Carl Jung Lexicon NYAAP


INDIVIDUATION. The concept of individuation plays a large role in our psychology.

In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual (q.v.) as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.

Individuation, therefore, is a process of differentiation (q.v.), having for its goal the development of the individual personality.

Individuation is a natural necessity inasmuch as its prevention by a levelling down to collective standards is injurious to the vital activity of the individual.

Since individuality (q.v.) is a prior psychological and physiological datum, it also expresses itself in psychological ways.

Any serious check to individuality, therefore, is an artificial stunting. It is obvious that a social group consisting of stunted individuals cannot be a healthy and viable institution; only a society that can preserve its internal cohesion and collective values, while at the same time granting the individual the greatest possible freedom, has any prospect of enduring vitality.

As the individual is not just a single, separate being, but by his very existence presupposes a collective relationship, it follows that the process of individuation must lead to more intense and broader collective relationships and not to isolation.

Individuation is closely connected with the transcendent function (v. Symbol, par. 828), since this function creates individual lines of development which could never be reached by keeping to the path prescribed by collective norms.

[760] Under no circumstances can individuation be the sole aim of psychological education.

Before it can be taken as a goal, the educational aim of adaptation to the necessary minimum of collective norms must first be attained.

If a plant is to unfold its specific nature to the full, it must first be able to grow in the soil in which it is planted.

Individuation is always to some extent opposed to collective norms, since it means separation and differentiation from the general and a building up of the particular—not a particularity that is sought out, but one that is already ingrained in the psychic constitution. The opposition to the collective norm, however, is only apparent, since closer examination shows that the individual standpoint is not antagonistic to it, but only differently oriented.

The individual way can never be directly opposed to the collective norm, because the opposite of the collective norm could only be another, but contrary, norm. But the individual way can, by definition, never be a norm.

A norm is the product of the totality of individual ways, and its justification and beneficial effect are contingent upon the existence of individual ways that need from time to time to orient to a norm.

A norm serves no purpose when it possesses absolute validity.

A real conflict with the collective norm arises only when an individual way is raised to a norm, which is the actual aim of extreme individualism.

Naturally this aim is pathological and inimical to life.

It has, accordingly, nothing to do with individuation, which, though it may strike out on an individual bypath, precisely on that account needs the norm for its orientation (q.v.) to society and for the vitally necessary relationship of the individual to society. Individuation, therefore, leads to a natural esteem for the collective norm, but if the orientation is exclusively collective the norm becomes increasingly superfluous and morality goes to pieces.

The more a man’s life is shaped by the collective norm, the greater is his individual immorality.

Individuation is practically the same as the development of consciousness out of the original state of identity (q.v.).

It is thus an extension of the sphere of consciousness, an enriching of conscious psychological life. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 757-763