Theories of Personality 9th Edition

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Chapter 4 Jung: Analytical Psychology 129

Old Age

As the evening of life approaches, people experience a diminution of consciousness
just as the light and warmth of the sun diminish at dusk. If people fear life during
the early years, then they will almost certainly fear death during the later ones.
Fear of death is often taken as normal, but Jung believed that death is the goal of
life and that life can be fulfilling only when death is seen in this light. In 1934,
during his 60th year, Jung wrote:

Ordinarily we cling to our past and remain stuck in the illusion of youthfulness.
Being old is highly unpopular. Nobody seems to consider that not being able to
grow old is just as absurd as not being able to outgrow child’s-size shoes. A still
infantile man of thirty is surely to be deplored, but a youthful septuagenarian—
isn’t that delightful? And yet both are perverse, lacking in style, psychological
monstrosities. A young man who does not fight and conquer has missed the best
part of his youth, and an old man who does not know how to listen to the
secrets of the brooks, as they tumble down from the peaks to the valleys, makes
no sense; he is a spiritual mummy who is nothing but a rigid relic of the past.
(Jung, 1934/1960, p. 407)
Most of Jung’s patients were middle aged or older, and many of them suf-
fered from a backward orientation, clinging desperately to goals and lifestyles of
the past and going through the motions of life aimlessly. Jung treated these people
by helping them establish new goals and find meaning in living by first finding
meaning in death. He accomplished this treatment through dream interpretation,
because the dreams of elderly people are often filled with symbols of rebirth, such
as long journeys or changes in location. Jung used these and other symbols to
determine patients’ unconscious attitudes toward death and to help them discover
a meaningful philosophy of life (Jung, 1934/1960).


Psychological rebirth, also called self-realization or individuation, is the process of
becoming an individual or whole person (Jung, 1939/1959, 1945/1953). Analytical
psychology is essentially a psychology of opposites, and self-realization is the process
of integrating the opposite poles into a single homogeneous individual. This process
of “coming to selfhood” means that a person has all psychological components func-
tioning in unity, with no psychic process atrophying. People who have gone through
this process have achieved realization of the self, minimized their persona, recognized
their anima or animus, and acquired a workable balance between introversion and
extraversion. In addition, these self-realized individuals have elevated all four of the
functions to a superior position, an extremely difficult accomplishment.
Self-realization is extremely rare and is achieved only by people who are able
to assimilate their unconscious into their total personality. To come to terms with
the unconscious is a difficult process that demands courage to face the evil nature
of one’s shadow and even greater fortitude to accept one’s feminine or masculine
side. This process is almost never achieved before middle life and then only by men
and women who are able to remove the ego as the dominant concern of personality
and replace it with the self. The self-realized person must allow the unconscious
self to become the core of personality. To merely expand consciousness is to inflate

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