Jung used the terms “ego” and “Self” in very specific ways. His “Self” would include the total personality – consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego.
While each of us is born “whole,” the “ego” begins to differentiate our conscious identity into a separate “part” based on a limited conceptualization of what “we” are. We then tend to ignore the rest of what we are, especially what our conscious minds judge as dangerous or bad.
We create a “shadow” in which traits and desires we do not like, and do not see as part of ourself, lurk in the darkness. The only problem with this is that everything we’ve separated from also has a positive dimension that would allow us to lead a more fulfilling life.
Over the course of life, through the process Jung called “Individuation,” we explore all parts of ourselves and learn to embrace and integrate all of what we are as “Self.”
A similar process of embracing all parts of what we are can happen in our conceptualizations of humanity as a whole.
In the process of asking ourselves “Who are my loved ones?” and including all of humanity, we are performing a task on a collective scale analogous to what Jung’s called “individuation” on an individual scale.
This does not require accepting the behaviors of sadistic individuals or rapacious cultures. Instead, we may recognize that such horrific behavior is an ugly expression of desires and aspirations that all humans share, which may also be expressed in beautiful ways.
We can see as we look through the pages of history, some filled with staggering achievements of empathy and progress and others dripping with blood – humanity is both bright and dark.
“The Self…embraces ego-consciousness, shadow, anima, and collective unconscious in indeterminable extension. As a totality, the self is a coincidentia oppositorum; it is therefore bright and dark and yet neither.” – Carl Jung