INFLATION: the challenge of archetypal possession

Jan 14, 2021

A cartoonish photo graphic shows a business man wearing a golden crown, illustrating the concept of psychological Inflation.

Inflation applies to balloons, economics–and psychology. Jung defined it as being seized by archetypal energy resulting in “a puffed up attitude, loss of free will, delusion, and enthusiasm for good and evil alike.” Inflation is more than a “swelled head” because the influx of unconscious contents leads to identification with god-like powers.

In Greek myth Phaeton became inflated when the sun god, Helios, acknowledged him as his son. Phaeton then asked to drive his father’s chariot, pulling the sun across the sky. He could not control the powerful horses, scorched the earth, and was killed. Arrogating god-like powers to oneself eclipses self-awareness and disaster ensues. Inflation can be expressed outwardly as power-seeking grandiosity or inwardly as self-sacrificing suffering. It is present in unrealistic risk-taking, frenzied creativity, spiritual illusions, the entitlement of toddlers and teens, and in collective excesses. Mobs are inflated, flouting the constraints of civilization, culture, and common sense. The antidote to inflation is humility, service, and love.

 Here’s the dream we analyze:

“Midway up a mountain I tried to get rid of my son, who was the size of a baby Yoda. My last attempt was to throw him into water in hopes it breaks and he freezes to death. He gets close a few times but always comes back to me. At this time I hear a woman in the distance yelling, telling me to stop and saying she would help and asking for my number. I ignore her and decide I better just grab my son and head up the mountain. I put him under my shirt as he hugs my chest — he is freezing but warming up quickly. The last half of the mountain has a huge canvas sheet over it colored yellow, black and orange. I grip it with my hand and climb up. It’s hard and at no point does it ever ease up. My muscles are burning and I’m losing strength. When I’m near the edge to get to the top I have to give everything to get up top. I almost fell but I did make it. Once up I find a hidden compartment that has food and water. I rest before we descend. The lady made it up and she has a guy with her. She asked if I used the canvas to make it up. I said yes…she replied it’s beginning to tear so she didn’t use it. I showed her the compartment. She began talking about descending and not using the zipline to make it down this time. I tell her I need to practice ascending and descending vertically more.”


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams:  https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. Jim

    I enjoyed his episode. I was thinking of Jung’s essay, Wotan (1936), about this destructive power being unleashed in Germany. And now Berserkers (one in Nordic style) have descended on Washington. Perhaps there is more to come. As Jung noted, when an inner dynamic is not recognized as such, it will happen outside as Fate. The inflation/inferiority tension has broken into the open perhaps guided by the Pandemic stress and economic dislocations.

  2. James

    I needed this episode as I continue to try to understand what is going on. Thank you. Would it bee possible to have the citations of thee Jung quotes posted?

    • Jim

      You might consider “Wotan” and “After the Catastrophe” (1945) both of which can be found in Volume 10 of the Collected Works, Civilization in Transition.

  3. Aleksandr Podgaets

    A thought that someone has a puffed up attitude might might lead to breaking one’s personal boundaries which in turn might burst her bubble

    If she’s bouncy and uplifting she’ll be all right of course. Resilience helps. On the other hand, stretchy moral helps, too – to each their sphere of interest

    I prefer lighter side of things. I like ladies being in the bubble and feeling swell


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