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".


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: 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.