Enjoying the “Afternoon of Life:” Jung on Aging

[Don’t Forget the Upcoming Conference: Check Out Our Page on Preparing for the Great Attunement]


The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different….

                                                                                                Jung (1943)[1]


… it would seem to be more in accord with the collective psyche of humanity to regard death as the fulfillment of life’s meaning and as its goal in the truest sense, instead of a mere meaningless cessation. Anyone who cherishes a rationalistic opinion on this score has isolated himself psychologically and stands opposed to his own basic nature.

                                                                                    Jung (1934)[2]


It seems to me that the basic facts of the psyche undergo a very marked alteration in the course of life, so much so that we could almost speak of a psychology of life’s morning and a psychology of its afternoon. As a rule, the life of a young person is characterized by  a general expansion and a striving towards concrete ends; and his neurosis seems mainly to rest on his hesitation or shrinking back from this necessity. But the life of an older person is characterized by a contraction of forces, by the affirmation of what has been achieved, and by the curtailment of further growth. His neurosis comes mainly from his clinging to a youthful attitude which is now out of season….

                                                                                                Jung (1929)[3]



            Jung called the elder years—those from c. age 56 to c. 83[4]—the “afternoon of life,” using the analogy of the passage of the Sun through the sky from morning to night. Youth was “morning,” noon corresponded to mid-life, and night was old age, while the sixth and seventh decades see life energy wane, much as the Sun’s warmth declines as it sinks lower in the sky.[5] Just as we need the full cycle of the Sun to support life, so we are meant to live out the full cycle of human existence, and Jung recognized this. More than just living, Jung urged us to enjoy the “afternoon” of life and, as the quote above notes, to regard death as life’s goal.

            At this, most people—and especially Americans—are surprised. Enjoy aging? Regard death as the goal of life? Huh??? As he so often did, Jung took exception to our conventional attitudes and in doing so, offers us valuable advice and insights that can inspire younger people and enrich the lives of the elderly.

            In this essay, we will examine the meaning of aging, and why Western society regards aging as a negative, something to be denied, ignored or fought off, rather than enjoyed. To be sure, the process of growing old has its challenges, but it also holds a wealth of opportunities. Of all the various schools of depth psychology Jung’s school was the only one to recognize how the autumn of life could be regarded and handled, both by individuals and analysts, so as to bring out its meaning and purpose.[6] Jung and his followers suggested numerous ways we can age “consciously,”[7] and make the process of growing old a positive experience.


The Meaning of Aging


            We all think we know what “aging” means: “growing older,” or “the process of maturing.”[8] Assuming life is not cut short by fatal illness or accident, growing older will be the fate of all of us. More than just an inevitable part of life, Jungians regard aging as a “developmental stage,”[9] with the interval of the 60’s as the time when we are “betwixt and between”[10]—past mid-life but not yet in extreme old age. This “late liminal”[11] interval is a stage that should be lived through with awareness of its social, psychological and spiritual significance.[12] Why did Jung think of these years as having significance?

            Jung was an empiricist.[13] He knew that Nature did not give us decades beyond mid-life for no purpose.[14] From his own experience of aging, and from what he saw in his patients, Jung concluded that we are meant to do things in the last half of life, for ourselves, for society, for the sake of our souls and for the sake of those who have crossed the threshold of life before us.[15]

            Aging means more than just staying on the physical plane while the years pile up. It includes activities like unifying the opposites. The 60’s and 70’s are years when “holding the tension of opposites”—like the puer (inner child) and senex (old person)—becomes easier, as the opposites draw closer together.[16] In these years we can work on individuation, as the ego experiences a host of realities that incline it to give way to the Self.[17] Submitting to the direction of the Self can foster the “gradual spiritualization of consciousness.”[18]

            In the evolutionary process we call “aging,” the flow of life reverses, helping us move away from the multiple distractions of life back to the One.[19] Aging is that aspect of living that reveals what the springtime of our lives engendered: we get to see what our destiny is as we age.[20] So, far from being merely the accumulation of candles on the birthday cake, aging can be a time of discovery, growth, development, inner expansion[21] and enrichment of life. But very few people (especially Americans) see it this way. Why?


