Core Complex Theory: The Demon

The Demon is a psychic ordering principle that serves as one of the two dominant organizational principles in the psyche (the other is the Self system).  Whereas the Self system is primarily inherent, complex, dynamic, adaptive, and distinctly "biological" (at least qualitatively), the Demonic system of order is an environmental or cultural introject that operates on reliable and consistent laws, moves toward stasis, resists true adaptation (although its resistance can be very protean), and behaves more like an "intelligence" than an organism.

The Demon seems to acquire or borrow personality traits or structures from the individual's psyche . . . especially in reaction to the shadow, which is the Demon's gateway into the psyche.  If we think of the personal shadow as the pieces of identity where we feel most vulnerable, confused, needy, and impotent, then the Demon introject is a strategic defense against falling into identification with the shadow.  Much of the personal shadow is defined by the cultures and immediate social environments we grew up and continue to live in.  At least initially, it is the parents, the tribe, the world that both criticize/ostracize the personal shadow and teach us how to conceal and overmaster it.  We might call this "maturation" or learning discipline or civilizing, but it is equally an indoctrination and conformation.  Often enough, these civilizing/indoctrinating scripts or rules of thumb enable us to be more socially successful (as the particular social environment we live in defines such success).  But much of what is discouraged by society is also destructive and limiting to the natural personality.  The innate factors of personality (the Self) are not much benefited by social conformations, especially when these conformations do not facilitate the innate potentials and predispositions of the individual.

Society as we know it is not an individual-facilitating system, but a normalizing system.  Nor does modern society function as a whole (i.e., a singular tribe) based on universal ideologies . . . rather, it is complex and emergent.  The facilitation of the individual is driven primarily by the Self system which urges and organizes adaptivity, survival instincts, and homeostasis.  But the introjected normalization of social conditioning also works to construct a personality or identity that is "fit" by the terms of that society.  But because this norm of fitness represents a kind of ego- or superego-ideal, it is functional for the individual in direct contrast to the facilitation of his or her innate predispositions and potentials.

In many instances, especially where the childhood environment of the individual is "good enough" (and therefore facilitates the individual's innate potentials to a relatively high degree), the Self system has significant influence on the individual's fitness and may not be embroiled in much conflict with social normalization.  If one is the child of two doctors who both lovingly encourage the child to learn and achieve, and that child grows up to become a doctor, she or he has succeeded in achieving an ego ideal that society venerates.  If that individual feels fulfilled by the life and identity s/he has developed, the normalizing aspects of society are both appeased and kept at bay.

But if this individual ended up pursuing the medical profession and identity "artificially" and only in order to appease his or her parents and social normalization, then a serious existential conflict between the Self system and the Demonic system is brewing, probably causing a great deal of anxiety and depression for the individual.  Of course, not everyone is capable of becoming a doctor or other high-status person.  There are limitations placed on the number of high status people in any society.  Sometimes these are economic limitations, political limitations, limitations of prevailing cultural prejudices, other times they are biological limitations (for instance, inadequate innate intelligence), other times still, the limitations could be a matter of a parenting or peer environment that is not "good enough".

But social status is disproportionately invested in certain roles and ego ideals, and the vast majority of people cannot fit comfortably and satisfyingly into these ideals . . . nor would society function very well if everyone could.

The Demon is experienced as the introjected personality that drives one to become some form of ego ideal, some kind of high status norm.  If the normalizing voice of society (a kind of impersonal and lowest common denominator opinion of how one "should" be) could be reduced to a single personality construction and implanted into the psyche and subconscious of an individual, that would be the Demon.  We are all exposed to this hijacking informational virus, and it infiltrates us at a very early age.  It is an inevitable factor of socialization and human relationality.  This isn't to say that all socialization is "bad".  Some socialization facilitates the Self system.  And trying to find a hard line between socialization that facilitates the Self and socialization that normalizes personality in opposition to the Self is impossible.  There are many gray areas, and as a result of this grayness, the internal representations of the Demon and the Self are frequently conflated and blended together in certain attitudes and ideas.

The differentiation of the Demon and the Self is often not possible or manageable until adulthood, and even then, it must be enabled by the onset of an individuation process.  That is, a process where the Self system emerges in a psychic reorganization attempt to counteract the overly Demonized or normalized ego that has become dissociated from its Self system.  This is necessitated only by the breakdown of the Demonized ego that has sacrificed too much of its nature in order to follow a social ideal.  The individuant becomes aware that the Demonic force in the personality is impeding the Self system's dynamic organizing principle.  The treatment of this is complex and extremely difficult, and I won't go into it here.  But it is the hallmark of the individuant that there is consciousness that something in the personality must change, and the individuant aligns egoically and consciously against the Demonic on behalf of the Self system.  At least she or he desires to do so.

Where the personality falls into depression or some other dysfunction related to an overly Demon-impeded Self system, there is often a correspondence with early developmental problems in the parental environment.  That is, if something significantly hindered the facilitation of the Self in early childhood, the adult personality is much more likely to collapse under the control of the Demon.  The Demon, in this instance (especially where there was early childhood trauma) manifests not as the "benevolent dictator" and superego of individuals who have not had to endure childhood traumas, but as a truly terrible abuser.  Another way to look at this is to see the ego as "shadow-identified".  As one begins to identify with her or his dysfunctions, weaknesses, diseases, impotence, etc. more and more, s/he will find that the Demon seems more and more a malicious, abusive psychopath, a genuinely evil torturer.

In a sense, the Demon is always like this, always terrible to the shadow . . . but when the ego identifies or sympathizes with the Demonic program toward the shadow, one tends to overlook the atrocity of the Demon.  The shadow, much of the time, is deemed less-than-human and not worthy of human rights.  Those people and things we do not extend this full humanity to are treated without empathy.  Take for instance many laboratory animals used for testing.  Imagine being that rat who is pumped full of deathly chemicals or has portions of its brain removed in order to serve the experiment.  This is how a person might feel in relation to the Demon when the person becomes shadow-identified.

There are many implications to seeing the Demon introject in this way.  For instance, we can easily derive from such observations that the society we live in, if it could be rendered as a personality, would be a psychopath.  Additionally, that psychopathy can be said to live inside all of us (via introjection, if not also inherently).  And if we are ever to dehumanize another person or group, we become capable of psychopathic cruelty toward them (or at least the condoning of such cruelty).

Why society is psychopathic is another issue (and one I am exploring in my project on the Problem of the Modern).  But in investigating the Demon as it is represented in individual fantasies and dreams, we are also led to ask: what is it about our innate psyches that allows them to be hijacked by a psychopathic personality construct?  This is largely mysterious and difficult to study, but it seems to me that the Demon introject can root down in the soil of our innate, early impotence.  Psychoanalysts have made much of so-called "infantile grandiosity", but I find this construct rather suspicious.  The entire psychoanalytic construction of the "Infant" strikes me as deeply flawed and riddled with odd projections.  At times, the psychoanalytic attitude toward the Infant resembles the attitude of the Demon toward the shadow.  At other times, the Infant is romanticized and used like a cookie cutter on the adult personality.  Both of these usages disturb me, especially on an intuitive level.

But I do not doubt that infants and young children (not to mention people of all ages) can feel terribly powerless at times.  Even if the full extent of their vulnerability and dependency is not consciously comprehended, there is no doubt at least as much familiarity with feelings of impotence as there would be with an inflated or grandiose protection (from the "Breast" or whathaveyou . . . although I am not a fan of the Good Breast/Bad Breast languaging of this).  As the psychoanalytic attitude reflects, it is socially conventional for us to see children and our own childhood selves as shadowy.  We look back at our disempowerment, compulsiveness, and vulnerability judgmentally much of the time.  Even if we do not "blame" our childhood selves for these things, we specifically resist the attitude that this mentality represents, and by making that attitudinal allegiance, we necessitate shadow.  We don't fare nearly as well at generating respect for our childhood selves and tend to reserve our positive considerations for wistfulness, escapism, fantasy, and euphemization of childhood.

The Demon does seem to have a distinctly infantile core of instinctual rage and fear.  And its desires and demands are also typically infantile.  It wants what it wants when it wants it, and it can't endure not getting this precisely.  There is no empathy or compromise with the Demon.  It has no valuation of what is other (part of its psychopathy).  Moreover, it doesn't seem to grow or develop.  Even as it takes on many superficial forms and attitudes, the objective of these forms and attitudes is to maintain a static personality, orientation, and set of goals and desires.  Therefore it is a part of the personality that doesn't grow and that resist growth at all costs.

This needs to be differentiated from the aspect of the Self that could be associated with the Child archetype.  This Child does have needs and appetites, but it primarily represents the delicate potential of the personality that would need to be actively nurtured in order to develop.  The infantile Demon does not want to be nurtured, it merely wants to be fed, served, and obeyed.  The Demon is a usurpation and imitation of the Self in this and many other regards.  The response of the Self to vulnerability and fragility is to grow, complexify, interconnect, and interrelate.  This could be seen as parallel to the human need to interrelate in a community in order to aid survival and adaptation of both the group and the individuals in it.  The Demon, by contrast, reacts to vulnerability with all manners of fortification and defense against what is other or outside.  It tolerates no direct vulnerability or mutuality and will relate to others only manipulatively as tools to increase its power, impenetrability, and fortification.

Faced with the Demon construct, we would have to ask how such a powerful, psychopathic, parasitic personage could invade and seize control of individuals  so unanimously today.  It sounds like something out of a dystopian sci-fi story.  I must first note that my construction of the Demon principle is obviously very negative . . . and the vast majority of people living in the modern world will not experience this level of negativity from the Demon as it exists in their personalities.  Many people find the Demon to represent their "better selves".  Moreover, the Demon is not truly "maladaptive" as far as human survivability goes.  Modern human civilization and evolutionary success go hand in hand with the Demon.  I don't think the Demon is responsible for driving our success or innovations, but it is certainly willing to take credit for these things.  I would characterize this as part of our myth of modern willpower.  This myth is defined by its aggrandizement of and emphasis on the ego as the seat of greatest intelligence and psychic worth in the personality.  It is seen as the "divine spark", our rational mind and godlikeness, our speciesist supremacy, mark of global entitlement and bestowal of divine right to do with this planet as we please.

This myth has ancient roots, but clearly reaches its fruition in the beginning of civilization as we know it, the beginning of recorded history and writing.  This myth is also the self-justification of modern patriarchy that triumphs by conquering Nature and imposing the patriarchal, "heroic" brand of order on everything it touches and sees.  This myth is very well described in the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest work of literature in the world.  That Gilgameshian brand of patriarchy that cultivates the Demon as we still experience it is definitely effective at asserting a controlled human environment upon nature.  And within that controlled environment, there is a great deal of room for human reproductive success.  That success is the product of the ability to control the environment in which our species lives.

But by controlling the environment in this way (in a way that seeks to make it hospitable to humans . . . at least those humans with the most power and status), humanity no longer has an active "evolutionary relationship" with its environment.  That is, by adapting an environment to human beings, human beings' ability to adapt to environment is greatly curtailed or even stalled.  Yes, we are still evolving (and perhaps quicker than ever), but we are only evolving in relationship to what penetrates our environmental fortifications.  Most of all, this would be disease, which still has the ability to significantly affect our reproductive success.

It seems to me perfectly legitimate to argue that, the Demon aside, our ability to control our environment and isolate ourselves from its harshness is a substantial achievement and well worth the cost of a little parasitic psychopathy.  I don't have any predictions to offer regarding the future of humanity.  Our species may continue to prosper even without evolving on some kind of ethical or psychological level.  My concern is with the fallout of living with the kind of hypertrophic Demon we have in the modern world.  Most tangibly, this fallout is a matter of high rates of anxiety, depression, and feelings of disconnection, loss of meaning/"soul".  We are increasingly recognizing that these things are unhealthy for us.  But even if they take years off of our lives (and make many of the years we live less satisfying), science, medicine, and technology seem to be more than compensating.

The ethical complications are more serious but harder to determine.  That is, what are the ethical externalities of incorporating (and aggrandizing) what is essentially a psychopathic element into our personalities?  At times, this psychopathic susceptibility has helped enable monstrous destruction and abuse . . . such as the atrocities of genocide, mass murder, and world war that color the 20th century.  There are no indications that such things cannot happen again or that either human psychology or human civilization has seen the error of its ways and taken preventative measures.

Social reform is beyond my focus, though.  I'm interested primarily in studying the psychological mechanism of the Demon and the apparatus of our sociality.  Therefore my investigation leads backward rather than forward.  And I am driven to contemplate why it is that our species appears to be so susceptible to Demonic "hijacking".  This line of questioning evokes the meme arguments of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, who have compared the religion meme to a similar hijacking.  That argument essentially states that religion is "bad" for us as well as irrational, so we would have no motivation for creating and practicing it unless we were being possessed by some other self-interested "agent" (in this case, a meme).  I don't have much use for the Dawkins-Dennett meme construct (especially when it comes to religion), but there is a notable parallel with my construct of the Demon as introject.

It seems to me that meme theory breaks down where it assumes a kind of motivation for the informational meme.  The drive to self-replicate is not a trait of information, which means that meme theory is metaphorical.  And as metaphor, it gets an attitude or opinion across.  But I find the masquerading of meme theory as science (including the gene-imitative naming and construction)  to be more of an ideological ploy banking on the "rational dignity" of science to cover up an utterly unscientific idea.  The Demon does not seek self-replication, but fortification and empowerment as a compensation for vulnerability.  In other words, it exhibits a psychology and bears more resemblance to an archetype than it does to a gene or anything biological (even if its behavior could be described as parasitic).

But, like a meme, the substance of the Demon is informational, a collection of ideals, scripts, and laws.  The basis of its "personality", though, is borrowed from our dissociable human psyche, which seems to be able to subdivide into numerous personages (splinter psyches or complexes, in Jungian terms).  What I think makes us susceptible to the Demonic introjection is not a kind of weak link or irrationality in our minds.  Rather, we would only be susceptible to the extreme degree we are if we had evolved in a way that such susceptibility was fit for our survival.  In other words, introjection would only be so readily possible for human beings if it was the medium through which our instincts were functionally expressed into or imprinted with our environment.

Human culture is the primary vehicle through which our instincts are interpreted and implemented in organizing survivable behavior.  I am not talking about intentioned "learning", per se.  It is not knowledge that is introjected, but identity.  Identity (as we commonly experience it) is a social phenomenon . . . not an individual one.  And the social construction of identity is the means by which our instinctual ordering principles (i.e., the Self) adapt to the environmental niche in which we live (the informational environment of culture).  Culture itself is (or was, in our environment of evolutionary adaptedness) constructed through the largely unconscious expression of human sociality instincts.  It self-organizes based on the collective input of individuals and is then fed back into those individuals as identity construction.  So, identity constructs culture and culture constructs identity . . . and for the most part, we are unconscious of this and exert no real control over it.

But this complex culture/identity feedback system evolved along with human sociality instincts that are essentially tribal and not well adapted to modern population density.  I feel that, instinctually, this evolved system is trying to drive adaptation to an environment that no longer exists.  It becomes a square peg in a round hole phenomenon . . . and as the "abrasion" from this is multiplied over many generations, the effect is exponential: an entirely new cultural environment emerges.  And that somewhat foreign emergent culture is fed back into individual identity construction, skewing identity in a way that deviates from the instinct-facilitating construction that would take place in an "evolutionarily ideal" environment.  This scenario could lead to a kind of "fitness" that perpetuates genes very effectively while also creating some degree of discord and anxiety in individuals.  And the more successful humans are at conquering nature and controlling/insulating their environment, the more "genetic fitness" and psychic satisfaction or homeostasis can diverge.

