individuation

Individuation: How to do it Properly

The Path to Individuation

James

Hey guys, how’s it going? Welcome back, of course: today is the inaugural episode of the brand new podcast series we’re calling Ask A Depth Psychologist, where myself and Steve – who you’re about to meet in just one moment – take your questions that you’ve submitted at the $10 tier or higher on Patreon and we sort of just throw it between us, have a bit of a kickabout, and it should be a good time. Of course, if you’ve been to this channel for a long time, you’ll know myself – James, of course – but for the first time, I’m going to introduce you to the man, the myth, the legend himself, Steve Richards. How are you, Steve?

 

Steve

Hi James, nice to see you.

 

James

Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. So of course, Steve is, erm, well – if I’m the young guy on the channel, Steve is kind of the brains of the operation, if you like. He’s my friend, he is my mentor, he has forty years – forty years plus, I believe, though that might be showing your age of course – clinical experience in depth psychology; you’ve been endorsed by Anthony Stevens and Ernest Rossi, you’ve done tons of cool stuff, I’m sure people can hear your story at some point on the channel, but we‘re going to get into some of the questions. So question number one comes from Foster Ellis, and he says:I’ve mentioned in the Discord that I want to build an AI around the Jungian model of the psyche. Essentially, I would build an artificial psyche and place it in the virtual world and then have it individuate, in the hopes that the resulting psyche would have an understanding of its world built into its idiosyncratic structure. However, it occurred to me that this completely neglects the effects the social world has on individuation. With this context in mind, what is the role of the social world on the individuation process? What do you think, Steve?

 

Steve

Well, I think that’s a fantastic project, if you can pull it off. It would really add overall to our knowledge base which is amazing, and incredible thinking has gone into that. For individuation, you can’t individuate alone. It can’t be done – unless you’re so introverted you’re virtually schizoid and completely withdrawn away from human contact. But for proper individuation, you have to have a relationship to the social world. I imagine that would cause problems because every other artificial intelligence – element, if you like – within that program would have to be at a similar level to the Jungian based one, so the whole thing would become like a Jungian world. It would be amazing if it could be pulled off, but, yeah, you have to function in a social environment in order to individuate because the psyche anticipates it.

 

James

Yes, so this is – obviously, behind you there is a picture of the muse, right? I noticed that – I don’t know if that was deliberate. Obviously, you’ve got your wife there, and you describe yourself as–

 

Steve

She wouldn’t come on camera today and the photograph’s forty years old, so I thought I’d teach her a little bit of a lesson – now you’re going to disappoint everybody ‘cos that’s how you looked forty years ago.

 

James

Well, you described to me before that you’re in an individuation marriage, right? So I guess the idea with that is the two of you individuate together, which kind of hits on the topic of this question. How does that then look like in terms of a marriage – an individuation marriage? What makes that different to a normal marriage? 

 

Steve

Well, I think we both had to want that kind of thing from the start. I mean, she embarked on this at the age of sixteen, which is pretty young. I met her when she was just turned fifteen, I was nineteen – nearly twenty, so I had a few years on her, and at that age there’s quite a gap, really. I was into Depth Psychology from the age of eleven. It was Freud, originally, and then from the age of sixteen it was Jung, and when I found Jung at last I thought I had found somebody who could explain me to me. Then by the time I met Pauline, I think I was well on my way: I’d been recording my dreams for years, I’d been working on myself. I was in a very tough environment at the time: I was a police officer in Merseyside – in Liverpool, front line police officer – and I went into the police to pressure test myself. Not just physically, but also morally. I thought this would be an ideal environment to Jung’s ideas: could I go in there and could I hold onto my moral values when faced with god-knows-what? The biggest shock – I don’t know if you remember the ‘Life On Mars’ TV series from some years ago that was showing the police in the 70s – well, it was really like that. There were men who’d gone through the Second World War and then thirty years in the police, pretty much – and then I came along like some kind of hippie, they thought, with these weird ideas, and so I was maladjusted to my environment immediately. But being young, I dug my heels in, and I wouldn’t change, and I did everything I could to wind them up. I’d be bringing books in by Carl Jung, I’d be leaving them around and reading them, and that led to me being ostracised – banished to outlying police stations, all sorts of– anything at all, because it was all weird and strange, but I would not give up on it. And I was looking for the right girl – I guess a lot of the boyos are – and I was very, very fortunate in finding Pauline. But you don’t know at first whether you’ve found the right person or not. But I told her what I was into, and she was very young and impressionable, but – great – she actually jumped on board with me, and we’ve been together and we’ve been through a hell of a lot since. It’s been a hell of a journey which– she’s accompanied me on that trip now for forty-two years.

