The Transcendental function (TF) bridges the conscious and unconscious. The TF is the land of uncertainty, and disorientation, buffeted by forces of the unconscious. The invasion of symbolic visions and dialogue with fantasy figures, the union of the oppositional elements, is where we arrive at a new perspective and attitude. Through the constructive treatment of the unconscious, a foundation is laid for the questions of meaning and purpose, which powers the way for the client’s insight into the process of the TF. The client can transform an underdeveloped function, accessing and integrating unconscious material to produce such transformation.

If critical attacks and directed will eliminate the unconscious regulating influence, the psyche is civilised and no longer self-regulating. A machine whose speed regulation is so insensitive that it can continue to the point of self-injury and strengthens the direction of the conscious mind. First and foremost, we need access to see the unconscious data and use dreams to interpret the unconscious, but this is usually insufficient to develop the TF. Jung thought active imagination and the production of spontaneous fantasies were more effective, with a coherent feel. The goal is not to eliminate the symptoms but to dive into the energy locked inside it. The idea is to help the client produce conscious representations ( images, symbols, and associations ) of the unconscious content that underlines the mood and emotional state. By giving them psychic energy, the images will be vivified and emerge into the realm of consciousness, where they will begin to prompt a shift.

2 Main Tendencies Emerge

  1. The way of creative formation – Artistic
  2. The way of understanding – Meaning

Healing with the unconscious material is an exercise that requires both understanding and analysis on the one hand and aesthetic, intuition and creation on the other; neither alone is sufficient. The next stage is how the ego will relate to the new position and comes to terms with it—the bringing together of opposites for the production of the third, the TF. The ego needs to take control and not be overwhelmed by the unconscious. The TF instigates a conversation between the ego and the unconscious; both are granted the same authority. The ability to dialogue with the inner and outer are key to individuation and psychological well-being. The confrontation of the two positions generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living third entity. A new birth with a new level of being and the quality of conjoined opposites. It takes courage, perseverance, and effort on the part of the individual to achieve the TF and liberation to be oneself.

The concept of psychic life is divided into countless pairs of opposites. (good/bad, light/dark, love/hate). One member of the pair resides in the conscious and the other in the unconscious; each is dynamically opposed to the other in a kind of psychic debate. Each person is predisposed towards a dominant aspect, whether extroverted or introverted. This exaggeration is developed by parental or cultural demands so that a person can be of greater utility to the collective. Therefore, cultural demands impel a differentiation of psychic functions and destroy the individual’s wholeness for the sake of the collective. A function represents man and identifies with this function and denies the relevance of the other inferior function, driven into the unconscious, where it remains trapped.

This creates a psychic injury and a permanent blockage in the psyche of the modern man.

The one-sided development must inevitably lead to a reaction. This division within the inner man must be abolished to allow the underdeveloped aspect to be granted an opportunity to live and express itself. For the collaboration of opposing states to be possible at all, they must first face one another in the fullest conscious opposition. This entails a violent discussion within oneself, where the antithesis and thesis negate one another, while the ego must acknowledge its participation with both. In the essence of the Hegelian dialectic, we see the constant posing of one opposite viewpoint with the counterbalancing view. This yields the emergence of reconciliation, with a more balanced synthesised view and experience.

Fantasy and Symbols

Fantasy is as much thinking as intuition and sensation. The place from which answers to all unanswerable questions come. The mother of all possibilities, where the inner and outer worlds are joined together in union. Fundamental opposites can’t be resolved by reason but only by fantasy, and in that fantasy lies the nexus between all psychic functions. The tension of the psyche where the shackles or preconceived limits can be discarded, and the psychic wounds can transform themself. Symbols are the method of joining the unconscious with the conscious. The unconscious can access these unconscious symbols, images, and motifs to produce the TF and create psychological change. Opposites can be united only in the form of compromise or irrationality, with something new arising between them. This can equally take up the opposing energies as an expression of both or neither. The TF can only be created through the living and use of the meditating function.

The energy must be artificially supplied to the unconscious symbol to increase its value and bring it into consciousness. This comes about by differentiating the self from the opposites, with a detachment of libido from both sides. The will does not decide between the opposites but purely for the self; the libido becomes wholly objective and sinks into the unconscious (unattached). The will takes possession of the waiting fantasy material, which it activates and forces to the surface. The constellated fantasy material contains images of psychological development, helping the individual in its successive stages of growth. The symbol is always of a complex nature, neither rational nor irrational; most derive from the lowest and most primitive levels of the psyche.

The symbol forms the middle ground on which the opposites can be united.

The transformation, the operation of the TF, occurs only if the ego is stable enough to tolerate the tension of the opposites. Also, neither of the opposites can succeed in winning over the mediating product and dominant one side. If the mediator remains intact, it forms the raw material for the process not of dissolution but one of construction. Anew content governs the whole attitude, putting an end to the division. , and forcing the opposites into a common channel. The standstill is overcome, and life can flow on with renewed power towards new goals. TF is both an individual process and something that requires conscious development. Both natural (instinctive ) and assisted (developed) qualities can occur together, independently or in rhythm with each other. However, consciousness will attempt to defend its reason and protect itself from the chaotic life of the unconscious. This means open conflict as well as open collaboration at once. We need to join with whatever is missing from ourselves to embrace wholeness.

