal Imagination | Texas A&M University Press, 2000
Carl G. Jung | Collected Works of C.G. Jung | Princeton University Press, 1971
Carl G. Jung | Memories, Dreams and Reflections | Vintage (reissue edition), 1989
Helen Luke | Dark Wood to White Rose: Journey and Transformation in Dante’s Divine Comedy | Parabola Books, 1989
Edward C. Whitmont | The Symbolic Quest | Princeton University Press, 1969
Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson | Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousnesss | Shambhala, 1996
Marie-Louise Von Franz | The Interpretation of Fairy Tales | Shambhala, 1996