Our Society’s Conventional Attitude Towards Aging


            Jung offered several answers to this question. First, he recognized that the millennial-old institution that once supported the aging process had lost its hold over the European (and to a lesser extent, American) psyche: few people turn to the church for sustenance in grappling with the exigencies of aging.[22]

            Second, Jung knew how alienated Western people have become from Nature.[23] We are ignorant of the rhythms of Nature and the natural cycles of life, even those within our own bodies, e.g. circadian rhythms. With omnipresent, reliable electricity we ignore the cycles of day and night; with central heating and air-conditioning, we ignore the cycles of the seasons; and with the wealth of the allopathic pharmacopeia offering all sorts of hormones, we ignore corporeal cycles. Aging is part of the rhythm of life, but we consume pills and potions to stave it off.

            A third reason why we fail to understand the meaning of aging is our culture’s materialistic fixation on the body. This is especially strong in the United States, with its preponderance of Sensate types in the population. Materialism would have us believe that life on the physical plane is all there is: the body is us and all there is of us.[24] Once we die, we’re gone. So maintenance of the body becomes essential in order to stave off extinction. As the body begins to show deficits—hair loss, sagging skin, less pep, aches and pains—aging comes to have negative associations.

            This is exacerbated by the “throwaway” ethos of American society.[25] Years ago, back when frugality was a virtue, people kept their cars, appliances, and other machinery in good working order, making repairs as necessary, and minimizing depreciation. Nowadays, however, the “consumerism” of our world encourages us to throw out something when it begins to show wear, to get rid of the old shoe or the car that has a few years on it. Understandably, given this mindset, we disparage the people who show signs of wear and tear—those who walk more slowly, whose minds wander, who can’t “keep up” with the hurried and harried pace of modern life.[26]

            American society is a youth culture, in contrast to some other cultures, like China, where the elderly are valued.[27] Jung was quite critical of this orientation, and he singled out Americans in particular:

Where is the wisdom of our old people, where are their precious secrets and their visions? For the most part our old people try to compete with the young. In the United States it is almost an ideal for a father to be the brother of his sons, and for the mother to be if possible the younger sister of her daughter.[28]

With such mixed-up ambitions, it is not surprising that our society has developed deep prejudices around aging as an “incurable disease,”[29] something to be ignored, denied, and avoided, rather than honored and entered into with rituals and initiations.[30]

            In contemporary America oldsters are seen as objects of pity,[31] rather than as guides or teachers, as stupid or demented,[32] not reservoirs of our culture’s heritage or keepers of the mysteries of life.[33] With Mammon as our god, the elderly are dismissed as “unproductive,”[34] draining the national treasury with their Social Security benefits and Medicare costs while contributing nothing to society.[35]

            So it is not surprising that we fail to recognize the approach of age as a developmental task that can offer benefits and enrichment to life.[36] It is not surprising that there has been little written about the benefits and opportunities in old age.[37] All we tend to focus on are the negatives in aging. To get a more balanced view, let’s examine the features of the late liminal years (i.e. the 60’s and 70’s).


Features of Late Liminality


            Some General Features. We navigate through the “mid-life crisis,” c. age 36-42,[38] rearranging our lives in more or less drastic fashion, and then feel things settle down into what we expect will be the rest of life, only to discover 20 to 25 years later that profound inner and outer changes begin to shake up normality.[39] Some days we feel youthful, full of vim and vigor; other days, we are very much aware of the “deficits of age.”[40] We notice the body changes—more fat, sagging skin, “somatizing” (the translation of psychic content into physical symptoms or conditions)[41]—all meant to keep us grounded in the body as we undergo a psychological dissolution.[42]

            The late liminal stage of life is a time when part of the ego sinks deeply into the unconscious.[43] Our psychic energy turns inward, making this a difficult interval for the strong Extravert,[44] for this is a time calling us to introversion, a turning inward of the libido (life energy), as the inner world demands our attention. Outer activities lose their glamour, and we begin to see a streamlining of daily schedules.[45] Former interests fade away; personal enthusiasms peter out; outgrown attitudes are dismantled[46] and long-held values come up for review, often to be discarded or changed.[47]

