Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Exegesis: Individuation vs. the Mass Mind

Jung very rarely spoke on politics and when he did so it was always in the context of the individuation of the Psyche and the threat that the reductive powers of the Mass Mind presented to that process. The narrator in this video is reading Jung's writing on the topic.

One way to determine if a regime has become tyrannical is if it continues relying on those mass displays or creating a panic based on some existential threat once it has taken power- the more amorphous and elusive the better. This is designed to maintain that militant atmosphere of the revolutionary period, which inevitably suppresses Individuation. The Mullahs in Iran are the best example of this, as were the neoconservatives in the Bush Era.

The problem is that we are constantly being bombarded with so many existential threats from so many competing power structures that it becomes impossible to discern what is signal amid all of the noise, which can lead to a genuine collective threat being ignored because it can't be politicized into a sectarian agenda.

The other part of the process is the demonization of individualism, choice and dissent as a threat to the safety of the group. Subsequently, minority or opposing beliefs of any kind- political, religious, even cultural or lifestyle choices- are demonized.

And those most connected to the autonomous powers of the Unconscious are always first to be oppressed in witch-hunts, whether religious or secular. These people are always seen as a threat to authority, which is able to manipulate the peasant mind (whose fear of Master always compels them to fight Master's enemies under the guise of some overarching cosmic struggle) into seeing these individuals as demons. Again, something that continues on today.

As gross mismanagement of resources and the economy continues to create pre-conditions for mass crisis, the short term outlook for Individuation isn't very positive. But it's these same times that test the viability of the the concept of Individuation itself, which could ultimately force a greater integration of the Conscious and the Unconscious- and a revolutionary breathrough for the powers of the human mind. But as Individuation is usually conflated with selfishness or narcissism, the short term prospects of that aren't very sunny right now.

You can't turn on the news without seeing a giant march or demonstration somewhere in the world. But these events are designed and stage-managed to suppress opposition both within and without the group. It's always a thrilling, empowering moment for the marchers but more often than not leads to a hardening orthodoxy that suppresses the individual and individualism itself. And these types of movements eventually feed on themselves.

There are times for collective action- but a demand for perpetual individual submission to corporatizing authority has always been the primary cause of human misery in this world.

Here Jung briefly explains his break with Freud, precisely over the primacy of the Unconscious. Freud was an authoritarian, and thus saw the unconscious as a dumping ground for the conscious mind. Jung saw the Unconscious as essentially autonomous, as well as the driving force of the Psyche.

It's not always an easy process, but one can often boil down complex philosophical conflicts to simple- and yes archetypal- components. Freud's distrust of Individuation with all its messiness and nasty side effects- speaks to how he saw personhood itself. It's no wonder then that Freudianism was so dominant for so long in psychotherapeutic circles until the insurance companies stepped in and replaced talking cures with Prozac...

SYNC LOG UPDATE: This is amusing- my horoscope for today: The world needs people who are not afraid to speak their minds, even if it means taking on the powers that be. In short, the world needs you. Just because an opinion is seen as the consensus view does not make it right.


  1. Great article. I've always found the Jungian perspective to be more nuanced and much less offensive than Freud's. As far as the signal-to-noise ratio of current events, have you seen this?

    i don't know if it can really be trusted but it certainly paints a grim picture.

  2. You put this very well into perspective.

    Thank you.

  3. Hello Chris,

    "The psychological rule says that when
    An inner situation is not made conscious,
    It happens outside, as fate.

    That is to say, that when the individual remains
    Undivided and does not become conscious
    Of his inner contradictions,
    The world must perforce act out the conflict
    And be torn into opposite halves."

    How true is that!

    I find the white-suited one to be 'spot-on' and enjoy your blog when you invite him along.

    Please check-out the latest 'crop-circles' on cropcircleconnector or lucy The one from the 9th July is Pure Escher.
    Enjoy and Wonder.

    Happy Solar Eclipse,
    P.S. Nice horoscope you got.

    Flossically yours.

  4. "But these events are designed and stage-managed to suppress opposition both within and without the group."

    Designed and stage managed by whom? Which "events" are we talking about-- specifically?

