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The Self in Transformation

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This book brings together into one volume a number of articles that the author has written over the past 20 years, and includes a new extended essay written especially for this volume. The chapters, organized into sections, explore theoretical and clinical matters within a Jungian analytical framework, making carefully considered links to a number of psychoanalytical themes and concepts. The book also includes a section on ethics in the consulting room. In her new essay, Hester Solomon discusses pivotal themes in depth psychology: psychic transformation, synchronicity, and the emergence of complex adaptive systems in relation to the evolution of Jungs theory of the psychoid. She draws from fields of study such as anthropology, neuropsychology, the arts and religion to develop her themes. This is a reasoned integration and demonstration of the developing thought and clinical practice of an established Jungian analyst.

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Chapter 1: The self in transformation: the analyst in transformation

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This current volume of papers written and collected during the course of some twenty years of clinical and professional activity represents a work in progress of a Jungian analyst, trained in London, deeply identified with a Jungian approach to the psyche and its ongoing development, who at the same time is open and responsive to influences of other contemporary Jungian and psychoanalytic thinking and development. In fact, what strikes me as I reflect with hindsight on the process of gathering these papers into a format which will, I hope, convey structure as well as a view of the development of a clinical and theoretical reflection, is that it follows a path of connected points of reflection that was not envisaged as I alighted at each stage on a topic that gripped me at the time. Looking back, however, it is possible to perceive that this series of clinical and theoretical reflections represents an ongoing enquiry into the nature of psychological change, growth, and development, which is at the heart of the clinical work of depth psychologists.

 

Theoretical underpinnings and explorations

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This Part brings together four chapters on certain core T Jungian concepts and their relation to some psychoanalytic and philosophical concepts and recent findings relating the dynamic processes evident in depth psychology and the neuro-sciences.

Chapter 2, “The transcendent function and Hegel's dialectical vision”, shows that Jung's concept of the transcendent function has an important structural parallel in the pivotal nineteenth-century philosophical idea of dialectical change expounded by Frederick Hegel. Hegel's dialectical model concerns the development of self-consciousness as it unfolds in what he describes as the World Spirit (Geist). It can be likened to Jung's theory of the self and how the transformation of the self occurs over time through the emergence of symbols which herald new patterns of order. Jung's vision of a dynamic between related and relating opposite psychological functions, for example between conscious and unconscious, can be understood to be situated intrapsychically as well as between the self and its objects (for example between infant and mother or analysand and analyst). The tension created by these two opposing states can, under the right conditions, lead to a greater integration or synthesis, a new resolution the characteristics of which depend upon and sublate, but cannot be reduced to, the elements of the original opposition. This chapter also describes the theoretical developments that took Jung away from Freud's view of the libido as purely psychosexual energy to an alternative, teleologicalunderstanding of generalized libidinal energy as the source of all human activity, both creative and, in malign conditions, destructive. It includes a view about how instinctual energy can be transformed through the processes of symbol formation, thus enhancing breadth and depth of self experience, including the capacity for coniunctio oppositorum. The models of the development of the self proposed by Fordham (primary self) and Winnicott (primary instinct for relatedness), which appear to be contradictory, can then be seen as resulting in a dialectical synthesis: the self as a union of opposites. This chapter concludes that positing a primary self developing through the dynamic process of deintegration and reintegration, and the self's relational instincts towards its objects, can be usefully elaborated by the deep structural understanding provided by the dialectical model.

 

Chapter 2: The transcendent function and Hegel's dialectical vision

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In this chapter I will trace Jung's concept of the transcendent I function back to its philosophical roots in the notion of dialectical change, first expounded by the German Romantic philosopher Frederick Hegel (1770-1831).

Hegel expounded his dialectical model at a particular time and place in European history, in Germany, at the time of the Romantic revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, a time of enormous social, political and economic change. It formed an essential core of important twentieth-century European philosophical traditions, such as phenomenology and its derivatives, as well as the version of psychoanalysis developed by Lacan and his followers in France.

