The Fancy Times

Fine Slop for the Discerning Tastemaker

The Undiscovered Self

The Dilemma of the Individual in Modern Society

Carl Jung, 1961

And just as the typical neurotic is unconscious of his shadow side, so the normal individual, like the neurotic, sees his shadow in his neighbor, or in the man beyond the great divide.

Carl Gustav Jung

A short and casual text compared to Jung’s other works. The book straddles a line between philosophy and self-help. The central thesis is that in order for an individual to acquire the self-knowledge needed to resist ideological fanaticism and manipulation, one must first gain an awareness and understanding of one’s unconscious mind and true, inner nature. This is the titular “undiscovered self”. 

The book was first published in 1961, Carl Jung’s final year. Presumably, the writing was sewn up a few years prior, though still within Jung’s elder days. There is noticeably less pomp and bite when compared with something like Man and His Symbols, though a reader familiar with Jung will recognize his particular terminology in concepts like self-individuation and the shadow self. Some may find the book less robust than Jung’s past works, but to me, it seemed like a more personal writing. The reflections of a man fortunate enough to reach his twilight, rather than the grit of a younger writer hoping to shake the earth with his revelations. Is it a must-read before you die type of book? Not at all. If you like Jung and you see it at a thrift store, it can be a pleasant refresher on the embarrassing perils of ego. 

Carl Jung’s lifetime allowed him a good seat to watch the stumbling death of western monarchies and the zealous rise of collectivism in all its infant forms. He shows a clear dislike of collective political machines that seems very informed by his time, but these opinions are neither ignorant, nor uninformed. Few new Jungian concepts are introduced. More so, Jungian concepts are reiterated and simplified like a TLDR note for Dr. Jung’s theories on psychology. If it’s self-helpy, that’s because all of Jung’s ideas are rooted in Know Thyself. This is the shrink who said that most of his patients suffered from a “lifestyle sickness” that many could correct on their own with an honest journaling habit. 

The forlorn state of consciousness in our world is due primarily to loss of instinct, and the reason for this lies in the development of the human mind over the past aeon. The more power man had over nature, the more his knowledge and skill went to his head, and the deeper became his contempt for the merely natural and accidental, for all irrational data – including the objective psyche, which is everything that consciousness is not.

Carl Gustav Jung

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