Individuation, Abstract Art and Corporate Learning (Part 1)
Updated: Mar 25, 2022
This post is related to my recent exposure to Jungian psychology and in fact the last post on abstract painting.
I set out the Swiss journey as an opportunity to discover. In this spirit, I attended a workshop in the Jungian institute in Zurich earlier this year. Frankly, I was lost like 50% of the time during the workshop. All the strange terminologies are difficult to me. The one-way lecture (even reading from note sometimes) did not help much.
Yet, I am fascinated with some of the concepts. Above all, I love the idea of individuation. Jung advocated that the goal in life for all is to achieve individuation or self realization. To become undivided. It implies becoming one’s own self / a psychological ‘individual’ / a separate, indivisible unity or ‘whole’ The individuation process will lead to mental health or a healthy functioning personality. By individuation, it means to confront contents of the unconscious to bring about a more harmonious balance between the different part of the psyche (i.e. mind or soul)
And on the idea of unconscious - Jung advocated that the psyche consists of 3 parts – conscious, personal unconscious and collective unconscious. The conscious is the part of the psyche which one is aware of. The personal unconscious is composed of repressed elements from one’s personal history. The collective unconscious is composed of elements which are inherited and which all humans share.
The ideas make sense to me. I believe that each of us is unique by nature. Yet, for most if not all of us, the first part of our lives is to ‘fit in’. We are normed (parented and educated) to find some socially acceptable roles and play well in those roles e.g. to be a good son / daughter, to be a successful banker / teacher. In order to fit in, I suspect that most of us suppress some parts of ourselves. After we find our place in the society, it makes sense to find and play to our true-selves. Probably one will never become totally his / her true-self but I think the path towards it would be fulfilling already. And I think it is a natural process for most.
In fact, this coincides with my own experience. Majority of my coaching clients are 40 plus / minus. Most are drawn to work on a similar issue – ‘I have done well in what I am doing. If I continue, I am sure I will still do well. But I am not sure whether I shall spend my remaining life on this.’ Some may call it mid-life crisis. It seems to me examples of how people are drawn to the individuation process.
The idea of ‘confronting the unconscious’ also makes a lot of sense. I believe most have experienced occasions which we cannot explain how we came to certain decisions or what made us having certain emotion. Or suddenly some of our long-lost memory came back just because of a specific smell. There is some part of our mind which we are not conscious of. We parked, filtered out and forgot some parts of our mind (personal unconscious), and we inherited some since we were born (collective unconscious).
In order to find and play to our true-selves, we thus need to approach the unconscious. And that is where the abstract art comes in. The hypothesis is that we can surface our unconscious by free association. It seems to me a painting without immediate and direct meaning would be useful in inducing free association. It is NOT what it is. It is what YOU are. I think the same logic applies to dream analysis.
Assuming the above is true (if there is truth….), I wonder what the implication is to corporate learning? Let me ponder on it and share later.