Hegel's dialectical model is a schema for understanding how change happens throughout all living systems; essentially, it is about the development of self-consciousness as it unfolds both internally and in individuals, in what he calls the World Spirit (Geist). He finds a parallel in Jung's theory of how the individual develops a sense of identity or selfhood over time through the interplay between inner and outer, and between collective and personal psychological contents, both located at conscious and unconscious levels. Hegel expounded a philosophy that reflects a deep structural view of the world (Hegel, 1807a; 1812-1816; 1817; 1820). It has had a profound effect on the thinking of those schooled in European culture since the nineteenth century. Hegel's dialectical vision reflects an understanding of fundamental truths, including psychological truths, concerning reality, and how the self is brought into being and attainsits fullest actualization through the interaction between self-consciousness and consciousness of an other. Both Hegel and Jung expounded models that are concerned with those deeply embedded, inherited structures and dynamic processes that underlie the ways in which we perceive ourselves and our reality, and the ways in which we become the individuals we are. Both employ an archetypal model of the self expressed in terms of an image of wholeness, achieved through successive conflict-ridden steps towards individuation and integration.

 

Chapter 3: Analytical psychology and object relations theory

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Considering the history and the possible communalities between the theory of archetypal psychology and object relations theory requires us to consider two basic philosophical dispositions that have permeated Western culture since the nineteenth century, and thus inevitably our own thinking as analytical psychologists. These are Hegel's dialectical vision concerning the processes of change, and the notion of deep structures, particularly psychological deep structures.

Each concept has made an important addition to the philosophical bedrock that underpins the ways of thinking about human nature and development that we call analytical and psychoanalytic theory. They are especially useful when we come to think about the differential roles of inner and outer influences in the development of personality, their combination, interaction, and relative importance, as primary to the structure and contents of the personality from birth through to maturity.

The first, Hegel's dialectical vision, grew up in Europe, especially in Germany, at the time of the Romantic revolution, as discussed in chapter 2. It translated into the realm of social, political, and economic change by Marx and his followers. I consider that the Hegelian notion of dialectics and dialectical change permeates the theories of Freud and Jung and their followers, steeped as they all were in the German-speaking culture of their times.

 

Chapter 4: The developmental school in analytical psychology

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Analytical psychology as elaborated by Jung and his immediate followers did not focus on the depth psychological aspects of early infant and childhood development. Freud and his followers made the imaginative leap required to link the two pivotal areas of analytic investigation—the early stages of development and how such states of mind may manifest in adult patients on the one hand, and the nature and varieties of transference and countertransference in the analytic relationship on the other— and to include them in psychoanalytic theory. Analytical psychology was slow to follow suit, despite Jung's early and continued insistence on the importance of the relationship between analyst and patient, and his study of the Rosarium (Jung, 1966) as a way of understanding the vicissitudes of the analytic couple.

For Jung and the group that had formed around him, the rich and attractive field of creative and symbolic activity and collective and cultural pursuits appeared to be more engaging. Nevertheless, in certain respects it could be said that creative psychic activity, as well as its destructive and distressing aspects, could be located within two pivotal areas of investigation, and could be seen rightfully to belong to the examination of the relationship between primary process (that is, the earlier, more primitive mental processes with infantile foundations) and the later secondary mental processes.

 

Chapter 5: Recent developments in the neurosciences

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This chapter will seek to show how the archetypal and T developmental analytic traditions can be correlated theoretically through an examination of the recent literature on the implications of early intersubjective exchanges, especially those between the infant and its mother, and the neural and biochemical consequences of such exchanges.