What's more, there is a low likelihood that we would somehow adapt to our new, emergent environment when that environment is "designed" to increasingly isolate us from evolutionary/environmental pressures.  Our consciousness is overwhelmed by the complexity of designing a "utopia" with mental tools not equipped to do so (i.e., they are equipped to work unconsciously in the culture/identity feedback system).  This sense of being ill-equipped to design societies can work metaphorically as an "original sin", a trait that seems innocent enough at first (or is entirely unapparent) but snowballs under complex iteration until is becomes a fatal flaw.  And that fatal flaw becomes a major opponent in the battle to survive and prosper.

The idea of the fatal flaw is part and parcel of the tragic hero.  This tragic, patriarchal hero "conquers" nature's supposed darkness and transforms it into a resource for culture (and ego).  But as much as he accomplishes, some karmic force pulls him into his tragic fate.  Not infrequently (in myths, epics, and legends), the original sin and fatal flaw of the tragic hero is hubris.  Greed is a common alternative or accompaniment.  Rage or wrath is another.  The fatal flaw is like the devil claiming the soul of one who had merely leased status or power (with a terrible interest rate).  Such is life lived in the service of the Demon.  It's a life stolen or not truly earned or deserved.

In more modern terms, we have the so-called externalities of engaging in unsustainable behavior.  That is, with our quest to privilege the ego, not only the instinctual Self, but also other people will end up suffering.  But it isn't just "vulgar human nature", our "animal instincts", that determine these fatal flaws.  Quite the opposite is true.  Instinct is the wellspring of empathy and altruism, of functional, adaptive social organization.  This isn't to say that we are not powerfully self-interested.  But instinctual self-interest is not always the same thing, behaviorally, as selfishness (take, for instance, reciprocal altruism).  Selfish self-interest becomes excessive and dangerous to others primarily when one seeks inordinate amounts of power and status . . . and can manage to get away with murder in the name of pathological self-empowerment and -fortification.  The very idea that we "need" so much in order to be valid is a notion (not created but) promoted by modern status-based society.  We are instilled with social values that favor public success, power, and wealth . . . as opposed to values that, for instance, favor kindness, generosity, and tolerance for others.

What this means is that it is not primarily "human nature" that drives modern egoism.  It is the modern cultural cultivation of the ego that creates such a disparity between feelings of vulnerability and impotence and the fantasy of power and potency.  The introjected Demon becomes the landlord of our infantile fatal flaws.  It's important to note, of course, that although we may envy and be fascinated by "tragic heroes" in our culture who attain great power and status only to be undone by fatal flaws . . . most of us are not such tragic heroes.  And our Demonic inheritance is not purely a kind of megalomaniacal selfishness.  Rather it is an Orwellian "endless war" between the power-mad impulse to be "heroic" and the curtailing social mores that discourage most people from seeking or obtaining such power.

But to a significant degree, this conflict is artificial and keeps the ego in thrall to the Demon through distraction, misdirection, and consumption of the resources needed to rebel.  These social mores also help preserve a social status hierarchy in which those elites on top do not have to abide by the same morality as those below them.  Other problems of status hierarchies aside, the failure of modern society to sustain a universal sense of morality is one of the most significant departures from premodern tribalism.  I don't mean to argue that status was a non-issue in tribes (although anthropologists seem to feel that tribes are and were generally more egalitarian than modern societies).  But tribal rites and ceremonies were meant to organize a sense of participation in a universal tribal identity . . . and that means a universal tribal morality and ideology, as well.  The tribal elders, chiefs, and shamans were the promoters and maintainers of the tribes social mores.

How much of the unfolding problems of modern society have to do with the singular development of wealth (thought to have originated along with the agricultural revolution) is unclear.  No doubt the creation of wealth has had a massive impact on cultural constructions of identity and ideology.  But despite wealth's notable evils, it seems untenable to me that modern societies could be sustained as communes or massive tribes.  Tribal organization or human sociality is (genetically) limited to a relatively small number of members.  Beyond those numbers, the manufacture of true egalitarianism may be impossible.  Equally, any social architecture we endeavor to take on may have to take into account the number-limited sustainability of tribal communities . . . and focus less on less on the relationship between an individual and a society and more on inter-tribal relationships.

Whatever the case, we seem to be still quite far away from understanding the relationship between human nature and social organization in the modern world.  And as long as modern society is introjecting Demonic attitudes and traits, any reform or progress will likely be very slow if not impossible.  Most personalities are so consumed by and devoted to the Demonic organizing principle that it is hard to know how or where to begin to treat human sociality.  It is a classical Jungian idea that the treatment of society is best accomplished through the treatment of individuals.  I find this notion both intriguing and totally inadequate.  Obviously social injustice abounds and can be effectively (although perhaps not absolutely) countered with various social behaviors and policies.  We are all dependent on this kind of social activism to even approach a place where individuals can confront and work to depotentiate their introjected Demons.

But those individuals who do manage to make some headway against the Demon do so at the cost of their participation mystique with others in society (which is also the vehicle through which they have influence on that society).  The Demon is unwittingly sanctioned and protected by our tribalism, even as the Demon perverts the adaptability of that tribalism.  I have no answers to these grand social problems, but I think it could only be beneficial for us to develop a better understanding of the Demon, to know it exists and how it exists within and among us.  This would bring us into direct confrontation with various mystiques of our identity construction and face us with more ego-depotentiating realities of our nature.  The movement toward a recognition of our naturalistic "animalism" could not only be a relinquishment of hubris, but also a way of reconnecting with complex nature as a macro-ecosystem to which we belong.  The sustenance, facilitation, and treatment of this ecosystem indirectly treat our species . . . and therefore treat the human soul.  In previous eras, the treatment of the human soul was approached more egoically and Demonically.  Culture or religious dogma was supposed to be the Good Medicine that saved us from our devilish instincts and impulses.  It may now be that our instincts will begin to save us from our cultural "medicines".  But first, they would have to triumph adaptively.


For further discussion of the Demon, please see the collection of Essays on the Contents page entitled "Differentiating the Shadow in Jungian Theory".


Core Complex Psychology: Preamble

Wrestling with My Jungianism, a Preamble

What follows is an introduction to and overview of a revised Jungian theory of psychodynamics.  I consider it "under development", and although I feel positive enough about it to use its language to talk about the psyche, my relationship to it is complex, to say the least.  Much of this complexity has to do with my personal relationship with and attitude toward Jungianism.  For instance, it was never my intention to create a theory of psyche.  In fact, it was not initially my intention to be a revisionary or even a "post-" Jungian.  I simply was drawn to Jungianism for the useful tools it provided me in the understanding and "treatment" of my own psyche.  Since these tools were objects of practical application for me, issues of dogma, legacy, and even theory were of minimal concern.  I made small edits as I toured and used Jung's ideas, but thought nothing of them.  Most of these had to do with what I now call the animi work, and I attributed the flaws in Jung's anima and animus constructs to a dated sexism that he had also long fallen under the scrutiny of Jungians for (since the rise of feminism in the 60s and 70s).

Even as I had a fairly well developed (and recorded) conception of my anima work experience that was not altogether on the Jungian map, I assumed for years that what I had undergone was "entirely Jungian" and would be understood and embraced without anxiety by other Jungians if they had the opportunity to hear it out.  It was, in other words, not really a revision of Jungian theory, but another piece of data to add to the massive pile of similar data the anima theory was already reacting to.  It was a nicely elegant, very Jungian case study.

I would be lying if I said that I never had any interest in or attraction to innovation.  I am a poet (or was . . . it's complicated), and creation seems to drive me more than any other force.  But, like many Jungians, I came to Jungianism to find my tribe and to find healing through it.  Only in the last few years and since returning to Jungianism after nearly a decade where it played only a back burner role in my life did I start to recognize that my stance as a Jungian was unusual . . . and even in some ways radical.  With the creation of Useless Science and my ragged, spiraling brainstorms, investigations, and sermons, I pursued the innovator's path reluctantly.  It may not seem so due to my "verbal enthusiasm" (or vitriol, if you prefer), but I have pursued this path with great reluctance and much consternation, and I have proceeded thus for a fairly logical reason.  Namely, like so many others drawn to Jungianism, my dream was to find my true tribe, to find others like me, to find home and familiarity and a way to participate, an group-acceptable identity to participate through.  But I have found myself trapped between the practical drive to innovate and to pursue psychology with honesty and integrity on one hand and on the other hand to fit in and find fellows, companions, and collaborators who are enthused by the same mission I am.

It is an impossible place to be, especially for a compulsive innovator, a poet.  To give up innovation would be to assume a false self . . . and lose my soul.  That is not an option.  So I grudgingly follow my own path and agonize conventional Jungianisms.  There are two main reasons that I have taken such an agonistic tack in my attempts to contribute and survive.  Firstly and mostly, it is a matter of my complex or emergent personal myth, a kind of hero/scapegoat compulsion charged with instigation, innovation, and confrontation of unexamined norms .  Where my attempts to forge identity run into this archetypal dynamic, my gears grind and my anxiety increases "irrationally", but I also receive a turbo boost of drive (i.e., the survival instincts kick in).  This complex is my repeated undoing . . . and also my center of gravity, my engine.

The second main reason I persist agonistically is no doubt that I am scarred from my rather innocent fantasy of finding my true tribe in Jungianism.  Still, it would not be fully accurate to say that my agonistic writing is a product of bitterness due to my exclusion from the group Eros.  I know myself well enough to know that I would never be happy with the simple things I wished for.  To belong . . . it is an impossible dream for an innovator (see above re: losing my soul).  My relationship with Jungianism is more complex than this pop-psych diagnosis of bitterness.

My own diagnosis would be that I have projected into Jungianism a woundedness that is parallel to my own personal woundedness.  And this projection makes Jungianism a kind of clay or workable material through which I project the work on myself.  But this is no blind or utterly misguided transference.  It is the same kind of functional transference that successful analyses are based on . . . and it allows me to have empathy for the Jungian disease.  I have come to see Jungianism as if it was a living thing, a kind of ecosystem that suffers and struggles (with the modern and with its own shadow issues) and needs to find a way to adapt and evolve.  In this evolutionary survival process, I feel like a part of the tribe, a piece of the system . . . and a piece aligned on the side of survivability, adaptation, transformation.  An ally to the Self system's principle of organization.

In that role, I bring my numerous flaws and hold back the system with my egoic frailties, my selfishness and detrimental desires.  But I see the value in trying to work through these and find a way to contribute to the Self's ordering principle.  My fight with Jungianism, therefore, is primarily a fight with myself, a fight between my heroism and my Demon-beaten shadow.  And this kind of fight (as I have often noted on the forum) is one in which the heroic only manages to prevail if it can find empathy for the very shadow that is constantly tripping up heroic intentions.

Therefore, in my at times ferocious critiques of Jungian attitudes and ideas, I find myself caught between the heroic drive to contribute innovatively (and perhaps therapeutically) to the survivability of Jungianism . . . and the Demonic drive to chastise and punish the Jungian shadow (and my own Jungian-like shadow) for its weakness.  To the degree that I fail in my critiques by being too Demonic, I come to feel a deep regret for stepping on my own toes and on the toes of the heroic or adaptive drive of the tribe I feel linked into.  I have failed often.  But to be fair, it is a very fine line one must walk in this matter, because I remain utterly and rationally convinced that Jungianism needs to change some of its ways in order to make it in the modern world, in the future.  To make these changes, Jungianism will have to do its shadow work, look into its darkest mirrors, and stop pursuing and worshiping some of the things it currently holds sacred and unquestionable.  Healthy innovation in this case is critical by its nature, reformative . . . and some degree of passion, lamentation, and sermonizing is essential.  Such things cannot be expressed with cold dispassion, because the intent of the criticism is to spark adaptation and survival.  These are Eros issues, not intellectualisms.

As one of very few individuals who seems to be backing such a Jungian horse at this time, I must admit that I feel I have not done as well in my advocacy as I would have liked to.  My actions have not often matched my intentions.  Granted, heroic quests are not for real human beings . . . but I have no expectation to carry the tribe on my back.  I am more like a "concerned citizen" hoping to contribute a voice or a pair of hands to a just cause.  But I also have a citizen's outrage to bear, an outrage that belongs also to the tribe, to the Demonized Jungian shadow.  Balancing this archetypal/personal outrage with a desire to contribute to and help facilitate a tribal psyche is not an easy task . . . perhaps not even a human task.  Even in my repeated failures to find an ideal equilibrium, I suspect I manage to do this as well as anyone could.

Well, that's my preamble . . . and I have expressed, if nothing else, my consternation with my own theory-making.  But with that out of the way, I will proceed to the conception of a theory I have been calling Core Complex psychology . . . a moniker I am significantly dissatisfied with but have not been able to improve upon.  As a creative writer, I have always believed in the value of titles.  In my poetry, I have depended on the creation of titles to bring some degree of order to the formations that followed them.  But a title like Core Complex psychology feels like little more than a fog that obscures a conglomeration of some very complex archetypal psychodynamic weavings.


Red Book Diary – A Failed Individuation Journey?

I finished reading the Red Book this weekend (10/24/09).  There are many things I wanted to reflect on along the way, episodes for this diary.  I still hope to get to at least some of these.  By the conclusion of the book, there were so many thoughts stirring in me.  I found myself slightly cranky.  Not really disappointed . . . the feeling was deeper and more complex, something very difficult to process.  The crankiness or moodiness comes from the anxiety of being unable to build a bridge from affect to language.

I would like to use this unnumbered installment of the diary to reflect on these feelings (it is being written after the 3rd installment).  Many of my reactions in this post will be personal.  I don't want to do much (and ideally no) textual criticism here.  I want to try to suss out what the Red Book meant to me both before I read it and after, how I positioned myself in respect to it and how it has changed me.

As the perhaps provocative title of this post intimates, one of the key questions for me at the end of the book was: does this elaborate mystical fantasy of transformation that Jung indulges in and soldiers through amount only to a failed individuation?  I don't mean that it was "just an illusion" or that it was delusional, psychotic, or meaningless.  I mean that it depicts a genuine individuation event, but that event does not bear fruit or even achieve what it set out to.

To compare the process and goal of the individuation event recorded in the Red Book with my own theory of the individuation (or simply the anima work) process, the conclusion would have to be that, indeed, the Red book ultimately depicts a failed individuation.  It bothers me, though, to be inclined toward this conclusion.

It disturbs me in some way, and yet everything I've been writing over the past couple years or so predicted this.  All the criticism I've written of Jung's theories and of Jungian theories has suggested that Jung and Jungians do not understand the animi work, have not developed a theory that describes it to its completion or that makes sense of it as a whole, and have bungled or at least left dangerously unfinished a viable theory of individuation.  The precedent for these failures is evidenced in the Red Book . . . and that also (if it is possible to establish logically, and it may not be) suggests that my hammering on about the complexes of Jungianism (the Jungian tribe) being firmly rooted in Jung's own complexes is a more viable argument than I even assumed it was.  After all, those failures that are described or implied in the Red Book remain major dark spots in Jungian thinking: the anima, individuation, Christianity, dualism, spiritualism, the hero, the somewhat unseaworthy attitude toward science, patriarchal egoism, lack of adequate differentiation in the shadow, a narrowminded and prudish attitude toward inflation.  These are all elements of what I have been calling the Jungian Disease.  In the Red Book, Jung deals extensively with all of these things . . . and in my opinion, he fails to find a functional paradigm with which to understand them and grasp their interrelationship.

