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Huskinson, L. (2002). The Self as violent Other: The problem of defining the self. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(3):437-458.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(3):437-458

The Self as violent Other: The problem of defining the self

Lucy Huskinson, M.A.

This paper identifies the problem of arriving at a solid definition of C. G. Jung's notion of the Self, and seeks its resolution. The author first demonstrates how this problem is articulated by scholars of Jungian theory by showing that they have ultimately depended upon ‘limited’ definitions of the Self, where the Self is no more than a transcendental postulate, a simple derivative from the internal structure of Jungian argument. She then determines the reason for the problem by arguing that there can never be a complete definition of the Self for it encompasses that which is unconscious and is thus irreducible to ego-comprehension. By using a method of philosophical analysis (in the guise of Levinas) the author will show that through the Self's very need to evade comprehension the Self is essentially comprehended as an overpowering and violent entity. The author will argue that the Self as a force of violence is crucial to its definition, and scholars must not ignore the Self as numinous experience in favour of passive functionality. She will thus argue that through the adoption of a Levinasian critique, the Self can be defined and justified outside of the internally self-consistent system from which it is conventionally derived.

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