Adaption & Restoration, IV: Goal of Integration

My previous posts provided overviews of elements and stages associated with the process of individuation. The question remains: what is the aim of these elements and stages within the process of adaption and restoration?


The goal of the stages of differentiation, confrontation, and reunion (in combination with the elements of quest, unity in multiplicity, projection, and the persona) is integration of unconscious contents into consciousness.[1] Integration leads the psyche to realize that the unconscious causes the emergence of symbols and archetypes, and that these images and figures “are not happening to the individual, but are happening by the individual,” according to Edward F. Edinger.[2] When the individual is aware of psychic conflict, and the responsibility that comes with this awareness, s/he experiences an integration of unconscious elements into the conscious that creates psychic “wholeness but not perfection.”[3] Although attaining wholeness involves “a painful descent into realism,” forcing an individual to face her/his imperfections and learn humility,[4] Jung advocates wholeness over perfection, since striving for “perfection is a high ideal” that an individual is incapable of achieving fully:[5]

‘Fulfill something you are able to fulfill rather than run after what you will never achieve.’ Nobody is perfect. Remember the saying: ‘None is good but God alone,’ and nobody can be. It is an illusion. We can modestly strive to fulfill ourselves and to be as complete human beings as possible, and that will give us trouble enough.[6]

Maintaining wholeness requires practice, specifically continued engagement in differentiation and discrimination, and daily, intentional commitment to the retention of wholeness.[7] Movements through the three-part cycle of differentiation, confrontation, and reunion strengthens the ego’s ability to integrate unconscious aspects into the psyche.[8] Because we continually experience new situations in life, and our worldview constantly fluctuates, the cycle of adaption and restoration regularly repeats to help an individual remain socially, and psychically, adapted to the world.[9] As Rowland points out, the process of adaption and restoration is the means by which the psyche regulates itself.[10]


While adaption and restoration can occur at any crucial point in an individual’s life (particularly at a point of crisis), Jung sees adaption and restoration as particularly important for entrance into the second half of life (i.e., the ages of thirty-five or forty). At the threshold for life’s second part, an individual typically experiences a mid-life crisis during which time psychic attention turns from the present to the future, defines a purpose for life, and prepares for death. Crossing into this second half of life involves exchanging a sense of security for one of doubt. This transition into the next phase of life is a considerable psychological endeavor for individuals that prompts a reevaluation of our previous attitudes through which we “appreciate the value of the opposite of our former ideals […] perceive the error in our former convictions, [and] recognize the untruth in our former truth.”[11]


Jung observed the process of adaption and restoration primarily in his patients’ recollection of dreams. Thus, he began to examine and interpret “dreams and all other manifestations of the [patient’s] unconscious” (i.e., active imagination) in order to discover more about the process of adaption and restoration. [12]


Next time: A brief overview of dreams and active imagination.



[1] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed., Vol. 8 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), par. 430.

[2] Edward F. Edinger, Ego and Archetype (Boston: Shambhala , 1992), 103. Emphasis in original.

[3] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy, trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed., Vol. 14 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), par. 616.

[4] Georg Nicolaus, C. G. Jung and Nikolai Berdyaev: Individuation and the Person, A Critical Comparison (New York: Routledge, 2011), 184.

[5] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings, trans. R. F. C. Hull, Vol. 18 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), par. 298.

[6] Jung, CW 18:298.

[7] Murray Stein, Practicing Wholeness: Analytical Psychology and Jungian Thought (New York: Continuum, 1996), 11-2.

[8] Murray Stein, Jung’s Treatment of Christianity: The Psychotherapy of a Religious Tradition, (Wilmette: Chiron Publishers, 1985), 175.

[9] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Psychology and Alchemy, trans. R. F. C. Hull, Vol. 12 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), par. 239.

[10] Susan Rowland, Jung as a Writer (London: Routledge, 2005), 5.

[11] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd Edition, Vol. 7 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), par. 115-16. See also: Murray Stein, Jung’s Map of the Soul (Chicago: Open Court, 2009), 206; Mary Ann Mattoon, Jung and the Human Psyche: An Understandable Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2005), 176.

[12] Jung, CW 7:116; CW 7:187.



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