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   Becoming Whole:
   Jung's Types and Individuation   


     Midlife
      February 2014


 

"Civilized life today demands concentrated, directed conscious functioning, and this entails the risk of a considerable dissociation from the unconscious" 

(CW 8  par 139)


 

 
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Vanessa Prins
 is a Jungian analyst and coach based in the Netherlands
Education:
IAAP, Diplomate Analyst; M.A. Clinical and Industrial Psychology, Brussels University (ULB)
Contact Vanessa at:
info@prins-goodman.nl
Learn more at: www.goodmancoaching.nl
 





In this series of letters Jungian analyst Vanessa Prins is looking at lifelong development and how an awareness of the types can help navigate what Jung called the "stages of life." Having written about some important aspects of adulthood, she now turns her attention to midlife.

 

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. jgj


Midlife

As we saw in previous articles, the task of the first part of life is often to firmly establish a career, a family, or a social identity. In terms of the psychological types, this often means using our best-developed gifts.

 

But for Jung, this necessary development can lead to one-sidedness and self-estrangement:

 

"It is therefore understandable, and even necessary, that in each individual the psychic process should be as stable and definite as possible, since the exigencies of life demands it. But this involves a certain disadvantage: the utility of directedness make for the inhibition or exclusion of all those psychic elements which appear to be, or really are, incompatible with it." (CW8 par 136)

 

In midlife, the deeper process of individuation often sets in. This can be brought about by external circumstances (loss of job, illness, or divorce, for example) and/or an inner urge to find a larger meaning in life.

 

This phase can require much effort to come to terms with the one-sidedness developed in the first half of life. Through the integration of what was left out from consciousness: repressed memories, shadow aspects or counter-sexual aspects (animus/anima), we become more whole.

 

In terms of psychological types, we might engage more consciously some of the functions that had remained undeveloped. The function least developed is often referred to as the "inferior function."

 

Indeed, if we keep relying on a few dominant functions and overly identify with them, they become rigid or extreme. In her book on the inferior function, M.L von Franz writes: "If you overdo one of the conscious attitudes it becomes poor and loses its fertility".

 

The inferior function may be our "weak spot," but it also carries a great deal of vitality and value for ". . . beneath the neglected functions there lie hidden far higher individual values . . . that can endow the individual with an intensity and beauty he will vainly seek in his collective functions " (C.G. Jung CW6 par 113)

 

As we saw in previous articles, the task of the first part of life is often to firmly establish a career, a family, or a social identity. In terms of the psychological types, this often means using our best-developed gifts.

 

But for Jung, this necessary development can lead to one-sidedness and self-estrangement:

 

"It is therefore understandable, and even necessary, that in each individual the psychic process should be as stable and definite as possible, since the exigencies of life demands it. But this involves a certain disadvantage: the utility of directedness make for the inhibition or exclusion of all those psychic elements which appear to be, or really are, incompatible with it." (CW8 par 136)

 

In midlife, the deeper process of individuation often sets in. This can be brought about by external circumstances (loss of job, illness, or divorce, for example) and/or an inner urge to find a larger meaning in life.

 

This phase can require much effort to come to terms with the one-sidedness developed in the first half of life. Through the integration of what was left out from consciousness: repressed memories, shadow aspects or counter-sexual aspects (animus/anima), we become more whole.

 

In terms of psychological types, we might engage more consciously some of the functions that had remained undeveloped. The function least developed is often referred to as the "inferior function."

 

Indeed, if we keep relying on a few dominant functions and overly identify with them, they become rigid or extreme. In her book on the inferior function, M.L von Franz writes: "If you overdo one of the conscious attitudes it becomes poor and loses its fertility".

 

The inferior function may be our "weak spot," but it also carries a great deal of vitality and value for ". . . beneath the neglected functions there lie hidden far higher individual values . . . that can endow the individual with an intensity and beauty he will vainly seek in his collective functions " (C.G. Jung CW6 par 113)

 

  

  

Vanessa
        
Vanessa Prins
  Jungian Analyst  
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Orienting people to their best gifts and fullest potential 

 

The Gifts Compass Inventory (GCI) articulates both the preferred types and the "inferior" least preferred types-or "shadow types." Knowing one's type preferences can help, both in the first and second halves of life, to discern the work that will be most satisfying.

 

Two new instruments recently introduced can also help: The Discover Your Passion exercise and the Job Profile. The first helps to move people toward a more passionate lifework, at any stage of life. The Job Profile helps to confirm that the gifts needed for the work are consistent with one's individual profile of preferences. Both are used in career development coaches, counsellors, and psychologists.





 
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