Carl Jung's Conception of Individuality

By Ranjani Ravi

Feb 3, 2010

According to Carl Jung, Individuation is the development of consciousness. It is the process by which an unformed person develops into a unique Individual. The Individual is one who chooses not to be limited by collective norms. Transforming his/her personality to reach a higher level of consciousness, self-realized Individuals become aware of their own unique innate potentials, that which distinguishes them from the collective. Jung conceives of an Individual not as an isolated, separate existence but as a pre-eminent member of the collective .

Society is essential for human existence and for the flowering of Individuality. In Jung's conception, the self-realized Individual's very existence presupposes a positive relationship with the collective. The Individual lends himself to express the subconscious aspirations of the collective of his time, giving conscious expression to the needs and aspirations of the society through his actions. The Individual is indispensable for human accomplishment and for the development of the society.

Society inhibits the formation of Individuality by conditioning its members in school and even at the level of the university. The formed Individual rejects conformity for the sake of conformity. Individuality can develop only when a person chooses to do what he thinks is right, consciously. To cling to what is familiar, acceptable and comfortable is to take refuge in conventionality. Individuality requires self-confidence, responsibility and courage. Development of Individuality is possible only in freedom. In the absence of freedom, people do not accept responsibility or adhere to high values.

In Jung's understanding, everything needs its opposite for its existence. The indivisible, whole being that the Individual is, is made complete when he accepts and integrates all aspects of his personality, realizing in the process that contradictions are complements.