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  • Jungian Therapy, Individuation & Dealing with Feeling

    Jungian therapy

    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.

    • Non-Rational

    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 |
    MUSIC: “Blake’s Jerusalem”, Billy Bragg © 2006  Outside Music  All Rights Reserved.
    © 2011 Brian Collinson
    2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga




    1. jamenta


      November 25, 2011 at 1:31 am -

      I often have found when trying to come to grips with a dream – my first major clues are my emotional content – the feeling invoked by a dream. When I write about my dreams – I try to connect my feelings (that I can recall) with each of the images and/or the different tensions taking place in my dream.

      My feelings usually give me a good idea of the main theme of the dream – while the particulars of imagery and events – that I try to pay closer attention to – give a sense of what meaning the unconscious is up to. It’s as if my feelings are the stage props – the “context” – and the images & events the “actors” in the unconscious production.

      But Jung is right. Perhaps if anything “feeling” really is something I should have paid much more attention in my life – since truly it is feeling that has created the greatest significance in my life – such as love – or hope – or wonder.

      Thx Brian – yet another excellent post. You really know what you’re talking about when it comes to many of Jung’s ideas.

      1. Brian C
        November 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm -

        Thank you for your comment, John. I think that paying close attention to the feelings that you have in a dream, as well as the feelings that you have when you wake from the dream is an excellent idea, and often supplies awareness that is essential for the appropriate interpretation of the dream. I think that, for the thinking type, especially, paying attention to one’s feeling, and answering the question “Where is my feeling in this situation?” can be an essential part of individuation and personal growth. I’m glad you found the post useful, and, again, thank you for your comment! All the best, ~Brian

    2. Eric W

      Eric W

      November 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm -

      Thanks for this post Brian. I have a really hard time with my feeling side. As a man in a culture dominated by reason, it is very difficult for me not to think about everything–including my feelings. This tendency has caused me to suffer a lot. I have often denied my innermost desires because they were not rational or could not be backed up by logic. One of my goals is to learn how to better feel my way through life and trust my inner compass.

      1. Brian C
        November 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm -

        Thank you for your comment, Eric. I think that you point out a very important issue. In our society, the collective unquestionably has a thinking character, and there is immense pressure on people who are by nature feeling types to just fall in line with the social norm and think. From a very early age, the feeling type is taught to conform to the thinking structure of our society — not least of all by educational institutions which can be heavily weighted toward thinking. For a feeling type to reclaim their feeling, and to live out of it, can be a major piece of psychological work — but it can also provide an incredible sense of liberation for a person of that type. As you say, that movement toward trusting one’s inner compass, trusting one’s self, can be of absolutely vital importance. Thank you for sharing this aspect of your journey, Eric.

    3. Robert G. Longpré
      November 28, 2011 at 4:08 am -

      Hi Brian – I do have to say that I trust feeling over thinking and intuition over sensate data. But once I go with feeling, the inferior thinking starts to kick in and raise nothing but doubts. Great post.

      1. Brian C
        November 28, 2011 at 7:58 am -

        Thanks very much for your comment, Robert. I think, in our culture, those who have feeling as a primary function and thinking as their least developed function face particular challenges, because as a culture, we are so oriented to the thinking function. For feeling types to own their primary function without apology or self-doubt is truly a master work. Thank goodness our culture has you feeling types to help the rest of us keep things in perspective! All the very best, ~Brian

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