One of the reasons the outcome of the Red Book should not really be too surprising to me is that I have essentially developed my revisionary theories as a treatment of this very disease.  The larger struggle that remains where these theories are concerned is a matter of convincing Jungians to take seriously that they actually have a disease or complex like the one I have described.  It is no doubt much harder for certified Jungian analysts to pathologize themselves and their tribal affiliations than it was for me to pathologize myself as I struggled with the accompanying fevers and delusions of the Jungian indoctrination I fed myself on.  I have always been my own primary guinea pig in the numerous attempts at treatment I've experimented with.  Although I think I applied the Jungian treatment successfully and to significant effect, having to devise ways to treat my own residual Jungianness has been more of a creative and often divisive process.

I think I am over the hump on this leg of the treatment, but the real trick is to treat the specific "poisonousness" of my Jungianism without amputating that Jungianism.  Amputation of any poisoned organ of tribal affiliation does not generally work.  We merely take our disease to a new tribal affiliation until its poisoning manifests.  Then we blame that new tribal affiliation or ideology or religion and fly off to find something we haven't polluted yet.  But even in a cultural or tribal complex there is a fusion between personal and tribal complexes that is inextricable.  I don't mean to prescribe a kind of Jungian treatment by returning to one's original religion, necessarily.  After all, it is unlikely that any tribe or institution has the answers readily available to the problems of its own complexes.

If one, say, has some kind of "Christian complex", going back to the Church or seeking any kind of return to faith is not likely to resolve it, because the Church has no solutions for its real devils.  But the symbols of the tribe or institution can be revised, reworked, pushed to evolve.  It takes a dangerous and potent imagination and an ability to "live in sin" or violate tribal taboos, but it is possible.  The alchemists are a case in point.  They tried to treat the Christian complex they were born into (which was generally a devaluation of matter, instinct, soul, the body, and the feminine).  There is no evidence that alchemists wanted to refute their Christianity or even saw their Work as in opposition to the Christian tribe.

To the extent that the alchemists succeeded in their experiment, a treatment of the Christian disease was devised . . . but its application or regimen was so convoluted and strange that it could not be distributed like some kind of Communion wafer at mass.  In order for alchemy as treatment of Christianity to be affective, one had to become an alchemist and devise elaborate, mystical variations on the general understanding of the alchemical opus.  Each had to, in essence, write his (or her?) own Red Book in which a personal Logos was developed.  I.e., alchemy was a mysticism.  The result, though, was esoteric writing that did not make adequate sense to most others.  Those to whom it did have some resonance still had to recreate the alchemical experiment in their own ways.  It wasn't self-help.

In treating the Jungian Disease, one likewise must find some way, despite what may overtly appear to be heresy, to feel and perhaps still be Jungian.  I'm not sure if other Jungians must be convinced of this.  But it is a necessity of the participation mystique or transference to the totem of the Jungian tribe.  If one individuates, one must do so in association with a tribe.  The tribe is needed in order for there to possibly be an individuated relationship to it.  We cannot individuate in a vacuum.  Even individuation is ultimately all about Eros, about how the individual relates to others and to the tribe with which she or he is most deeply affiliated.  And the validation of that individuation is still determined by the tribe, not by the individual.  The tribe validates the individuant by making use of the individuant's individuatedness, innovation, or revision in some (conscious or unconscious) way.  That is, the tribe must itself form a relationship to the individuant in order for that individuation to be entirely valid.  And if a tribe has an excessively difficult time forming relationships to its individuants, the tribe will gradually begin to ossify and crumble.  That relationship is what allows tribes to be adaptive and survivable in times of environmental crisis.

As for Jung, although there may be many others of note, two tribal affiliations stand out to me.   The first is to a kind of 19th century, rationalistic medical science that believes in rigorous, detached thinking as a kind of patriarchal virtue.  The second is to German romanticism with all of its occult fascinations, its Christian and pagan mysticisms, its arcane metaphysics and spiritualisms.  Jung was no doubt an individuant from both of these tribes.  That is, he stood in relationship to them by also distinctly apart from them.  But he did not, I think, manage to find a way to stand equidistantly between them.  He stayed a bit too much within the opposing tribes participation mystique when he criticized the other.  As a modern, one who stands among but not truly within the innumerable tribes of modern society, Jung's individuation was not completed.  That is, he did not succeed at understanding all of his tribal affiliations to the modern and differentiating them in himself.  He accepted some of his cultural constructions as granted and true.  Perhaps greatest among these accepted constructions was the patriarchal myth of the great man who with individual power subdues chaotic nature and renders it usable to human hands, anthropomorphizes it, perhaps even commodifies it.

In the Red Book, episode after episode of visions pit Jung against the implications and seductions of this tribal affiliation of which he is significantly blind.  And episode after episode, he fails to grasp its impermanence, arbitrariness, and constructedness.  Sometimes he ends these encounters feeling he has failed to understand something, and sometimes he leaves them feeling he has conquered and forced a transformation.  But the inflation of those achievements soon fades, and Jung is back to an abject state of frustration and despair again.

With each failure to comprehend the apparition of the Grail that passes before him, he does generally learn something, sees through some subtle illusion, lifts some veil.  And in this process, he develops (at least the foundations of) many brilliant insights about the modern and about the ways humans deceive themselves.  Yet he prides himself too much on his differentiating cleverness and seems to think he can solve every puzzle, slice through every Gordian knot with the fast blade of his intellect (a Jungian might say, "thinking function").  Sometimes this causes him to leave an encounter or conversation feeling like he has comprehended something of the "Mysteries" only to recognize in the next episode that this comprehension was inadequate or even totally incorrect.

Jung, the narrator of the Red Book, is a devout and very extreme "thinking type" at the beginning of the book.  He has numerous encounters with characters that make him feel complex emotions and affects and beg him to feel his way through various hells and puzzles rather than think his way through.  He understands that he must, in order to follow the hunger of his Self and his instinctual process of individuation, somehow integrate or form a more developed relationship to his "inferior feeling".  He concocts many mystical rituals and anointing conversations with gods, souls, and wise men that are at least in part meant to lead him toward his inferior function.  But he never really gets there.  He is (in my opinion) continually distracted by patriarchal godhead and gods, great men, prophetic attitudes.  He wants so passionately to work on the masculine god image that he seems to completely misunderstand that the relationship with the soul/anima is the true vehicle for this "knowing of God".  The message of the anima work is that one must feel and love God or the Self before any gnosis can occur.  The union of ego and Self does not come in the arena of mind, and although Jung's soul figure does try to convince him that this work is about love (not knowledge or enlightenment or transcendence), Jung can accept this only abstractly and intellectually.  He cannot erotically and Erotically unite with the Self-as-anima because he keeps looking for a patriarchal god figure, something more egoic, more like him and not so Other.

The Jung at the end of the Red Book is no more in touch with his feeling than he was at the beginning.  In fact, he seems significantly less so, because not only do his soul figures become demonized and perverted by the end, he actually finishes the Red Book (as if this could somehow make sense or be the fruit born from all that went before!) with the Seven Sermons to the Dead.  The Sermons are pure metaphysics, Gnostic theology, hierarchies of form in the Godhead.  There is nothing feeling-oriented about them at all.  They are pure "thinking type" texts, the thinking function at its most transcendentally inflated and detached from the earth of its feeling.

To the degree that Jung conceived individuation as some kind of integration of the inferior function or the formation of a more valuating relationship to that function, the process recorded in the Red Book is an abortion.  Without doubt, the thrust of the book's mysticism is all about such an integration/valuation . . . but Jung never accomplishes this in a tangible way.  We cannot say that he has become either more feeling or more conscious of his feeling intelligence as complex and valuable by the end of the book.  He does peak somewhere along the way.  It seems like he is making slow progress and may eventually "get it".  But the last chapter (Scrutinies) marks a distinct retreat into thinking type inflation and devaluation of its other.

This seems to bring to mockery Jung's notion of the transcendent function.  I've always felt that this concept was, although not really incorrect, at least overly mystified and woolly.  Jung's Red Book fantasies portray much of the transformative mysticism, dance out the usual symbols of transformation, but for me the whole process of this mystical transformation stayed almost entirely within the realm (and the grip) of the thinking function.  As he was contaminated with the numinousness of these images he may have felt like he was transforming, but I could detect no real evidence that any transformation of perspective had occurred.

Of course, this is not to say that Jung's individuation process stopped with the journeys recorded in the Red Book.  He lived (I believe) more than 30 years after he stopped working on the Red Book.  Also, it has been my experience that individuation events (like the mystical hazings of the Red Book) become more meaningful as time passes and one is able to language and process the experience better and in more practical ways.  These transformations feel immense when they occur, but then we go back to our everyday lives and find that we have not become gods nor devised any significantly better living strategies.  The real grunt work is done after we detach from the breast of the numinous . . . even as it feels much more mundane and terribly slow and small.

But, despite the inevitability that Jung continued to individuate in ways after his Red Book experience, those flaws that mark his failure to individuate or adequately valuate his inferior function (and soul) depicted in the Red Book always in some way remained a part of his theories.  Even his late works like Aion and Mysterium Coniunctionis bear the indications that those wounds that remained exposed at the end of the Red Book were still bleeding and unhealed.

Jung notes in his unfinished epilogue to the Red Book that he turned away from the project when he discovered alchemy, whose symbol system better allowed him to make sense of his inner world.  And yet, I detect in Jung's alchemical writing the same kinds of mistakes and failures of valuation he made in the Red Book.  Actually, the Red Book is extremely alchemical even preceding Jung's alchemical studies.  It gets at least one of Jung's mistakes with alchemy correct.  Namely, it shows that the Nigredo comes after the Coniunctio . . . or that the Coniunctio leads directly to the Nigredo.  In most of Jung's alchemical writings, the Nigredo is made to seem like a primary state of loss of soul or depression from which individuation then can begin.  This is sometimes more implied than directly expressed by Jung, but as I have written numerous times previously, this is a grievous and unforgivable error . . . even if it is only implied.  It has enabled Jungians to see every depressive introduction to the archetypal or instinctual unconscious as a "Nigredo experience".  But the true alchemical Nigredo is in fact a rather advanced mystical achievement dependent upon enormous sacrifices and painful differentiations and revaluations and enantiodromias.  The Blackening stage of the Nigredo is actually the first forged state of the Philosopher's Stone.  It is not merely the initial dissolution or dissent into the Mercurial bath.

Jungians (who have continued to misuse this symbol in their psychology and metaphor making) have introduced and perverted a mysticism in service of an indoctrinating process.  It is, to me, not only an intellectual and scholarly mistake, but an ethical failure.

Of course, no true Nigredo is depicted in Jung's Red Book (or it wouldn't be a failed individuation process).  There are plenty of deaths and rebirths, descents and ascents, treks through desert and hell.  And aspects of the Nigredo are intimated in the symbols flashing over the pages.  But it never completely feels right to me.  Jung fails to valuate the Other (as anima) and join with it . . . so he cannot find the Coniunctio or truly understand that its sacrifice means both the sacrifice of his newly valued anima (which is to be valued above all other things if the Coniunctio is to ever have the teeth it needs to be a valid threshold experience) and of his newly emergent heroism.  And if there is no true Coniunctio, there can be no Nigredo . . . which is the product of the Coniunctio.

These failings that come under the captivity of the thinking function may also be directly related to one particular fact.  Namely, that the Red Book (though it mentions dreams occasionally) is entirely an active imagination exercise.  Its fantasies develop out of a fully conscious Jung.  And even if that consciousness is relaxed somewhat in order to allow fantasies to well up, the power of consciousness to translate and direct images is still significant.  I have always felt skeptical about active imagination as a provider of genuine individuation material.  And I say that even as a poet and artist myself.  So I know that the instinctual Self can find its way into art . . . as can our autonomous obsessions and complexes.  In my experience, the Self enters conscious creation only in unexpected ways.  We might devise an active imagination fantasy in which we make a token sacrifice in the hope of conjuring a god, and then the god shows up where we can capture or converse with it.

But in art, we cannot call the gods to action with our will or even our need.  We can only make significant openings in ourselves, set out the right kinds of feasts, show the right kind of hospitality.  And this is done through various convolutions and accidents and slips of control . . . abaissment du niveau mental.  The gods only appear in ways we do not dictate.  And it is quite likely that we will not recognize them at first, even that we will despise and reject them in the form they appear.  Jung makes use of the story of Philemon and Baucis, who invited the disguised gods into their humble home and cooked their only goose for these strangers.  He (or maybe something below the surface in him) is on the right track with this symbol, but what is not adequately expressed by Jung is that, in the city of our psyche, there is only one small voice of hesitant valuation, one little impoverished couple, one Philemon and Baucis.  The rest of us rejects the gods, cannot ever see the gods, and even probably hates the gods.

We cannot become the great valuators of the gods (the Self), knowing them, anticipating them, conjuring them with magic (Jung makes Philemon a magician with such powers!).  We have to settle for very subtle, very occasional signs that must practically be divined.  Even to grant bodies, voices, and personages to affective dynamics of the Self system can be to force captivity and therefore devaluation upon the gods.  Perhaps some relative innocent could get away with asking a god to take human form and join a conversation, but Jung was a genius, a man of extremely powerful intellect.  That brilliance leaves substantially less room for the gods to slip into the manikins Jung molds.

It seems to me that conducting a mystical transformation through active imagination is simply too precarious, involves too much control, too much ego.  This sort of thing must be done through dream work or through ritual.  I can see a creative ritual in which some monument or offering is erected ceremonially to a mystical encounter of the past.  And the Red Book claims to be that.  But it is just so difficult to give these dialogs and fantasies utterly over to the unconscious, especially for a modern, very brilliant, very knowledgeable, but very lopsidedly "thinking type" man like Jung.  He just exerts too much egoic power over the theater to allow it to put on the divine play.

And yet, he does surprisingly well, considering.  It does seem to me that the gods and the Self process slip onto and off the stage.  They can occasionally be glimpsed behind the figures in the fantasies they have been impressed into playing.  At least until "Scrutinies", in which the presence of an Otherness seems to finally disappear altogether.  Still, even before that, it seemed to me that Jung's narrator was able to assert too much control over the dynamics of the encounters, and his projected others only got to say what it was he was willing to allow them to say most of the time.

I am also speaking from a personal prejudice here, because I have had a very (strikingly) similar experience to that recorded in the Red Book, but mine was done through dream work.  I never trusted my own conscious imagination and intellect to lead me or conjure true encounters with my soul (even as I hungered to be able to have such sorcery at the time).  What I call my anima work experience took place in a dream cycle, and the anima figures had total autonomy . . . while even my dream ego belongs to the construction of the dream and not my conscious will.  In the inevitable comparison between this dream cycle and the Red Book, I can't help but see that the dream sequence depicted a much more elegant and less muddled construction of the anima work.  It took me many years to even begin to be able to language that experience functionally, but even from the middle of the dream sequence, I had learned to valuate my anima.  And I never experienced any sort of deception or dangerous seduction from these anima figures.  There was never anything I had to resist, to fight off from the anima in a "manly fashion".  (I did have one dream in which an impostor-anima tried to emasculate me, but a genuine anima figure arrived before this happened and told me I shouldn't submit to it.  Anima Work Dream #4, Coniunctio and Sacrifice).

It makes me think that the complexity and complication (and length) of the Red Book is largely a product of Jung's resistance to and lack of valuation for his anima or soul.  By this resistance, he devised hell after hell to traverse, grand puzzle and grand temptation after grand puzzle and temptation.  But there is no puzzle to solve, no dangerous temptation to resist in the anima.  One merely commits oneself to valuing this figure and process utterly, essentially falling "madly" in love with her.  And then one refines that love and valuation, stripping away selfishness and control of the Other, demand that the Other provide, save, or complete the ego.  The anima work progresses on the quality of the heroic ego's love for the anima . . . and concludes only when the heroic ego comes to see that the ultimate state of love is one in which the desire for the Other to be connected to or even within oneself is seen through and recognized as a desire for that Other to provide for the ego.  To love is to ask (or demand) no providence.  It is to facilitate the Other in its specific uniqueness and drive . . . and not blindly or out of unquestioning belief, but out of a deep knowing of the Other's needs and potentials.

