Individuation Hijacked: Persona and Hero in an Evolving Universe

Gary Trosclair

The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances.

Jung believed that we have a compulsive urge toward individuation, an irresistible drive to become whole. We tend to identify this urge primarily with the realization of our authentic, true self, free of external interference. But another essential aspect of individuation, our need for connection, community and service, requires us to use a persona, a mask representing a limited part of the true self. The capacity to create and use persona is sometimes hijacked to prove our worth in the world, to avoid feelings of shame and insecurity.  The original intent, engagement with community, is lost.

This talk will explore what true individuation requires of us in terms of persona: that we return to the original intent of the mask, discern what we’re called to cultivate in our personality, and what role we play in an evolving and self-organizing universe. More details.

Building on the Friday evening lecture, the Saturday workshop will explore what happens when the archetype of the hero is hijacked and unhealthy compulsion takes the wheel. The compelling urge to achieve and master, so characteristic of heroes and heroines, may be used to avoid shame or insecurity. The original intent of heroic energy is then lost and the personality becomes rigid, controlling, and work-obsessed. This leads to the illness of our times, an unhealthy and compulsive pursuit of status and achievement, often to the destruction of individuals, families and communities.

Understanding the teleology, the original intent of the heroic and compulsive urge to individuate, can help us to channel this energy into more satisfying and meaningful ways of living that accord with true self. This presentation will help clinicians in their work with compulsive, perfectionist, and workaholic clients; individuals who struggle with those tendencies; and partners of individuals whose personalities have become rigid and difficult to live with. More details.

Gary Trosclair, DMA, LCSW, is a Jungian analyst in private practice in New York City and Westchester County, New York. He is President of the New York Association for Analytical Psychology and serves on the faculty of the Jung Institute of New York. He is the author of I’m Working On It In Therapy: How To Get The Most Out Of Psychotherapy, and of the blog The Healthy Compulsive Project. His new book The Healthy Compulsive: Healing Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and Taking the Wheel of the Driven Personality describes the hijacking of the urge to individuate and a return to an authentic and meaningful life.