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This fancy word and concept Dr. Jung got from the Greeks. Enantios means opposite. Dromos is a quick movement. The movement of opposites. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher around 500 B.C.E, had the notion the universe does not tolerate imbalance. When a one-sided attitude persists, inevitably the opposite attitude comes up in an automatic attempt to restore balance. This is seen in people and in society.

This ‘law of balance’ is one of the main postulates in Jungian psychology. Things unbalanced cause problems and invariably find a solution towards balance. If you don’t consciously balance yourself, the unconscious will do it for you (and to you). Achieving balance is at the heart of all Jungian psychology.

It should be noted the term ‘opposites’ does not mean opposition in the sense that there is a fight between two parts in which one might be victorious. Both sides are necessary in the operation of the mind and life. In every part of Jung’s psychology the concept of mental energy appears as a play of compensating opposites.

If there is no space in a person’s or culture’s psyche for something, invariably something busts through. If “X” is suppressed or denied, “X” breaks through and upwards. As one patient told me once “It’s like I barred the front door but it snuck round the back and came in through the window”.

Often this unconscious process is not pretty. An example; I’ve seen this in pastors who have or give no space for sexuality, only to be caught in scandals or wracked with what to do with sexuality.

Enantiodromia is also seen when someone is trying so hard to be ‘white’ that they end up being ‘black’ anyway. They become precisely want they want to avoid. An outside observer can easily see this, if the person can’t.This is seen in folks trying so hard to be helpful. They end up being quite selfish in their charity. Very polite people can be actually a nuisance. A major example of enantiodromia is a person trying so hard to be in control that they are in control of little.

Such a fancy word and such a common phenomena.

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June 2007

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018