At that point, the initial model of romantic love can segue into the facilitating, valuating love of the Self.  Therefore, the animi-as-romantic-partner and twin or soul mate is relinquished and depotentiated, as is the heroic sense of self that woos that kind of partner.  What seemed at first like it would be a glorious Coniunctio, a hieros gamos, becomes instead an acceptance that ego and Self are and must be in some sense divided and differentiated in order to fulfill the deepest love.  This division is not a distancing, but a sense that it is relationship (meaning a self and an other) that is the engine of the personality, not transcendence or becoming or oneness.

In the Red Book, Jung never stops crying out, "Save me, teach me, forgive me, anoint me, obey me".  But he is generally not very responsible with what he does and says to the representatives of the Self.  And he can imagine himself in the role of receiver or demander or thief or murderer (thief of another's life or soul) . . . but as giver, facilitator, intentional healer, as one who treats the other in an enabling or constructive way, Jung is significantly impotent.  This is at times pointed out to him by his soul . . . but he doesn't get it.  And eventually he becomes Demonic and powerful enough to intellectualize, pervert, and mystify the soul's voice, effectively neutering the functional and Self-driven Otherness in his psyche.

That description makes hims sound like a fiend . . . and I don't think that was the case.  In fact, what Jung devised incredible devious and sophisticated ways to achieve and rationalize, most people do without even thinking.  They don't suffer guilt for the murder of their gods.  They are so detached from ever valuating the Self or the Other.  Jung's battle with valuation of this Other was a testament to his sense of ethics.  But in the end, after winning many small but important compromises at the negotiating table, he was simply conquered by the Demon.  But at least he was conquered and did not freely give himself to the Demon with excitement and desire like most people do.  Those compromises he won allowed him to imagine and understand the processes of individuation and mystical initiation very thoroughly (although not completely) on a thinking level.  His contribution won from these compromises is extremely important, and it gives us a way into this citadel of Self.  It may only be a way paved with words and intellectualized thoughts, but it is a way.  And if one has a facility with language, an ability to not fall into transfixed fixed revery at big words and ideas but to put them to use, make them practical, survivable, adaptable, changeable, this tunnel Jung constructed is a great boon, a red carpet rolled out for us to stroll easily down, that ushers us functionally in.

It is more as a mysticism that Jung's psychology flounders.  As a psychology and an attempt at a science of soul, it offers great possibilities.  It is a wonderful foundation and first step, and as a science, it lends itself to being revised logically and as needed.  But as a dogma, as a fully elaborated way and model of individuation, what Jung left us is poisoned.  Not incurably so, at least I hope.  But it is infected.  And to the degree that we use Jungianism as a mysticism and not a science (which is considerable and, I think, even underestimated by those who claim to resist and dislike Jungianism's mysticisms), we perpetuate the Jungian Disease.

Still, I feel grateful for having some truly useful foundations and for having a diseased Jungianness to treat.  It is a great blessing to have something treatable at hand, because many indoctrinated Jungians are analysts.  They are better equipped than we tend to imagine for the treatment and even redemption of the Jungian tribal soul.  But our pride and poisoned mysticism clouds this for us.

I will leave this emotive response off here.  And although I only give the most fleeting valuation of the blessing of treatability the Red Book offers in the previous paragraph (after excoriating Jung for his devaluations of the Other in the many words preceding), I do want to reiterate that this treatability is what most stuck with me in the end.  Yes, the road ahead is intimidating . . . and I have little faith in the Jungian ability to diagnose and treat the Jungian complex effectively.  But the Red Book's depiction of disease illuminates the structure and origins of this disease.  It makes treatment possible and logical.  At this point, Jung and his personal demons no longer stand in the way of Jungian treatment of the tribe and the progressive revisioning of analytical psychology.  Now, only the Jungian demons we have inherited remain.  The battle with these demons has come down from the unreachable ethereal heavens and relcoated itself into our individual psyches.  We fight, therefore, with ourselves to effectively treat Jungianism.  And although these fights with ourselves are the easiest ones to lose . . . they also make victory a possibility.


Reflections on “Sapsorrow”: Differentiating the Syzygy in Fairytales

I just rewatched the episode, "Sapsorrow", from Jim Henson's Storyteller and was reminded of how the conventional Jungian paradigms for fairytale interpretation stuggle to differentiate which character in stories should be labeled the hero and which the animi figure.  This confusion is especially common to a whole category of folktales known as "The Father Who Wanted to Marry His Daughter" or Aarne-Thompson-Uther Type 510B (according to Ashliman's site).  See also "Donkey Skin" and its variants at Sur La Lune.  The story, "Allerleirauh" is very similar to "Sapsorrow".

Here we see a young woman who is compelled to marry her father and must escape this fate with various ruses (in "Sapsorrow", this involves the request of three fabulous dresses before she agrees to wed).  After the original ruses don't manage to dissuade the father, the woman disguises herself in tatters or animal skins and runs away, only to become employed as a lowly kitchen maid in a far away kingdom.  In this new kingdom she finds ways to "disguise" herself as the beautiful princess she really is to sneak out to dance with the prince or king (in other variants she cooks soup or bakes cakes for the prince/king).  This prince eventually figures out that the lowly kitchen maid clad in her animal skins is actually the beautiful but elusive princess, and they marry.

It occurred to me while watching Sapsorrow that most Jungians would probably see the story as a heroine tale, i.e., one in which the protagonist (princess) corresponds to the ego-as-hero, while perhaps the prince of the new kingdom would be an animus figure.  Although it is foolish to ever say in such psychologized interpretations of folktales that one interpretation is definitively correct while another is clearly wrong, I would have to disagree with what I suspect to be the conventional Jungian way of looking at the dynamic of the Syzygy.

It is seductive to think of the protagonist in "Sapsorrow" as the "hero" or ego character, since the story completely revolves around her and portrays her perspective.  But I would argue that this is not the best rule of thumb for understanding the figures of the Syzygy in folktales.  It is not always who the storyteller dwells most on that is the archetypal hero, I think, and it is not the distant partner of the protagonist that is always the animi figure.  I propose a different rule of interpretation (not meant to be free from exceptions, but still generally more valid than the conventional Jungian perspective): in the Syzygy of folktales, there is a devalued figure who is in some way "enchanted" and there is another character who learns to see value in or valuate the devalued character.  The devalued figure to be redeemed is the animi, and the valuating character is the hero.

This may seem a bit counterintuitive to Jungians at first, but after we learn how to look at tales through this lens, I think we will come to see how much it increases the psychological clarity in the interpretive process.  Beyond this, it helps us understand something fundamental about the psychology of individuation, which (as I have often remarked) is a process of valuation (the valuation of Otherness or non-egoness).  The attractiveness and potential value of the Other is symbolized by the animi figure, a premonition or prefiguration of the Self as it transitions (in the ego's perspective) from a devalued to an invaluable and essential entity.  Or we could see the animi as a representation of the Self's instinctual relationality or Eros.  The animi lets the ego understand how the Self can be related to and how the Self can relate to others through the ego (the heroic ego, generally speaking).

Interpreting Syzygy/individuation folktales through the lens of valuated and valuator offers us a much more reliable and easily-applied paradigm than the ever-confusing Demon/Self differentiations necessary in many tales require.  That is, it is much easier to suss out which character is the hero and which the animi than it is to determine (with desired clarity) what is Demonic and what Self-driven in the tale's characters.  Sometimes the Demon is a clear character unto itself in a fairytale, but other times, the Demon is an aspect of an animi figure (i.e., its enchantment).  Then, in many tales, no clear differentiation is made.  If these figures can be defined at all, we may have to resort to an approach of abstracting traits, running the risk of "reading into" the text something not at all indicated by the text itself.

Of course, non-advocates of the psychological interpretation of fairytales think that all psychologizations are "readings into", but a thorough study of fairytale motifs and variations definitely shows form and type/archetype (which is why folklorists have systems of classification like the Arne-Thompson).  What non-psychological folklorists don't include in their interpretations and classifications of the texts is how these stories and themes make us feel (or what they make us think, how they make us react).  This is considered beside the point.  But of course to psychologists, there can be no separation between a text and how we are inclined to react to it, its psychic resonance.  All meaning and human value in a text is a matter of how we are inclined to react to it.  A very significant (and mysterious) facet of folktales is why we enjoy them so much and keep passing them on in the retelling.  Why do they enchant us so?  These tales derive their form from the pleasure and fascination audience and tellers feel in relating to them.  Why does one re-teller make a specific edit of the version she or he learned?  Why does a listener enjoy one motif or theme more than another?  These largely unconscious and decidedly "collective" gut reactions are the true authors of folktales.  I.e., collective subconscious or unconscious psychology creates folktales (more so than any other single influence).  Only a "hardened" academic has the luxury or pathology of looking at texts as representations of abstract categories.  This is obviously a displacement of the object of study from its natural habitat.  And that natural habitat, I would argue, is psychological . . . and more specifically, it is the habitat of instinctual or depth psychology, the psychology of the dynamic, complex self-organizing process of memory, cognition, or psyche.  Which is why fairytales have so much in common with dreams, which are also unconscious, dynamic, complex self-organizations of memory.

In Sapsorrow, the "enchantment" the princess-anima suffers from is a matter of her father wanting to marry her.  I'm not sure we should psychologize this as we are no doubt tempted to (the psychoanalyst in us just can't resist the chance to pathologize).  Is this motif meant to suggest a traumatizing father-daughter incest?  Maybe, but I'm not entirely convinced this is how we should look at it.  Another element of the motif is that the mother of the princess was extremely beautiful, but she died and made her husband promise that he would only remarry someone as beautiful as her (or more so).  No one across the land qualifies except the princess.  No incest or abuse is actually portrayed in most of these stories, so we would have to take a "Freudian" interpretation to see it there (i.e., the fairytales are disguising the more traumatic, sexual nature with protective symbols).

But all we are really told is that the father sees his dead wife's beauty in his daughter and is "aroused" by it.  He recognizes her sexuality and doesn't know how to healthily relate to it.  We are not told that he abuses or seduces her.  Her enchantment and Fall into devaluation (her kitchen maid job and animal skins) come as a result of the sacrifice of and flight from her father's incestuous desires (inability to relate to her as a sexual being that is yet inappropriate to desire sexually).  If the princess represented the ego, we might say that her father projected his eroticized anima onto his daughter, and perhaps also blamed her for some kind of "inappropriate" sexuality unjustly.  It is like a form of sexual possession, where the father becomes the keeper of the daughter's sexuality.  In many romantic relationships as well as father/daughter relationships, there is a conventional desire in the man (and also in the woman) to possess the other's sexuality.  The man projects his vulnerability and fragility and impotence into the woman's sexuality and then feels he must dissociate and imprison it so that it is not violated by anyone else.  Even when the father is dissociating and trying to imprison his daughter's sexuality while not fully realizing he is sexually possessing her, the dynamic is the same.

But if the princess is an anima and not an ego figure, what do we make of the relationship with her father?  One way of looking at it is that the father of the anima would be the Self, and the incestuous father/daughter (or Self/anima) relationship might correspond to a state of psychological development in which the anima has not yet been recognized, the ego has not found value in either the anima or in the heroic attitude.  The anima is a mere hint or shadow in the dark abyss of the Self, utterly indistinct.  The Father-Self has not "given up" his Daughter-Anima to a suitable Other (the heroic ego) . . . as no suitable Other has yet emerged.  So the anima begins to grow "sexual" while still in the charge of her Father, resulting in incestuous tension between them and a "need" for heroic redemption by a suitable other.  If we could imagine the anima's perspective on this state, it might be one in which "she" has not been freed or differentiated from this abysmal Father-Self or "unconscious".  In that state, the Self is not only indistinct, seemingly chaotic, probably "dangerous", but it is also conflated with the Demon, with the instinctual imprinting (or mis-imprinting) with the tribe or culture.  The animi, when it emerges, is like a mirror or egoic/conscious recognition that the sexualized anima must be freed from the incestuous Father relationship and be joined to a suitable partner.  So the princess in our tales recognizes the problem of the father's incestuous intentions just as we might consciously recognize the incest taboo.  But the father does not recognize this.  He is unconscious, undifferentiated.  He is like the Old Testament Yahweh.  He will not differentiate himself, but needs the conceptualizing or humanizing heroic ego (or Syzygy) to do this individuating work (much as Jung suggests in his Answer to Job).  We are of course using metaphors here to describe a transitional psychodynamic of adolescent movement away from the Infant/Parent dynamic and toward the adult/heroic or tribe member/tribe or facilitator/facilitated dynamic where the egoic attitude shifts from the focus on narcissistic self-protection to devotional Other-facilitation (or system-facilitation).  This transition is an extremely laborious birthing process where transformational pain bears down on the individual, who is overwhelmed, defeated, dissolved and must rely not on egoic will and knowing but on the instinctual process and its sense of "Knowing".  That is, we cannot know how we survive this threshold experience.  We just do . . . or, more frequently today, we abort the transformation and come to live Demonically in Bad Faith, perpetuating and disguising our infantile adolescent attitudes.

To put it another way . . . if the anima is a representation of the Self's value-laden attractiveness or Eros, what and how does that Eros love before it loves the heroic ego?  What does the ego love or what defines egoic relatedness before the animi work begins?  Well, before the animi work or before the emergence of the animi (or Syzygy), an individual's Eros is significantly colored by a Child/Parent relationality.  I.e., what the individual wants from Others is in many ways like what a child wants from a parent.  Providence, narcissistic mirroring, the ability to be an utterly self-contained "me" without any hindrance from Otherness (the idea that "me" is something entirely apart from others or from relationships or that the unrelated "me" is something that should be preserved in some kind of specimen jar or glass coffin or other impenetrable prison . . . the idea that a "me" is something undynamic and unconnected).  So just as the egoic son might want some form of mothering out of his relationality, couldn't this be reflected or shadowed by an undifferentiated anima incestuously desired by her father?

I don't mean to propose this interpretation of the father's desire to marry his daughter in these folktales is the absolutely correct one.  There are other, equally valid ways to interpret this (although I won't pursue them here).  My most rational and conservative answer would be that it is impossible to perfectly map the father/daughter relationship either to incestuous abuse and seduction or to the Father-Self of the undifferentiated anima.  Either interpretation requires creation and conceptualization.

The prince of the new kingdom that shows up in the second act, though, is a legitimate partner and Other to the princess.  He struggles with her valuation and with his tendency to not look deeper than appearances.  But he does recognize her, even from their first encounter.  She is not a replacement for her mother, but a wholly unique if bizarre and unattractive creature.  And he has no difficulty being attracted to her when she is in her royal glory and fancy dresses.  In all of the stories with this motif, he valuates her piece by piece . . . but doesn't understand that all these features are attached to one person, one entity.

The prince in many of these tales doesn't get fleshed out very much.  His main claim to heroism is his curiosity regarding the enchanted princess (who is soundly abused and dismissed by everyone else) and his eventual ability to valuate and redeem her enough to allow her to fully integrate herself into one valuated being.  She does most of the work, while he acts more or less according to his princely station.  This is nothing like the heroic (Self-derived) acts of the hunter's wife in Nixie of the Mill-Pond (see my extensive analysis of this story on the forum) or in many other stories where the hero sets out on an "impossible" quest for redemption of the animi.  We could say he is a pretty weak hero, but he is the valuator.