Since this chapter was first written in the late 1990s and subsequently published (Solomon, 2000), many more articles and books have appeared that bring forward the enquiry regarding the connections between depth psychology and further new discoveries in the neurosciences. Two notable extended studies by Jungian analysts are recommended to the interested reader for their relevance to the growing understanding of the overlap between Jungian theory and practice and findings from cognitive and neurosciences. Jean Knox in Archetypes, Attachment, Analysis: Jungian Psychology and the Emergent Mind (Knox, 2003) has offered a revision of Jung's archetypal model and the emergence of symbolic meaning through a close study of attachment theory. Similarly, in Coming into Mind: The Mind-Brain Relationship: A Jungian Clinical Perspective (Wilkinson, 2006), Margaret Wilkinson has made a detailed investigation of the relevance of current neuroscientific findings in Jungian clinical practice, and at the same time demonstrates how Jungian theory and practice are supported by neuroscientific findings.

 

Clinical explorations: the self, its defences, and transformations

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This section comprises five clinically based accounts of intensive analytical work with patients, or supervision of patients, in T long-term intensive analysis.

Chapter 6, “The not-so-silent couple in the individual”, examines the nature of the self, with its foundation in the concept of a primary self, which may achieve a sense of coherence over time, and the nature of internal objects, a concept that forms the basis of theories concerning part selves and sub-personalities. These concepts might be integrated to provide a unified model of the self, thereby integrating theoretically disparate aspects of mental structure and functioning. Through an examination of clinical material, the archetype of the coniunctio is evoked to offer an understanding of how, in the absence of a stable conjunction of (maternal) reverie and (paternal) thinking functions, a series of linked but oppositional internal couples may be created, which lends to the self either the experience of a combined and sustaining inner couple, or an internal warring couple, to the detriment of an integrated self.

 

Chapter 6: The not-so-silent couple in the individual

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This chapter addresses two of the most pressing questions in T psychoanalytic psychotherapy and analysis today. The first question concerns the nature of the self, its structure and functioning. The second concerns the nature of internal objects.

Is the self divided, as in R.D. Laing's (1960) famous phrase, and, if so, in what way? Is there one vertical division represented by, for example, theories of the life and death instincts or the psychotic and non-psychotic self? Or are there multiple divisions, as represented by theories of multiple personalities or sub-personalities? Who, or what, does the dividing? How does it happen, and under what conditions? Both psychoanalysis and analytical psychology offer divided views on this subject, for the debate revolves around whether there is, first and foremost, a self (the view of Jung), or a primary self (the view of Fordham, and many post-Jungians, and, by implication, of many Kleinians) or whether, in the famous phrase of Donald Winnicott, “there is no such thing as a baby, but rather, a nursing couple” (with similar reverberations in the theory of the Jungian Neumann). These two theoretically divided positions, emphasizing the relative influences of nature and of nurture on the

 

Chapter 7: The self in transformation: the passage from a two- to a three-dimensional internal world

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Whether we call it individuation, development, or psychological change, the idea of the transformation of the self is central to the analytic endeavour. But what is transformation? And how shall we think of the self that is in the process of transformation? What is happening when transformation is impeded? It is axiomatic that patients come into analysis because they seek to develop and transform their inner and often their outer environment. They attend more or less intensively over a considerable period of time in the face of often the most arduous circumstances and pitched resistances, both internal and external, surrendering themselves to a process that is in every respect experienced and expressed in immediate, questing, intense, and ardent ways. This passion for change that brings the patient faithfully to the consulting room can quickly turn into its opposite, into another order of experience, that can feel to us more like a passion to destroy, dismember, and diminish or detach from the analytic work that has taken place, robbing the patient of the fruits of the potential transformations that the patient along with the analyst had worked for so assiduously.

 

Chapter 8: Love: paradox of self and other

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Unlike fictional literature, analytic literature contains relatively little about love. Of course, there are exceptions,1 but by and large, analytical attention has addressed other, often negative, emotional states much more consistently and systematically, as if they were, for the clinician, more pressing, more interesting, more exciting, or perhaps more easily thought about. Attention to hatred, envy, jealousy, perverse and violent feelings, anxieties, depressions and psychotic states, and various forms of attacks on and retreats from the possibility of psychological transformation, has ensured that much of our analytic thinking remains focused on negative states of mind. And yet, states of loving are nothing less than the driving emotive force underpinning much of the physical development of the self and propelling much of the self's psychological development from birth until death. Love is certainly one of the primary emotions at the core of object relating, and this has deep implications for the impact of love on the relationship between patient and therapist.

