Instinct

The form of the world into which he is born is already inborn in him as a virtual image. 

 “It is just man’s turning away from instinct – his opposing himself to instinct – that creates consciousness.  Instinct is nature and seeks to perpetuate nature, whereas consciousness can only seek culture of its denial… As long as we are still submerged in nature we are unconscious, and we live in the security of instinct which knows no problems”

“An instinct can never become an object of consciousness – only the idea that represents the instinct can.  Even in the unconscious, moreover, an instinct cannot be represented otherwise than by an idea.” 

It is only under ideal conditions, when life is still simple and unconscious enough to follow the serpentine path of instinct without hesitation or misgiving, that the compensation works with entire success. The more civilized, the more conscious and complicated a man is, the less he is able to follow his instincts. His complicated living conditions and the influence of his environment are so strong that they drown the quiet voice of nature.  

It must be reckoned a psychic catastrophe when the ego is assimilated by the self. The image of wholeness then remains in the unconscious, so that on the one hand it shares the archaic nature of the unconscious and on the other finds itself in the psychically relative space-time continuum that is characteristic of the unconscious as such. 

He bears this cosmic “correspondence” within him by virtue of his reflecting consciousness, on the one hand, and, on the other, thanks to the hereditary, archetypal nature of his instincts, which bind him to his environment.  But his instincts not only attach him to the macrocosm; they also, in a sense, tear him apart, because his desires pull him in different directions.  In this way he falls into continual conflict with himself and only very rarely succeeds in giving his life an undivided goal – for which, as a rule, he must pay very dearly by repressing other sides of his nature. 

(Referring to a dream)  Though he (???) lives in the sea, he comes to the lonely shore at the sacred noon-tide hour, like an amphibian, and lies down to sleep among his seals. These, it must be remembered, are warm-blooded – that is to say, they can be thought of as contents of the unconscious that are capable of becoming conscious, and at certain times they appear spontaneously in the light and airy world of consciousness.

As Jung (says), instinctual life on a primitive level is not at all simple.  You must not think when you use the word instinct that this is a kind of simple physical drive.  On the contrary, it reveals itself as a complicated system of marriage class-systems, organized games, and so on.  In the most primitive instinctual religious activities there is always a very strict organization involved, much stricter than in modern law.  The breaking of a taboo in primitive society entails much worse punishment than any we have in our modern society, and many people, if they are not punished by the tribe for violating a taboo, either become ill or die because within themselves they feel they have failed in the whole meaning of their life by ignoring a tribal taboo.  AAI 92

Whenever an instinct has been underrated, an abnormal overvaluation is bound to follow.  And the more unjust the undervaluation the more unhealthy the subsequent overvaluation.  As a matter of fact, no moral condemnation could make sex as hateful as the obscenity and blatant vulgarity of those who exaggerate its importance.  The intellectual crudeness of the sexual interpretation makes a right valuation of sex impossible.  TDoP 84

Reduction to instinct is itself a somewhat questionable matter, since man has always been at war with his instincts – that is to say, they are in a state of perpetual strife; hence the danger arises that the reduction to instinct will only replace the original neurotic conflict by another.  (To give but one example: Freud replaces the neurosis by the so-called “transference neurosis.”)

Instinct - Archetype Connection

As you know, the origin of dynamic fantasies and ideas that come up in our psyche is unknown, but we ascribe such fantasies to the activity of the archetypes.  Probably these two poles are in some way connected, although we do not know how.  Possibly they are two aspects of the same reality.  At one end there is the body, and at the other are the ideas and representations that suddenly seize upon the human mind.  Our consciousness generally shifts between the two poles.  We know that somatic processes and physical behaviour are directed by the instincts.  To name a few of the most ordinary: the sexual instinct, with its play of hormones in the body and its physical aspects; the instinct of self-defence – automatic fighting gestures; the instinct of running away, a part of the instinct of self-preservation, which takes over automatically in certain life situations, as when we run away from danger or the reflex action of withdrawal on contacting a burning object – an automatism of the body that we could call instinct. 