I have to confess that I prefer my fairytale heroes to be a little cleverer and more complex than these princes are, but not every fairytale depicting the individuation process is saying the same thing about the individuation process.  Sometimes individuation seems a heroic enterprise . . . the ego alchemically creates many golden things and brings conscious valuation to the darkened Otherness of the unconscious.  But that is only one way of looking at the animi work, and if it is the only way one looks at the animi work, some kind of inflation is afoot.  Anyone who has been embroiled in the animi work knows (or in complete honesty must admit) that the "magical" or alchemical transformations and revelations that come (or seems to come) are not willed by the ego.  It is only in heroic Foolishness that the animi work progresses . . . and this means relinquishing control over the process.  But the process is instinctually driven, and it will organize itself only as well as the ego is able to relinquish control over the personality or obedience to the Demon.

Part of the ego is always a hapless and superficial prince during the anima work.  The ego never becomes the hero, it can only ever incorporate and valuate the heroic attitude into its complex of voices.  As the animi work progresses, we are borne along by the seat of our pants . . . and often against the will and sense of decency or rationality of our ego.  When the ego mistakes itself for a version of the hero sans any personal shadow, inflation has set in and the Demon has possessed the ego by wearing the hero's costume.

Many fairytales are about heroes primarily, about the heroic journey . . . but many other fairytales are more about the fascinating animi figure, the object of obsession during the animi work.  These are two ways of looking at the same process.

I will just end with one more thought in a similar vein.  There is a very good reason for the difficulty we might have when interpreting fairytales and deciding which character is a hero figure and which an animi figure.  The two halves of the Syzygy are on a path of increased twinning of each other.  This is not (as many of the mystical or spiritualistic persuasion have mistaken it) indicative of a twinning between ego and Self, in my opinion.  There are two major dimensions to the animi.  On one hand they are a prefiguration of the Self, but on the other hand, they represent all the valuated personality traits that remain stuck in the personal shadow, unintegrated by the ego.  As the animi work progresses, the ego brings more and more of these valuated traits or attitudes into consciousness and its sense of identity.  As this takes place, what remains of the animi may manifest as increasingly Self-like or divine.

Eventually, one is faced with removal of the last veil, which generally has something to do with relinquishing the attitude of providence/dependence on the Self.  The Self does not exist to drive and buoy up the ego.  What the animi work eventually shows us is that the ego exists to facilitate the Self.  The Self as Parent gives way to the Self as partner . . . and the animi represents the dynamic process by which this is achieved.  It is not uncommon to see folktales and dreams in which a Self figure is served or facilitated by an animi figure.  The animi is the envoy and translator of the Self.  But at the conclusion of the animi work, the heroic ego (which now houses at least some preliminary form of the reunited Syzygy) takes on the role the animi previously played.  The heroic ego must learn to be the envoy and translator of the Self, the Self's languager.  Which means that the ego must develop a creative language through which the Self can relate or through which instinctuality can imprint functionally with the environment.  This Logos is a conceptualization that is designed (and continuously revised) to smooth over the disconnect between instinct and modern environment.  Harmonize would be too extreme a word, but some kind of equilibrium is sought after by the Self and in the construction of the Logos.

The individual builds such a Logos merely by valuating and paying close attention to the reactions of the Self to various egoic propositions and "offerings".  This ancient archetypal religiosity takes on a very different shape in our modern world, but instinctually or foundationally, it is quintessentially human.  The main difference between us moderns and tribalists in this regard is that we must utilize the organ of individuated consciousness to conceptualize an adequate (i.e., Self-facilitating) Logos, whereas a healthy tribal dynamic allows for Self-facilitation to be largely unconscious and associated with (imprinted with) tribal Eros.  It is modern society that demands this complex individuation from us as a survival mechanism . . . and if we grew up and lived in a tribal society, we would have little use for this modern individuation process (unless we were shamans).

So we are likely to eventually come to see the animi's role in the psyche and relationship to the Self as heroic . . . and eventually we will have this heroic burden thrust upon us (if we do not abort the animi work process).  And just as the hero valuates and redeems the animi from the Demon and the darkness of the unconscious psyche, the animi's interest in and love for the heroic ego allows the heroic attitude to be valuated, and this valuates the ego to some degree, in turn.

Therefore the "rule" of folktale interpretation I proposed does have foreseeable limitations where the characters of the Syzygy in a story are very much twins.  But even in these circumstances, the direction of primary valuation usually flows from one character to the other, from hero to animi.  At worst, the interpreter will have to develop a creative interpretation of this valuation dynamic rather than resorting to a rule of thumb or some equivalent of a symbol dictionary or manual of interpretive theory.  The only real problem with that scenario is that, from what I've seen, the ability to make such creative, outside-the-textbook interpretations is dependent on having a source of reference for the psychological dynamics in one's personal experience.  One needs a star to steer by to do more than wildly guess or follow rules.  It is hard to see these patterns before the patterns have established themselves within oneself.  After these patterns become familiar touch stones, the folktale texts suddenly become much more ordered and sensible.  Otherwise, there is only some foreign, abstract "law" to which we are referring as a model, and this will only have minimal use in the interpretation of symbolic individuation narratives.  We must know (to some degree) what "should" come next in a process of individuation before we fully understand what has happened in the folktale narrative.  If we don't have a functional individuation paradigm to work from (and an intuitive sense or feeling about its dynamic form and logic), the interpretation of fairytales can be a matter of getting lost in the woods (where we must be fortunate enough to receive the magical guidance of something unconscious and Other).


Differentiating the Shadow: Evil and the Demonic

Revisiting Evil and the Demonic

In previous installments, I have argued against the common Jungian notion that there is an archetypal or instinctual "evil" in the Self.  Without revising that position I would like to address a way in which we could say that evil has something like its own archetype.  I see these opinions as compatible, because I don't define archetype as something innate and inherited, but rather as an abstracted categorization of psychic experiences that usually suggest inherent, structural aspects of the psyche (sometimes indirectly).  But sometimes what is both "archaic" and "typical" is not so much instinctual/biological as it is cultural but always related to instinctual processes, perhaps in an emergent way.  If we observe the behavior of the Demon across numerous individuals (and especially in those who have suffered early traumas), we will note a pattern of behavior that we would certainly call amoral . . . and probably call sociopathic (i.e., in the representation of the Demon's behavior, not necessarily the individual's).  In representations of the Demon, we will see murder, senseless brutality, terrorizing, absence of empathy, sadism, dehumanizing and vicious hatred, etc.  Generally, these are classic (and probably typical) figurations of what we would call evil.  Of course, we also tend to call violations of tribal Eros (taboo-breaking, god-disrespecting, atheism, heresy, etc.) evil . . . but today, we usually better see the tribal relativism in these "sins".

If the Demon is or typically exhibits evil, where does its evil come from?  The danger I mentioned above of seeing evil or other negative and destructive traits as inherent and biological/instinctual should be reexamined as we delve into this issue.  Does the Demon adapt its propensity for evil from some primal instinctuality in us?  Unlikely, since (again) we don't see the aggressive and un-empathic behaviors of animals as "evil" (traumatized and "neurotic" animals, notably, could be considered capable of evil at times) . . . and our instincts are not significantly different than those of other primates (or mammals in general).  Where then does the evil of the Demon come from?  The obvious alternative to instinct is, of course, society.  But this is a complex matter and, mishandled, it can lead us to a utopian naturalism with its neo-primitive pitfalls and romantic noble savagery.  It is too simplistic and ultimately unfair to call society "evil" . . . and the way in which it can be seen as "evil-making" is extremely complex.

Still, that is the very basic position I will take.  But before I explore that in more detail, I would like to bring back into focus the idea that morality is relative, and that we do not exhibit universal morality, but rather, selective morality.  What we consider "wrong" to do to members of our own tribe, we might not see as amoral when committed against a member of another tribe.  If not tribe, than species.  We do unspeakable things to other species that we would not find conscionable to do to other human beings.  Also, we often lose all sense of our morality when acting within complex systems.  We tend to treat our environment, ecosystems, and planet as if they can abide all the destructive waste we throw at them.  Or else, we mistreat an ecosystem that we live in in a way that doesn't affect us directly, but has severe effects on our neighbors or the other species involved in that ecosystem.  I am not simply wagging my finger at us.  I mean mostly to say that morality is not innately universal . . . and the empathy and ethicality we reserve for others is entirely a product of how "like-me" they are (or we can imagine them to be).  We have evolved to behave ethically only toward those we consider "like-me".

So there is a kind of precedent in our psychic makeup for evil-doing.  But this evil-doing must develop indirectly as a product of our restricted definition of what constitutes an Us (or a Me) and a Them.  We set these arbitrary restrictions based primarily on our socialization and experience of Otherness.  If we grow up in a tribe where people of a certain ethnicity or skin color or social demographic or religion are deemed Other, then we will probably fail or at least struggle to apply our full sense of empathy and ethics to them.  But if we develop a sense of Otherness that is more empathic and can conceptualize others in a way that is "like-me", then our ethics can be applied more universally.  The primary human ethics-making factor, then, is conceptualization.  And the Demon is likely to strangulate this ethical conceptualizing as much as possible, exploiting the loophole of our innate tribalism.  The problem, after all, of seeing many different kinds of others as "like-me" is that we must then have more complex and far-reaching relationality with these others.  They must be allowed to affect us . . . and the Demon hates to be affected by any Otherness.  So, universalizing movements of conceptualized ethics are themselves anti-Demonic . . . and will therefore be resisted by the Demon.

This characterization of the Demon suggests that the introjected socialization or Demonic meme that civilization presents individuals with is inhuman and unempathic ("evil") . . . which would make it a rather startling contrast to our "intuition" that civilization deconditions innate and instinctual predispositions toward evil ("original sin").  If it is the case that civilization is the major force behind evil-making, how is it that civilization becomes so evil?  Or how is it that the net of culture that feeds back into us seems to catch the "evil" dispositions more so than the "good"?  I don't mean to suggest that all good is absent in modern society . . . but it is evil and the Demon I am presently concerned with.  The simple answer is that we have not been constructing our culture very ethically . . . and that this lapse of ethics in cultural creation has been going on for a long time, gradually compounding the lack of ethics.  Why this might be the case is very complex and open to substantial argument.  My take is that this is part of what I've been calling the Problem of the Modern.  In short, we no longer live in our environment of evolutionary adaptedness and the kind of tribal culture we co-evolved with and within.

Demon as Patriarchy

In the modern environment, we no longer feed culture with enough of the behaviors and attitudes that facilitate a model of the tribe as Self-system.  I don't think this is really some kind of degeneracy.  It is merely a side-effect of the increasing complexification and emergence in our cultural formation.  I associate much of this cultural transformation with what I'll (perhaps provocatively . . . or else muddily) call patriarchy.  Therefore, I associate the rise of modernism with the rise of patriarchy.  We have heard the patriarchy-bashing arguments a great deal over the last decades, especially from left-leaning, university-stationed humanists of "postmodern" bent.  Even as I will go on to very literally Demonize patriarchy, I don't wish to entirely align myself with the brand of quasi-feminist, purportedly "multicultural" so-called liberalism that has been a dominant elite cultural dogma in recent years.  I'm not saying I see it as wholly wrong-headed or corrupt, but it is largely superficial, unpsychological, and inadequate.  Primarily, it misunderstands the "complex" behind patriarchy, and fallaciously tries to disown patriarchy's Demons onto designated others (who must then be labeled as offenders).  Regardless of the offenses (both legitimate and projected) of these "patriarchs", I see the real problem as lying in patriarchal acculturation . . . a thing to which we are all subject . . . and not in the abuses of "a few bad apples".  The problem, in other words, is systemic . . . and it is perpetuated just as much by "feminists" as it is by "masculinists".  We would do well, I feel, to avoid the tribalistic trap of such anti-patriarchal postmodernism that allows unexamined tribal hostility at the Other to be projected on specific demographics and mindsets.

That said, there is a very good reason that most (but certainly not all) representations of the Demon (in men and in women) are male.  This more common maleness in the Demon has led to a great deal of Jungian nonsense about an archetype of the "negative animus".  This "negative animus" idea (still so prevalent in Jungianisms of all stripes) is not absolutely without basis in data, but it fails (as Jungian anima and animus theory always has) to effectively differentiate cultural associations from instinctual/biological representations.  The Demon is usually a man, because the Demon is characterized by patriarchy.  It is an introject of patriarchy (or a specific aspect of patriarchy).  But to understand what this really means (or why it is), we have to have a better psychological understanding of patriarchy than we generally do today.  The study of the Demon can, I would argue, help us understand the psychology of patriarchy (and modernism) because the Demon is patriarchy distilled into an agentic personification.  If everything that differentiated patriarchy from pre-modern, evolutionarily adapted tribalism was extracted, magnified, and given personhood, we would have the Demon.

An interesting parallel to the introjection of the Demon as its own personified agent can be seen in the subject matter of the the 2004 documentary film, The Corporation.  The filmmakers examine the issue of giving corporations in American legal rights that are normally only extended to human individuals.  They then catalog a list of "personality traits" of these corporate "individuals" (who are prohibited by law from behaving ethically when such ethics contradict the financial interest of the corporation's shareholders) and submit this to a DSM analysis of psychopathology.  The conclusion is that corporate individuals are sociopaths who are legally protected and empowered to be sociopathic by law.  This is a fairly clear example of how an introjected Demon, given agency, becomes "evil", even without that being the original social intention.

This is a huge topic and I don't intend to even attempt to do it justice here, but some more reflections are in order.  One of the primary things that characterizes patriarchal psychology is its emphasis on the conquering, "heroic" ego (always male) that rises above its instinctual means and limitations to subdue wild nature and convert it into sustaining resources (for patriarchy).  Again, I will have more to say about this in the article on differentiating the hero.  The myth of patriarchy is that nature is "dumb", is raw material to be used, and Man is semi-divine.  He is the great User, the inheritor of the earth.  He has divine right to take and change at whim . . . for his will is Good and Just.  Sometimes he has a god who sanctions this and other times he overthrows a god to triumph.  The great enemy (and victim) of patriarchy is the "Dark Feminine" . . . which essentially amounts to all that has the potential to castrate egoic man and quell his perpetual rise to power.  Patriarchal man has a very severe puer/senex dissociation in which "successful men" are senexes while "failed men" are usually puers.  But really, the whole patriarchal program is a puer flight that is tied to the Maternal Breast.  That Breast is a natural resource, the sense of providence and entitlement that sanctions patriarchal ascent and transcendence.  Natural resource can be almost anything used by patriarchal man to obtain and increase his power.  It could be lumber (Gilgamesh), or might (Hercules), or it could be the subjection or colonization of other peoples (Roman Empire, Britain, United States, and numerous other colonial powers).  The conceptualization of these "natural" resources shares a common mentality, which is that any suffering or damage caused in the name of employing these resources is justified by the end result: the empowerment of the conquering patriarchy.

I am painting in broad strokes here that emphasize the negativity of the patriarchal mindset, because these are the characteristics distilled into the Demon.  For the Demon, all "natural resources" in the personality should serve its perpetuation.  The ends (Demonic perpetuation as stasis or "perpetual erection") always justify the means, because Demonic colonization is the divine right of the Demon.  What is weak (by patriarchal standards) warrants abuse . . . and the victim is therefore to blame from the Demon's perspective.  Its sadism is part of its divine right.  The power and glory of the Demon must always be increased (to compensate for a lack of genuine strength), and its desire to bring stasis to the psyche is also like the erection of a vast monument to Demonic power . . . meant to strike awe and fear into any resistant bit of psyche.

