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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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4. From Matriarchate to Patriarchate

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

In our culture the necessary development by which the child emerges from the primal relationship to achieve greater independence corresponds to a transition from the psychological matriarchate in which the mother archetype is dominant to the psychological patriarchate in which the father archetype is dominant.

In The Origins and History of Consciousness we showed that this transition is indispensable to the development of consciousness. But there the accent was on the universally human and the symbolic. Here we shall attempt to indicate a few of the ontogenetic processes in the child which correspond to this transition.

This development can be described as a whole because the progression from the matriarchate of the primal relationship to the patriarchate applies both to boys and to girls. The male child’s release from his mother is described at length in The Origins and History of Consciousness. The difference in the development of the girl will at least be touched upon in a later section of this book, since special importance must be attached to the mother-daughter relationship as the first phase of the specifically feminine development.

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C: The Transformation Myth

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

I. THE CAPTIVE AND THE TREASURE

II. TRANSFORMATION, OR OSIRIS

Nature rules over nature.

THE MYTHOLOGICAL GOAL of the dragon fight is almost always the virgin, the captive, or, more generally, the “treasure hard to attain.” It is to be noted that a purely material pile of gold, such as the hoard of the Nibelungs, is a late and degenerate form of the original motif. In the earliest mythologies, in ritual, in religion, and in mystical literature as well as in fairy tales, legend, and poetry, gold and precious stones, but particularly diamonds and pearls,1 were originally symbolic carriers of immaterial values. Likewise the water of life, the healing herb, the elixir of immortality, the philosophers’ stone, miracle rings and wishing rings, magic hoods and winged cloaks, are all symbols of the treasure.

There is one phenomenon which is of great importance in psychological interpretation, and this phenomenon we would call the typological dual focus of myth and symbol. This only means that it is the nature of myths and fairy tales to work in equal measure, though in different ways, upon contrary psychological types.2 That is to say, the extravert as well as the introvert finds “himself” portrayed and addressed in the myth. For this reason the myth must be interpreted on the objective level for the extravert and on the subjective level for the introvert,3 but both interpretations are necessary and meaningful.

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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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B: The Hero Myth

Neumann, Erich Karnac Books ePub

I. THE BIRTH OF THE HERO

II. THE SLAYING OF THE MOTHER

III. THE SLAYING OF THE FATHER

Nature subdues nature.

WITH THE HERO MYTH we enter upon a new phase of stadial development. A radical shift in the center of gravity has occurred. In all creation myths the dominant feature was the cosmic quality of the myth, its universality; but now the myth focuses attention upon the world as the center of the universe, the spot upon which man stands. This means, in terms of stadial development, not only that man's ego consciousness has achieved independence, but that his total personality has detached itself from the natural context of the surrounding world and the unconscious. Although the separation of the World Parents is, strictly speaking, an integral part of the hero myth, the developments which, at that stage, could only be represented in cosmic symbols now enter the phase of humanization and personality formation. Thus the hero is the archetypal forerunner of mankind in general. His fate is the pattern in accordance with which the masses of humanity must live, and always have lived, however haltingly and distantly; and however short of the ideal man they have fallen, the stages of the hero myth have become constituent elements in the personal development of every individual.

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