Purpose. In this theoretical work, I explore whether a developmental sequence of archetypes occurs during the lifelong individuation process. Human development is a key concept for the theory underlying psychology and its practice; however, the lack of a developmental perspective based on the theoretical tenets of analytical psychology shows that need exists to elaborate upon this often-ignored subject matter.
Carl Jung wrote extensively about individuation. For Jung, individuation represented a goal that all human beings endeavor towards during their lifelong maturation process. While Jung wrote extensively on individuation and the archetypes that form the foundation of the collective unconscious, he did not create a theoretic perspective concerning how these pivotal psychological components drive human development towards an individuated state. The purpose of this theoretical work was to explore the lifelong developmental sequences that underlie the individuation process.
Rationale. During his career, Carl Jung wrote extensively on individuation and self-realization as being synonymous representations of the psyche’s ability to transcend its own nature. Both individuation and self-realization involve an individual’s ability to understand the Self as a separate construct from the ego and other archetypes that lie within the collective unconscious of the individual psyche. Self-realized and individuated forms of consciousness are holistic (Jung, 1939/1969; 1950/1969; 1951/1969g) and drive the psyche to realize its inherent nature. For the purpose of this theoretical work, I utilized the term individuation as being inclusive of self-realization. A person that individuates realizes the true nature of the Self, as it exists separate from the split nature of a consciousness that develops evolving layers of complexity as an individual matures. Individuated consciousness allows a person to understand the minute interconnectedness that exists between the often-opposing themes common to the archetypes that form the foundation of the psyche. Concerning self-realization and the unification of consciously opposing themes, Jung (1951/1969f) stated:
In the psychology of the individual there is always, at such moments, an agonizing situation of conflict from which there seems to be no way out—at least for the conscious mind… But out of this collision of opposites the unconscious psyche always creates a third thing of an irrational nature, which the conscious mind neither expects nor understands… For the conscious mind knows nothing beyond the opposites and, as a result, has no knowledge of the thing that unites them. Since, however, the solution of the conflict through the union of opposites is of vital importance, and is moreover the very thing that the conscious mind is longing for, some inkling of the creative act, and of the significance of it, nevertheless gets through… The new configuration is a nascent whole; it is on the way to wholeness, at least in so far as it excels in “wholeness” the conscious mind when torn by opposites and surpasses it in completeness… Out of this situation the “child” emerges as a symbolic content… this new birth, although it is the most precious fruit of Mother Nature herself, the most pregnant with the future, [signifies] a higher stage of self-realization. (p. 168)
Inherent duality exists within consciousness from which an integrative third entity arises; this integrative entity mediates between the often-opposing themes apparent within the psyche; the process of mediating between the opposing themes of consciousness prompts individuation to occur. Therefore, an individuated state of being represents a psychologically holistic state that transcends the polarized nature of a consciousness divided by paradoxical awareness.
The idea of an individuated consciousness is a central theoretical component of many developmental theories of psychology. This is most evident in the use of the term self-actualization proposed by humanistic psychologists (Maslow, 1943; Rogers, 2008) and Erikson’s (1963) belief that the ego can reach a state of integrity during old age. Although Jung wrote extensively on how archetypes affect individuation, he and subsequent analytical psychologists have not developed a developmental theory (Withers, 2003).
The central focus of this theoretical work is to develop an understanding of the archetypal phenomena that occur while entering new phases of development during the individuation process. The results of research that underlies this theoretical work will show that an emergent model of archetypal development is discernible through the themes present in Hermann Hesse’s (2002) story, Siddhartha.
In Siddhartha, Hesse (2002) wrote about a young man’s journey to find his true nature. This research underlying this theoretical work utilized Hesse’s book as a case study from which to develop an archetypal theory of individuated development. I analyzed the protagonist, Siddhartha, as an exemplar case of Self-development. The hope was that by conducting this study, an understanding of the archetypes that drove Siddhartha to realize his Self image would emerge. My choice of the story, Siddhartha, over other novels that focus on developmental sequences, was due, in part to the influence Carl Jung had on the production of Hesse’s story, and the mastery of metaphorical language Hesse used to explain a process of soul work that encompassed the lifespan of the Buddha.
The Buddha was an extraordinary individual that achieved Nirvana. In part, he realized an apex form of consciousness that few will ever realize during their lifespan. Because of this, I read the story metaphorically rather than literally. I do not propose ultimate truths in this research; instead, I expand upon the two truths proposed by Buddhist doctrine: “Conventional worldly truths and truths that are ultimate” (Dalai Lama, 1975, p. 31). While most individuals will consciously adhere to “conventional worldly truths” (Dalai Lama, 1975, p. 31), by transcending the polarized nature of consciousness, an individuated being begins to understand ultimate truths as they occur within emptiness and existence (Dalai Lama, 1975). Even though this study examined the life sequence of an individual that attained the ultimate capacity psyche has to realize its nature, I did not seek to provide a doctrine of ultimate truth regarding the means by which an individual can achieve an individuated sense of consciousness. The Buddha achieved Nirvana: a state, which represents something greater than the ability the Self has to understand its inherent nature as an individuated construct reliant on the life of an individual.
Hesse was an ordinary individual that wrote extraordinary stories during his lifetime. Siddhartha was a story written about an extraordinary individual that found peace of mind by living in each moment, as it objectively occurred. In his quest to understand his emerging Self, Hesse explored the archetypal content of the psyche that prompts the search for an individual’s personal ontology. While biographical material is also rich in archetypal motifs, stories written in a manner similar to fairy-tales allow an individual to directly access the emotional polarities common to each archetype. Tales written in a metaphorical manner are an invaluable tool that prepares the psyche for the developmental tasks that lay ahead, and also form the foundation from which analytical psychology has sought to explain the means by which the unconscious manifests within the daily life of an individual.
Fairy tales are the purest and simplest expression of collective unconscious psychic processes. Therefore their value for the scientific investigation of the unconscious exceeds that of all other material. They represent the archetypes in their simplest, barest, and most concise form (von Franz, 1996, p. 1)
Hesse’s (2002) story is a historically fictionalized biography of the Buddha’s life. The literary prose that Hesse created presents a narrative account of the life of the Buddha. The Buddha was a person who provided a path toward an enlightened state of consciousness that exists outside the nature of suffering. His teachings continue to have a following some 2500 years after his death. This theoretical work illuminates the themes present in the story, Siddhartha, from an archetypal perspective, providing an outline of a Jungian theory of development.
- Dalai Lama (1975). The Buddhism of Tibet: Translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins. Ithica, NY: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.
- Erikson, E. (1963). Childhood and society (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Norton.
- Hesse, H. (2002). Siddhartha: A new translation with an introduction by Paul W. Morris. (C. S. Kohn, Trans.) Boston, MA: Shambhala. (Original work published 1922)
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- Jung, C. G. (1969). Aion: Researches into the phenomenology of the self. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vol. 9-2). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1951)
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- Rogers, C. (2008). The actualizing tendency in relation to ‘motives’ and to consciousness. In B. E. Levitt, B. E. Levitt (Eds.) , Reflections on human potential: Bridging the person-centered approach and positive psychology (pp. 17-32). Ross-on-Wye England: PCCS Books.
- von Franz, M. L. (1996). The interpretation of fairy tales (Revised ed.). Boston, MA: Shambhala.