I could go on and on about the terrible traits of patriarchal psychology, but I think we could fill in the blanks without assistance.  What matters is that this Demon is a monstrosity of our own (unconscious) creation.  And it creates all of us just as we have created (and continue to perpetuate) it.  We may not identify with the full blown Demon of patriarchy, but it is not hard to see how we are all subject to its introjection.  Of course, the female patriarch, who is both master and backstage uber-patron of the patriarchal Demon can also serve as the representation of the Demon.  We should not fall into the trap of thinking that the Demon only wears the male disguise.  There are many constructions of femininity that serve to perpetuate patriarchy just as much (and often much more invisibly or insidiously) as the full blown construction of the infantile king and patriarch sadistically dominating his subjects.  These Demonic constructs reside in all of us.  It is not just the "other guy" causing the problem.  We are carrying and perpetuating the Demon simply by being unconscious of patriarchal psychology . . . or simply by being modernized.


Differentiating the Shadow: Demon, Development, and Individuation

Why the Demon?

One other thing that occurred to me to question further in this construct of the Demon is what it is about us (humans) that makes us susceptible to this Demon and its possession of personality.  It's easy for this construction to sound very mythopoetic (using a term like "Demon", and all).  But I don't want this to be an abstraction that one must either believe or disbelieve.  It needs to be understood and understandable.  When I speak of Demonic "possession", I'm being colorful.  This is how it feels or seems to an observer (and to a sufferer who has begun differentiating the Demon).  But what really does Demonic possession mean . . . and how does it happen?  My guess is that this will make better and better sense the more we learn about the brain from neuroscientific studies.  The Demon is not only facilitated by our susceptibility to "mimetic" cultural indoctrination (which I don't see as innately insidious).  The introjection of the Demon must also be dependent on a psychic structure prone to rather hypertrophic self-protection.  What is it then about human personality that is so fragile and vulnerable that it would fairly easily give itself over to terroristic "protection"?

Infants and Affect

Of course, among all other animals our species is perhaps the one that produces the most helpless young.  Our babies are born essentially before they have finished developing in utero (compared to many other mammals).  For many years after birth, we are not very capable of survival or self-sustenance.  Even as adults, despite our ingenuity, we need others to help facilitate our survivability and confirm our validity and social contributions in a very powerful and tangible way.  That is, we can't just be parented for a few years and then released into the wild.  Throughout our whole lives we must rely on and relate to numerous others if we want to satisfy our self-interested needs.  The more we can successfully socialize with others, forming bonds and alliances and relationships of one kind or another, the more likely we are to be successful at "perpetuating ourselves" (both genetically and culturally).  The human ideal toward which our evolutionary process has driven us is one in which we are highly connected and related.  I think it is fairly likely and logical that our culture or the patterns of our sociality have co-evolved along with our genetics.

In other words, we have evolved a separated, non-material organ in our culture.  And as that organ has evolved and emerged, it has fed back into our biological evolution.  It is this co-developed environment in which we have adapted.  It is not in us like Platonic/Kantian/Jungian "pure forms", but we are biologically shaped as if we were meant to fit perfectly with this cultural/informational environment.  At least, mentally, we are . . .  (and when I speak of culture here, I mean something like original culture or tribal culture, not modern culture).  I don't know how this compares to other social or herd mammals, but our newborns take at least three years for their brains to "wire-up" and their synapses to be pruned to what is perhaps a most efficient state of functionality.  In that time, a massive environmental influence helps establish the individual structures of our brains.  That we would have vast and extensive "introjects" should not come as any surprise and would seem to be highly compatible with our scientific understanding of the brain.

The Demon seems to function like a program ("computer virus", perhaps) that hijacks the inevitable sense of helplessness and vulnerability which the ego forms around during our extensive childhoods.  That is, strategic self-protection and self-facilitation are the stuff from which the ego is made.  And so much of our personalities, our relationalities, are constructed during a period of severe disempowerment.  We learn so well what it is like to be weak and small and dependent on other, more powerful people . . . and therefore we learn first to develop a kind of empowerment that it based in this position of weakness, perhaps a kind of manipulation of others out of self-protection and self-enablement . . . or we fortify ourselves by flocking into more empowering identity groups.

But self-enabling, especially in infants and children, is also infused with Self-enabling or Self-facilitation.  The Self, I believe, represents a natural complex system that seeks to flourish and to flow into life, others, environment.  It is dynamic, adaptive and it genuinely requires access to connections, outlets, Eros.  The connectedness of a social/relational Eros provides avenues for the Self to be facilitated.  The ideal, I suppose, is for every individual to be engaged in a complex two-way (or multi-way) relationship with others and with the group or tribe.  The Self system in each individual does not want to be disenfranchised or cut off from others.  It needs to give and receive, to be a part of a greater whole as well as its own microcosmic whole.  That is the nature of our species.  It's a somewhat poetic, even slightly spiritualistic language to express it in . . . but there is a very legitimate and easily observed biological reality to this need to contribute to the group, to influence and be influence, to share one's sense of self and purpose with an adaptive survival task.  The dated, abstract term "libido", although it has fallen out of favor scientifically, is a metaphor for something complex ("quantum" or made of of unobservably small parts that by themselves do not add up to the whole they are part of) in the nature of dynamic, adaptive living that seeks (with a sense of "energy" or desire or drive) a functional state of organization that facilitates adaptive fitness for a group or genetic pool.  We don't understand what this is, but we can observe its effects (much like other complex, quantum behaviors in matter).  Psychologically, we need to call it something, even if that placeholder term is a poeticism.

The emerging ego personality mediates between the dynamic, "libidinous" Self-system (or principle of organization) and the environment and is co-constructed by these two powers.  The Demon is the introjected personality/attitude/intelligence/agent that represents environmental constructionism that is opposed to the Self's principle of organization (much environmental constructionism is necessary for the functional development and facilitation of the Self-system).  This is the major disagreement I have with Kalsched and numerous other Jungians and psychoanalysts.  The Demon is not of the Self, but is a kind of Anti-Self derived from the difficulties the Self has imprinting with the environment the individual lives in.  I think it is a terrible mistake to imagine that this Anti-Self is the "dark half of the Self" and has some kind of inherited existence in the human individual's psyche.  I see no cause to propose some kind of theological/metaphysical dualism as Jung does.  I also don't see the psychopathic evil that the Demon exhibits in some people as any kind of primal infantile rage or unchecked id (that strikes me as a prejudiced projection onto infant behavior that serves as a common component of the developmentalist/psychoanalytic fantasy of the infant).  That is, the actual infant's personality and affective-psychic existence does not innately give birth to the Demon.  The Demon does exhibit infantile qualities . . . but this kind of infantilism is abstracted from the more complex and systemic affect responses in an actual infant.  Those genuine infant affects are connected to a Self system that has other and more complex motivations.  in other words, I do not see infant emotions and desires as inherently self-damaging to the psyche or Self system.

Genuine infant rage, hunger, need, and other vulnerabilities cannot destroy or wound the Self system.  It is the imprinting or association with malicious environmental forces that makes the desires and hungers of the infant resound with Demonic, destructive presence.  I think it is a fallacy to see the obvious emotionality expressed by infants through the lens of adult emotional expression.  When an infant is hungry, cold, lonely, or scared and cries (even rages) terribly, I think this is merely the only languaging the Self system has available to the expression of its needs.  It is not trauma.  As adults, we have more "civilized" ways of languaging our desires and delaying their gratification.  Some of that linguistic filtering of pure affect can be championed by the Demon . . . the Demon can use shame and terror at times to bully the ego into repressing the expression of affect (affect is an expression of dynamic ordering in the psyche).  Our modern sense of adult, "civilized", affect-control is, I would argue, severely perverted.  We like to pretend that affect isn't there behind our expressions and actions, but it is just as present as it is in the wailing infant . . . and as Jung said, it will come out in diseases and neurotic complexes if it is not given a suitable language of expression (and the expression couched within these diseases is just as "divine" as it is infantile and "animal").  The lack of such a suitable language (resulting in symptoms of disease) is a sure sign that the Demon is clogging up the works of the Self system.

I do agree with the developmentalists and psychoanalysts that we have a kind of "infantility" in our psyches . . . or a more or less vague impression of an "inner Child".  I disagree, though, with the tendency of these analysts to reduce the psyche to this construct (which is as much fantasy projection as valid).  Instead, I would suggest that we have a culturally skewed lens with which we regard our own affect.  That lens encourages us to look at affect as if it were "infantile" (as it is easy for adults to associate pure affective response to infants).  But this characterization cannot be seen as scientifically valid.  It is only a metaphor.  Our affect, I think, remains foundationally the same throughout our lives (only a very small portion of which we spend as infants).  The so-called "infantile" affect is fundamentally the same in infants, children, adolescents, and adults . . . the same whether the adult is "individuated" and "psychologically mature/healthy" or extremely dysfunctional and "childish".  I think we have to stop thinking of affect in this reductive and prejudicial way . . . as inherently bad, problematic, or immature.  Affect is not a mistake, nor is it an expression of an "animalistic id".  It is simply what drives and organizes behavior.  If the affective Self is allowed to imprint with functional environmental factors, affect will be functional and adaptive and motivate both individual survivability and tribal Eros and ethics.  If the affective Self cannot imprint functionally with the environment, the Self system will be contaminated and perhaps dissociated (compartmentalized).  When affect is poisoned in this way (by Demonic determination and static introjection), we will experience a confusion between the sense of impulse and the functional achievement of the goal the impulse is directed at.  It is as if we disrupt our own functionality and survival success with our "neediness" . . . . behaving self-destructively when all we want to do is be and to function effectively.

The Demon will exhibit infantile rage and aggression as it is abstracted to an adult personality construct.  We could perhaps understand the infantility of the Demon as though it was derived from a construct of infantile vulnerability.  It is vulnerability looked at through a very long and distorting scope . . . a kind of telescope turned backwards, making the object seem much more distant and indistinct.  The Demon can never and will never approach its distanced sense of vulnerability.  It is constructed with the sole purpose of defending against this vulnerability.  But in the effort to differentiate the Demon from the Self, we must question whether this vulnerability is really as terrible as the Demon thinks it is.  I believe that the Demon's take on this abstracted vulnerability is severely paranoid.  It is hard to see this when looking at a person in the grip of their Demon (or when looking at our own Demon when it is highly empowered).  But one of the conventional experiences of individuation is the revelation that the things we are morbidly terrified of are not as horrendous as they seem from a distance.  Typically, many aspects of the functional Self-system (like the affect discussed above) are viewed by the socialized, adult ego with extreme prejudice.  The entire 19th century style conception of the Freudian id is a study in unscientific paranoia and cultural prejudice.  The hundreds of years of Christianized belief that we are creatures of "original sin" that must purify themselves by right faith and belief (or in later, more-humanistic materialism, right civilization) is not biologically sound.  Not only Freudian id constructs are subject to this cultural distortion, but Jungian theological dualism (polarization of archetypes), as well.

Individuation and the Demon

During the individuation process, many instinctual forces and patterns of organization are valuated, and valuated at the expense of the Demon and of tribal affiliations.  Much of this work requires making difficult ethical decisions and even some sacrifices of various social and relational benefits and protections.  These changes and sacrifices are made by "de-programming" constructions in the ego that are destructive to the functional operation of the Self system.  The constructed "agent" behind those Self-destructive ego programs is the Demon.  It is the force that resists individuaton's de-programming . . . and it can drive this resistance both by force of habit and by accentuating the fear we feel of change and transformation, fear of the new and the Other.  The newly adopted "ways of the Self" often seem very foreign and "irrational" to the ego.  But despite this sense of their irrationality, these Self-facilitating ego positions actually have a very strong sense of logic and purpose . . . one that is distinctly biological, material, instinctual, and dynamic.

We experience the process of individuation as an ongoing, revisionary, never-static valuation of Self principles.  This valuation not only unearths and integrates Self principles into egoic functioning, it increasingly languages them with an evolving language that is structured to best facilitate the Self.  We might experience this as going through transformations of attitude in which it seems like first the Self needs one things and later something completely different.  But it is our language (or Logos) that is transforming, not the Self, per se.  The Self changes and evolves as we continuously re-language it, but there is always a sense that on some level, the Self-system is much the same in infancy as it is in old age and every step in between (we might experience this is a shift from an unrealized potential to an ability to actualize that potential to a realization that the actualized potential is not really what we most need . . . and therefore the potential or Goal associated with the Self is redefined, the Self can be continuously re-conceptualized through the developing Logos).  It is the same, yet it is never static (like the Demon).  Of course, here we are talking about the construct of the Self that is personified as an archetypal agent.  If we look at the Self as a more detached principle, it evolves as the ego evolves.  Still, there is the sense that the Self always represents the same set of potentials and structures that we were born with (thus the feeling of materiality and biological substance to the Self).  I do not think there is a "True Self" to become.  Our selfhood is always a factor of our environment, memories, and choices.  But we work with a fixed set of inherent potentials, the "quantum" elements of personality.  There are always numerous possibilities for the expression and actualization of these potentials (which are not inherently "good" or transcendent, but merely morally and valuatively neutral ways of being which can be collectively constructed and reconstructed to various purposes).

The attitude promoted by the Self during progressive individuation is one in which the "horrors" of change/dynamism are not treated as very significant (at least not negatively).  The urging from the Self for the ego's reconstruction (including its initial dissolution) can be perceived as "demonic" or threatening to stability (and certainly the Demon will seize onto such fears and accelerate them).  And there is a very real danger to succumbing to dissolution urges . . . namely, that the Demon will find a way to take even more extensive control of the personality . . . and also that our social and relational lives will be damaged due to the introversion of libido (which is like stealing or killing a tribal/totemic god from the collective) and reorientation that dissolution demands.  But as many analysts have noted, there can be a surprising "answer to prayer" from the Self in dissolution's "darkest hours".  This "answer to prayer" is not likely to be anything like "salvation" or divine mana.  More commonly, the grace of the Self is delivered as an increased definition of the Syzygy.  That is, the hero and animi pair.  The hero is the thing that can survive the dissolution experience by devoting itself to the Self system's principles.  The animi is a prefiguration of the personified Self as it seems especially and numinously attractive to the heroic ego.  In other words, the grace the Self gives in the dissolution is the retooled erotic desire for the partner-Other (and the partner-Other's mirrored love for what is heroic and potential in the ego) . . . which stands absolutely against the Demonic force of stasis in the ("old") personality.  The young hero doesn't care so much about the deceptions and abuses of the Demon, because it loves the animi so devotedly that it (the hero) would gladly suffer and even die for that love.  As the Syzygy is potentiated, the Demon is depotentiated until it can seem (at least until the conclusion of the animi work) like no serious threat at all.  Of course, this heroic attitude toward the Demon is often short lived, as the Demon still has many resources and devices at its beck and call.  One of the mysterious patternings of the individuation process is the eventual union and depotentiation of the Syzygy (if the instinctual drive they represent is engaged with and facilitated), allowing the Demon to reestablish some control in the personality.  This is something the alchemists seem to have understood and captured symbolically in their Art (that Jungians have not yet managed to adequately understand, although they borrow and frequently misuse the alchemical language).  In alchemy, this is often called the Coniunctio, and it is followed by a Nigredo or Blackening . . . not (immediately) by any kind of redemption or resurrection in the psyche.