 

James

Yes. Yeah, well, it’s a really good story. And of course, you – you’re an INTP, as am I, and I know that Pauline is an ESFJ, so in terms of – of course, we’ll cover typology stuff on this channel in massive, massive depth, so when you have two opposite types because in a way they are opposite – it’s kind of like you take the INTP cognitive stack, if you like, colloquially, and you flip it on its head , then basically you have the ESFJ. So I guess in the context of individuating with somebody else, it’s a case of– I guess young Steve, maybe like young me, being INTP, you’re all up in your head and you’re going around with your intuition and your thinking, and then she comes to you with her feeling and her sensing, and she goes: ‘No, Steve, get out of your head.’ And you go: ‘But Pauline, think more.’ You know, it’s that type of thing – is it more of a balancing act that you two do?

 

Steve

Yeah, to be honest, at first I kind of led the way because I was further down the road than she was, and that meant she was very much in my slipstream. And it took quite a while to adjust to the fact that she was catching up. And in many ways, it wasn’t really until we started to work together rather than on each other in a therapy situation that I really saw ¬– really, really saw – how valuable ESFJ was and just how good a therapist she was. She’s fantastic with people, she’s fantastic with relationships, with families and so forth. I’m really hot on the clinical side in terms of theory and in terms of theory development. I always have been. I pride myself on being effective as a clinician. But Pauline brings things to that that I don’t readily access unless I dig deep into myself, and vice versa. So, yeah, it’s been great – but It does take time. It’s not something you can just do a mouse click on and it just happens. You have to go through the fire, really, and test yourself. We’ve both been under terrific stresses in our lives, and we’ve shared that and we’ve helped one another as we’ve hit the troughs and then built back up towards the peaks. I believe that’s what an individuation marriage should be. You have to go through things together and you keep going through it – it is a cyclical process. It’s created a lot of problems in the profession: for example, we’ve met a lot of people who have been very jealous of that–

 

James

I can imagine.

 

Steve

–that they don’t have that or haven’t had that, and therefore we can’t. We don’t shove it in anybody’s face or anything like that, but it was Pauline who actually led the way and said we should work together. She was working in adult psychiatry at the time; I went into primary healthcare ahead of her, and she was a manager in adult psychiatry – in acute adult psychiatry at the time – and she came out and started working with me in primary healthcare, and– yeah, it was the right thing to do. Up until that point, we were working on each other and working in our different spheres. But yeah, when we started to work together, I really, really saw the value of her and the value of her way of looking at things and her way of doing things. And it still informs me today.

 

James

Talking to quite a few peers around my own age, very much a thing– well, everyone in this Discord so far – except maybe one – is an intuitive type. So you can automatically see that the way, for example, a community like this is crafted will be one-sided. I talk to my peers and everything and it’s like ‘emotions are icky’ or ‘we shouldn’t feel things’ and everything else – it’s like, you don’t grow like that. Y’know, it’s been that same thing with myself and Jayne, which we sussed out only yesterday: thought she was an ESFJ for a long time, more likely she’s an ISFJ, which means she’s almost the complete opposite to me. If the INTP is more of a knight, she’s more of that – what was the image you said yesterday? – the Venus, Botticelli’s Venus, or something, right? 

 

Steve

Yeah, the way she struck us – she’s very feminine, in that classical medieval sort of way, and I think Botticelli’s Venus, maybe something from La Primavera if you know that picture – that kind of ephemeral, virtual femininity, which is very nice. Very, very nice.

 

James

Yeah, and I guess– growing up, you’re all one-sided, and you think your way is the only way, but of course when you come across someone who’s the opposite to you, that’s what helps your with individuation, right? Rather than clustering with people who are the same as you – of course, you can do it when you go through problems together as you will balance out, I imagine, but appreciating the opposites – in true Jungian fashion, if you like, unification of the opposites–

 

Steve

Can I just add that she has that quality with respect to her appearance, but it’s not just that, you know – she does have that ISFJ quality which, paired with her appearance, gives her this air of being very feminine in that classical sense. If you just had that appearance without the personality, that’s not the same thing at all, you know? You need them both. Obviously, personality is more important ultimately because that’s what you live with. Someone’s personality is what you interact with, it’s what you helps you to grow and helps you to develop – but yeah, she’s a very nice girl, very nice.

 

James

Thank you, thank you – I like to think that I picked right, of course, of course.

 

Steve

You did: now just behave yourself, and individuate properly with her, and develop all those sides of yourself you’ve hitherto left behind. 

 

James

Yes, that is the idea, but it is harder than it makes out on the surface. People say– ‘balance the masculine and feminine energies within yourself’ is a meme which is thrown around, it’s like what does that mean?

 

Steve

It takes time, and you will be pressure tested. Every relationship is pressure tested.

 

James

Yeah, definitely. Well, thank you for your question, Foster.