            In this non-rational time,[48] we live in the “borderlands between conscious and unconscious, between what has been and what is to come, between the harvest and winter of life.”[49] As we witness the “contraction of forces”[50] we previously relied on, we are called to devote time to ourselves. Jung was very clear about the need the aging person has to be preoccupied with him/herself,[51] and Nature seems to foster this self-containment by removing parents, other relatives and friends from our midst in these liminal years.[52]

            Negative Features. The loss of family and friends is only one cause for emotional distress in the late liminal stage of life. “Tiny, subtle changes”[53] can throw us off balance in painful, disorienting ways. We may feel out of sorts,[54] confused,[55] bewildered, restless or fearful of the unknown future.[56] It becomes obvious from the contraction of energy, and the diminution of vigor and strength, that “the bodily machine”[57] is not what it used to be. Sadness, bitterness, rage or grief may rise up as former paths to satisfaction become less accessible.[58] The future no longer beckons with marvelous possibilities and long-held goals often have to be given up as unrealistic illusions.[59]

            We may experience “opposing states of being”[60] in rapid succession, e.g. feeling good and soon thereafter feeling exhausted, feeling efficient one moment and inept the next. Fearing senility, we observe the “peculiar states of withdrawal or absent-mindedness”[61] in ourselves.[62] Such moments make us wonder if we are showing early signs of the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. Will we become a problem for others,[63] or a helpless creature warehoused in a nursing home?

            As our independence lessens and long-cherished goals become out of reach,[64] we may develop new attitudes and begin to sense latent abilities and interests.[65] But how do we work through the feelings of awkwardness that comes along with working in the inferior function?[66] How do we keep our inner “divine child” satisfied, when so many other areas of reality seem to be going down the tubes?  Marie-Louise von Franz summed up the unpleasant aspects of aging in an essay:

When one gets older, one often feels more and more how much of our daily life is all shit—the dreary round of duties, the trivialities we have to attend to, the ever-recurring shadow-nonsense we have to look at in ourselves.[67]

But she also recognized the deeper purpose in aging. She continues: “But the hand of God is in it. It works secretly in all the sad, rejected aspects of oneself and one’s life….”[68] von Franz suffered for many years with Parkinson’s disease, yet remained able to see meaning in the realities of aging. Which brings us to a consideration of the positive aspects of growing old.

            Positive Features. The interval between age 60 and age 80 is the time most people retire from full-time participation in the work world. Generally in this interval children have grown up, gone off to college and set up their own families. This means there is more leisure, fewer family demands, and minimal restrictions in daily life due to the demands of work.[69] Ambitions and desires tend to decrease,[70] and oldsters often feel relief as they “downsize” into smaller homes, condos or collective living arrangements. There may be relief also in the realization of no longer having to keep up with new technologies.[71]

            Jung felt that older people had fewer worries about what other people think of them.[72] They were more likely than younger people to have a “nothing to lose” attitude. Many of the oldster’s ego problems get relegated to the past, and there is less idealization of relationships.[73] Having acquired wisdom from past experiences of loss and grief, the older person is not so likely to be shattered by grief,[74] nor are his/her childhood complexes likely to be heavily laden with affect.[75] We come to accept the past, parents and our earlier experiences in a new, more positive way.[76] With “progressive emotional maturation”[77] comes the relaxation of immature defenses, so the oldster can be more accepting of life and more willing to go along with what is around, rather than trying to change things.[78]

            Jung felt the older person has fewer problems caused by the ego.[79] Jane Wheelwright, one of Jung’s students, claims the ego becomes less important in old age,[80] and von Franz, another of Jung’s close associates, regarded the oldster’s ego as “more detached”[81] than in younger years. With less ego, the oldster can laugh at his/her failings.[82] The ego-Self relationship shifts, as the ego falls more under the Self, leading to a “satisfying acceptance of life.,”[83] and a savoring of daily experience.[84]

