Individuation can lead to care for the world.

Dear Scott,

Thank you for your thoroughly engaging post. I appreciate your manner of connecting, the time you took to mirror my thinking. Such mirroring not only feels good to the writer, me, but also creates a possibility of our working to integrate the differences between us. While such integration may not be crucial in any connection you and I have, it is my understanding that it supports the development of our collective consciousness.

I agree entirely with the writing of Jean’s that you cite about the way that “individuation can lead to care for the world.” In no way does this run counter to my own thinking. I agree with you that we need to spend more time, “grapple more with,” working with the projective process that leads people to want to change others. Here, the psychology is already rather well worked out but, has been minimally applied. This is one of many areas where Analytical psychology already has a lot to offer. In the work that I have done with political leaders and activists I’ve been learning how to track and draw attention to this externalizing focus. In response to this I often will cite Bill Moyer who writes,

Social movements have primarily focused on changing social systems and institutions to achieve their goals of a more peaceful, democratic, just, and sustainable world. However, there are many reasons why these goals cannot be achieved without equal attention to creating personal and cultural transformation—starting with activists ourselves (Moyer, 2001, p. 197).

I see this statement as a bridge being built from the side of political liberalism toward the values of our own tribe, which I’ve written about at length as “psychological liberalism” in my book, Awakening our faith in the future: The advent of psychological liberalism (Dunlap, 2008). Do these comments of mine begin to satisfy your desire for me to work more with Jung’s insight prior to warning of the risks of too readily adopting it? You see Scott, I want to build a bridge from our end as well. In this manner I am in several Jungian communities but not currently in any political ones. I find my responsibility to be working from within our groups, reaching outward toward those political groups who I think could benefit from the psychological capacities, or the “psychological attitude” we have been differentiating for the last 150 or so years. Not that we have done so entirely in isolation but, I think there is a great need and opportunity for us to do more to reach out toward Moyer, Huffington, and many others who might be receptive to a distinctive Jungian political psychology.

Next, you wonder if I conflate Jung’s individuation and the individualism of Western culture. How would we determine if I do? Certainly I am not above rhetoric; nor am I above exaggerating to make a point. However, I’ve been reading Jung for almost 40 years and am profoundly grateful for the depth of his insight into Western culture and the opportunities for individual transformation, that is, individuation. Nevertheless, after long thought, I am taking the time to begin articulating what has become a significant concern of mine. How would you have me proceed? In this terrain our own Robert Sardello, in his book Facing the world with soul, speaks of the risks of focusing too intently on the individual as leading to the cultivation of the “noble egoist.” This is a concern of mine. I do not think I have distorted the seriousness of this risk in my paper. For all his brilliance, Jung lived at a time when a cultural complex was forming that, I stand by my claim, he was not free of, which lives today in the communities that have formed in his name.

I am not sure how to respond to the effect of my abstraction has on you, lost and weary. Perhaps I’m a little embarrassed, though mostly grateful for your open manner of engaging. Please remember that I also said that I do not think that all of us in the community need to turn in any particular way toward politics. In fact, I primarily want to clear ground around what I see to be the political potency of Jung’s visionary holism. In this manner I’m not really interested in rallying anyone to any cause, especially not a political cause. Instead, I am primarily challenging what I see to be a dissociative pattern of thinking and interacting that influences our capacity to simply be organized as a community. Also, in my efforts to abbreviate my paper, I did leave the concept of “generational attention” flapping in the breeze, without much explanation. Sorry. I have developed that idea more in the full paper and much more fully in a paper Generational Attention: Remembering how to be a people that I referenced that can be found in the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies (JSSS) online journal at: //

I wholeheartedly concur with Jung and Krishnamurti belief in the “primacy of individual transformation.” They lived at the time in place where such an emphasis was critically important. And, it is still critically important; but, I also think that it can and has been taken too far. It has been taken to the point where we, in our communications with one another and in how we organize ourselves, privilege individual differences and deprecate the need to put more attention toward working together. A simple examination of any stream of listserv communications can be used as a case in point. In what manner do we attend to our differences, to our similarities? And, this is where I want to make a process comment. This is where your mirroring is very helpful in working out differences. Your post is exemplary as it moves much closer to what Jean describes taking place at Johns Hopkins University. Now, I recognize that that is a very limited model in terms of our own aspirations; nevertheless, I think there is substantial room for us to learn at both individual and organizational levels. How could we cultivate our organizational identity?

I appreciate your citation of Krishnamurti. I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment and do not find it in any way to run counter to my own interest. I also deeply appreciate Jung’s words that you cite about the doctor not having to fix an aim. I recently was working with a man trying to complete his dissertation (a goal he was failing to achieve) and I had to fight off my own desire to become his dissertation advisor. The complexities of psyche do not allow me such conscious alignments. And, this is true at any scale; the limitations of consciousness, daylight, and intention are profound. Nevertheless, Jung’s work implies a distinctive approach to transformation that cannot be limited to the individual; for, the individual cannot be severed from the collective. For a time esoteric retreat is healing, renewing, and even brilliant or ecstatic but, there comes a time to return the discovered bounty. Jung’s story of brother Klaus is a wonderful case in point, as is Jung’s own process of psychocultural development.

We certainly must focus on our own projector process, as Jung notes about the importance of removing the mote in our own eye before reaching for the beam in our brother’s eye in chapter 1 volume 6. However, we also cannot dawdle over motes, not with the forests burning down around us. Your own story is very helpful here and I am grateful for your sharing it with us. My interest is finding the language within Analytical psychology to bring individual and cultural transformation closer together, Jung imagined this to be possible. Many are working on this project from inside and outside of our communities.

Warm regards,

Peter Dunlap

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