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Jung felt that each of these intervals–youth, mid-life, and old age–has a unique character: “…the life of a young person is characterized by a general expansion and a striving towards concrete ends; and his neurosis seems mainly to rest on his hesitation or shrinking back from this necessity.” Mid-life (c.
In his Collected Works, letters and various seminars, Jung discussed neurosis nearly 700 times.
It was a key theme in his work as a psychiatrist, and a major topic in his writing.
Part I: Definitions and Causes of Neurosis Definitions Our English word “neurosis” comes from the Greek neuron, which meant “sinew, tendon;…” Jung acknowledged Freud as the first to use the term, which he (Freud) considered “to be a substitute for direct means of gratification. Causes We must start off our discussion of causes with Jung’s reminder of the ubiquity of antimonies: “…
For him it is something inauthentic–a mistake, a subterfuge, an excuse, a refusal to face facts; in short, something essentially negative that should never have been.” Jung differed from Freud, taking a much broader view of how, when and why a neurosis can form (more on that below) and also regarding a neurosis as both negative and positive: “A neurosis is by no means merely a negative thing; it is also something positive.” that is, situations where we are unable to reconcile or integrate opposites within ourselves. every truth relating to the psyche must, if it is to be made absolutely true, immediately be reversed.
In doing this, I was finally able to get unstuck and grow more fully into the adult life that my soul intended for me. Sometimes this training can become extreme, leading a person to identify with a social role.
Jung is not suggesting here that we should act like infants, or live out infantile demands, but that we be conscious of these facets of our unconscious life, i.e.
The unconscious always tries to compensate such imbalances, and the result is that we are “faced with a situation which [we] cannot overcome by conscious means.” Our inner life is no longer cooperating with our outer, conscious identity.
One form such conflict can take is in the phenomenon known as the “turn type”–the situation that occurs when a person is unable to live true to his/her own innate type preferences.
As failures of adaptation, a neurosis can take “two forms: one, a disturbance of adaptation to outer conditions; two, a disturbance of adaptation to inner conditions.” and, given our current culture we certainly are witness now to lots of illusions in our politics and civic life, and so many Americans have fallen “victim” to their own, and their President’s, illusions! Thus one is neurotic because one has repressions or because one does not have repressions; because one’s head is full of infantile sex fantasies or one does not live by the pleasure principle; because one is too unconscious or because one is too conscious; because one is selfish or because one exists too little as a self; and so on …” With that caveat, we can discuss the various causes for neuroses under several rubrics: conflict, dissociation, maladaptation, being out of sync with one’s age, neuroses relating to social roles, those relating to moral issues, those linked to religion, erotic or sex-based neuroses, and features of our collective life that foster our being vulnerable to neuroses. This cause arises from the fact that we all have both a conscious life and an unconscious.
We have an ego and a shadow side, a sensual life and a spiritual life, e.g. denying the claim our soul has on our lives), or too saintly.