From "Jung Lexicon: A Primer of Terms & Concepts" by Daryl Sharp
Identification: A psychological process in which the personality is partially or totally dissimilated. Identity, denoting an unconscious conformity between subject and object, oneself and others, is the basis for identification, projection and introjection.
Identification facilitates early adaptation to the outside world, but in later life becomes a hindrance to individual development.Identity is responsible for the naïve assumption that the psychology of one man is like that of another, that the same motives occur everywhere, that what is agreeable to me must obviously be pleasurable for others, that what I find immoral must also be immoral for them, and so on. It is also responsible for the almost universal desire to correct in others what most needs correcting in oneself.["Definitions," ibid., par. 742.]
Identification with a complex (experienced as possession) is a frequent source of neurosis, but it is also possible to identify with a particular idea or belief.For example, identification with the father means, in practice, adopting all the father’s ways of behaving, as though the son were the same as the father and not a separate individuality. Identification differs from imitation in that it is an unconscious imitation, whereas imitation is a conscious copying. . . . Identification can be beneficial so long as the individual cannot go his own way. But when a better possibility presents itself, identification shows its morbid character by becoming just as great a hindrance as it was an unconscious help and support before. It now has a dissociative effect, splitting the individual into two mutually estranged personalities.[ Ibid., par. 738.]
One-sidedness is usually due to identifying with a particular conscious attitude. This can result in losing touch with the compensating powers of the unconscious.The ego keeps its integrity only if it does not identify with one of the opposites, and if it understands how to hold the balance between them. This is possible only if it remains conscious of both at once. However, the necessary insight is made exceedingly difficult not by one’s social and political leaders alone, but also by one’s religious mentors. They all want decision in favour of one thing, and therefore the utter identification of the individual with a necessarily one-sided "truth." Even if it were a question of some great truth, identification with it would still be a catastrophe, as it arrests all further spiritual development.["On the Nature of the Psyche," CW 8, par. 425.]
Sample discussion questions:In a case like this the unconscious usually responds with violent emotions, irritability, lack of control, arrogance, feelings of inferiority, moods, depressions, outbursts of rage, etc., coupled with lack of self-criticism and the misjudgments, mistakes, and delusions which this entails.["The Philosophical Tree," CW 13, par. 454.]
- How does identification affect type analysis of both the self and of others?
- What is its effect on shaping one's self-concept in relation to a self-typing?
- How does it guide the designation and conceptualization of qualities deemed inherent to one's identified type?
- Are there dichotomies or types correlated with a proclivity to over-identify?
- In what way do the IM characteristics of each type color their respective manifestations of identification?
- When identification becomes pathological is it possible to continue the maintenance of this complex without some measure of irony or self-awareness?
- How great an identification can one make with a sociotype before morbidity obtains?
- What means or mechanisms can be called upon to avoid over-identification with a sociotype?
- In what ways can identification with a sociotype produce a healthy self-concept?