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D: Centroversion and the Stages of Life

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

Pilgrim, Pilgrimage, and Way
are but Myself toward Myself.

     FARID UD-DIN ATTAR

Prolongation of Childhood and Differentiation of Consciousness

IN PART I we discussed the archetypal phases of conscious development as manifested in the mythological projections of humanity's collective unconscious. In Part II an attempt is made to show how and why the personality comes to be built up in the course of human history, and in what relation it stands to the archetypal phases.

Now, in this concluding chapter, we must show how the basic laws whose operation we have been tracing in the psychic history of mankind are recapitulated, in modified form, in the ontogenetic life history of the individual in our culture.

Only a tentative sketch is possible, because we cannot here present the reader with a detailed psychology of childhood and puberty. Nevertheless, it seems important to give a brief outline of this development, because in this way the connection between man's evolutionary history and modern life, and the life of every individual, will become apparent. Indeed, this link between ontogenesis and human history alone gives us the justification for having ranged so far afield in our exposition of the latter subject, and for claiming at the same time that the real concern of this book is the treatment of modern man and his urgent problems.

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5. The Stages in the Child's Ego-Development

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

Though up to this point we have concerned ourselves with the matriarchal phase of child development and the beginning of the child’s release from it, we have constantly borne in mind the development of the ego. But this ego development was so much under the domination of the mother that our chief concern has been the relation, not of the ego but of the child’s total Self to body, mother, and mother as representative of the world. That is why the erogenous zones of the child’s body discovered by Freud have played so important a role in our discussion, although the significance of these zones has been placed in a different context than in Freud and importance has been attached not so much to their erogenous, pleasure-accented aspect as to their gnoso-genous aspect of experience. But both the infant’s attachment to its body and its attachment to its mother are an expression of the fact that at this stage the body-totality, the body-Self, is of greater importance than the ego, which is configured only gradually.

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1. The Primal Relationship

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

The mother dominates the early development of the human individual just as the matriarchal world, in which the unconscious is paramount and ego-consciousness is still undeveloped, dominates the psychology of primitive cultures.

One of the fundamental characteristics that distinguish man from even his closest relatives among the animals, is that the human child, to employ Portmann’s terminology,1 must go through an extra-uterine as well as an intra-uterine embryonic phase. The young of the higher mammals are born in a state of relative maturity; either immediately or shortly after birth they are small adults which not only wholly resemble adult animals but are also capable of living unaided. In order to attain a similar state of maturity the human embryo would require a pregnancy of from twenty to twenty-two months. In other words the human child, after the nine months it spends in the womb, requires another year to attain the degree of maturity that characterizes the young of most other mammals at birth. Thus the whole first year of infancy must be assimilated to the embryonic phase. In addition to the one embryonic phase in which the child is psychically and physically integrated with the mother’s body, there is a second, post-uterine, post-natal embryonic phase, in which the child has already entered into human society and, as its ego and consciousness begin to develop, grows into the language and customs of its group. This phase, which Portmann has termed the social uterine period, is characterized by the dominance of the primal relationship with the mother, who is at first the child’s entire world and environment but, little by little, opens up new aspects of the world to the child’s experience.

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A: The Original Unity

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

A. The Original Unity

(MYTHOLOGICAL STAGES: UROBOROS AND GREAT MOTHER)

Centroversion and Ego Formation

THE SECOND PART of this work is an attempt to evaluate, in the light of analytical psychology, the processes whose mythological projection we described in the first part. We have now to demonstrate the significance of myth for modern Western man and to show how it has assisted the growth of his personality.

Besides summing up the psychological developments dealt with in the first part, we here put forward a piece of speculative “metapsychology” by way of supplementing and amplifying our theme. The fragmentariness and known limitations of our experience should not prevent us from trying to take temporary stock of the situation and to discover the unifying evolutionary aspect which alone will give our individual findings their proper place and value. This is merely one among many other possible and necessary aspects of analytical psychology; but we believe that the evolutionary aspect of the archetypal stages is of importance not only for the theory but also for the practice of psychotherapy. The stadial psychology we are seeking to outline offers more than a contribution to the psychology of individual personality; for the psychological approach to culture, which puts the humanistic significance of Jung's depth psychology in its proper setting, would not have been possible had not analytical psychology advanced beyond the personalistic sphere into collective psychology. Before the stadial development of the ego discussed in Part I is subjected to psychological interpretation, we must make a few introductory remarks about the concept of the ego, about the stages, and about our interpretative method.

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C: The Balance and Crisis of Consciousness

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

C. The Balance and Crisis of Consciousness

Compensation of the Separated Systems: Culture in Balance

IN APPENDIX I we trace some of the lines of development that lead from the original group situation to a collective formed of more or less strongly individualized persons, and try at the same time to show the role played by the Great Individual whom the myths represent as the hero. This development is paralleled by another, in which the differentiation of the conscious from the unconscious, their separation into two systems, and the emancipation of ego consciousness reach completion.

With this we have left the sphere of the dawn man and entered into the sphere of culture, and we now have to examine the cultural problems that emerge with the separation of the two systems.

The first part of the present section, dealing with “culture in balance,” provides a tentative sketch of the situation that obtains when the psychic health of the collective is guaranteed by “nature,” thanks to the operation of the same compensatory tendencies in mankind which can be shown to exist in the individual psyche.

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