    "It's always a thrilling, empowering moment for the marchers but more often than not leads to a hardening orthodoxy that suppresses the individual and individualism itself. And these types of movements eventually feed on themselves."

    How does a protest march suppress individuality? I've marched in protests and I'm fairly certain my individuality is still intact.

    Chris, I really dig your site and read it daily. You're an intelligent writer who often provides keen insights into our situation. I must add however, as a piece of hopefully constructive criticism, that you tend, at times, to drift into gross generalizations that aren't particularly meaningful.The above is a good example-- it sounds good and has a power to it but is ultimately meaningless. It's the kind of thing a TV talking head would say. It's knee-jerk.
    Perhaps it's a result of your intense interest in comic books. I'm not being flip, seriously. Comic books are great on a lot of levels but they aren't necessarily useful for developing the "subtle nuanced" gene.

    Just my 2 cents. Keep up the good work.

  5. Anony- I've seen those stories, yeah. I can't really comment on them not being familiar with the geology. But worrisome if true.

    Jim- Cheers.

    Flossy- Boy, is that first line true. As I go along the more malleable this thing we call "reality" becomes. And thanks for the link. +)

    Anony525- I'm talking about events that reduce complex political issues into soundbites, slogans and chants. That reduces critical thinking, just as I said. I'm talking about the media hype creating an atmosphere in which all of these marches camouflage how little effect they have on policy making. My favorite example were the anti-Iraq War marches. Millions of people took to the streets and it had absolutely no effect on policy.

    I'm not against activism, but protests these days are rapidly descending into a state of pure theater, on both the left and right. Why? Because people let off all their steam acting out in the streets and very few follow through with the hard, tedious, menial, frustrating work that real change requires. I think the Obama Administration is proof of this as well- does anyone remember that all the big rallies and all of the anti-war folks on the streets calling for his election? Everyone went to sleep on Election Night, or threw up their hands.

  6. Great topic, very poignant my man!

    Chris, the Sun is in Cancer, Solar eclipse in Cancer, and a Cancer New Moon today.

    And theres

    A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should hit Earth's magnetic field on or about July 13th.


    Thought this might interest you.

  8. Chris, Anony 525's comment has some resonance with me. The Maat required to sustain our civilization is always in flux. The syncromystic often see's or senses the ignorance involved in the body politic. It is difficult not to be jaded by the entanglement of our materialistic natures. I too am amazed at the media indifference of a 9 year old war against Insurgents(wtf is that?) I too thought our Brother in the hot seat would stop the Bush wars. The fight goes on! The matrix, will not assimilate all of us. For a sustainable planet we need more peace and less bullets. So my generalities are one of hope,and fun in the summer sun!(secret or otherwise). The mystic in us, mystics of a synchro nature will always seek the sacred. Brother and sisters in arms.Dennis from up-river.

  9. I actually moved the paragraph in question down- it was out of sequence and that might have left the wrong impression that it was my leading thought. It certainly wasn't.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. My comment got a little too long, so I deleted it and copied it over here.

  12. A salient post Chris. I guess there is a reason why Freud's psychological model became a vehicle for mass manipulation.
    But conversely such a model was based on a narcissistic, ego driven brand of individualism. At least Adam Curtis makes that argument. Now we become Borg.
    Go figure.

  13. I find the real substance of this article to be pretty adolescent, I hate to say.

    "The other part of the process is the demonization of individualism, choice and dissent as a threat to the safety of the group. Subsequently, minority or opposing beliefs of any kind- political, religious, even cultural or lifestyle choices- are demonized."

    You're presupposing that all things are equal— that there are no bad ideas that should be rejected, and that that isn't happening all the time.
    Are all ideas/beliefs that we marginalize those things that lead to individuation? Or are some just really bad ideas?
    It goes further though, toward our essential natures; we're social creatures.We learn from one another, we disagree, we agree. We are not individuals in the pure sense you offer here. That kind of total freedom from the will of others is, in fact, total slavery to our own ignorance.Luckily, it's impossible.
    I wonder what you guys think ought to be done about ideas that legitimately threaten the social order— shouldn't some ideas be marginalized?
    If they are, for what ever reason, do we really believe that the proponents of those ideas are , as a rule , closer to some kind of subconscious truth?