            As the ego becomes less insistent, the older person can become sensitive to new forms pushing up into consciousness from the deep layers of the collective unconscious.[85] This fosters a metanoia, or change in attitude that creates releasing and healing in a cyclical process.[86] What Jung called “the developmental imperative”[87]—that innate force in each of us calling forth our growth—can rise up in later years to help the oldster move into the new phase. Another innate function, the transcendent function—that psychic phenomenon that reconciles the opposites—may emerge in the late liminal interval, unifying what previously had been polarized, and fostering integrity, authenticity and individuation.[88]

            Often late liminality sees a “late blooming,”[89] as Jung experienced after his heart attack in 1944.[90] The years following his recovery were the most creative of his life, when he got deeply immersed in alchemy and wrote some of his masterpiece works, e.g. “Aion,” and “Mysterium Coniunctionis.” Given this experience, it is perhaps understandable that Jung could look back, in his old age, and say that, while it has its “not so nice” aspects, the later years were in some respects “more beautiful than childhood.”[91] Jung could say this because he made aging a positive experience. Just how he did so is the subject of the last section of this essay.


Making Aging a Positive Experience


            If we wish to make our “golden years” an enjoyable and fulfilling interval we have to spot the opportunities in aging and rise to the challenges aging presents, as well as taking age-appropriate actions to foster the changes Nature wants us to experience. What are some opportunities we might look for?

            The Opportunities in Aging. Jung felt the older person had the opportunity to re-imagine him or herself.[92] Approaching life with a new sense of freedom and individuality,[93] the oldster can improvise more, with less need for perfection and more boldness in affirming his/her uniqueness. No longer feeling the need to honor the past, no longer needing to honor dysfunctional family patterns, the oldster can even dare to be outrageous, to adopt the persona that feels right, rather than conform to what society expects.[94]

            Nagging self-concern falls away,[95] and the oldster becomes more objective, more able to see two sides of a question.[96] New and different goals arise as the oldster mellows, and hones the ability to differentiate what is important versus what is not.[97] This is the time the oldster can find his/her essence,[98] to give birth to new consciousness[99] and come to understand the meaning of eternity and infinity.[100]

            As the “guardians of mysteries and the heritage of his/her culture,”[101] the older person is called to mentor younger people[102] and foster others’ creativity by following his/her own creative muse. Being creative can be regenerative, sparking the renewing and widening of life, as well as fostering wholeness and deepening the appreciation of life’s meaning. Jung was adamant that old people are not finished: “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only its meaning and purpose are different…”[103]

            Determining this meaning is part of the quest of later life, part of the late-liminal journey. This is a journey that opens the older person to new possibilities, including discovering a relationship with the Self and working in inner realms which transcend time. Jung felt that “… age gradually pushes one out of time… and forward into futures yet unborn.”[104] This was a “great adventure”[105] but one that was not easily described to others. It required patience and fortitude.[106] Summoning such inner resources were two of the challenges in aging.

            The Challenges in Aging. Another, very obvious challenge, is dealing with the aging body. As in infancy, so in older life, the immune system can be weak, leaving the older person liable to disease. Somatizing—the physical expression of a psychic content—is also possible. Jung felt it was part of the individuation process to come to terms with the body.[107] The older person needs to acknowledge and embrace his/her embodiment, taking notice of the body and its needs—needs that can be quite different from the physical needs of 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. It is a challenge to transform diseases and bodily manifestations into rituals of initiation into old age,[108] but that is what the body asks of us in late liminality.

            I speak from experience: When I was 65 I fell off the stepstool I use in my office to reach higher shelves. There was nothing new or risky about this; I had done this many times over the years, but this time I fell, and the fall caused major pain and problems with my left foot. My dreams around this time were full of images and symbols of the “new.” I knew I was in transition, and I interpreted the fall as a synchronicity, a “somatization” of the changes going on psychically. I was being asked to set my life on a new “footing,” and give up the old. I came to see my fall and the healing process that followed it as an initiation into the new phase of late life.

