A Guide To Achieving Individuation

In Jungian psychology, self-realization – the ultimate ideal – is achieved through individuation. According to Jung, the “self” archetype is the regulating core of one’s psyche. Instabilities and abnormalities within this center are what causes disorders or illness. An individual experiences the self through subconscious symbolism, usually in the form of dreams and religious attachment. Psychology, thus, becomes a tool that brings the subconscious to consciousness. It is only through the integration of these two concepts can self-realization be found.

Many analytic psychologists say that the process of self-realization is not difficult, only requiring diligence, patience, and practice. The first recommendation is starting a dream diary. As mentioned earlier, dreams carry hidden messages and meanings. These symbols project unknown fears and desires – fundamental concepts that need to be known. However, most people forget their dreams within a few minutes of waking. There is difficulty in keeping an accurate record of one’s dreams. The journal becomes a way for people to record their dreams accurately. From this, patterns can be found. These can be dissected and discussed with one’s psychologist. Effective therapy plans are now designed.

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Another good practice is to question one’s beliefs constantly. Again, beliefs are said to be the conclusion of subconscious feelings. By questioning these beliefs, people actively force introspection. This process though is met with success in various forms. Some patients find it to be beneficial, others not so much. Still, it is important for patients to try their hand at it for at least two weeks to see how much introspection can move forward conscious-subconscious awareness.

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Paul Gabrinetti is a Jungian-trained clinical psychologist. For more information on Jungian psychology, follow this Twitter account.


A Jungian Approach to Treating Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses characterized by abnormal eating habits. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa affect millions of people around the world. Recent years have seen an alarming rise in the number of recorded cases of eating disorders: Incidence has doubled since the 1960s, and it is no longer unheard of for children as young as seven to develop an eating disorder.

There are various factors that are theorized to contribute to the development of eating disorders, from biological ( chemical imbalances in the brain) to intrapersonal (a history of being ridiculed because of weight or appearance). Psychological factors, such as low self-esteem, perceived lack of control in life, and depression can also increase the risk for developing an eating disorder.

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Societal pressure is another oft-cited reason as to why so many individuals are developing eating disorders.

Some Jungian analysts believe that food, in the context of eating disorders, may simply be symbols for something else: An uncontrollable craving for ice cream in an eating disorder patient might mean an unspoken yearning not for a cold dessert but for comfort and sweetness. Bingeing and purging may be viewed by the patient as a way to take control of her life.

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Symbols are central to Carl Jung’s work. Jungian analysts use symbols in a patient’s daily experience, as well as from his or her dreams, fantasies, and the like, to connect with the patient’s unconscious. Understanding the symbols in the patient’s life can help both the patient and the analyst gain a better understanding about the underlying causes of his or her condition.

Jungian analysis seeks to use the unconscious (and a patient’s past traumas and insecurities that may be hidden there), not just as a way to learn more about a patient’s condition, but as the source and catalyst of the patient’s healing.

Jungian analysis is a lengthy process that requires a trustful, healthy relationship between the patient and the analyst. For more on how Jungian analysis can help patients with eating disorders, subscribe to this Paul Gabrinetti blog.

The Role of Jungian Psychology in Mentoring Medical Professionals

Analytical psychology, or Jungian psychology, is a school of thought developed by Carl Jung which stresses the importance of the ego and the personal quest for wholeness. It also states that the psyche is yearning for a balance between the conscious and unconscious states.

This said balance can be achieved through the study of dreams. Training analysts believe that Jungian psychology is an appropriate means of supervising clinicians in their field of work. Below are some of ways how this psychological model is being utilized as a form of mentorship:

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1. Counter-transference
To understand their patients at a deeper level, clinicians must establish an emotional connection with them. In other words, they must redirect their feelings toward their clients. Counter-transference is of immense clinical utility as it allows the therapist to play a role congruent with his or her patient’s internal world.

2. Self-discovery
Among psychologists, it is presumed that psychopathology cannot be taught. Instead, it must be discovered in the apprentice’s own analytical experiences. Carl Jung’s theory explicitly points to the examination of the ego. This provides the analytical viewpoints that learners need in order to understand psychopathology.

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3. Jungian archetypes
Carl Jung’s theory identifies four cardinal orientations, namely ego, freedom, social, and order. In each orientation lies three archetypes, which are then used by the mentor. This will provide the learning clinical psychologist with knowledge on how to deal with patients.

Paul Gabrinetti, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist on the faculty of C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles’ analyst training program. He is a former instructor at the University of Southern California. More about him can be read here.