 

Chapter 9: Did Freud and Jung have a “clinical” encounter?

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That an important encounter took place between Freud and Jung, one which was enriching and stimulating for them both, T is undeniable. They collaborated intensively over six years, during a decisive period in the history of psychoanalysis. That they shared a friendship of deep psychological complexity is also without doubt, as attested by the collection of 359 letters that they exchanged between 1906 and 1913. It is reasonable to suppose that, from a psychological standpoint, their deep personal affinity was predicated on a father-son relationship (Jung was Freud's junior by nineteen years). The early love each clearly felt for the other evolved significantly as the years passed, since the need each had for the other was different in essence. The dynamic that developed between them was one where, having first declared Jung his “heir apparent”, Freud would go on to call him “mad” six years later (Kress-Rosen, 1993, p. 12). Their relationship came to a bitter and sudden end in 1913. However, before its final breakdown, there had been a long period of difficulties, ostensibly over theoretical issues, primarily focused on the question of the nature and function of the libido, and on the question, equally absorbing for each, of the origin of religion in the human psyche. I shall return to these points later. Here I wish to stress that their theoretical arguments betray the very considerable psychological difficulties between them. At the heart of their rift was the problem of Freud's insistence on his authority, and on the adherence to those principles of psychoanalysis that arose from Freud's own clinical work, including his own self analysis, and Jung's insistence on his autonomy and freedom to pursue the study of the human psyche in which he was vigorously engaged.

 

Chapter 10: Self creation in face of the void: the “as if” personality

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In this chapter I discuss a particular state of the self, which I think of as a defence of the self, and which I have come to call the “as if” personality. This derives from work I have done with a number of patients whom I have treated or supervised in intensive, long-term analytic work. I began to notice a recognizable pattern and shape to the psychic life and personal histories in patients who, despite often very disturbed backgrounds, including physiological and/or psychological neglect and abuse, nevertheless had managed to become high and valuable achievers in the outside world; creative people making substantial and valid contributions of quality and distinction to their profession or field of work. In order to do so, they had called up extraordinary internal reserves and resources that nevertheless were limited in nature by the very fact that their internal worlds were not populated by nourishing objects, leaving the self depleted. Thus, at a certain moment, either just before or during entering analysis (and it might be their second or third analysis), they became stricken with an overwhelming sense that whatever internal resources they had been able to find to sustain them along their developmental path had now been used up. The self had finally to face a long repressed but often suspected, underlying internal reality, a hauntingly ever-present background sense of living in a void or facing a vast emptiness; an absence devoid of those resources formally used to nourish and sustain the self. Instead, a primary existential anguish or panic, a sense that life was no longer sustainable on the basis that it had been lived, would often be accompanied by areal physical illness or dysfunction that put actual survival into question.

 

Ethics in the psyche: ethics in the consulting room

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This Part brings together three papers on professional ethics T and its sources in the acquisition of an ethical capacity of the self.

Chapter 11, “The ethical self”, shows how Jung's model of the psyche offers an understanding of how an ethical attitude develops personally and how the nature of the ethical attitude underpins analytic practice. Throughout the Collected Works, Jung stressed the centrality of moral and ethical values in psychotherapeutic treatment. The recognition and integration of the shadow is crucial to the self's capacity to develop and grow, to individuate and to fulfill the self's ethical nature.

It is argued that the ethical capacity is at least in part, innate, derived from the earliest, instinctually driven exchanges with the primary caregiver. The identification and internalization of the aga-paic function in the parental figures may catalyse a nascent ethical capacity in the young mind. The primitive acts of discriminating the bad and splitting it off from the psyche by projection into the caregivers, constitute the preconditions for the creation of the shadow, which eventually will require a further ethical action of reintegration.

