Jungian Psychology: Personality Integration

Personality integration is embracing the things that are hidden or blocking our growth and turning those weaknesses into strength. Healing ourselves psychologically.

The idea of integrating elements of our personality or of delving deeply into our subconscious is not new. Freud would have said that it was an exploration of the unconscious mind and that the conscious mind was just the tip of the iceberg. However a colleague of Freuds', Carl Jung was an eminent Swiss psychologist with his own school of thought on the concept of healing the whole self through self examination. Carl Jung gives us an idea of his philosophy and school of thought in psychology when he states:

"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens."

The exploration of your inner self is a vast uncharted territory but one that can ultimately and dramatically change your life. While it is sometimes difficult to analyze the things we hide from ourselves this article will examine how we can bring our hidden shames into the light and how we can turn many of our weaknesses into strengths. The article will examine some basic Jungian concepts in theory and then present practical methods to assist any individual in their own explorations to improve their self concept and develop a more complete, whole self.

Metaphorically Freud explained the conscious and subsconcious mind in a sense as different parts of the same ice berg. The tip of the iceberg was the conscious mind, the smallest part that could be seen and understood easily. While the remaining part of the iceberg was submerged underwater where it could not be easily seen. This metaphor nicely matches the concept that many of our issues about sex, and self worth, many of our issues or blocks, remain hidden in the depths of the caverns of our minds. Psychotherapy in many cases can help us talk ourselves into exploring those caverns. Unfortunately the subject matter in question in many cases prevents us from approaching another individual with that sense of trust and willingness to discuss many of these issues.

Jung addresses these impulses or hidden thoughts of shame by identifying it as the Shadow self. Psychotherapist Liz Greene comments that we are many times in bondage "to the crudest most instinctual aspects of human nature, the raw, goatish, uncivilized sexual impulses which we experience as evil because of their compulsive nature." Liz Greene's descriptions reminds me of the concept of shadowself and her words about these hidden thoughts reflect that if we were to define the shadow self as "relegated to the nethermost recesses of the unconscious, representing that which we fear, loath and despise in ourselves, yet which holds us in bondage through our very fear and disgust."

Facing your shadow self is an ongoing process. When one realizes that there are areas that can be healed and integrated or changed so that they no longer interfere with the normal functioning of your life, one can move forward with the joy of living. When you realize that much of the fear is based on illusion or the power of belief you put into granting these issues strength, then some of them fade away as fog burned away by the light of the sun.

Journaling can play a key role in self discovery and provide a record that one can review for progress. In addition journals provide you with the ability to look at your own internal dialogue and analyze how you think. What things are you saying and how are you saying them? These are very key in discovering many things that may be hidden. When you use key words they can be very revealing. For example, a client in a therapy session with his mother, called his grandmother his mother, primarily because he had been raised a great deal by his grandmother. There was a continuing family issue over the role his grandmother played in his life and a great deal of resentment from his mother over that role when it interfered with discipline. What was significant was that the adolescent did not even realize he had called his grandmother his mother during the example session. It is clues such as these that can lead to self revelation.

In the journaling process you can ask yourself questions.

* What are you afraid of?

* What would you say to your mother if you could tell her the truth?

* Your father?

*Your spouse or significant other?

* Your friends?

* Why can you not tell them the truth.

* What do you hate and why?

* In the future where do you want to be?

* What are your goals?

* What are you doing to accomplish your goals?

* List your stumbling blocks and how to overcome them.

There are so many questions out there that can easily be applied to exploration of self and good journal writing. In pastoral counseling some clients are assigned certain writings in order to investigate the meaning of forgiveness. They are required to reflect on the story of the Prodigal Son and that one can return to a higher power and be forgiven. One can forgive oneself. Exploring forgiveness is a powerful journal topic. One might choose to endeavor some of these explorations and then decide to consult with a pastoral counselor or other professional in the field once per month to share or work through some of the things discovered.

In the course of the journaling technique one may discover something one is afraid of. Then there are other techniques that could be useful. When you find a block and recognize it, then you might try to come up with strategies to overcome that block, or use desensitization to overcome your fears. Slowly expose yourself to that which you fear, in a safe environment with some guidance from outside. People who have driving phobias, must slowly drive and get used to it in many cases to overcome their fear. Desensitization in this case would be slow exposure. One must always do so in a safe fashion, usually with help if at all possible.

Classically one must realize that there are issues, or blocks or hidden things in order to bring them into the light and work on them. The first step is admitting you have a problem or issue. Then from that a variety of different methods can be applied to help the person. Taking a look at accepting your weaknesses and working on them, turning them into strengths is a very empowering concept. One that says that we are not mistakes but that we make mistakes. One that removes the stigma of guilt and allows us new strength and vitality in pursuing our own mental health, and positive growth. One that allows the opportunity to expand our horizons. One should choose to explore inner space and grow. It is only in growth that we do not stagnate.

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