            Another challenge is developing new values,[109] in response to the big changes that can turn late life upside down. Late-life liminality can show up with an inversion of one’s value system and this can provoke career changes, divorce, even apostasy, as one’s loyalties and perspectives shift.[110] Such massive flip-flops may be followed by consternation among family and friends, with some wondering if the oldster has lost his/her mind. Few close associates appreciate the quest for authenticity if it means the older person totally transforms his/her life.

            The opposite challenge can also arise: stasis–feeling that we’re getting too old, or too set in our ways to make changes that life seems to be demanding.[111] For some oldsters, it seems as if one’s very identity is threatened. Who am I becoming? Where is the life I knew? The challenge to identity is especially difficult for those who have gone through life identified with the persona[112]—the “mask” of social respectability and conformity to others’ expectations—because the “program of life’s morning is not appropriate for life’s afternoon,”[113] and this becomes more obvious and pressing an issue as the oldster ages.

            Sacrifice is part of the aging process[114]—sacrifice of some of the old pleasures (no more ice hockey, shift to golf instead), sacrifice of old ego goals (no more ambition to climb Mt. Everest), sacrifice of the old way of being in the world (less of the Extravert, more of the inward-turning Introvert). Absent a conscious effort to be adaptable and open to change, this can be very difficult.

            The difficulty is compounded by the fact that there are no formulas, no one-size-fits-all, ready-at-hand blueprints that tell us how to navigate this stage.[115] Each oldster has to be his/her own authority[116] and figure it out “on the fly.” Answers to the problems that arise must be found within, and each person on this journey into old age has to muddle through, with patience and tenacity. There are no models in our culture for positive aging, and, even if there were, copying someone else’s journey would betray fidelity to one’s own uniqueness.

            It helps, in getting through these challenges, to find some sort of outlet for one’s creativity, some way the “cultural” imperative can express. By “cultural” task, Jung referred to the role of older people as the carriers of the society’s heritage, the wisdom keepers.[117] Being a story-teller (sharing the myths and legends of the human family) with youngsters, writing one’s memoirs, sharing family history with grandchildren, doing genealogical research—all these are ways the older person can be culturally creative and help to preserve the collective inheritance of the past.

            But Jung did not encourage the elderly to live in the past or spend most of their time looking back: he felt oldsters need a goal in the future, and should proceed to live as though they would live forever.[118] He urged this as a way to avoid laziness,[119] but also for the way this approach kept life open-ended. At the same time Jung did not advocate living entirely in the future, but rather in the moment. Savor the Now; be as fully present in the immediate moment as possible.[120]

            A final challenge Jung felt arose from the need older people have for an image of the divine. In his essay “The Stages of Life” Jung noted how “It happens sometimes that I must say to an older patient: ‘Your picture of God or your idea of immortality is atrophied, consequently your psychic metabolism is out of gear’.”[121] Such images are part of the very necessary preparation for death that Jung felt was a key task of the later years of life.

            Some Tips to Foster Aging Well. Jung provided some concrete suggestions on how to age well, an “art”[122] that he worked on in his own life. First, he recognized that a life devoted to an aim is better, richer and healthier than an aimless life,[123] so, even when elderly, a person should have some goal to strive toward. What goal did Jung see as appropriate for the elderly? Death:

Willynilly, the aging person prepares himself for death. That is why I think that nature herself is already preparing for the end. … It is just as neurotic in old age not to focus upon the goal of death as it is in youth to repress fantasies which have to do with the future.[124]

Jung felt that shrinking away from death would rob the second half of life of its purpose,[125] and a good part of the oldster’s time could profitably be spent in formulating a sense or image of the afterlife–what he/she could expect after the transition called death.[126]

            Second, ever the practical empiricist, Jung knew life is much easier when it is lived going with the stream of time than trying to fight against it,[127] so he urged older people to accept the realities of aging and not try to turn back the clock.