 

Chapter 11: The ethical self

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The peculiarity of “conscience” is that it is a knowledge of, or certainty about, the emotional value of the ideas we have concerning the motives of our actions.

(Jung, CW 10, para. 825)

[F]or Jung … ethics [is] the action of the whole person, the self.

(Stein, 1995, p. 10)

Common usage often conflates ethics and morals. In this paper a distinction is implied throughout between morality and ethics. Morality is indicated by the adherence to a set of stated principles or rules which govern behaviour (for example, the Ten Commandments, or a professional Code of Ethics), whereas ethics implies an attitude achieved through judgment, discernment, and conscious struggle, often between conflicting rights or duties (for example, the duty of confidentiality vs. the duty of protecting a person from potential harm). In this I follow Jung who made the following useful distinction:

… in the great majority of cases conscience signifies primarily the reaction to a real or supposed deviation from the moral code, and is for the most part identical with the primitive fear of anything unusual, not customary, and hence “immoral.” As this behaviour is instinctive and, at best, only partly the result of reflection, it may be “moral” but it can raise no claim to being ethical. It deserves this qualification only when it is reflective, when it is subjected to conscious scrutiny. And this happens only when a fundamental doubt arises as between two possible modes of moral behaviour, that is to say in a conflict of duty.

 

Chapter 12: The ethical attitude: a bridge between psychoanalysis and analytical psychology

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The expectation that high ethical standards be consistently maintained in clinical practice is common to psychoanalysis and analytical psychology. Both the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) and the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP) have this principle enshrined in their constitutions and Codes of Ethics, and as a matter of good governance review their ethics provisions on a regular basis. However, with some notable exceptions, pragmatic ethics does not receive much exposure, if at all, in training curricula. Even less, theories about the origins and functioning of an ethical capacity or attitude in human beings rarely appear in analytic literature. We insist on “high ethical standards” but what is our psychodynamic understanding underlying these principles? We require at the institutional level that ethics be taken as a core value, but we seem not to address the bases for this core value within the personality.

It is, therefore, surprising that there is a dearth of theoretical work or published clinical material within psychoanalysis or analytical psychology that seeks directly to address the nature and origins of the ethical attitude, whether in developmental or archetypal terms.1 Furthermore, there is little attempt to locate it as an intrinsic component of the self and of the analytic attitude that seeks to protect the development of the self and the relationship between patient and analyst.

 

Chapter 13: The ethics of supervision: developmental and archetypal perspectives

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This chapter argues that the provision of ongoing supervision, peer supervision, or consultation helps to ensure, among other important functions, reliable access to ethical thinking in analytic practice. This does not preclude the importance of, or suggest the lack of, an ongoing, active internal capacity for ethical thinking or an internal supervisory function that comes through the processes of internalization of the analytic attitude during the course of training and post-qualification professional development. I am, however, advocating that fostering the expectation of ongoing supervision post qualification as a present factor in clinical practice has ethical value and weight and supports clinical “hygiene”.

The struggle to keep ethical thinking integral to clinical work and the theory building that develops out of clinical experience requires sustained diligence and is particularly needed in those areas of our analytic and therapeutic practice where we are likely to be the most tested as clinicians. The function of the ethical attitude in clinical practice is not simply a matter of a set of rules that can be forgotten as long as they are not contravened in the clinical setting. The ethical attitude is integral to all our activities and relationships as human beings as well as clinicians, and especially to that most intimate, intense, and demanding of relationships, the analytic relationship, as has been argued in Chapters 11 and 12. Since the time of the Hippocratic oath, professional Codes of Ethics and Codes of Practice state the practitioner's commitment to ethical practice and the principles that underpin it.In this chapter I will explore the role of supervision in helping to maintain ethical thinking and practice in clinical work. I refer to the terms supervision (in which a younger practitioner, often a trainee, seeks regular, often weekly, supervision on one patient seen intensively, and where a fee is paid to the supervisor by the trainee), consultation (which usually refers to two colleagues, one senior and one junior, who discuss, regularly but not necessarily weekly, patients or clinical issues, and where the senior colleague receives payment from the junior one), or peer supervision (often in a small group of colleagues who are more or less at the same level of clinical experience and where payment is not involved, who meet regularly but not necessarily weekly). Unless there is a specific point of differentiation to be made between these modalities, for the purposes of this chapter I will use the term “supervision” to cover all three.