The objective psyche shared by all human beings and contains the instructive basis of the human race comes in the form of inherited archetypes. No progress can be made if the collective unconscious and individual psyche are combined without being differentiated. The Tf is experiencing the archetypes, the dynamic images from the objective psyche. Our individual persona is the public mask conforming with the collective. This is counterbalanced by the anima/animus, which demands interaction with the unconscious. The anima allows for contact with conflicts as well as with one`s own inner resources. Continuous work with the anima/animus prompts the TF and personality change. The self is the archetype of man’s fullest potential and unity of the personality—the central position of authority in relationships and the controller of the individual’s destiny.

The TF is an irrational leap of faith with the mysteries without expecting the rational result.

The shadow is the unacknowledged, the unconscious, the dark side of the personality that has been blocked out. The shadow can never be fully eradicated, but coming to terms with it is an integral step along the path of individuation.

2 Phases of Development Dependence

  1. Absolute dependence – the infant cannot differentiate itself from the environment or mother or distinguish between “me ” and “not me.”
  2. Relational dependence – becomes aware of objects and recognises “out there ” and ” me and not me “. The child is anxious about separation from its mother and survival as it attempts individuation.

Critical to adapting to the realisation of separation is “transitional objects. ” They are not mother or self, although feelings of the mother or person are invested in them. They help the child to learn to play, be a creative and intermediate free expression, and experience between reality and fantasy. The great paradox of transitional objects is that they are neither real nor delusional; they are illusory and give meaning to something real. The space between reality and fantasy helps locate the true self. Without being able to experience this liminal space, a person would develop a false self and border between them in an intermediate area. One must be willing to sacrifice the power of knowledge. One has to imagine that the content exists in the field and does not belong to either person. The content can be thrust into the field and becomes the Third thing.

Both parties can also experience a state of joining, not a fusing that blurs boundaries but a psychological process in which the field is felt to have its own dynamic. This can change internal structures, a new form under the effect, which was previously overwhelming and frequently can come into existence. The analytical mind emerges from a kind of tension of polarities, as this provides ways to step outside of the bonds of the previous conception. As emotional health depends on ego balancing, these conflicting demands are the forces of opposing drives, demands of the external world, and the ideals of the superego. The mediation function sits in between the drives of the unconscious and the reality of the conscious.

Kohut’s self-psychology (narcissistic development) posits a process of self that depends heavily on a mediating and transitional structure called the “self-object”. The self is the way a person experiences himself as himself and a way to build up gradually by interaction with reality and the environment. The self-object is the internalisation of the object, the psychological and emotional image the child carries of the idealised mother. A symbolic me and not me imago, an experience that brings fantasy /reality, inner/outer together for the developing self. Klein’s movement to the depressive position occurs if the child`s early experiences and innate libido are strong enough to produce a solid internalised good object. The strong ego will then be able to distinguish between the good and bad mother/object. As the child has moved to whole objects, they believe they are capable of causing harm and injury, called the depressive position, because the child realises they can injure loved ones.

The TF attempts to bridge the gap between subject and object, allowing the psyche to move deeper to find relationships in places of difference. The TF operates between psychologically disparate states from a conflicted set of circumstances that allow us to resolve and tolerate the conflicts through a series of mini-initiations, requiring one to skip between irreconcilable states and be placed in a liminal space. After initiation, one can return to the social structure with a new status or role. The passage of the initiation is paradoxical in nature, as the death of the old coexists with the birth of the new. The liminal space is the territory of pure possibility, the potential source of all types of original and new ideas. The process of undoing, dissolution and decomposition is accompanied by growth, transformation and reformulation of new elements and patterns of relating. One part feels internal /inside, and the other is external/outside, in a rhythmic energy shift between the two realms.

At the heart of the TF are alchemical thinking and attitudes; the merger of opposites occurs within the subtle body. A place which is neither material nor spiritual but mediating between them. Alchemical thinking rejects the either /or approach, seeing connections within unconscious things. Instead of splitting matter, alchemy invites them to continue, combining different orders of reality, matter, and the psyche. A threeness to all situations between the observer and the object creates a new relationship between the two. Alchemy looks for a new relationship between the two and provides a new model.

  • A state before order that is chaotic and confusing, before opposites have separated
  • The beginning of making sense of the phenomena is the emergence of a pair of opposites where matter appears as pairs which dynamically oppose each other.
  • The creation of a third entity, the field from the two. The opposites are held to create a kind of vessel separate from but simultaneously containing them.
  • The experience of the third as it turns to a state of oneness in existence.

The TF emergence grants autonomy to the ego and the unconscious, relating to both independently and uniting them. Each is in dialogue with the other and mutually influences the other. This transcends their old position and finds a new position attached to the ego. The ego is the centre of one`s consciousness, while the self is the totality of the psyche. Communication between the ego and the self via the axis is critical to individuation. An intrapsychic change of attitude through the spontaneous emergence of symbols invites the person to mediate the demands of the self as they unfold with self-object needs. The TF can be established by allowing oneself to be used in a symbolic sense and as an interpersonal participant.

Miller, J.C & Chodorow, J (2004) The Transcendent Function: Jung’s Model of Psychological Growth Through Dialogue With the Unconscious, State University of New York Press; Illustrated Edition