“When Nietzsche said ‘God is Dead,’ he uttered a truth that is valid for the greater part of Europe.  People were influenced by it not because he said so, but because it stated a widespread psychological fact, and the consequences were not long delayed.  After the fog of isms, the catastrophe.”


Partial transcript of a talk by Edward Edinger: Individuation: A Myth for Modern Man January 20, 1988
Presented by the San Diego Friends of Jung 
The full audio version of this talk is here:

That’s a dramatic image of the activated opposites.  It is the problem of the man who has lost his containing myth.  The activated god-image appears as a pair of opposites.  Mephistopheles opened the problem of opposites; Adam and Eve get it by eating the apple. 

Nietzsche announced unequivocally, “God is dead.”  Jung said, “When Nietzsche said ‘God is Dead,’ he uttered a truth that is valid for the greater part of Europe.  People were influenced by it not because he said so, but because it stated a widespread psychological fact, and the consequences were not long delayed.  After the fog of isms, the catastrophe.”

In the 20th Century, it’s a terrifying psychic fact for an increasing number of individuals.  


1.         About 1500, the God-image fell out of Heaven and into the human psyche.  It was withdrawn from metaphysical projection, and became available for conscious experience.  This event had a two-fold effect.  On one hand it greatly increased available energy to the individual ego, promoting investigation of previously forbidden areas.  On the other hand, it had the delayed effect of alienating the ego from its transpersonal connection…from its sense of having divine guidance.  It led to the progressive realization that man is an orphan in a meaningless universe.

2.  This revelation:  Increased power and energy for the ego together with a lost relation to God constitutes a psychological state of inflation and/or despair.

3.  The collective view is that the last 500 years has been a time of great progress and advancement, and so it has.  But the unconscious as indicated by myth and legend, characterizes this time as a time of the antichrist.  The realization of man’s desperate condition began to emerge in the 19th Century, and reached major proportions in the 20th century.

4.  It is in this context that Jung and his discovery of individuation emerges.   What had been going on in the collective psyche since 1500, the descent of the god-image into empirical man, came into full consciousness in C.G. Jung.  And that happened specifically during his “confrontation with the unconscious” beginning December 12, 1912 to 1918.  [The Red Book period.]  This period enabled Jung to discover the collective unconscious.  It followed his realization that he had no myth.  This experience was his first step in his discovery of his new myth. [He needed a new psychic container.]

5.  We can now say that what happened to Jung is typical.  The discovery of a new myth or the revitalization of an old one requires that the individual have a direct experience of the collective unconscious.  That’s what will do the job. 

6.   There is a hitch.  It’s dangerous.  It can destroy as well as heal.  It opens up the opposites and the individual can be torn apart by the opposites, unless the imagery emerges that unites them.  The symbols of the Self.  Individuation—encounters the Self and establishes an inner relationship with it.  The lost god-image is rediscovered within.  The word Jung uses is Self.  … Highly ambiguous endeavor individuation is. Self reminds us of selfishness, reminds us of self-centered narcissim, solipsistic megalomania.  Very ambiguous.  Not a good odor in contemporary useage.

7.  Jung—Individuation is the continuing incarnation of God.  Jesus said, “I said you are gods.” In 10th Chapter of John.   Sounds like pretty dangerous doctrine.  Sounds very similar to Faust’s experiment with the Devil.  Initially a good man; exposed himself to Evil (opposites); and starts himself on the dangerous journey of Individuation.  “What we do when we take the unconscious seriously.”   Jung puts it in very stark terms in ¶41 of Psychology and Alchemy, Volume 12.

“There have always been people who, not satisfied with the dominants of conscious life, set forth—under cover and by devious paths, to their destruction or salvation—to seek direct experience of the eternal roots, and, following the lure of the restless unconscious psyche, find themselves in the wilderness where, like Jesus, they come up against the son of darkness. 

The obvious danger in this operation is that the ego will identify with the Self and succumb to an atheistic inflation.  In fact, that’s a very grave danger of Modern Man.

The contrary danger is that of alienation, a state of disconnection from the Self, causing despair.

They’re really two sides of the same phenomenon. Between this Scylla and Charybdis [i.e. having to choose between two evils; “on the horns of a dilemma”; rock and a hard place] between the two lies the possibility of Individuation, in which the Ego consciously connects with the Self, but does not identify with it.

It leads to immediately to the problem of the opposites, which expose one to severe inner conflict. If one can endure the conflict of these activated opposites, usually the unconscious will generate symbols of what we call “the coniunctio”, namely symbols of reconciliation; symbols of marriage between the opposites. [i.e. The Woman’s March of 1/21/17 in which people of all perspectives participated.]

Edward Edinger was a leading Jungian Analyst of the 20th Century.  After studying with Esther Harding, who wrote Psychic Energy, one of Dr. C.G. Jung's early disciples, Dr. Edinger founded the C.G. Jung Foundation in New York City, and later moved to Los Angeles.  This talk was given to the San Diego Friends of Jung in 1988.  Dr. Edinger died in 1998, but his analysis correctly predicts our situation in Election 2016 and after.  


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