Intro to the Individuation Process
I had joined the depth psychology program at Pacifica to better understand the mechanisms behind the individuation process and how someone like myself could ultimately complete the process. What I have found through this class is that individuation is not something that someone “completes”, but rather is a process that continues all through life. Through learning about the individuation process, the transcendental function, and the archetypal powers that are involved, I have in my view build a foundation in my mind as to what the individuation process is and is not.
In first diving into the importance of symbols, I found that I had been chasing the understanding symbolic meaning for some time. I had started to understand the importance of myth prior to class while reading Joseph Campbell’s work on the Hero’s Journey, but I didn’t understand the profoundness that symbols provide us psychologically to relate to the unconscious. I also did not understand the importance of symbols in dreams to the extent that is needed in order to decode the underlying message. In reading Edward Whitmont’s book The Symbolic Quest I was not only able to learn the importance of the symbols in my life but also how I can use symbols and emotion to hear the message that my unconscious is trying to convey. This became useful in my understanding of the connection between symbols, myth and the individuation process.
As someone who likes to understand systems and processes, I found the lesson at the residential on ego development to be very profound. The relationship to child-mother, and ego-Self is something that I can realize as a pattern which is played out in many different forms in every level of the human experience. The mechanism that produces the transcendental function, sleep, and wakefulness, are just one of many examples of this pattern, where we go to sleep to unite again with the Self (the womb of sleep) and are pushed back into the world to suffer through our daily lives until we are pulled back again and fall back into sleep. The negatives of being separated from the mother as a child too long, sleep too long, and the Self too long, parallel each other in all forms. In understanding this process, it also opened my eyes to the importance of the transcendental function and building a dialog with the Self.
Man and His Symbols was another book that influenced me profoundly this quarter, especially in the first few chapters discussing the individuation process and the importance of coming to terms with archetypal forces, including the shadow. When reading this book, I found myself coming to terms with my own shadow and noticing that I too possessed many of the neurotic expressions and complex expressions that he discussed. I found myself faced with my own “sins” and had to come to terms that I had rejected my shadow side for the most part. This not only impacted me personally but provided me some insights into my professional life as well.
In my work as a dream researcher, I have pondered over the questions as to what is the purpose of dreams. Many people in my field are unable to answer that question. From our class this quarter it would see blatantly apparent to me that dreams are directing us to our own personal individualization and though the day to daydreaming does not provide the point of view needed to see this process, when taking a step back, understanding the fundamental process of how symbols and dreams work, and the inner workings of the unconscious, we can clearly see the larger picture. Dreams and the messages inside them are there to provide us with the necessary steps of how we can continue forward in our individualization process and how we can change our daily lives to better meet the profound direction that the Self is directing us. This provides me a new way to not only look at my dreams but also to help other dreamers find purpose.
Intro to Depth Psychology
When I started this first quarter, I thought that I had a proficient understanding of what depth psychology entailed. I came to realize pretty quickly that I had not spent the time and effort in the past needed to grasp even the very basic understandings of the psychology. I found it important for myself to spend the time to read as much as possible in our class and to try to grasp the concepts regardless of how outlandish I thought they were on their surface. Though maybe not as hard for some others to accept the more synchronistic examples that we found in our reading, for me this was hard to accept because I tend to try and rationalize everything. Coming to terms with the concept that not everything can be renationalized was hard.
In my area of work as a dream researcher, I often find myself at odds with the lucid dreaming community that adopts some ideas that I find less than scientific and reside somewhere in the unrationed psyche. Their approach to understanding dreams can be disheartening for someone who is seriously attempting to understand not only dreams but themselves. When it came to Jung’s work, I wondered to myself if Jung’s theories or ideas where simply that of a crazed person, or if there more to it than that. I understood that he had some worth to what he had to say, as I found my personal experiences with dreams to be in line with some of his writings that I encountered, but still I questioned his motives. In reading Shamadasani’s work Jung and the making of modern psychology I found the foundation that was needed in order to continue forward in understanding the true potential of depth psychology. It was not a joyful process to read Shamadasani’s book in its entirety, and if I did not have the intention to read every word presented to me in this class, I would have in all honesty skipped through the chapters. After finishing the book, I not only learned about my ability to overcome some more alchemic hurtles, I found a foundation in Jung’s work that I would have missed otherwise. Dr. Shamdasani’s book provided me a way to see past the initial reaction to the absurdity of some of Jung’s theories, but rather that these ideas are well founded in the history of psychology, philosophy, and physics.
Dr. Johnson’s book Inner Work had a subtler impact on my experiences throughout the quarter. I found similarities in the process of active imagination and some techniques that people use to lucid dream and noticed how both could be used to influence each other. In reading Johnson’s work, I started to integrate some of his techniques into my dream practice and daily life and it made a huge impact. This opened me up to the idea of impending a daily dialog with myself which is essential to being a healthy individual.
Dr. Grice’s book Archetypal Reflections expanded on what I was learning from reading Inner Work by clearly explaining some of the more complex ideas of Jung’s in terms that were easier for me to assimilate. Though I disagreed with some of Grice’s personal views and didn’t resonate with his passion for astrology, it overall made its impact by giving me a much clearer view into archetypal forces.
Residential was for me where things came to a head. On a personal note, I came head to head while facing many of my own demons. I was forced to engage with individuals that I was not used to listening to or allowed to share my ideas with, and emotions took the stage. I learned from these interactions and our in-person lectures that all life, psychology, ecology, cosmology, are all one, and that synchronicity is happening every moment of every day. That these experiences are equally imaginative and “real” and to grasp both is needed.
All that was experienced during this quarter has fundamentally changed my opinion of the unconscious, how consciousness works as a whole, and what it means to be aware. I will use what I have learned in my personal life as well as my work in dreams while I seek change from within.