Ego and archetype; individuation and the religious function of the psyche

by Edward F. Edinger

Book, 1972



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Call number



New York, Published by Putnam for the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology [1972]

Original publication date


Physical description

xv, 304 p.; 24 cm

Local notes

This book is about the individual's journey to psychological wholeness, known in analytical psychology as the process of individuation. Edward Edinger traces the stages in this process and relates them to the search for meaning through encounters with symbolism in religion, myth, dreams, and art. For contemporary men and women, Edinger believes, the encounter with the self is equivalent to the discovery of God. The result of the dialogue between the ego and the archetypal image of God is an experience that dramatically changes the individual's worldview and makes possible a new and more meaningful way of life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Hebephrene
I have rarely read anything containing as much unsubstantiated conjecture at Ego and Archetype. While some of the insights into individuation (particularly the fallacies) were useful, it would appear that in Edinger's mind, if not in Jung's, correspondence rises to the level of causality. It does
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not. At one to my absolute astonishment, Edinger, who spends a lot of time drawing on alchemical and gnostic sources, says this is all verifiable science. It is the furthest point. This is a book of metaphysics or theology in support of the notion that there are such deeply ingrained and universal symbols in all of us that this must be God. As he says, he or they are out to provide a new context for what was lost when religion died. Context yes, proof no. It is all just as much a hypothesis as any other religion. Now, in defense, you really want to have read Jung quite a bit before picking this up and I can't claim to have done so. This is perhaps why I was so irritated by many of his pronouncements. Suggest yes, claim, no. While the four elements in the mandala may have parallels with the four elements that also parallel the four states of psychological awareness, that correspond to the four types of stones of the Philosopher's stone - so what? Apparently the benefit to this archeology of symbols is that if you had a patient who dreamed something you could (almost endlessly) consider all the symbolic nuances and therefore guess something about what is going on with the person. But here you are thrown into the symbol end and lacking Freud's reliance on real cases and clinical examples, I found it alchemical and not in a good way. It was more like anthropology than psychology.
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