In his book Psychology and Alchemy, Dr. Carl Jung, a pioneer in the study of the symbology of dreams, introduced Alchemy’s representations into the study of Psychology. He claimed that the ancient alchemists, working without the cultural and social constraints of a strong super-state or church hierarchy, observed and recorded their findings without any pre-established judgements or dressed-up conclusions. They had more natural empirical experiences.

Dr. Jung believed that many of the raw sentiments and beliefs in the Unconscious occasionally filter into the Conscious realm, but they have to be “dressed up” to soften their sharpest edges and most shocking shades to pass the “border customs.” For that deceitful camouflaging to succeed, the Unconscious often uses alchemist’s symbols that are not in the “no entry list” of the gate’s guardians checking arrivals.

In her book, Marie Louise Franz stated: “For example, a woman patient dreamt that an eagle was at first flying up to the sky, and then suddenly turning around its head, began to eat its own wing and dropped back onto the earth…This dream invokes of enantiodromia, the reversal of a psychic symbol.” The eagle was the alchemist’s symbol of Human Reason and Carl Jung patient’s dream implied that her actions might be running counter against her beliefs.

Enantiodromia derives from the Greek words enantios (opposite) and dromos (running course) In his book Psychological Types, Carl Jung defined it as: “the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful contraposition is built up  which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks thorough the conscious control.” It can be considered as the sheep’s skin used by the wolf. As a psychological tool, it acts as “two operational twins” that nonetheless have opposite characters and demeanor.

Note – the above image of Twins Grace and Kate Hoare 1876 by John Everett Millais was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The philosophical concept behind this term dates back to thousands of years ago, In the traditional Chinese beliefs, the Yin and Yang are inextricably related as shown by their symbol. When one of the components reaches its extreme position, it starts to become its opposite. The natural balance of Life is maintained by this correction. Dr. Jung read the writings of Heraclitus who said: “cold things warm, warm things cool, wet things and parched things get wet.” He credited him for discovering what he considered a major psychological law: the regulatory function of the opposites.

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