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Gordon, R. (1986). Individuation in the Developmental Process. J. Anal. Psychol., 31(3):223-230.

(1986). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 31(3):223-230

Individuation in the Developmental Process

Rosemary Gordon

It is one of the important facts about Michael Fordham that he has always been and continues to be first and foremost a child psychiatrist and child analyst. It is this background, this particular interest, and the experiences provided by child patients, that helped him to make his own, very special contribution to analytical psychology. Combined with his ever-questing ever-searching character, it has enabled him to be instrumental in protecting Jung's theories from the potentially congealing effects of conservatism and idealisation.

Through his work with children Fordham was able to fill in some of the gaps left in Jung's theories and thought. For, as he, Fordham, has pointed out, by concentrating on the phenomena that occur and belong to the second half of life—an era in the life cycle that Freud had left aside and actually avoided—Jung could not, and did not fully explore the possible roots of those very capacities of man that he, Jung, in particular valued so highly, that is the capacity to symbolise, to play and to imagine. His definition and view of his two key concepts, the ‘self’ and ‘individuation’, have therefore remained too limited and too narrow. I do, however, believe that any theory that allows others to develop it further is valuable and is indeed a generous and true gift of its creator. It is certainly that quality of Jung's conceptual system, that potentiality for further development he has offered to others, his successors, that had first attracted me to it.

It is then precisely Jung's gaps and Jung's omissions that have challenged Michael Fordham to fill them in and to struggle with them; and it is indeed here that he has made some of his most important contributions to analytical psychology.

Quite early on in his career Fordham began to question Jung's thesis that individuation develops and takes place only in the second half of life.

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