To the psychotherapist an old man who cannot bid farewell to life appears as feeble and sickly as a young man who is unable to embrace it. And as a matter of fact, it is in many cases a question of the selfsame childish greediness, the same fear, the same defiance and willfulness, in the one as in the other. As a doctor I am convinced that it is hygienic—if I may use that word—to discover in death a goal towards which one can strive, and that shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose.[128]

            Jung’s students echo his ideas about aging. One of his American students was Jane Wheelwright, who lived well into her 90’s. She wrote about aging with a Jungian orientation based on her own experience of “conscious aging,” suggesting that the oldster try to master 7 basic tasks: 1) accepting the reality of death (as Jung advocated in the quote above); 2) reviewing and reflecting on one’s life (much as Jung did in his retrospective activities in his 70’s and 80’s); 3) acknowledging consciously that one’s life has finite limits; 4) letting go of the dominance of the ego; 5) encountering and honoring the Self; 6) articulating the meaning of one’s life; and 7) engaging unused potentials (usually found in the 4th or “inferior” function) so as to foster late-life creativity.[129]

            Beyond these tips Wheelwright urges learning to say “No” to outer-life demands that serve to create stress.[130] One’s later years should be a time of stripping away and reprioritizing, based on what produces joy, energy and well-being.[131] Reprising the toddler’s achievement of saying “No,” the oldster must learn to say “I want…” and “I don’t want…” But, unlike the petulant two-year-old, the oldster makes these declarations out of a sense of integrity and knowledge of his/her core being and what is important within.[132]

            Wheelwright found that taking “the long view,”[133] reducing one’s “baggage” and developing a sense of humor and a philosophical attitude also helped in coping with age.[134] Staying engaged with life, having a regular exercise routine, and tending to the demands of new impulses pushing up from inside were other suggestions she offers to the person moving into late life.[135] Most of all, she felt, it is important to enjoy, to regard the future, the unknown, with delight, to have an attitude of curiosity, and to view aging as “the last great adventure.”[136]

            Lionel Corbett, a Jungian analyst and professor, stresses the need for the elderly to reject our society’s denigration of old age[137] and instead, to stay open to new experience and the opportunities for learning and achieving mastery that the later years of life can provide.[138] Corbett puts a premium on accepting and having a positive attitude toward one’s inner child, even if it is wounded or distorted.[139] Through contact with our inner child, we can experience excitement, wonder and awe, no matter what our age. Such contact also makes us more likely to be able to play and maintain a connection to the divine.[140]

            Jane Prétat suggests oldsters learn to listen to pain for the deeper messages the body may hold for us.[141] Recuperation time can be an opportunity to slow down and attend to the Self. She also urges giving up “heroic attitudes”[142] that we might have used in early life, those attitudes that would encourage us to “tough things out,” drive or push to make things happen. Rather than heroics, she recommends pacing oneself,[143] and affirming things as they are. Here she takes a quote from Jung, who advocated oldsters say “an unconditional ‘yes’ to that which is.”[144]

            Jung modeled in his own life what he advocated in his essays. He lived zestfully, consciously, purposefully until he died. His ideas live on, inspiring us to recognize the myriad potentials in later life and offering a much more positive and enriching view of aging than that of contemporary American culture. Jung invites the older person to savor the enjoyments of life’s “afternoon,” and doing so, he presents us with the prospect of a happier, more fulfilling future regardless of our chronological age.




Baker, Bruce & Jane Wheelwright (1984), “Analysis with the Aged,” Jungian Analysis, ed. Murray Stein. Boulder: Shambhala.

Corbett, Lionel (1987), “Transformation of the Image of God Leading to Self-Initiation into Old Age,” Betwixt and Between, ed. Louise Mahdi. LaSalle IL: Open Court Press.

Jung, C.G. (1966), “Two Essays on Analytical Psychology,” CW 7. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1960), ”The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche,” CW 8. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1969), “Psychology and Religion: West and East,” CW 11. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

University Press.

________ (1954), “The Practice of Psychotherapy,” CW 16, 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1973), Letters, ed. Gerhard Adler & Aniela Jaffé. vol I. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1975), Letters, ed. Gerhard Adler & Aniela Jaffé. vol.II. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1965), Memories, Dreams, Reflections. New York: Vintage Books.