 

The human psyche in a changing world

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Two things fill the mind with ever increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.

(Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, 1788)

This Part consists of a newly written, extended essay for this book, Chapter 14, The potential for transformation: synchronicity, emergence theory, and psychic change . It explores how new hndings trom such diverse nelds as emergence theory, the new physics, evolutionary anthropology, neuropsychology, the arts, and humankind s ubiquitous religious and spiritual quest, resonate with Jungian concepts, such as the sell, the psychoid archetype, synchronicity, and the transcendent tunction.

Recent hndings trom emergence theory suggest that sell organization across the biological and non-biological world—from living systems to physical systems to societies—emerges spontaneously in dynamic adaptive systems at the edge of chaos. the relevance of these hndings to the human system we call the psyche-soma has not been lost to a number of Jungian analysts and theoreticians in recent years, as it attesting to the very theoretical model of emergence which they address. these writers have linked in a number of ways certain of Jung s theories, particularly that of the psychic energy which is necessary tor all moments of psychic transtormation, with this paradigm shiftin scientific thinking. What seems to unite the explorations of these writers is their interest in the nature of psychic organization and its potential for change and transformation. Chapter 14 considers a number of these correspondences in which the underlying principle suggests a “synergetic” process whereby energy, when pumped into a system near to chaos causes a new structure to emerge from the disorder and chaos of that system. This is suggestive of Jung's teleological view of the processes of the mind in which, under certain conditions which may include conflict and psychic disorder at the edge of chaos, the availability of generalized libidinal energy allows the emergence of symbolic activity that releases a hitherto restricted or pathological condition to emerge into a more ordered one, resulting in increased creativity and adaptability. This is a view of the processes of being and becoming that could apply to all dynamic systems in nature, including the mind. It suggests a unified field theory in which the psyche partakes in the processes inherent in all nature. If this is so, Jung's concepts of unus mundus and the psychoid archetype fit in well with a view of the emergent processes of all self-organizing systems in the universe, living and non-living.

 

Chapter 14: The potential for transformation: emergence theory and psychic change

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In studying Jung's concept of synchronicity and the teleological I vision underlying his opus, I have been struck by a number of links to recent research in the theory of emergent properties and complexity theory, and current neurophysiological studies on the so-called “mirror neuron” effect in human and higher mammalian interactions. I have gathered cross-references between the theory of emergent properties and Jung's theories in order to better understand aspects of his abiding interest in humankind's ubiquitous spiritual quest, across all cultures and across human history itself. The last three centuries have seen a decline in the importance of the established religions in the West, caused largely by the impact of materialistic and mechanistic approaches to the world and our place in it—the cause and effect scientific approach to empirical reality where the observer is notionally absent from, and merely an un-intrusive observer of, the field of his or her enquiry. Another reason for this decline is the impact of the theory of evolution that some have interpreted as the death knell of religious and spiritual hermeneutics to explain the existence, let alone the evolution, of all species, including of course our own. Nevertheless, the search for greater spiritual meaning remains as true as ever for most ordinary men and women. Perhaps this is felt increasingly in recent times because of the external social pressures that we face, and the conflicts between cultures that we bear witness to so painfully. This may explain the recent recurrence of some of the more ecstatic and fundamental religious expressions. But also, more quietly perhaps, it is shownthrough the search at the individual level for greater meaning, for more spiritual and less materialistic ways of being, thinking, and feeling. It certainly underlay Jung's lifelong engagement with spiritual matters, absorbing him in deep study, seminal writing, and personal preoccupation.

 

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