Original Articles

Enlightenment and Individuation

Published in: Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology
Volume 5, issue 1, 2005 , pages: 1–10
DOI: 10.1080/20797222.2005.11433895


It is important for psychology - as a discipline of thought about the nature of psyche - and for psychotherapy, as its practice of understanding, to draw a distinction between neurotic and authentic suffering if it aims to assist a person to become an indivisible being. A difficulty with mainstream psychology is the conviction that psyche begins and ends in the realm of Reason as this conviction tends to establish a reality of permanence, absolutes and substance, and hence consequently, colludes with the ‘ten thousand things’ of neurotic suffering. When reason sets the rules of reality, it is argued, a deep sense of alienation and meaninglessness takes root. A psychology stuck in this realm is unable to attend to authentic human suffering, which is the reconciliation and synthesis of opposites in human nature. In the dichotomy of subject and object, and unconscious and conscious, a psychology of the reason unwittingly identifies with and acts out that which it rejects as inferior. It thus suffers from the very condition it sets out to alleviate. The concepts of enlightenment and individuation on the other hand draw a clear distinction between neurotic and authentic suffering. They conceive of a reality in which subject and object are one, so providing support to one suffering authentically so as to remain true to oneself and thus to become an indivisible being.

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