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The Daimonic in Psychology

The following is taken from Wikipedia link Wikipedia, and gives the interpretation of daimons in psychology. Although exoteric, this still has some sense of forces at work greater than that of the conscious ego. In teh end it doesn't matter whether one calls such realities gods, daimons, nature, archetypes, or the workings of the unconscious psyche; the fact is that man is the slave to forces more powerful than him, and beyond his control. I tend to like using esoteric and metaphysical language when describing these forces, but there is no reason why this interpretation should be any better than any other.

Rollo May writes, "The daimonic refers to the power of nature rather than the superego, and is beyond good and evil. Nor is it man's 'recall to himself' as Heidegger and later Fromm have argued, for its source lies in those realms where the self is rooted in natural forces which go beyond the self and are felt as the grasp of fate upon us. The daimonic arises from the ground of being rather than the self as such." [1]

The daimonic is capable of both positive and negative outcomes and is a naturally occurring human impulse or urge within everyone to affirm, assert, perpetuate and increase the self. It is capable of both positive and negative outcomes and must be integrated into consciousness through the process of therapy in order to be harnessed into creative energy.

If each Self possesses a process of individuation, an involuntary and natural development towards individual maturity and harmony with collective human nature, then its driver is the daimonic, the force which seeks to overcome the obstacles to development, whatever the cost, both guide and guardian.

The demands of the daimonic force upon the individual can be frightening, contemporarily unorthodox, and even overwhelming. With its obligation to protect the complete maturation of the individual and the unification of opposing forces within the Self, the inner urge can come in the form of a sudden journey (either intentional or serendipitous), a psychological illness, or simply neurotic and off-center behavior. Jung writes, "The daimon throws us down, makes us traitors to our ideals and cherished convictions traitors to the selves we thought we were." [2] It is no wonder Yeats described it as that "other Will", the incorrigible will of man to achieve his humanity.


[1] Rollo May, Love and Will, ISBN 393-01080-5. p. 123-124.
[2] C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation (New York: Pantheon, 1956), p. 357.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 10 December 2009