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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Individuate

A horse is a horse.

But not every human being is a human being, according to some schools of thought. There is a process, they suggest, by which we become human.

As someone who has been a teacher for nearly 30 years, I agree.

The Jungians call this process "individuation." Here's some (regrettably heavy) stuff from Wikipedia:

According to Jungian psychology, individuation is a process of psychological integration, having for its goal the development of the individual personality. "In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated [from other human beings]; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology."

OK? Or maybe you'd rather hear a more mundane version from that Sage of the Vaudeville Stage, Guru George Burns: "Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city."

In a limited sense, it's about cutting the apron strings.

Look, a child is embedded in a family, without much choice in the matter. Then adolescence comes, and the child roams away. When he or she comes back, the healthy person makes choices as to how to relate to the family.

The benefits? Again, from Wikipedia:

Besides achieving physical and mental health, people who have advanced towards individuation tend to be harmonious, mature and responsible. They embody humane values such as freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.

Sounds like "happiness" to me.

So leave the nest, break free, individuate.

You'll be happier.

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