Consciousness

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Consciousness. The function or activity which maintains the relation of psychic contents to the ego; distinguished conceptually from the psyche, which encompasses both consciousness and the unconscious. (See also opposites.)

There is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites.[“Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 178.]There are two distinct ways in which consciousness arises. The one is a moment of high emotional tension, comparable to the scene in Parsifal where the hero, at the very moment of greatest temptation, suddenly realizes the meaning of Amfortas’ wound. The other is a state of contemplation, in which ideas pass before the mind like dream-images. Suddenly there is a flash of association between two apparently disconnected and widely separated ideas, and this has the effect of releasing a latent tension. Such a moment often works like a revelation. In every case it seems to be the discharge of energy-tension, whether external or internal, which produces consciousness.[“Analytical Psychology and Education,” CW 17, par. 207.]

In Jung’s view of the psyche, individual consciousness is a superstructure based on, and arising out of, the unconscious.

Consciousness does not create itself-it wells up from unknown depths. In childhood it awakens gradually, and all through life it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep from an unconscious condition. It is like a child that is born daily out of the primordial womb of the unconscious. . . . It is not only influenced by the unconscious but continually emerges out of it in the form of numberless spontaneous ideas and sudden flashes of thought.[“The Psychology of Eastern Meditation,” CW 11, par. 935.]

Constellate. To activate, usually used with reference to a complex and an accompanying pattern of emotional reactions.

This term simply expresses the fact that the outward situation releases a psychic process in which certain contents gather together and prepare for action. When we say that a person is “constellated” we mean that he has taken up a position from which he can be expected to react in a quite definite way. . . . The constellated contents are definite complexes possessing their own specific energy.[“A Review of the Complex Theory,” CW 8, par. 198.]

Constructive. An approach to the interpretation of psychic activity based on its goal or purpose rather than its cause or source. (See also final; compare reductive.)

I use constructive and synthetic to designate a method that is the antithesis of reductive. The constructive method is concerned with the elaboration of the products of the unconscious (dreams, fantasies, etc.). It takes the unconscious product as a symbolic expression which anticipates a coming phase of psychological development[“Definitions,” CW 6, par. 701.]The constructive or synthetic method of treatment presupposes insights which are at least potentially present in the patient and can therefore be made conscious.[“The Transcendent Function,” CW 8, par. 145.]

The constructive method involves both the amplification of symbols and their interpretation on the subjective level. Its use in dream interpretation aims at understanding how the conscious orientation may be modified in light of the dream’s symbolic message. This is in line with Jung’s belief that the psyche is a self-regulating system.

In the treatment of neurosis, Jung saw the constructive method as complementary, not in opposition, to the reductive approach of classical psychoanalysis.

We apply a largely reductive point of view in all cases where it is a question of illusions, fictions, and exaggerated attitudes. On the other hand, a constructive point of view must be considered for all cases where the conscious attitude is more or less normal, but capable of greater development and refinement, or where unconscious tendencies, also capable of development, are being misunderstood and kept under by the conscious mind.[“Analytical Psychology and Education,” CW 17, par. 195.]

Countertransference. A particular case of projection, used to describe the unconscious emotional response of the analyst to the analysand in a therapeutic relationship. (See also transference.)

A transference is answered by a counter-transference from the analyst when it projects a content of which he is unconscious but which nevertheless exists in him. The counter-transference is then just as useful and meaningful, or as much of a hindrance, as the transference of the patient, according to whether or not it seeks to establish that better rapport which is essential for the realization of certain unconscious contents. Like the transference, the counter-transference is compulsive, a forcible tie, because it creates a “mystical” or unconscious identity with the object[General Aspects of Dream Psychology,” CW 8, par. 519.]

A workable analytic relationship is predicated on the assumption that the analyst is not as neurotic as the analysand. Although a lengthy personal analysis is the major requirement in the training of analysts, this is no guarantee against projection.

Even if the analyst has no neurosis, but only a rather more extensive area of unconsciousness than usual, this is sufficient to produce a sphere of mutual unconsciousness, i.e., a counter-transference. This phenomenon is one of the chief occupational hazards of psychotherapy. It causes psychic infections in both analyst and patient and brings the therapeutic process to a standstill. This state of unconscious identity is also the reason why an analyst can help his patient just so far as he himself has gone and not a step further.[Appendix,” CW 16, par. 545.]

Author: Katherine Brittain

Writer/Cultural Anthropologist

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