We can say of this post-Coniunctio Nigredo period that, as there is no viable Syzygy to counteract the Demon, the Demon will get its second chance at control of the personality.  The individual may experience this Demonic resurgence more poignantly than the original Demonic possession, not because it is more "severe", but because it is more acutely observed and consciously opposed.  Despite this consciousness and opposition, the individual is inclined to feel more or less helpless during the Nigredo to fend off the assaults of the Demon.  What felt like a "God-given" holy weapon against the Demon during the animi work has dissolved back into the abysses of the psyche, ungraspable by egoic hands.  I have written about this process elsewhere and won't revisit it in detail again here.  But my general theory as to why this "mythopoetic" development occurs is that the entire process is subject to the constrictions of the reorganization of a complex system.  A system that experiences a state change (symbolically, a kind of "birth-death") is not immediately capable of high level functionality.  All of its organizational resources were expended (as in birthing labor) in the process of bringing on the state change.  After this, a period of reinforcing the conditions of the new systemic state, a building up or re-toning of "muscle and durability", must take place.

The Coniunctio of the animi work functions as a kind of jump start of the instinctual Self system, and a surge of valuation for the Self spurts through the egoic attitudinal structure.  But there is much, much more work to do to dissociate the Self-system's dynamic instincts from the blackening they have long suffered under (even if that blackening was just recently recognized).  Essentially, the instinctual Self's principles of organization will need to be thoroughly (and continuously) re-storied in order for the ego to invest them with functional value and find a way to actualize them in the process of living in the world.  This newly discovered "ignorance" and "weakness" is an opportunity for the Demon to set up a competing firm on the other side of the street.  Generally, the Demonic wares for sale will not be so seductive as to throw the personality back to a pre-Coniunctio state . . . but they can easily continue to thwart full facilitation of the Self system indefinitely.

Moreover, as the heroic attitude is gradually rekindled and re-potentiated post-Coniunctio, the heroic ego will have to come to terms with the fact that it cannot reestablish its "youthful" task of fighting romantically against the Demon or for the redemption of its "true love" (the animi).  The Demon can now only be tolerated and relatively depotentiated.  To imagine that it can be conquered by the spiritual heroism that was activated during the animi work would be equivalent to imagining the ego could conquer the world/environment, subduing it and conforming it entirely to its narcissistic plan.  Such an attitude would be megalomaniacal . . . and would constitute a re-possession of the ego by the Demon (in hero's garb).  Such megalomaniacal inflation is actually common throughout the animi work as well as after . . . and represents the Demon's best effort to keep the personality static and under a severe super-egoic imprisonment.  I will discuss this problem more extensively when I have a chance to start working on the article about differentiating the true from the conquering hero.


Differentiating the Shadow (in Jungian Theory): Demon and Self

Inflation, the Demon, and the Hero

It was very clear that the forces in the personality these irredeemable  figures represented were not beneficial to or interested in the co-existence of the other parts of the personality.  It seemed natural to call this figure the Demon . . . and adding this categorization to my study of dreams helped significantly to clarify some of the muddiness that clustered around "shadow figures" that conventional Jungian interpretation would flag but then bog down around.  But as I analyzed these Demonic images, more complexities and mysteries arose.  For instance, the general categories listed above were not the only things defining the Demon.  Also essential to defining and understanding this figure was its relationship to other archetypal figures in the psyche (the "archetypes" or agents of the Core Complex).  Al;though the Demon hated and sought to oppose the hero at every turn, often the Demon was able to impersonate the hero, putting on the heroic costume as a kind of doppelganger while still enforcing Demonic control and terror-driven stasis in the psyche.  This Demonic hero-impersonation always leads to that perennial bogeyman of Jungianism: inflation.

Inflation has always been fascinating and motivating to me as a psychological phenomenon.  I had suffered from it, and yet I also felt something Demonic discouraging the inflated sense of selfhood and purpose I had felt (especially in late adolescence).  At some point in my mid to late twenties, I realized that the shame I felt discouraging me from an inflated identification was itself the cause of my temptation to identify inflatedly.  The more I felt terrible about being inflated, the more I was in danger of falling headlong into the inflation.  Depotentiation of inflation for me came with the gradual acceptance of my more unique and at times "heroic" qualities and achievements.  When I desperately wanted to believe in the presence and value of these qualities and achievements but couldn't (out of shame) commit entirely to their acceptance and valuation, I was significantly more inflated.  Of course, I didn't have the concept of the heroic I now work with, and the absence of this construct made any inner work significantly more difficult and painful.  It all seemed to work exactly the opposite of what I had imagined . . . and what I had imagined was much the same as what Jung and other Jungians had also imagined.  The Jungian prescribed "remedy" for inflation is the building up of a strong ego that can resist the temptation of archetypal identification that inflation prompts.

But this doesn't work in practice . . . and the fact that it doesn't have practical applicability is (I suspect) not admitted and realized among Jungians because a great sense of shame and anxiety about the issue clamps down on the Jungian imagination.  Jungian inflation is an untouchable wound.  But not being a trained Jungian while partaking (with significant diligence, I might add) of my own experimental "self-analysis", I had no tribal conformity to adhere to.  I noted the connection between resistance to inflation and its increase long before I understood what was happening.  Differentiating the concept of the Demon helped me realize much more deeply how inflation worked.  By contrast, since this topic is taboo among conventional Jungians (as applied to their own tribal identity), Jungians have grown pathologically suspicious of the hero (who, in much Jungian conception is rather Demonic and inflated).  The hero has become a casualty (collateral damage) of the Jungian disease because it is so mixed up with the Demon.  But as the Demon is not differentiated in Jungianism, Jungianism must adhere to the muddy Jungian concepts of the hero, the Self (and animi), and the shadow.

From doing my own inner Work, I came to see that the differentiation of the Demon is no minute and esoteric matter.  It is one of the cornerstones and fundamental definitions of individuation (and one that is portrayed widely enough in fairytales that Jungians should have spotted it).  It doesn't take a wild speculative theory to see the Demon . . . we have to therefore question the failure of Jungians to identify it adequately.  The logical and likely conclusion is that Jungians do not see/differentiate the Demon adequately because of a complex that colors the whole Jungian tribal mindset.  Consciousness of the Demon has been exorcised in Jungian thinking.  It can sometimes be touched on as "archetypal shadow" or "archetypal evil", but in these characterizations, the Demon is made overly abstract and is disowned.  It is not the (personal) "shadow" that is the primary ethical problem of the individual (as Jung sometimes seemed to suggest); it's the problem of the Demon that is at the core of our internal ethical struggles.

The Demon and the Personal Shadow

Along that line of thought, not only does the hero/Demon relationship play a major role in the understanding of individuation, healing, and identity, the relationship between the Demon and the personal shadow must also be adequately understood.  Not only are the Demon and the shadow not the same psychic phenomenon, any conflation between them is likely to result in increased dysfunction in the personality.  The Demon, I've found, plays a very distinct role in relation to the shadow.  The Demon's terrorizing, abuse, and totalitarian control is largely directed at the personal shadow (and at the ego through the personal shadow).  The personal shadow, therefore, is partially defined by its susceptibility to the Demon's tyranny.  The part of our personality that caves to the will of the Demon is the personal shadow, our weakest link, our deepest, most delicate vulnerability.  Understanding this also helps us understand the Demon/hero relationship and the inflation Jungians associated with the hero.  For, as the shadow is the weakest link in our identity or sense of self, the hero is the strongest.  This heroic strength should not be confused with fortification or thick-skinned sturdiness.  Rather, the hero is that attitude of the ego that is aligned with the Self system's dynamic, adaptive principle.  It is an integrative, flexible, resilient strength that characterizes the hero.

But when the heroic attitude slips from Self-facilitation into personal shadow condemnation and censoring, we could say that the Demon has impersonated the hero and inflation has set in . . . or that we have given over heroic rights and costuming to a Demonic urge.  During any individuation process, heroism (especially as it emerges "fresh" and hasn't been seasoned much) will be lost time and again to Demonic impersonation.  The more we devote ourselves consciously to the heroic attitude of Self-facilitation, the more we are identifying with a particular stance that has a clear negation or opposite position.  It is one of the great pitfalls of heroic inner work and healing.  We find the personal shadow gets in the way of our progress.  The personal shadow just can't become heroic, can't be whitewashed and redeemed or converted into more stellar and brilliant stuff.  The temptation is to hate it or deny it in the name of "progress" and "healing" and "unraveling the True Self".  But those things can only come (to the degree they are possible and at all valid) with the kind of shadow work that valuates, accepts, and manages to grudgingly love the personal shadow.

I should note here that I am biasing my description of the Demon/personal shadow relationship with a decidedly heroic perspective or hero-aligned ego position.  That is, this perspective is one that develops only when individuation is actively engaged in.  It should be said that it is at least as likely that an individual will have no conscious sense of differentiation regrading either the Demon or the personal shadow.  In this case, the Demon (to the degree that it is empowered in the personality) will likely be perceived as an ego ally, a sense of discipline, a code to live by.  The individual will not realize that this code helps repress and torture what is weak in them (the personal shadow).  Such an individual has no functional sense of the personal shadow . . . and if we do not know our weakness, we will not know what the Demon is really up to in the psyche.  Instead of coming into conscious conflict with the Demon (and realizing that the personal shadow is a part of the ego, a part or potential part of identity), the personal shadow will be unconsciously projected onto others and the ego will compulsively take up the Demonic attitude toward these shadowed others.  This is essentially what passes for "normal" psychology in our modern society.  In other words, "normal" modern society is distinctly Demonic . . . more on this below.

Of course, loving or even just tolerating the personal shadow can be very hard, especially when the personal shadow protects itself against the Demon's wrath by toadying for it (seemingly "betraying" the heroic ego).  We so desperately want to be shadowless, but there is no growth in this fantasy.  To be shadowless is to be "perfect", and "perfection" is static . . . and that which is static in the psyche is Demonic.  What is Demonic is in conflict with the dynamic ordering principle of the Self.  Which brings us to the next important, defining relationship of the Demon.

The Demon and the Self

The Self as Tribe

The Demon and the Self are the two opposing powerhouses in the personality.  Lest I make it seem like I am just as guilty of the dualism I criticize Jung for, I wish to clarify this claim.  Although, archetypally or based on common representations of Demon and Self, we can clearly see that a great conflict in the psyche exists . . . when we delve more scientifically or rationally into the figures of Self and Demon, we must ask what these figures are actually representing.  It makes no sense that God and the Devil are battling for control over everyone's individual soul.  That's a poetic metaphor.

There are two great powers in the psyche, though, that we can say with rational and logical justification are often in conflict: socialization and individuation.  Socialization is the force exerted on the individual (and the individual's personality) from without, from others, from the tribe, the society, the civilization, the family, the peer group the individual lives within and is related to.  It doesn't seek to make one an individual, but to (at best) make one socially useful and acceptable.  In a tribal society that we might assume reflects the environment of evolutionary adaptedness for our species, socialization of individuals would be done in a way that makes the tribe most survivable . . . and we might expect that the various ceremonies and rituals and taboos that arise around the tribal identity have clearly survivable significances.  Without trying to construct a neo-primitive fantasy of Utopia, we could say that the instinct for individuation (or for individualism or self-interest) is brought into close accord with the instinct for tribal survivability and group Eros.  The cultural expressions of the tribe will help orient the individuals toward the valuation of the group Eros.  In other words, the cultural artifacts that govern the passage into adulthood would be "designed" to associate the Self with the tribe for every member.  If we all have a shared vision of the Self (God), we all facilitate the Self in the same goal (generally, survival and all it entails).

Without digressing too much into theories of "cultural evolution", I will just state that it is my opinion that we moderns no longer live in a society or culture in which the individuating instincts can functionally accord with social organization.  There is too much complexity and diversity in modern culture for it to function as one integrated survival system . . . certainly not one in which the minds of every individual are largely aligned in purpose with the mind of the tribe as a whole.  I.e., survival and success for each individual is not only NOT guaranteed in the successful programme of modern civilization, it is often seen as contrary to modern civilization's viability (by those best served by the form of modern civilization).  That's where the still lingering idea of "social Darwinism" comes in.  Survival of the fittest . . . and extinction for the "unfit".  This is the mantra of the powerful and has been for ages.  It is only in some "primitive" tribal societies that truly egalitarian social structure (in which the group interests and the individuals' interests are aligned) can be achieved (if still imperfectly).

As we live in a society in which collective organization does not guarantee survival for individuals, it seems to fall to contests of status to fill this role.  But status is a limited natural resource.  Only so much valuable status is available . . . and status would be meaningless if everyone could have their desired share of it.  I'm not saying that tribal societies are status-free . . . but in such societies, both the lamed and incapable hunter and the chieftain can eat and have shelter (if anyone can eat and have shelter) . . . and probably reproduce.  There is in many tribal societies a sense of valuation for tribal Eros or egalitarianism . . . a sense that every member is valuable and worth protecting.  It is not low status that can sever the individual from the protection of tribal Eros.  Only excommunication can do that . . . which probably comes about due to the failure to respect tribal taboos.

The Demon as Modern Cultural Introject

If we imagine that the relationship of the individual to the tribe in a tribal society is patterned on the ego/Self relationship . . . and remains adaptive and survivable in the same form that a modern individual's ego/Self relationship would remain adaptive and survivable . . . then we must also ask what replaces the symbol of the Self in modern society where the "tribe" protects only the self-interest of those with high enough status and not the all its members.  It is, I would argue, very much the same thing that happens when a child has a terrible and abusive parent: some distorted parental imprint eclipses the healthy and functional instinctual ordering principle of the Self and stimulates traumatized, dysfunctional behavior.  In the case of the abusive parent and in the case of the modern status-driven society, the disfigured imprinting that eclipses and distorts the ego/Self relationship is the Demon.  Psychoanalysts might therefore call the Demon an "introject", something taken into the personality from the environment that becomes constructed as a representation of psychic structure within the personality.  I don't really disagree with the idea of introjection applied to the Demon, but I feel that it does not do justice to the complexity and all-pervasiveness of the phenomenon.

A specific abuser or traumatizing parent might serve as a haunting introject that the Demon will manifest as for a specific individual, but the presence of the Demon in the individual's personality goes well beyond the re-traumatizing perpetrator figure.  What is also happening is that all socialization and environmental influence is being channeled through a figure that is traumatizing.  This, of course, eventually leads to a disturbance of the individual's sense of reality . . . or equally, we could say that the individual's connection to tribal Eros is damaged, and some part of them is severed from others, identified as an untouchable.  This low-status personal shadow type figure becomes the main seat of identity in many trauma sufferers . . . or else identity is stitched onto the terrorizing Demon, and the ego champions Demonic self-destruction.  Usually a bit of both occurs.

Trauma, especially early and severe trauma while the personality is forming, and most especially trauma involving an abusive parent, does not create the Demon, but it makes the Demon incredibly powerful, terrible, and characteristically "Demonic".  But the Demon is present in all of our psyches to the degree that our socialization does not facilitate our instinctual will to survive, adapt, commune, and flourish.  Commonly, the Demon in non-traumatized people (as well as in trauma victims) can be discerned as a kind of super-ego, a voice for the collective standards to which we are supposed to all individually aspire.  The Demon controls the personality by pointing out and punishing the personal shadow . . . for it is "common sense" that all resistance to the personal shadow will make one socially successful and help one obtain status in our society.  By refusing and hating the "bad", we become the "good".  That's the logic of it, at least.

