By it I mean the psychological process that makes of a human being an “individual”-a unique, indivisible unit or “whole man.“
The Meaning of Individuation
What is it, in the end, that induces a man to go his own way and to rise out of unconscious identity with the mass as out of a swathing mist?
It is what is commonly called vocation: an irrational factor that destines a man to emancipate himself from the herd and from its well-worn paths. … Anyone with a vocation hears the voice of the inner man: he is called.
Alchemy has performed for me the great and invaluable service of providing material in which my experience could find sufficient room, and has thereby made it possible for me to describe the individuation process at least in its essential aspects.
“Insofar as society is itself composed of de-individualized human beings, it is completely at the mercy of ruthless individualists. Let it band together into groups and organizations as much as it likes – it is just this banding together and the resultant extinction of the individual personality that makes it succumb so readily to a dictator. A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one.
Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally shortsighted age things only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would think that the world had seen more than enough of what a well disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman… People go on blithely organizing and believing in the sovereign remedy of mass action, without the least consciousness of the fact that the most powerful organizations in the world can be maintained only by the greatest ruthlessness of their leaders and the cheapest of slogans.
A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species.
The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.
The significance of the morning undoubtedly lies in the development of the individual, our entrenchment in the outer world, the propagation of our kind, and the care of our children.
This is the obvious purpose of nature.
But when this purpose has been attained -and more than attained-shall the earning of money, the extension of conquests, and the expansion of life go steadily on beyond the bounds of all reason and sense?
Whoever carries over into the afternoon the law of the morning, or the natural aim, must pay for it with damage to his soul, just as surely as a growing youth who tries to carry over his childish egoism into adult life must pay for this mistake with social failure.
The Stages of Life
The discovery of the value of human personality is reserved for a riper age.
For young people the search for personality values is very often a pretext for evading their biological duty.
Conversely, the exaggerated longing of an older person for the sexual values of youth is a short-sighted and often cowardly evasion of a duty which demands recognition of the value of personality and submission to the hierarchy of cultural values.
The young neurotic shrinks back in terror from the expansion of life’s duties, the old one from the dwindling of the treasures he has attained.
To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality in fact is.
Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious
I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self.
You cannot individuate on Everest.
Author Barbara Hanna