The following quote from Jung is easily misunderstood:
“The possibilities of development discussed in the preceding chapters were, at bottom, alienations of the self, ways of divesting the self of its reality in favour of an external role or in favour of an imagined meaning. In the former case the self retires into the background and gives place to social recognition; in the latter, to the auto-suggestive meaning of a primordial image. In both cases the collective has the upper hand. Self-alienation in favour of the collective corresponds to a social ideal; it even passes for social duty and virtue, although it can also be misused for egotistical purposes”
(para. 267, Jung, C.G. (1966). “The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious.” In R.F.C. Hull (Trans.), The Collected Works of C.G. Jung (Vol. 7, pp. 123-241). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published in 1934.)
By “alienations of the self” Jung refers to the normal separation from the original unconscious wholeness present at birth. As the infant develops into a child the first of many “endpoints” is reached when a single conscious function (either sensation, intuition, thinking, or feeling) becomes the dominant way in which adaptation to life slowly replaces the participation with the mother’s psyche. In the teen years, a continuity of consciousness develops which one can recognize empirically - which we call the “ego” complex.
The development of consciousness, of which the ego is the center, facilitates social adaptation to other children, school, and home life, yet the cost is a loss of connection with the “self” - the psychic totality of conscious and the conscious. The effects of this “loss of connection to the self” normally resurfaces in the transition to midlife. For more on this see Jung’s article “The Stages of Life,” Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 8, pp. 387-403.
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