Monick, Eugene (1987), Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Pinkson, Tom (1987), “Do They Celebrate Christmas in Heaven?,” Betwixt and Between, ed. Louise Mahdi. LaSalle IL: Open Court Press.

Prétat, Jane (1994), Coming to Age: The Croning Years and Late-Life Transformation. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Sharp, Daryl (1996), Living Jung: The Good and the Better. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Tart, Charles (2009), The End of Materialism. Oakland CA: New Harbinger Publications.

von Franz, Marie-Louise (1998), C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time. Toronto: Inner City Books.

________ (1987), “What Happens When We Interpret Dreams?,” Betwixt and Between, ed. Louise Mahdi. LaSalle IL: Open Court Press.

Wheelwright, Jane (1987), “Old Age and Death,” Betwixt and Between, ed. Louise Mahdi. LaSalle IL: Open Court Press.








[1] CW 7, ¶114. Hereafter Collected Works will be abbreviated CW.

[2] CWs, 8, ¶807.

[3] CW 16, ¶75.

[4] These ages are approximate but show up astrologically in the timing of the second Saturn return (which occurs between 56 and 60) and the transit of Neptune opposing itself (which comes around age 83).

[5] CW 7, ¶114.

[6] Prétat (1994), 71.

[7] Ibid., 23.

[8] World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, I, 40.

[9] Corbett (1987), 372.

[10] Pretat (1994), 9.

[11] Ibid., 17.

[12] Corbett (1987), 376.

[13] For an in-depth discussion of Jung’s empiricism, see the essay “The Psyche is Real,” archived on this blog site.

[14] CW 8, ¶787.

[15] Wheelwright (1987), 409. I think it is very interesting that Jung and Wheelwright felt the newly dead could offer things to those “on the other side” if they had put their later years to good purpose.

[16] Ibid., 392. The ego discerns opposites but the ego fades as we age, and so the discernment lessens; personal communication with Lynda W. Schmidt (7 October 2011), from a conversation she had with her mother, Jane Wheelwright.

[17] Ibid., 394, 396.

[18] Pinkson (1987), 360, quoting Virginia Hine.

[19] von Franz (1987), 438.

[20] Prétat (1994), 26.

[21] For the inner type of expansion one does not need the body to be in tip-top shape.

[22] CW 8, ¶s 786,790.

[23] Ibid., ¶802.

[24] Tart (2009), 295.

[25] Prétat (1994), 44.

[26] Ibid., 64.

[27] Wheelwright (1987), 396.

[28] CW 8, ¶788.

[29] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 262.

[30] Prétat (1994), 17.

[31] Ibid,, 44.

[32] Ibid., 46.

[33] CW 11, ¶63; CW 8, ¶788.

[34] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 256.

[35] Lynda Schmidt noted that none of our political leaders ask the elderly to give back or refuse to apply for these benefits, if they are wealthy enough to do so. It is likely that some would be willing to do this; personal communication, 7 October 2011.

[36] Prétat (1994), 9.

[37] Ibid; cf. Wheelwright (1987), 390.

[38] The archetypal mid-life crisis can be timed by transiting Uranus coming to oppose natal Uranus. Any astrologer can easily identify the dates of this for an individual by consulting an ephemeris.

[39] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 258.

[40] Prétat (1994), 15.

[41] Ibid., 19.

[42] Ibid., 50.

[43] CW 8, ¶795; cf. Prétat (1994), 16.

[44] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 263.

[45] Wheelwright (1987), 403.

[46] Prétat (1994), 75.

[47] Corbett (1987), 372; cf. CW 7, ¶115.

[48] Prétat (1994), 103.

[49] Ibid., 48.

[50] CW 16, ¶75.

[51] CW 8, ¶785.

[52] Wheelwright (1987), 405.

[53] Prétat (1994), 7.

[54] Ibid., 48.

[55] Ibid., 14.

[56] Ibid.

[57] “Letter to the Earl of Sandwich,” 10 August 1960; Jung (1975), II, 580.