  14. "You're presupposing that all things are equal— that there are no bad ideas that should be rejected, and that that isn't happening all the time."

    Where am I doing that? I think there's a surplus of bad ideas out there, but they should be filtered out in the marketplace of ideas, not by an automatic, broad-brush rejection of everything outside conventional wisdom, which is always reductive.

  15. Let's put this in the real world. Exxon owns the patent for methanol derived from algae. They are looking to survive peak oil so they have these alternative fuels which require vast quantities of ocean front property and access to vast renewable sources of carbon dioxide as the algae doesn't grow in an environment of oxygen.

    The decision to take down WTC was individuated based on "the bottom line". The decision to take down the Gulf of Mexico was another tough decision and the buck stops where?

  16. With the advent of microloans we can begin to hope that the gaping hole at the level of the gatekeepers - the money/power hungry demons who withhold earmarked funding from the destitute for their own private games/gains - could possibly be avoided. We can also hope that direct dispensation of necessary means can make the collective mind a little more healthy. I found this presentation hopefull and inspiring:

    We as sovereign individuals can do more than just wring our hands at it - but we should still practice other methods to voice dissent against a soul crushing system. I think we are all doing it here in some ways! but yes, chris, i think traditional methods are becoming more and more useless as the state extends its reach. we need to use all our tools at our disposal and use them fast.

    I think the individual vs. the machine might be something to look at too. This Taranis thing unveiled today is telling of a new tool in a co-opted mass mind.

    "Called Taranis, the wedge-shaped, 8-tonne stealth jet will be able to fly regular drone missions in regions of conflict – but it will also be able to seek and destroy enemy aircraft in dogfights. However, the high degree of autonomy promised by the makers has some observers concerned that ***the aircraft may decide on its own what constitutes a target.***"

    "Taranis looks set to put the UK ahead of the game in UCAVs," says Noel Sharkey, a robotics engineer specialising in the autonomous military systems at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

    "But warning bells ring for me when they talk about Taranis being 'a fully autonomous intelligent system' together with applications in 'deep missions' and having a 'deep target attack' capability."

    Sharkey says that "deep mission" is military speak for "beyond the reach of a remote pilot". "We need to know if this means the robot planes will chose their own targets and destroy them – because they certainly will not have the intelligence to discriminate between civilians and combatants."


    The scary thing is that Taranis, according to Wiki, is the God of Thunder in ol' Hispania and that he was supplicated with human sacrifices. Raising the old gods to take new techno-fascist form - to crush any group/persons outside the condoned system. yow.

  17. oh yeah, and Taranis is pictured with a spoked wheel , symbolic of the sun.

  18. Siriusly...this might be off topic but....why am I seeing and hearing 17 all over the place. What is the meaning of the number 17?

  19. Jung's Red Book vs. Lang's Metropolis ...vs. Gaga's Fame Monster?

    I hadn't actually been thinking of the Gaga link until it showed up in the Google image results. I guess that's synchronicity for you?

    Beaten to the punch on Tiranus, I see. The first thing I thought of was a certain Star Wars character...and seeing the pictures, apparently I wasn't the only one.

    More news emerges on Alex Ross/Kurt Busiek Kirby tribute: GENESIS

    Developing... Higgs Boson found?

  20. Chiming in to say I'm also hearing 17 a lot. Whenever people ring up my purchases they are making mistakes and saying the total wrong and including the number 17. For example the other day my purchases all came to 11 dollars but the teller said 17. This has happened numerous times this past week. Enough for me to notice. Weird.

  21. since discovering crichton miller's thesis on the 'working celtic cross' some years ago...i've wondered if taranis is not the celtic archetypal equivalent of hermes...

    as some depictions of taranis - show him carrying the 'wheel' and a 'straight' staff. the staff does not resemble a lightening bolt. but would seem to be the staff on which the wheel rests - when performing observations/calculations aka... working celtic cross..

  22. p.s. enjoyed the post.. linked it over on facebook... there's always room for enlightenment there :P

  23. This was all great feedback, even the critical stuff. I'm finishing up some work but will try to dig in some of your thoughts later. I'm always really pleased with the comments for the Exegesis posts.