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Dreifuss, G. (1977). Sacrifice in Analysis. J. Anal. Psychol., 22(3):258-267.

(1977). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 22(3):258-267

Sacrifice in Analysis

G. Dreifuss, Ph.D.

Only through the mystery of Self-Sacrifice can a man find himself anew.

C. G. JUNG (9, p. 260)


In His Works Jung has extensively dealt with sacrifice. In Symbols of transformation (JUNG 10) the accent lies on the sacrifice of man's longing for the past, the parents: ‘The natural course of life demands that the young person should sacrifice his childhood and his childish dependence on the physical parents’ (JUNG 10, p. 356). He also writes of the sacrifice of the mother, specifically: ‘Man … only discovers [the world] when he sacrifices his containment in the primal mother, the original state of unconsciousness’ (Ibid., p. 417). In ‘Transformation symbolism in the mass’, the sacrifice to the self is especially dealt with: ‘A sacrifice only takes place when we feel the self actually carrying it out on ourselves. We may also venture to surmise that in so far as the self stands to us in relation of father to son, the self in some sort feels our sacrifice as a sacrifice of itself. From that sacrifice we gain ourselves—our “self”—for we have only what we give’ (JUNG 13, p. 262).

In the ‘Arbor philosophica’ (JUNG 15, p. 263) Jung stresses the voluntary sacrifice of the self to the bondage of earthly existence in man's efforts to achieve wholeness, whereas in ‘A psychological approach to the dogma of the Trinity’ (JUNG 12, p. 157) the accent lies on the suffering in the individuation process: ‘the ego, the ordinary empirical man … suffers … from the violence done to him by the self. (Cf. Jacob's struggle with the angel at the ford.)’ This violence is an aspect of the self forcing the ego to sacrifice. The self forces its way into consciousness in order to become more human. If man becomes conscious of his roots not only in their natural but also in their spiritual aspect, the self becomes actualised. Man has to accept the power of the self on the one side, and use the limited strength of the ego on the other side. The ego must become conscious of acting in the service of the self, but also of the mutual dependence of the ego and the self.

In this paper I wish to give some examples of how sacrifice may manifest itself in analysis when it occurs in response to a demand of the self. I shall refer to this as archetypal sacrifice.

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