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Compensation (transcendent function) finds its origins in the delineation of dynamics of the complex.

In 1907 Carl Gustav Jung notes the pathogenic complex posses a quantum of libido which grants it a degree of autonomy that is opposed to conscious will. Though this dynamic has a pathological cast, it conveys the essence of what Jung termed compensation; namely, the capacity of the unconscious to influence consciousness.

Jung noted the ego identifies with a preferred set of adaptive strategies, and thus tends to restrict the range of adaptive response and hamper individuation. In "The Importance of the Unconscious in Psychopathology" (1914), he introduced the idea, saying, "the principal function of the unconscious is to effect a compensation and to produce a balance. All extreme conscious tendencies are softened and toned down through a counter-impulse in the unconscious." (1914a). This assertion ascribes a different role to unconscious dynamics, i.e. one that is purposive and intelligent, and not restricted solely to wishing.

In 1917, Jung expanded his notion of an intelligent unconscious further when he asserted the existence of a "supraordinate unconscious" as a common human inheritance, viewed as the source of compensatory activity.

Later, Jung referred to compensation as "an inherent self regulation in the psychic apparatus." Jung's assertion of an intelligent unconscious culminated in his concept of the self (1928a), understood as the personality's central organizing agency that instigated and guided individuation. Paired with the concept of the self, compensation was seen as the core process in realizing selfhood.

Given this core value, Jung sought a means to maximize its efficiency and benefits. He termed this means the "transcendent function," described as a joining of the opposing tendencies of conscious and unconscious that would produce a synthesis in the form of a "uniting symbol" in order to release compensatory contents of the unconscious. Jung, noted the transcendent function facilitated a transition from one attitude to another and held the person skilled with understanding of conscious and unconscious interaction and its symbolic products could accelerate individuation.


See also: Animus-Anima (analytical psychology); Interpretation of dreams (analytical psychology); Projection and "participation mystique" (analytical psychology). Bibliography

   * Jung, Carl Gustav. (1907). The psychology of Dementia præcox. Coll. works, vol. III, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
   * ——. (1914a). On the importance of the unconscious in psychopathology. Coll. works, vol. III, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
   * ——. (1917-18-26-43). The psychology of the unconscious processes. Coll. works, vol. VII: London, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
   * ——. (1928a [1935]). The relations between the ego and the unconscious. Coll. works, vol. VII, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
   * ——. (1928b [1948]). On psychic energy. Coll. works, vol. VIII, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
   * ——. (1928c [1948]). General aspects of dream psychology. Coll. works, vol. VIII, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
   * ——. (1928d [1948]). Instinct and the inconscious. Coll. works, vol. VIII, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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