Psychology and Alchemy

Psychology, like every empirical science, cannot get along without auxiliary concepts, hypotheses, and models.

But the theologian as well as the philosopher is apt to make the mistake of taking them for metaphysical postulates.

The atom of which the physicist speaks is not an hypostasis, it is a model.

Similarly, my concept of the archetype or of psychic energy is only an auxiliary idea which can be exchanged at any time for a better

From a philosophical standpoint my empirical concepts would be logical monsters, and as a philosopher I should cut a very sorry figure.

Looked at theologically, my concept of the anima, for instance, is pure Gnosticism; hence I am often classed among the Gnostics.

On top of that, the individuation process develops a symbolism whose nearest affirmities are to be found in folklore, in Gnostic, alchemical, and suchlike “mystical” conceptions, not to mention shamanism.

When material of this kind is adduced for comparison, the exposition fairly swarms with “exotic” and “far-fetched” proofs, and anyone who merely skims through a book instead of reading it can easily succumb to the illusion that he is confronted with a Gnostic system.

In reality, however, individuation is an expression of that biological process—simple or complicated as the case may be—by which every living thing becomes what it was destined to become from the beginning.

This process naturally expresses itself in man as much psychically as somatically.

On the psychic side it produces those well-known quaternity symbols, for instance, whose parallels are found in mental asylums as well as in
Gnosticism and other exoticisms, and—last but not least—in Christian allegory.

Hence it is by no means a case of mystical speculations, but of clinical observations and their interpretation through comparison with analogous phenomena in other fields.

It is not the daring fantasy of the anatomist that can be held responsible when he discovers the nearest analogies to the human skeleton in certain African anthropoids of which the layman has never heard.  ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 460