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Carl Jung: Like all archetypes, the self has a paradoxical, antinomial character.

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392 self

999 overated


Just as the circle is contrasted with the square, so the quaternity is contrasted with the 3 +1 motif, and the positive, beautiful, good, admirable, and lovable human figure with a daemonic, misbegotten creature who is negative, ugly, evil, despicable and an object of fear.

Like all archetypes, the self has a paradoxical, antinomial character.

It is male and female, old man and child, powerful and helpless, large and small.

The self is a true “complexio oppositorum,” though this does not mean that it is anything like as contradictory in itself.

It is quite possible that the seeming paradox is nothing but a reflection of the enantiodromian changes of the conscious attitude which can have a favourable or an unfavourable effect on the whole.

The same is true of the unconscious in general, for its frightening figures may be called forth by the fear which the conscious mind has of the unconscious.

The importance of consciousness should not be underrated; hence it is advisable to relate the contradictory manifestations of the unconscious causally to the conscious attitude, at least in some degree.

But consciousness should not be overrated either, for experience provides too many incontrovertible proofs of the autonomy of unconscious compensatory processes for us to seek the origin of these antinomies only in the conscious mind.

Between the conscious and the unconscious there is a kind of “uncertainty relationship,” because the observer is inseparable from the observed and always disturbs it by the act of observation.

In other words, exact observation of the unconscious prejudices observation of the conscious and vice versa. ~Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 355