Monday, April 7, 2008


Some notes Carl Jung and Motivation

Jung and others emphasise the unconscious.
The suggestion is that we need to question the contribution of the unconscious to motivation. Jung uses the terms psyche and psychic rather than mind and mental.
Jung sees the unconscious aspect of the psyche as different but complimentary to the conscious. Jung sees the psyche as a dynamic system, in constant flux and self-regulating . He calls the psychic energy libido acting out a form of opposition and compensation. Forward (progression) and backward (regression) movement of the libido -think of adaptation (to one's environment) and accommodation (change in mind). Some idea of flow between the conscious and the unconscious. And by the way regression (which often gets a bad press) is not a bad thing.
Jung also talks about symbols and signs. A sign as a substitute or representation of a real thing while a symbol is a wider representation.

The conscious aspect of the psyche may be compared with an island jutting out of the sea. The island could be seen as the ego the bit above the water. Now there's lots of stuff that we either forget, have repressed or suppressed; all of these occupy the personal unconscious. The island metaphor places the personal unconscious as just beneath the surface theoretically recoverable.

What lies deeper still is the collective unconscious.
The tendency to experience the world in a manner shaped by the collective past history of mankind is what Jung called archetypal and archetypes are a form of human blueprint for intuition.

A complex is a type of grouping of ideas around a basic nucleus.
There are dispositional and environmental contributors to complexes. Complexes can arise in the conscious and unconscious. Unconscious complexes can appear to act or drive independently of the ego.

So what is the drive through life -the propulsion?
Jung found the answer to this question gradually evolved itself during years of work with patients, and borrowed the word 'individuation' to describe it. There were, he found, a relatively large number of people who, while cured in the ordinary sense of the word, either persisted in continuing their analytical treatment, which he defined as 'the dialectical discussion between the conscious mind and the unconscious', people were seeking a goal, something like a quest for wholeness.

Conscious and unconscious do not make a whole when one of them is suppressed and injured by the other. If they must contend, let it at least be a fair fight with equal rights on both sides. Both are aspects of life. Consciousness should defend its reason and protect itself, and the chaotic life of the unconscious should be given the chance of having its way too -- as much of it as we can stand. This means open conflict and open collaboration at once. That, evidently, is the way human life should be. It is the old game of hammer and anvil: between them the patient iron is forged into an indestructible whole, an 'individual'. This, roughly, is what I mean by the individuation process. 15

15. 'Conscious, Unconscious, and Individuation' (C.W., 9, i), pars. 522-3

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