The difference between instinct and archetype is the following instinct is represented by physical behaviour, similar in all human beings, while archetypes are represented by a mental form of realization, similar in all human beings.  Thus, homo sapiens mate in the same way, die more or less in the same way, run away, and stand erect, all over the world.  But there are certain patterns of behavior which characterize us as different from other animals.  Homo sapiens also tend to have emotions of the same kind, ideas of the same kind, religious reactions of the same kind, seen best in the dream mythological motifs which are similar all over the world.  So at the one end are the instincts and at the other the corresponding inner experiences connected with the instincts.  TPoPA 144

Jung does not assert it with certainty, but he says he has not yet met an archetypal constellation which does not have a corresponding instinct.  Take the archetype of the coniunctio, which appears in all the myths of the origin of the world – the mating of a male and a female god and the creation of the world, or being together in an eternal embrace, as Shiva and Shakti.  It appears in the mystical experience of the union of the soul with God as a coniunctio in a feminine or masculine form, and exists in most religious symbolism.  The corresponding physical instinct would be the sexual instinct.  Self-preservation in the form of fighting is connected with the archetypal idea of the shadow or the enemy, the dangerous counterpart, the figure which appears in dreams as the attacker or the person from who one runs.  On the physical side that would be represented by the instinct to hit, or to run away, which is physically inborn.  TPoPA 145

It seems, therefore – for so far we have not met with any exceptions – that every archetypal content has a counterpart in some for of instinct.  This is a way of looking at things; that is, instincts are what we see from the outside, while representations – ideas and dream fantasies and images – are what we observe from within. 

Instincts - snake

Like all animals, the snake represents a part of the instinctive psyche, a part far removed from consciousness.  Jung says this about the snake:

  The lower vertebrates have from earliest times been favourite symbols of the collective psychic substratum, which is localized anatomically in the sub-cortical centres, the cerebellum and the spinal cord.  These organs constitute the snake.  Snake-dreams usually occur, therefore, when the conscious mind is deviating from its instinctual basis. 

When a snake dream occurs, it is a signal that consciousness is especially far away from instinct.  It shows that the conscious attitude is not natural and that there is an artificial dual personality which appears to be, in some ways, too well adapted and too much fascinated by the outer world and, at the same time, inclined to fail hopelessly in decisive moments.  In such a case, Jung continues, we find that there always exists a sort of secret attraction to the missing inner double, which one both fears and loves as the thing that could make one whole.  TPoPA 82

INSTINCTS – WHEN SELF-PRESERVATION COMES SECOND

(Schopenhauer) uses an image that I like to bring up in relation to this in his Foundations of Morality.  He asks, “How is it that a human being can so participate in the danger and peril of another that, forgetting his own self-protection, he moves spontaneously to that person’s rescue?”  How is it that what we take to be the first law of nature, preserving this separate entity, this ego, is suddenly dissolved; and, as though one were that other, one acts spontaneously in the interests of that other – even at the risk of one’s own life.  One acts spontaneously to save a little child that’s about to be run over.  Schopenhauer answers by saying, “This is a metaphysical realization that has broken through which is usually not there.”  It’s the realization of the universal consciousness of which we are all manifestations.  So in that sense you and that other are one.  TMTT 133

   It was Schopenhauer who realized that Kant’s a priori forms of sensibility and the a priori categories of logic were simply equivalent to the Hindu idea of Maya.  So these two philosophies – European rationalism and Indian mysticism – flow together marvelously in the work of the nineteenth-century German Romantics.  Schopenhauer asks in a beautiful paper of his called “The Foundations of Morality” how it is that a human being can so experience the pain and danger of another that, forgetting his own self-protection, he moves spontaneously to the other’s rescue?  You see a little child about to be run over and you’ll probably be the one who’s run over.  How is it that what we think of as the first law of nature, the law of protecting this separate entity, is suddenly dispelled and a new law takes precedence: that of what Schopenhauer calls Mitleid (“compassion”; literally translated as “suffering with”)?  Schopenhauer says the reason is that in truth a metaphysical realization has come to you and has broken through the veil of separateness – you realize that you and that other are one.  You are, together, the one life that is showing itself in various forms.  That’s the breakthrough to where the gods are; a god is simply a mythological representation of these mysteries transcendent of separateness.     G18