Skip to main content

The Undiscovered Self pt 1

Individual and Society
Published onApr 12, 2022
The Undiscovered Self pt 1

As social beings, humans can find themselves lost in a state of subjective annihilation resulting in what Jung terms the mass man.

This “mass man” is more a function of society or the political collective rather than of the individual self.

Another type of subjective annihilation can be found in the collective believer. Jung does not take this to be one who truly believes in God’s (psyche) power over judgment and the extramundane one intimately finds themselves a part of or indirect access to. The collective believer in Jung’s view is indifferent to religion as a personal relationship with self and the extramundane, and forms creeds rooted in the religious institutions they happen to participate in. They are, as the mass man, subjects of institutional authority.

Jung expresses this in a powerful statement on the role of state and religious institutions, writing:

both lack the very thing that expresses and grips the whole man, namely, an idea which puts the individual human being in the center as the measure of all things

This becomes dangerous to Jung, as Western civ prioritizes the collective self, positing the individual as non-important to the functioning of the systems running the lives of millions.

the individual becomes morally and spiritually inferior to the mass, and for this reason, they do not burden themselves…with the real task of helping the individual to achieve metanoia, or rebirth of the spirit

For Jung, western civilizations’ only goal is the use of; tyranny(specifically socialism/fanaticism) in Russia, scientific weltanschauung in the Americas(Foucault much), or brazen egotism and skepticism in Europe to further its materialistic and collectivist goals. We should consider these phenomena as the methods by which dominant power structures seek to minimize the individual so that the individual becomes the mass man.

The Church takes this on with its creeds and thus becomes the motto “God Bless America”. The state and the church become complicit in the creed creations and impetus towards the “mass man” resulting in the deprivation of individual self-realization/individuation. Jordan Peterson has a very interesting take on this facet of Jungian belief. In the face of the dominance hierarchies humans have emboldened for centuries, it is imperative that we find a relationship with a higher power so that we may come to know and unveil our lesser nature hidden by meaning archetypal to our experience as human beings. But we remained warned:

veneration of the word has a perilous shadow side…the moment the word…attains universal validity, it severs its original link with the divine. There is then a personified Church, a personified State; the word becomes credulity…the word itself an infernal slogan capable of any deception.

For Jung, a religious belief system is an appropriate counterbalance to mass mindedness in either form, but Jung argues Christian symbolism falls short in producing the synthesis required of the ego to experience metanoia.

In the state, the individual plays no role in the collectivist aim to produce more, ad infinitum, so religion should be the stopgap as Jung believes:

the individual in his dissociated state needss [a] directing and ordering principle

Ego consciousness would like to let its own will play this role, but overlooks the existence of powerful unconscious factors which thwart its intentions

And later says

the believer is measuring his conscience by the traditional ethical standard and that by a collective value

It is in this vulnerable state of searching for meaning in life that Jung locates the power of psychology for subconscious confrontation. Christianity’s inability to update its symbology for the “Christian white man” is proof of the religious creeds that iterate over state and institutional collectivism rather than providing an environment for individuation. State fanaticism has even a steeper slope to fall from for the individual. Western scientific weltanschauung is occurring in the face of imperialism, racism, and sexism. The individual, in their disassociation, should thus become the subject of psychological analysis. For Jung, an examination of the relationship between a self and the machinations employing that self, so that ego synthesis can be formed, is the goal of psychology.

My fear is that, even in the zeitgeist of mental health, it should be fair to ask if psychology is merely another tool for producing an individual that conforms to society, rather than assisting one through subconscious confrontation.

We shall end it here. In the later sections, Jung focuses on understanding and self-knowledge in a world of rapid technological development. I think it best to preview the next post with how he starts chapter five and his focus on the drastic real event in one’s life:

Only when conditions have…altered so drastically that…an unendurable rift between the outer…and our ideas now become antiquated…[that]….the question of how primordial images that maintain the flow of instinctive energy are to be reoriented

Part 2 : The Power of Self

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?