I’ve started a Facebook group for discussing psychology and social media, to explore my thesis that social media has precipitated a crisis of persona management and that it’s a very hazardous tool. The following post I made to the group really concerns my broader reflections on Jung’s claim that Christ is a symbol of the Self. I thought this was one of my better posts, but it got no play at all:
Persona, Ego, Self, and the Locus of God. The Persona is the archetype of the various masks we wear to represent ourselves to other people. A consistent self-presentation is so vital to functioning in groups that the Persona is a significant mode of the psyche, fixed by evolution, and is there organizing our experience whether we’re conscious of it or not. The Ego, on the other hand, is the center of awareness, and the Persona can shield the Ego, help represent the Ego, or eclipse and stunt the Ego, which is the condition of Persona inflation, or identification. All the archetypes threaten to subsume a weak Ego.
The Self is neither Persona nor Ego. The Self is Everything set in proper order. It is a mode of the entire psyche setting all the archetypes in dynamic balance. Its symbol, according to Jung, is the mandala. The Self, like the Tao, comprises your entire multiverse: conscious, unconscious, the material universe, heaven, and hell. Jung said that Christ was a symbol of the Self. For Christians, therefore, the Self is God.
There are several potential loci for God as I see it. There is the externalized supernatural God who is situated in a perfected idealized realm apart from humanity; there is God as the Ego, that is, the God of the solipsist; and then there is God as immanent from the Self.
Consider that there is nothing outside your experience, except theoretically, and that perforce your world is represented to you through your own psyche, which for all its collective aspects is a unique expression of the genome. Your multiverse is not quite like anyone else’s. And so must it be with God. “God is your own Self” is a far different proposition from “God is the Ego.” The Ego is not the locus of Meaning organizing the entire psyche; it is just the surface tip of the vast subterranean mountain of your unconscious. Where is God? From the Jungian perspective, God is in you, the larger you that represents everything ordered to the Good. The monotheistic religious system is an attempt to recognize and give voice to the Self. There is a bit of a problem, though: because you are a unique instantiation of the genome — and even identical twins are differentiated by experience — at some point the road you walk toward the Self is one you have to take alone.
You avoid inflation, narcissism, and solipsism by subordinating the Ego to the Self. Unlike the other, fractional archetypes, the Self will not betray your veneration. However, all the archetypes, even the Self, will make you a generic function of the instincts if you become identified with them, say by acting like a dogmatic partisan on Facebook.