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Carl Jung: For what he paints are active fantasies—that which is active within him.

999 aim

Development of Personality

Here again my prime purpose is to produce an effect.

In the state of psychological childhood described above, the patient remains passive; but now he begins to play an active part.

To start off with, he puts down on paper what he has passively seen, thereby turning it into a deliberate act.

He not only talks about it, he is actually doing something about it.

Psychologically speaking, it makes a vast difference whether a man has an interesting conversation with his doctor two or three times a week, the results of which are left hanging in mid air, or whether he has to struggle for hours with refractory brush and colours, only to produce in the end  something which, taken at its face value, is perfectly senseless.

If it were really senseless to him, the effort to paint it would be so repugnant that he could scarcely be brought to perform this exercise a second time.

But because his fantasy does not strike him as entirely senseless, his busying himself with it only increases its effect upon him.

Moreover, the concrete shaping of the image enforces a continuous study of it in all its parts, so that it can develop its effects to the full.

This invests the bare fantasy with an element of reality, which lends it greater weight and greater driving power.

And these rough-and-ready pictures do indeed produce effects which, I must admit, are rather difficult to describe.

For instance, a patient needs only to have seen once or twice how much he is freed from a wretched state of mind by working at a symbolical picture, and he will always turn to this means of release whenever things go badly with him.

In this way something of inestimable importance is won—the beginning of independence, a step towards psychological maturity.

The patient can make himself creatively independent through this method, if I may call it such. He is no longer dependent on his dreams or on his doctor’s knowledge; instead, by painting himself he gives shape to himself.

For what he paints are active fantasies—that which is active within him.

And that which is active within is himself, but no longer in the guise of his previous error, when he mistook the personal ego for the self; it is himself in a new and hitherto alien sense, for his ego now appears as the object of that which works within him. In countless pictures he
strives to catch this interior agent, only to discover in the end that it is eternally unknown and alien, the hidden foundation of psychic life. ~Carl Jung, CW 17, Para 106