[58] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 258; Prétat (1994), 121.

[59] CW 7, ¶88.

[60] Wheelwright (1987), 392.

[61] “Letter to Eleanor Bertine,” 25 July 1946; Jung (1973), I, 437.

[62] Jung felt these moments (which he experienced himself) were times when the soul detached itself from the body; he found these times useful in giving him as very different idea of what death meant; ibid. 436.

[63] CW 8, ¶795.

[64] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 258.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid., 270.

[67] von Franz (1987), 438.

[68] Ibid.

[69] Corbett (1987), 372.

[70] Wheelwright (1987), 395.

[71] Ibid., 405.

[72] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 259.

[73] Ibid., 260.

[74] Ibid., 262.

[75] Ibid., 259.

[76] Prétat (1994), 60.

[77] Crobett (1987), 372.

[78] Wheelwright (1987), 395.

[79] Ibid., 394.

[80] Ibid., 395.

[81] von Franz (1998), 45.

[82] Wheelwright (1987), 398.

[83] Ibid., 396.

[84] Personal communication with Lynda W. Schmidt, 7 October 2011.

[85] Ibid., 405.

[86] Prétat (1994), 16.

[87] Corbett (1987), 373.

[88] Prétat (1994), 55.

[89] Ibid., 16.

[90] Jung was 69 in 1944.

[91] “Letter to Charles Tobias,” 27 October 1958; Jung (1975), II, 462-3.

[92] Prétat (1994), 55.

[93] Ibid., 21.

[94] Ibid.

[95] Wheelwright (1987), 394-5.

[96] Ibid., 394.

[97] Monick (1987), 48.

[98] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 265.

[99] Corbett (1987), 386.

[100] Wheelwright (1987), 392.

[101] CW 11, ¶788.

[102] Prétat (1994), 61.

[103] CW 11, ¶114.

[104] “Letter to Adolf L. Vischer,” 21 March 1951; Jung (1975), II, 10.

[105] “Letter to Gustav Schmaltz,” 30 May 1957; ibid., 363.

[106] Prétat (1994), 13,22.

[107] “Letter to Frances Wickes,” 14 December 1956; ibid., 338.

[108] Prétat (1994), 18.

[109] CW 7, ¶115.

[110] Ibid.

[111] Prétat (1994), 14.

[112] Ibid., 18.

[113] Sharp (1996), 118.

[114] Prétat (1994), 98. For an extended discussion of sacrifice, see the essay “The Blessings of Sacrifice,” archived on this blog site.

[115] Prétat (1994), 54.

[116] Wheelwright (1987), 390.

[117] CW 7, ¶114; CW 8, ¶787.

[118] Wheelwright (1987), 394.

[119] Ibid.

[120] “Letter to the Earl of Sandwich,” 10 August 1960; Jung (1975), II, 580.

[121] CW 8, ¶794

[122] CW 8, ¶789.

[123] Ibid., ¶792.

[124] Ibid., ¶808.

[125] Ibid., ¶792.

[126] For more on this theme, see the forthcoming blog essay, “The Art of Dying Well,” coming up in our May 2012 blog posting.

[127] Ibid.

[128] Ibid.

[129] Baker & Wheelwright (1984), 266-271.

[130] Wheelwright (1987), 393.

[131] Ibid.; and Prétat (1994), 14.

[132] Such statements of preference are not made from greed or ego, and people accept them, if they are said with assurance; personal communication with Lynda W. Schmidt, 7 October 2011.

[133] Wheelwright (1987), 389.

[134] Ibid., 398.

[135] Ibid.

[136] Lynda W. Schmidt, recalling a conversation with her mother; personal communication, 7 October 2011

[137] Corbett (1987), 372.

[138] Ibid., 372, 384.

[139] Ibid., 375.

[140] ibid., 385. The inner child is that part of the oldster that energizes the capacity to state preferences.

[141] Prétat (1994), 86.

[142] Ibid., 50.

[143] Ibid., 32.

[144] Jung (1965), 297.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: How to Be 50‎ – How to be 50

Leave a Reply