This article is a quick look at CG Jung’s collected works on the development or achievement of personality. What did Carl Jung actually mean when he talks about the achievement of personality, and how does one get there? Including my own interpretations and thoughts on this subject.
It’s important to understand that the term personality in this sense has a different meaning than is more commonly known. Jung was not referring to personality or character traits, but rather a person that lives by their own laws, and defines their own path or purpose.
Jung believed that only a small minority will ever achieve true personality. It requires a particular and rare type of individual that has been through certain challenging life experiences, and is also willing to do what is necessary. This journey is likely started not by choice, however later becoming the chosen path for the individual.
This type of person needs to go against the majority and resist the desire of conformity. Most people just seek to conform with the masses, often for the goals of comfort, contentment and perhaps happiness. However when you do this, you sacrifice apart of yourself, especially your potential. Pain and discomfort is often needed in order to motivate the individual to grow.
Another problem that can arise from conforming, is that it tends to put more focus on the group, rather than the individual. The achievement of personality places the individual before the collective, and focuses on improving the individual. The individual is the root, or foundation of society, improving the individual is to simultaneously improve society as a whole.
The achievement of personality is the birth of the conscious individual, which moves away from herd like tendencies, which are largely unconscious in their direction. It’s a separation from the majority, an avoidance of conformity, isolation is required to acquire the full development of oneself. It’s a sacrifice that few would even consider a possibility, let alone try. However once the journey is started, it seems natural to some that take this path.
The few that do take on this challenge, or go in this direction will not be looked upon favourably by the mediocre masses. They will not be understood, and likely mocked or become the target of aggression by the conformist majority.
This is a common defensive reaction to anybody who follows their own rules and creates their own path. The herd members gain validation and meaning from one another, this creates stability within the group. Individual egos become unknowingly entangled with popular group think. To go against the laid out path, is to indirectly insult those that do follow it, and consider it the only way forward, or the only reality.
Jung understood that group think and herd like mentality creates stability within a society, therefore often necessary. However he also recognised that this conformity creates inflexibility and rigidness of the minds and behaviours if followed blindly and unconsciously.
Too few people seem to recognised that too much order can be as pathological as too much chaos. It’s those few, the minority that have successfully detached themselves from the herd that are needed to challenge the status-quo, and perhaps and hopefully restore balance. To ultimately shift the direction that the unconscious majority is heading in.
If it’s not possible to change the direction of the masses, then a major catastrophe is likely the only thing that will, like so many times before.