Individuation and the Conflict of Opposites

This piece from, A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious, picks up on page 78 with the Oddly Shaped Man (the conscious standpoint) struggling under the tension of opposites. Along with repressed emotions, the pressures of new, creative contents from the unconscious increase the momentum of the individuation process, now perceived as an “alien will” as ego is openly confronted with the demand for wholeness…

My head circles wildly as I strain with all my might;
All around me lay the pieces of the ghosts I fight.
I’ve forced apart the gates of my own humanity
Staggered weary to the furthest reach of sanity;                     
My own heart I’ve writhed and cried and suffered inside out —
Yet unappeased still labor on uncertainty and doubt.
          Hemmed in by God on all sides like Job he struggles;
          And his pursuit means other things pursue him too.
          Relentlessly the feeling-world his thinking juggles
          Brings him closer to the conflict of his conscious view.
          The torment thrust upon him from this dark abyss
Is Nature’s dispatch to a partial consciousness:
She strives now to inform him of her wants and needs
And give him strength to follow on the path she leads.
How a man must carry on when he is forced to see
That the life he once conceived is not Reality!
He may feel his little world is being torn apart
But in fact it’s being put together quite unseen;
And he’s further than he knows from the inside of his heart
Or his notions of insanity and what they mean. 
He’s not the victim of an angry god’s invective
Sending wrathful thunderbolts of punishment and pain.
He must remind himself the process is objective;
To think outside his merely personal domain.
But how else can his trembling thought be made to see:
His life is subject to a fate he can’t control?
That beneath his thinking is a greater force than he
Seeking to reveal to him the nature of his soul?
This obscure moral process must depend on more
Than simply choosing to obey a god’s command.
Which god will he obey?  Which one will he implore?
When two crossed gods of equal strength before him stand?
One is right the other wrong according to his view:         
The great deception of the life he knew before;
Yet however he perceives it there is little he can do
For his former life is gone and Nature’s closed that door.
The one she opens now brings the opposites to light
Unveiling secret truths beyond his preconception
To temper with a new sight the views of wrong and right
Which form the basis of his modern self-perception.
It will expose the partial attitude of consciousness
Flitting round its fantasies in airy self-pursuit
In the highest branches of the tree of righteousness
Thinking it had planted all the seeds of Love and Truth —
Though half-acknowledged grew to be a thing of wretchedness
And in the end bore little more than ignorance as fruit.
The cheap facade he financed with the treasure in his soul
Is quickly running out of credit with the man below.
The life he once invested in is out of his control
For the loan’s conditions call for more than he could know.
The debt accruing from his youthful self-deception
Must be fully rendered from the life he leaves behind
Until it is depleted of his half-perception
And he accepts the humble place his misery assigned.
This task has led him down inside the knotted sphere     
Concealing images his thinking long repressed.
How he perceives the inner man is hidden here
Whose image only surfaces when he’s depressed.
But repression and depression are in fact related
To form the tension aiming at a new direction.
He must fight them both for how his thinking has created
This upside-down collision with his own reflection… 

                                Mental Health as a Social Concept

The conflict of opposites deeply affects consciousness as it begins to withdraw its projections from the external world and accept its struggle internally, fostering the recognition of a higher spiritual authority. The more frightening, rejected aspects of the personality then begin to impress themselves as living values with a vital meaning for the individual. The fear and anxiety of losing control is tempered by reflection. Jung once wrote that no one who ever had any wits is in danger of losing them in this process; however, there are many who never knew until then what their wits were for. 

          The concept of one’s mental health is relative indeed;
Primarily a social one for cultures to assess
The useful products of the citizens they breed
To work within the sanction of the values they profess.
But a culture has no conscious point of reference:
No place outside itself to judge its valuations;
Its health or sickness no criterion for deference             
To its own psychology or that of other nations.
Every man appears to suffer likewise from this fate
Though facts do not support this from a natural perspective:
The psyche functions in a way itself to regulate
And beyond his preconceptions lives its own corrective…
 More info here: A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious

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