The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
In the morning it gains continually in strength until it reaches the zenith-heat of high noon.
Then comes the enantiodromia: the steady forward movement no longer denotes an increase, but a decrease, in strength.
Thus our task in handling a young person is different from the task of handling an older person.
In the former case, it is enough to clear away all the obstacles that hinder expansion and ascent; in the latter, we must nurture everything that assists the descent.
An inexperienced youth thinks one can let the old people go, because not much more can happen to them anyway: they have their lives behind them and are no better than petrified pillars of the past.
But it is a great mistake to suppose that the meaning of life is exhausted with the period of youth and expansion; that, for example, a woman who has passed the menopause is “finished”
The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.
Man has two aims: the first is the natural aim, the begetting of children and the business of protecting the brood; to this belongs the acquisition of money and social position.
When this aim has been reached a new phase begins: the cultural aim.
For the attainment of the former we have the help of nature and, on top of that, education; for the attainment of the latter, little or nothing helps.
Often, indeed, a false ambition survives, in that an old man wants to be a youth again, or at least feels he must behave like one, although in his heart he can no longer make believe.
This is what makes the transition from the natural to the cultural phase so terribly difficult and bitter for many people; they cling to the illusion of youth or to their children hoping to salvage in this way a last little
scrap of youth.
One sees it especially in mothers, who find their sole meaning in their children and imagine they will sink into a bottomless void when they have to give them up.
No wonder that many bad neuroses appear at the onset of life’s afternoon.
It is a sort of second puberty, another “storm and stress” period, not infrequently accompanied by tempests of passion—the “dangerous age.”
But the problems that crop up at this age are no longer to be solved by the old recipes: the hand of this clock cannot be put back.
What youth found and must find outside, the man of life’s afternoon must find within himself.
Here we face new problems which often cause the doctor no light headache.
The transition from morning to afternoon means a revaluation of the earlier values.
There comes the urgent need to appreciate the value of the opposite of our former ideals, to perceive the error in our former convictions, to recognize the untruth in our former truth, and to feel how much
antagonism and even hatred lay in what, until now, had passed for love.
Not a few of those who are drawn into the conflict of opposites jettison everything that had previously seemed to them good and worth striving for; they try to live in complete opposition to their former
Changes of profession, divorces, religious convulsions, apostasies of every description, are the symptoms of this swing over to the opposite.
The snag about a radical conversion into one’s opposite is that one’s former life suffers repression and thus produces just as unbalanced a state as existed before, when the counterparts of the conscious
virtues and values were still repressed and unconscious.
Just as before, perhaps, neurotic disorders arose because the opposing fantasies were unconscious, so now other disorders arise through the repression of former idols.
It is of course a fundamental mistake to imagine that when we see the non-value in a value or the untruth in a truth, the value or the truth ceases to exist. It has only become relative.
Everything human is relative, because everything rests on an inner polarity; for everything is a phenomenon of energy.
Energy necessarily depends on a pre-existing polarity, without which there could be no energy.
There must always be high and low, hot and cold, etc., so that the equilibrating process—which is energy —can take place.
Therefore the tendency to deny all previous values in favour of their opposites is just as much of an exaggeration as the earlier one-sidedness.
And in so far as it is a question of rejecting universally accepted and indubitable values, the result is a fatal loss.
One who acts in this way empties himself out with his values, as Nietzsche has already said. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Pages 74-75