Carl Jung: Individuation Process

These are quotes from all over the web to give an overview of the concepts from Carl Jung.

Not intended to be complete but a reference for future blogposts.



According to Jungian psychology, individuation is the process of transforming one’s psyche by bringing the personal and collective unconscious into conscious.

Individuation has a holistic healing effect on the person, both mentally and physically.

Individuation is a process of psychological differentiation, having for its goal the development of the individual personality. In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.

Besides achieving physical and mental health, people who have advanced towards individuation, they tend to become harmonious, mature, responsible, they promote freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.


A complex of ideas which constitutes the centre of my field of consciousness and appears to possess a high degree of continuity and identity.

In his diagnostic studies of associations was able to demonstrate unconscious complexes affecting the conscious mind and capable of causing disturbances in ego functioning.

His personal experience had led him to emphasize the extremely important role of a firm anchoring of the conscious viewpoint in the ego because, as he explained, the ego not only has to manage the conflicts with the external world but also to confront intrapsychic material that manifests and operates from the unconscious.

It is not only our conscious ego that possesses a capacity for organization, initiative and purpose: It is in fact the development of our personality in its entirety, including our potential for consciousness, that is “directed” by a center operating in the unconscious.

To distinguish it from the ego, Jung called this center the Self. ‘As the ego is only the centre of my field of consciousness, it is not identical with the totality of my psyche. . . . I therefore distinguish between the ego and the self, since the ego is only the subject of my consciousness, while the self is the subject of my total psyche, which also includes the unconscious’.

Jung devoted himself principally to the interaction between the ego and the unconscious and to the question of discovering how the ego can gain experience of a Self that is subordinate to it. He demonstrated that this is a task that belongs to the individuation process in the second half of life, which presupposes and requires the existence of a strong enough ego that can allow itself to be substantially influenced by the Self without thereby succumbing to a loss of boundaries that would be pathological if not psychotic.

Ego Consciousness

So far as we know, consciousness is always ego-consciousness. In order to be conscious of myself, I must be able to distinguish myself from others. Relationship can only take place where this distinction exists.


The persona is also the mask or appearance one presents to the world. It is not a pose or some other intentional misrepresentation of the self to others. Rather, it is the self as self-construed, and may change according to situation and context.


The shadow is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. It is one of the three most recognizable archetypes, the others being the anima and animus and the persona.

Everyone carries a shadow, Jung wrote, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. It may be one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.

According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to project: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.

Jung writes that if these projections are unrecognized, the projection-making factor then has a free hand and can realize its object or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.

These projections insulate and cripple individuals by forming an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world.

Jung also believed that in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness-or perhaps because of this-the shadow is the seat of creativity.


In Jungian theory, the Self is one of several archetypes. It signifies the coherent whole, unifying both the consciousness and unconscious mind of a person.

The Self, according to Jung, is realized as the product of individuation, which is defined as the process of integrating one’s personality. For Jung, the self is symbolized by the circle (especially when divided into four quadrants), the square, or the mandala.

What distinguishes Jungian psychology from previous iterations is the idea that there are two centers of the personality. The ego is the center of conscious identity, whereas the Self is the center of the total personality–including consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego.

The Self is both the whole and the center. While the ego is a self-contained little circle off the center contained within the whole, the Self can be understood as the greater circle.

Anima and Animus

The anima and animus, in Carl Jung’s school of analytical psychology, are the unconscious or true inner self of an individual, as opposed to the persona or outer aspect of the personality.

In the unconscious of the male, it finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female, it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus.

It can be identified as the totality of the unconscious feminine psychological qualities that a male possesses; or the masculine ones possessed by the female. The anima is usually an aggregate of a man’s mother but may also incorporate aspects of sisters, aunts, and teachers.

The anima is one of the most significant autonomous complexes of all. It manifests itself by appearing as figures in dreams as well as by influencing a man’s interactions with women and his attitudes toward them, and vice versa for females and the animus.

Jung said that confronting one’s shadow self is an “apprentice-piece”, while confronting one’s anima is the masterpiece. Jung viewed the anima process as being one of the sources of creative ability.


An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior.


Individuation process

Other Theories:

David Bohm: Mind and Matter

Jean Carteret: Language and Psyche

Leonard Bernstein: Metaphorical Language

Maslow: Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow: Self-actualizing people

Ken Wilber: Integral Theory

Spiral Dynamics


    1. I stumbled into this document while searching to find connections between attachment and individuation… Those are very interesting and deep statements about ‘self’ and ‘ego’. I have an appreciation for their difference now and I’d like to continue reading more about Jung’s Individuation process.

  1. Thank You for the text, several times I reflected how well written and clear I found it to be. Lina

  2. I’m working my way through Jung’s “The archetypes and the collective unconscious” right now and it was helpful to get an overview. Starting that book cold was like being thrown into the deep end!

  3. Somehow, fortunately, deservedly, the collective conscious (google) ranks your site third or fourth for the search string “individuation”.

    Have been reading Shamdasani’s essays in the Red Book tonight and decided to see what be might be discoverable on the net.

    I compliment you first on the design of the site – the content formats beautifully on the iPhone – but, most importantly, I commend you for your elegant descriptions of Jung’ s principles.

    I will delve further into your site and writings.

    My first impression is that you understand Jung’s mission and are carrying it forward – a cause that is, for me, the only one with any significance for those who seek to understand humanity.

  4. I am developing a website to help those in 12 Step recovery who have a problem with organized religion and the apparent necessity to believe in god in order to successfully treat their alcoholism/addiction. I don’t know if you are aware of Dr. Jung’s involvement with the foundation of A.A., but I have provided a link to your site to explain his concept of individuation. For me, your description is far and away the most clear and concise I have found. Thank you

  5. Can you please put the citations/footnotes for these quotes? In particular, “Besides achieving physical and mental health, people who have advanced towards individuation, they tend to become harmonious, mature, responsible, they promote freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.” Thanks.

    1. Hi George,

      I don’t know exactly where I found the quotes at the time I collected them. The page is from 2009 and was mostly intended as a resource for myself at the time. If I remember correctly, most came from Wikipedia. But if I look at Wikipedia now under Carl Jung, I can’t find the quote you mean.

      However, I do think it was there at some point. Because if you follow this link:
      you see a similar quote and the source is Wikipedea according to the poster on Reddit.

      I did find that similar quote on a so-called Wikipedia for Schools:
      “Besides achieving physical and mental health, people who have advanced towards individuation tend to be harmonious, mature and responsible. They embody humane values such as freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.”

      Maybe there are more quotes as well to find on that page.

      Best wishes,

  6. Thank you for the post. Jung was one of my favorites after From. With the passing of years many of my inner fondamental questions didn’t find answers on this perspectives which was the reason I wanted to study psychology. all the explanations still leads on illusion ,confusion and dont help heling. I believe we are in a phase to surpass from Ego, dualism, inner and outer, anima and animus, towards a sense of continuum and Unity

  7. I know that Jung was very interested in religion, but interpreted it from his psychiatric point of view. I was just reading about how Jesus said that he was one with God and that his followers were one with him, so they were also one with God. Jung on the other hand is less concerned with integrating individuals, but with individuating each individual. His emphasis appears to be upon reducing the distance between the ego and the other parts of the individual. He is less interested in reducing the distances among people (is God a person?).

  8. Thank you for the clarity of the synthesis of Jung’s approach.
    It stimulates me to learn more about it.

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