Jungian Therapy, Individuation & Dealing with Feeling
In Jungian therapy, discovering feeling is often a key to individuation, the discovery of our individual identity. What we feel is part of what makes us human; discovering our own unique feeling is often an important path to ourselves.
Feeling gets a bad rap in our culture. We see reason as more dependable, consistent, even, dispassionate. But without this dimension, would we even be human?
What is feeling, really?
A Unique Way of Taking in Reality
For Jungian therapy, one of the basic ways that we take in both internal and external reality is through what we feel. We often devalue it. Nonetheless it is real, and impacts our lives at a very deep level. Some of the most powerful things that can happen to a person happen through what is felt.
As Important and Real as Thinking
Feeling and thinking are both fundamental ways in which we take in, and interact with, the world. Thinking evaluates things rationally, or logically. Feeling evaluates things in terms of our judgement of “how we feel” about things, whether we are positively or negatively disposed toward them, and why.
Broader than Just Emotion
However, what we feel is not identical with affect or emotion. We can feel something without having an emotion, although emotion itself contains feeling.
That which is felt is not irrational, as if it were an illogical argument. You cannot evaluate it using thinking, or vice versa. For Jungian therapy, feeling brings a whole different type of understanding into the picture than does thinking and rationality — a whole new colour.
William Blake (1757 – 1827) was a profound poet and artist of imagination and depth. His poem “And did Those Feet in Ancient Time” proclaims feeling and soul in the midst of the British industrial revolution, a time that, like ours, denied the value of what we feel and exclusively exalted reason. When he writes of England’s “dark satanic mills”, he is not referring to manufacturing, but to the inhuman character of reason cut off from felt reality — a real and present danger in our own time. Blake yearns to be in touch with its power and reality:
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
May we live in the reality of feeling and of our own “arrows of desire”, on our personal journey towards individuation.
PHOTO: © Senai Aksoy | Dreamstime.com
MUSIC: “Blake’s Jerusalem”, Billy Bragg © 2006 Outside Music All Rights Reserved.
© 2011 Brian Collinson
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