Individuation, The Promise in Jung’s Legacy and Why Our Culture Has Trouble Accepting It

In June 2011 I was invited to give the C.G. Jung Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Jung Society of Washington D.C. and presented at the Embassy of Switzerland. The title of the lecture was “Individuation, The Promise in Jung’s Legacy and Why Our Culture Has Trouble Accepting It.” After the lecture a number of people asked me if I would share a copy of it with them and subsequently the Washington Jung Society has posted it on their website. I would also like to share the lecture with you.

Below is an introduction to the lecture and the lecture in its entirety. I hope that you find it meaningful and enjoyable.


The continuing attraction to Jungian psychology rests on Jung’s focus on the healthy personality. The Jungian perspective is that suffering and struggles become meaningful parts of life when understood and can initiate us into a more profound sense of being and satisfaction. Individuation, the centerpiece of Jung’s legacy, is a path that shows us how self-knowledge helps the most difficult encounters with ourselves and life and becomes the building blocks of our psychic structure and a fulfilled life. Like the stone the builder rejected, our most devilish experiences and frustrating complexes, and even our illnesses, hold the greatest promise for expanding our personalities and our lives.

Unfortunately, our efforts to become at home with the deeper dimensions of life initiated by illness, conflict, betrayal, chaos, and suffering, and the realization of their importance to individuation, is often threatening to our ideals of a good life, a productive life, and our longings for peace, love, and security.

This approach can also be threatening to the people close to us and the conventional values of our culture. Learning how to face these challenges and unleash their transformative powers renews our energy, reconnects us to its source, and enables our enlarged personality to become the cornerstone in a more creative life.

In this lecture we will focus on the components of Jung’s work that make up the spirit of individuation, which teaches us to see some of our most frustrating characteristics as a source of new life. We will look at how we can strengthen our personalities for this work and revitalize the feminine in our own natures and lives. We will look into how this process frees us from our history, inner conflicts, and helps us live in partnership with Self, the Divine energy within, and ultimately make a true contribution to life.


Categories: Articles by Drs. Bud and Massimilla Harris
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