But the Self resists this pruning and movement toward "ideal" stasis and conformity in the psyche.  Such Demonic pruning is not conducive to instinctually driven equilibrium with environment.  It cannot adapt, because (as well-pruned as it is), alternatives are cut off.  Eventually, this creates a build up of pressure in the psychic system, and the whole system of personality begins to fracture or grind to a halt (depression or some other psychological disease).  It is as if the Demonic ordering principle takes advantage of our powerful drive to seek and hold tribal Eros in order to quash "excessive" dynamism in the personality.  The Demon's idea of a perfect personality is one entirely composed of static, abstract laws where no conscious deliberation or assessment of options and potentials is necessary.  For every X, the answer is Y.  The system is automated by static routines that operate the same way regardless of circumstance or environment.  There is no regard, therefore, in such static routines for anything Other.  The Demonic system seeks to operate as if Otherness did not exist . . . and where Otherness interferes with this plan, it is attacked by the Demon.

The Demon as Meme

If this (very brief and incomplete) portrayal of the Demon is valid, we must ask why it is that so mechanistic and destructive an "introject" would have so much power over us.  It seems like a characterization out of a fairytale (and for good reason) of some villain beyond humanness.  In my struggle to understand why the Demon functions the way it appears to, I came to see that this sense of inhuman, perhaps "evil" orientation in the Demon is due precisely to the fact that the Demon is not specifically human or organic.  It is not a true "intelligence" or sentient life form.  It is NOT an instinctual archetype in the sense that the Self is.  It is not a complex, dynamic, adaptive, living system.  It IS a principle of organization, but this Demonic principle is based on information, not material.  The Demon is the informational, non-physical stuff of culture fed back into the individual's living, psychic system.  Perhaps even more descriptive than the term introject is the term "meme".  The Demon can be seen as a kind of super-meme.

This will sound strange to anyone who has read my railings against mimetic theory.  Have I changed my mind about memes?  Not really.  The Demon is a special case.  Also, my main gripe against memes is the characterization by some mimeticists that suggests (even if figuratively) that they are self-motivated and "seek" to perpetuate themselves.  This strikes me as an egoic projection and as un-biological.  Memes are not self-motivated, insidious, invading, viruses seeking to propagate.  All of those "agentic" characteristics are supplied by our theory of mind . . . and they belong to our biological psychic systems.  Moreover, memes often serve the function of human agents and the will (both conscious and unconscious) of these agents.

In the case of the Demon, the wills of various human agents (or "powers") have become so diverse and complex that they are introjected into individuals as a kind of emergent form.  It seems very likely that we have evolved to be cultural conduits and sponges.  We are inherently tuned into culture-, peer-, and tribe-driven information.  Regardless of consciousness, we are empathic, conforming, and tribal by nature.  We are not only these things, not only herd animals, but these sociality instincts are enormously powerful in us.  It is logical to assume that we have evolved such a susceptibility to cultural influences and transmissions because such influences and transmissions were adaptive and survivable in our environment of evolutionary adaptedness.  Culture once served and facilitated instinctual drives . . . so our susceptibility to cultural "memes" was part of our functionality and adaptivity.  It was a function of our sociality that made us, as a species, especially survivable.  Strength in numbers . . . but no mere "ordinary" survival strength.  Our species' unique set of assets has allowed our sociality to go beyond basic survivability and perpetuation to extreme inventiveness and re-creation of environment.  But invention and innovation in the name of tribal survival and success has led to emergent social phenomena like agriculture, wealth, increased population density, extreme status distribution, and a discord between resources and the need and desire to possess them.  We evolved, I think, for the Self to imprint on the tribe, on the collective . . . but unpredictable (to the evolutionary process) emergence has led to the construction of societies that are inadequate vessels for our projection of the Self . . . even as they also function to perpetuate genes even more effectively than tribal societies can.

As a result we are torn.  We instinctively introject or imprint with socializations and organizational structures that are incompatible with functional psychic, dynamic organization.  The instinctual Self system submerges and is clogged with foreign imprinting symbols.  Anxiety increases as the Self system malfunctions.  The Demon develops intertwined with the Self, originally indistinguishable.  Only gradually, through the process of individuation, can the flawed imprint of psychic organization that is the Demon be disentangled from the functional Self system.  That individuation process must extract (differentiate) all of the stultifying tribal associations to dysfunctional social institutions.  This is extremely painful, because it requires the relinquishment of umbilical connections to tribal Eros . . . which we need in order to feel human and function properly.  But the Demonic aspects must be differentiated from the Self aspects in the personality in order to heal and enable/facilitate the Self system and its instinctual, complex ordering principle.  The commitment to such differentiating Self-facilitation is what I consider heroic and is the attitude around which archetypal symbols of heroism collect.


Differentiating the Shadow (in Jungian Theory): Introduction

This series of posts is a preliminary run through an article on shadow differentiation I proposed (and hope to write if I can ever bring an elegance to this system of ideas).  As I tend to learn from and develop my thinking primarily through the act of writing (i.e., creating and failing), I figured I would just meander my way through the topics involved in this article to see what would be unearthed (in the hope that this practice would help me better understand what I should write in the article).  I made no attempt to organize and order or to resist any temptation for digression.  Digression in creative writing can be a threshold through which the Other or Self can enter into the work.  I know whatever it is I know today because I have wandered into many cordoned off areas to have a look see.  It doesn't make for elegant finished products, though.

The impetus behind the proposed article generates (like all of my ideas, I guess) from the necessities of personal experience.  I had used the Jungian concept of shadow extensively in my thinking and writing for many years, accepting its muddiness as part of the quasi-mystical intuitive comprehension required of all things Jungian.  Eventually, after striving to valuate the shadow in my own Work for years, I came to feel that the Jungian concept of shadow was flawed.  It was difficult for me to see this at first because I have always felt that Jung's construct of the shadow was probably the most important and fertile aspect of his psychological theory.  Both individuation (spirituality) and relationship (Eros) are extremely dependent on the "shadow work" we do (i.e., on our attempts to know, understand, and valuate our shadowy personality traits and the spontaneous psychic shadow phenomena of our dreams and imaginings).  Shadow binds and prefigures all things psychic.  Out of the shadow emerge the animi, the hero, and the Self . . . not to mention many functional parts of the ego.  In Jungian thinking, affect resounds in and is "lost" into the shadow . . . but as the psychic process, the Self system, is largely affective, this shadowing of affect is dysfunctional.  What shadow "means" to psyche is still inadequately understood, and I think, undervalued.

All psychotherapy and dream work involve extensive shadow work.  Our ability to understand, tolerate, and intimately relate to others requires a great deal of shadow work (or valuation of what is hidden in or discarded into the shadow as well as acceptance that those elements of personality that will stay shadowy will still have some kind of value and integration in the whole psychic system).  Our ability to peer into the "souls" of our tribes and grasp their dysfunctions requires significant shadow work (thus the Group Shadow Forum on the Useless Science Forum).  Our ability to treat either our own or our tribes' dysfunctions and ethical impairments demands devoted shadow work.  At first, the experience of the Self is largely shrouded in shadow, then we differentiate it somewhat . . . only to later realize that the Self is distinctly Other to the ego and will never be rendered fully egoic.  In Jung's concept of the shadow all Jungian ethics lie.  Jungian ethics are not often discussed . . . but due to the shadow construct, ethicality and Jungianism should be devoted intimates.  They aren't, of course . . . and this suggests that Jungians, as a tribe, have not done enough of their due shadow work.

As I have always focused on (and often identified more or less pathologically and compulsively with) the shadow so extensively, I have wandered into numerous avenues where the Jungian shadow concept, though rich, is too vague to be useful in application.  It became clear to me that a differentiation in the shadow concept was necessary in order for the concept to be truly useful as a metaphorical tool for understanding the psyche.  I'm not sure precisely how and when the differentiations presented themselves to me, but I suspect my first differentiation of shadow came in my critical reaction to the Jungian tendency to demonize anima and animus.  As my own experience of anima had never been as anxiety-laden as Jung's writings suggest Jungian attitudes should be, it long ago became clear to me that Jung (and many Jungians) had fused some kind of blackening shadow element to the anima that was not actually inherent to the anima.  Both extrapolation and experience with others' psychology and dreams (women, that is) showed me that the same tainted fusion was true of the animus . . . although the animus was significantly more blackened by the fusion with shadow, even to the degree that no positive value whatsoever was typically associated with the animus figure.

I saw this tainted fusion of shadow and animi as largely a twofold matter.  Primarily, the darkness attributed to the animi had to do merely with their inherent, numinous Otherness . . . and did not really deserve to be called "shadow" (where various negative connotations are implied).  Also, the shadowy aspects of many animi figures were often clearly projections of prejudice and fear from the ego that misinterpreted the "motivation" of the animi as hostile, seductive, destructive, humiliating, shameful, etc.  We could not, I felt, call these figure s genuine shadow figures when the only shadow in the equation actually belonged to the ego and was merely projected onto the strange animi figures.  Realizing this led me to chip away at the conventional Jungian notion of an "archetypal shadow".  There is no doubt an "archetypal" Otherness to the animi, but it needn't take on a shadowy form unless the ego disposes of its own shadow onto the animi.  In other words, much of the archetypal shadow is more accurately personal . . . and belongs, therefore, to the ego.  Not to instinct.  There is no archetypal-instinctual survival/adaptation purpose attributed to "shadow" as it is conceived in conventional Jungianism.  It doesn't provide a clear survival function (except perhaps to help the tribal individual feel greater anxiety toward and differentiation from an individual from another foreign tribe . . . but that still doesn't explain much of the behavior of the phenomenon).  The "purpose" most commonly attributed to shadow by Jungians is that of an innate capacity for "evil" in the human animal . . . but this is a religious or metaphysical idea (like original Sin) that is not viable in a scientifically reasoned theory.

Yet there is no doubt that conventional Jungianism, when talking about the personal shadow or the shadow that is "cast" by the ego, has characterized this phenomenon accurately.  But take this personal shadow (as a kind of collection of personality traits the ego specifically does not identify with and which are seen by the ego as inferior or undesirable) and try to make it accord with the idea of "archetypal shadow" (as a primal figure of pure darkness? evil?), and we are suddenly waist deep in the mud.  Although Jung and subsequent Jungians certainly have made a distinction between personal and archetypal shadow on an intellectual and rationalistic level (i.e., in linguistic categories), I don't believe any detailed study of purposive and non-dogmatic differentiation has been done by a Jungian . . . nor has the problem of conflating the personal and archetypal shadows been much discussed.  But it doesn't take a genius to see that a confusion of "archetypal evil/darkness" with personal, egoic undesirability/inferiority would lead to not only misunderstanding of Otherness, but probably severe dysfunction.  I.e., we cannot assume that our neighbor who has a different skin color, religious background, or lifestyle than us is Satan Incarnate, is something truly "evil" (of course, this does in fact happen unconsciously in many people's prejudices, but it cannot be seen as a functional or ideal psychological state).  Therefore, therapeutically, it would be important to differentiate the personal from the archetypal very clearly.  On the other end of the stick, we also have individuals who identify with their personal shadows and by extension, with "archetypal darkness" (a somewhat perverse ego-fortification strategy).

Although I feel Jung should be commended for his realization that each and every human individual is capable of unthinkable "evil" . . . his desire to dualistically see a dark or evil pole to every archetype was not, in my opinion, scientifically of logically valid.  It is a bit of theology.  Jung himself will admit at times that evil is, of course, relative.  What Jung dwelt less on was the fact that the relativity of evil (or morality in general) is a matter of tribal identity or membership.  What is "evil" to do to another member of one's tribe is legitimate to do to a member of another "competing" tribe.  What defines this kind of "right and wrong" is tribal dogma and indoctrination.  But archetypes (I would argue) are representations of instinctual processes that drive survivability and adaptation to environment.  There is a reason that only human beings can be "evil" while no other species is extended this dubious honor.  Tribal civilization defines evil and good.  Instinctually speaking, we have aggression, conformity (tribal self/other differentiation), self-interest, self-defense . . . but none of this deserves to be called an archetype of evil.  Yes, it can be bent to "evil" purposes (as we collectively define them) . . . but such archetypal evil is not innate.  And to say that it is is theological and belief-based, not truly psychological.

And yet, it also occurred to me that there was something that could be said to be archetypally Other.  There is plenty of instinctual Will in us that is not egoic . . . and is even frequently anti-egoic.  Jung saw this in his theory of dreams as compensations of the ego position.  We are beings of contradicting impulses and desires.  We are not of one mind.  In dream, fantasy, and artistic representations, we will commonly see figures that are non-evil others who seemed to be aligned against us.  Sometimes we will note a transformation within a given narrative of opposed Otherness into cooperative Otherness.  This is also a common fairytale theme: a dangerous, opposed Other is transformed by the hero into a cooperative Other perhaps because the hero doesn't fear the Other or because s/he helps the Other with some task.  Frequently these fairytale Others are animals, but they might also be Baba Yagas, witches, wizards, or wild men.

In one of my favorite types of Russian folktales, the Ivan and the Firebird stories, Ivan is aided by the super-powered, shapeshifting Gray Wolf after Ivan allows it to devour his horse.  The Gray Wolf helps Ivan obtain the treasures he is looking for in far away tsardoms, but each time Ivan does not listen to the Wolf's advice and is apprehended as a thief.  Still, he is pardoned by the tsars in exchange for going on a treasure quest for them.  In every encounter his Foolishness (and tricksterism) allow him to avoid the potential destructive conflict with an Other.  He is eventually murdered by his older brothers who are envious of his success (and coveted the beautiful princess Ivan had also acquired).  These brothers are not true archetypal Others, though.

This (often "animal" or instinctual) quality of Otherness in these tales and in many other dreams and artistic renderings that coordinates with and often facilitates the hero or heroic attitude is clearly a symbol of the Self.  That is, it is an instinctual organizing principle that drives the transformation of personality from a more static and decayed (dysfunctional) state to a more dynamic and reinvigorated state in which what we might call "libido" can flow throughout the system "animating" adaptivity and satisfying homeostasis.  This vision of the Self (so common in dreams and fairytales) is potentially antagonistic to the ego position, and seems to have the power to thwart if not destroy the ego.  But, to the degree that the ego adopts the heroic attitude, the relationship between the ego and the Self becomes cooperative and mutually facilitating.

Some time ago, I began calling this oppositional but cooperative portrayal of the Self, the Shadow-Self or Self-as-Other.  In psychic phenomena (dreams, fairytales, art, religious texts, etc.), there are innumerable representations of the personal shadow and the Shadow-Self.  That these figures deserve archetypal classifications among depth psychologists is unquestionable . . . and these classifications should be distinct from one another.

There are, of course, in dreams and fairytales also many representations of villains who are utterly unredeemable and cause no shortage of harm and conflict for the hero.  These figures are noted by Jungians as "shadow figures" just as those figures I would call personal shadow figures and Shadow-Self figures are also called "shadow figures" by Jungians.  It eventually became clear to me as I did more dream work with other people that it was incorrect to see these villain figures as in any way Self-like.  And it was not legitimate to call them personal shadows, because they were far too atrocious to fit such a categorization.  Moreover, in many dreams and fairytales, these villains are differentiated from both personal shadow figures and Shadow-Self figures.  As I began to try to map psychic phenomena to these characterized representations of villains, I started to see a very consistent theme to their portrayal.  1.) They are always imprisoning or controlling something or someone "sacred" (usually a beautiful princess or spiritual being, object, or resource).  2.) They seek ever more power, are terribly tempted by power, and this power lust is driven by a feeling of incredible impotence which they conceal at all costs.  3.) They hate, fear, and envy (potent) heroes and will do anything to eliminate heroic meddling (thereby attracting heroes to them and their precious guarded secrets unintentionally).  4.) In their "cause" (self-empowerment or fortification of their impotence), they will commit any atrocity, no matter how evil; they see any behavior as justified in the name of their "cause" . . . and they specialize in acts of terror.  5.) They are more frequently male.