… As you know (of course) from your Greek, dromia is “to run”: hippodrome is where the hippos (or horses) run; a dromedary is a racing camel.  Enantio means “in the other direction.”  So, taken together, enantiodromia means “running in the opposite direction,” turning turtle. 

Now, the interesting thing about middle life is that, quite often, a chronic enantiodromia takes place.  You have been, let us say, a power man: you’ve had it all, you have achieved what you set out to achieve, or at least your wits have been about you, and you’ve realized it isn’t worth achieving. 

When that moment comes, the change takes place.  You have disposable libido, available libido, and where does it go?  It goes over there to the twinkle-twinkle side, and Papa begins to see the little girls.  Then everybody asks, “What has happened to Daddy?”  This is the normal phenomenon of the nervous breakdown in late middle age.  P2B 65

… almost everyone faces this kind of crisis.  The problem is, when this enantiodromia comes, are you going to be able to absorb and integrate the other factor, the other side of your personality? 

In Wagner’s Ring, Albrecht gets the ring of power by spurning the allure of the Rhine maidens – that’s the power man, right there.  The other man, over on the opposite side, would say, “I don’t want to make history, I just want to make love.”  But someday it’ll dawn on him, “Hey, I didn’t make history.”  The terrible thing about this enantiodromia is that it is filled with the echo of “too late.”   

Enantiodromia - everything must ultimately flow into its opposite (Heraclitus)|

The wise Chinese would say in the words of the I Ching:  When yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths, for night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change to yin. 


A physician is in a position to see this peripeteia enacted literally in life.  He sees, for instance, a successful businessman attaining all his desires heedless of his peril, and then, having withdrawn from activity at the height of his success, falling in a short time into a neurosis, which changes him into a querulous old woman, fastens him to his bed, and thus finally destroys him.  The picture is complete even to the change from a masculine to a womanish attitude.

In any case, it is a fact that consciousness heightened by a necessary one-sidedness gets so far out of touch with the archetypes that a breakdown follows.  Long before the actual catastrophe, the signs of error announce themselves as absence of instinct, nervousness, disorientation, and entanglement in impossible situations and problems.  When the physician comes to investigate, he finds an unconscious which is in complete rebellion against the values of the conscious, and which therefore cannot possibly be assimilated to the conscious, while the reverse, of course, is altogether out of the question. 

Only after the decline of the Middle Ages, that is, in the course of the nineteenth century, when spirit began to degenerate into intellect, did a reaction set in against the unbearable dominance of intellectualism. 

One-sidedness, though it lends momentum, is a mark of barbarism.

This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up, which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks through the conscious control.

The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil.

The driving force, so far as it is possible for us to grasp it, seems to be in essence only an urge towards self-realization If it were a matter of some general teleological plan, then all individuals who enjoy a surplus of unconsciousness would necessarily be driven towards higher consciousness by an irresistible urge.


After having overcoming his half-right and half-wrong hysterical feeling of guilt, (the character in a case study) now falls into this new trap, and here again he gets out of it by longing for the light.  When he stretches out his arms for the light the wolves disappear, so he does not really deal with the problem; he falls into it, and then, by an enantiodromia, comes out of it when the night turns again into day.  He falls into that state without realizing what it means and by the grace of God get out of it again.  Naturally, in such a case nothing is worked out at all.  It sinks again into the night, and the next situation in life will bring it up again.  TPoPA 241