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Enantiodromia translates as ''running in opposite directions''.


The idea was developed by Heraclitus, but the word was coined a thousand years later by Strobaeus. 

Heraclitus was a 5th century BC philosopher from Ephesus - who was famous for his idea that ever-present change is the fundamental essence of the Universe. ''No man ever steps in the same river twice,'' he said. ''The path up and down are one and the same,'' he said.


The idea is an expression of the Yin Yang principle from Taoist philosophy. Heraclitus said  "cold things warm, warm things cool, wet things dry and parched things get wet."  All is flux, nothing stays still,  Nothing endures but change.''


Later, Plato said "Everything arises in this way, opposites from their opposites."


CG Jung popularised the concept in modern times. He described it as ‘the principle which governs all cycles of natural life, from the smallest to the greatest’. He said ''I use the term enantiodromia for the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time''.  He said  ''No psychic value can disappear without being replaced by another of equivalent intensity.''

Enantiodromia is a conversion of something into its opposite. Every psychological extreme secretly contains its own opposite or stands in some sort of intimate and essential relation to it. Indeed, it is from this tension that it derives its peculiar dynamism.

There is no hallowed custom that cannot on occasion turn into its opposite, and the more extreme a position is, the more easily may we expect an enantiodromia, a conversion of something into its opposite.

The only person who escapes the grim law of enantiodromia is the man who knows how to separate himself from the unconscious, not by repressing it for then it simply attacks him from the rear, but by putting it clearly before him as that which he is not.

~ Jung



Extracts from an Essay On Enantiodromia ~ http://jungiancenter.org/wp/jung-on-the-enantiodromia-part-1-definitions-and-examples/

''If you know about the phenomenon of the enantiodromia you can use it to good purpose. You can also keep it in mind so as to consciously avoid falling into one-sidedness. Knowing about it also helps explain the “peculiar dynamism” that goes along with psychological extremes. Extreme one-sidedness builds up a tension, and the more extreme the position, the more easily it can shift to its opposite.....it can explain why it is so important for the ego to keep its integrity, by not identifying with one of the opposites, i.e. why it is important to learn “how to hold the balance between them.”  Living a balanced live—not falling into one-sidedness—means we won’t have to experience the overwhelment and lack of control that an enantiodromic experience involves. Jung also felt that if a person knows about the enantiodromia he or she can avoid becoming a “mass man,” i.e. someone absorbed by the opinions and tendencies of the collective unconscious. This is particularly relevant in the context of our current political reality, which William Butler Yeats described with eerie prescience many years ago:

            Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

            Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

            The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

            The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

            The best lack all conviction, while the worst

            Are full of passionate intensity


 It should be noted that, while we can be aware of the enantiodromia and its usefulness, we can never really understand it. Jung was emphatic on this point:

           '' I must emphasize, however, that the grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil….''

Jung then advises “… a cautious and patient waiting to see how things will finally turn out.” What we might think of as something bad may turn out for our benefit, and what we plunge into with high hopes of some great outcome could very well come up a cropper. Best to be careful, deliberate and patient.''




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