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Supplemental Essay: One-sidedness and the Daemonic

This supplemental essay contains quotes and expanded explanations as background for the material in the main essay. You can skip this supplemental essay if you're not interested in the details.


In his book The Essential Jung, Anthony Storr described Carl Jung's theories on one-sidedness as follows:


"Jung considered that habitual attitudes were nearly always carried too far, so that the thinker neglected his feelings, while the intuitive paid too little attention to the facts given by sensation. Introverts were caught up in their inner worlds; while extraverts lost themselves in the press of events. In Western man, because of the achievements of his culture, there was an especial tendency toward intellectual hubris; an overvaluation of thinking which could alienate a man from his emotional roots. Neurotic symptoms, dreams and other manifestations of the unconscious were often expressions of the 'other side' trying to assert itself."[1]


"Jung found that those who consulted him because of the emptiness of their lives were one-sided in their development: too much identified with their predominant attitude and function. Since everyone has both an extraverted and an introverted potential, and also needs all four functions (thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition) if he is to live life fully, it follows that one task of analysis is to help the patient become aware of neglected aspects of his personality."[2]

Carl Jung himself refers to the Dominant function as the "directed function" or "valuable function. In his book Psychological Types he says that many people identify with their "directed function," which represents an undeniable advantage in that "a man can best adapt to collective demands and expectations; moreover it also enables him to keep out of the way of his inferior, undifferentiated, undirected functions by self-alienation."[3]

But it also comes with disadvantages:

"Thus every directed function demands the strict exclusion of everything not suited to its nature: thinking excludes all disturbing feelings, just as feeling excludes all disturbing thoughts. Without the repression of everything alien to itself, the directed function could never operate at all. On the other hand, since the self-regulation of the living organism requires by its very nature the harmonizing of the whole human being, consideration of the less favored functions forces itself upon us as a vital necessity and an unavoidable task in the education of the human race."[4]



Jung notes the compensating function of the unconscious. He says, "The activity of consciousness is selective. Selection demands direction. But direction requires the exclusion of everything irrelevant. This is bound to make the conscious orientation one-sided. The contents that are exluded and inhibited by the chosen direction sink into the unconscious, where they form a counter-weight to the conscious orientation." He descirbes how the unconscious contents gain energy and "break through in the form of dreams and spontaneous images..."[5]


Jung says that, ultimately, over-identification with the directed function results in degeneration of the individual due to imbalance of libido (mental energy). "For the more he identifies with one function, the more he invests it with libido, and the more he withdraws libido from the other functions. They can tolerate being deprived of libido for even quite long periods, but in the end they will react. Being drained of libido, they gradually sink below the threshold of consciousness, lose their associative connection with it, and finally lapse into the unconscious. This is a regressive development, a reversion to the infantile and finally to the archaic level. [...] This state brings about a dissociation of the personality, since the archaic modes of functioning have no direct connection with the consciousness and no negotiable bridges exist between it and the unconscious. Consequently, the further the process of self-alienation goes, the further the unconscious functions sink down to the archaic level."[6]

Jung says that "the archaic modes of functioning are still extraordinarily vigorous and easily reactivated." Man has spent only a few thousand years in a cultivated state, as opposed to several hundred thousand years in a state of savagery. "Hence, when certain functions disintegrate by being deprived of libido, their archaic foundations in the unconscious become operative again. [...] The influence of the unconscious increases proportionately. It begins to provoke symptomatic disturbances of the directed function, thus producing that vicious circle characteristic of so many neuroses: The patient tries to compensate the disturbing influences by special feats on the part of the directed function, and the competition between them is often carried to the point of nervous collapse."[7]


"Identification with one particular function at once produces a tension of opposites. The more compulsive the one-sidedness, and the more untamed the libido which streams off to one side, the more daemonic it becomes. When a man is carried away by his uncontrolled, undomesticated libido, he speaks of daemonic possession or of magical influences."[8]


In The Development of Personality Jung writes that listening to one's daemonic voice is the pathway out of onesidedness and toward self-actualization. He describes the man of genius or great artist who seeks out and listens to his inner voice, as opposed to the neurotic who flees in fear from that same voice. Jung says, "The highest and the lowest, the best and the vilest, the truest and the most deceptive things are often blended together in the inner voice in the most baffling way, thus opening up in us an abyss of confusion, falsehood, and despair. [...] To develop the personality is a gamble, and the tragedy is that the daemon of the inner voice is at once our greatest danger and an indispensable help. It is tragic, but logical, for it is the nature of things to be so."[9]

Link: Return to Intuition (N)

~Posted January 12, 2024


[1] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 18.

[2] Ibid., p. 21.

[3] C.G. Jung, Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), trans. H.G. Baynes, rev. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1971, First Princeton/Bollingen Paperback printing, 1976), p. 298.

[4] Ibid., p. 299.

[5] Ibid., p. 419.

[6] Ibid., pp. 298-299.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., p. 207.

[9] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 209-210; excerpted from C.G. Jung, The Development of Personality (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 17), pars. 319-321.

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