Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jung at Heart: 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.

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.