Mark Saban

Emotion and the Transindividual: The Collective Unconscious as a Dimension of Affectivity

One of the least noted though most important ways in which Jung’s psychology differs from psychoanalytic approaches is to be found in Jung’s emphasis upon the crucial importance of the affective dimension.  Although the Jungian and post-Jungian tradition itself has not historically highlighted this dimension, I believe that the recent turn toward the affective in the wider intellectual and cultural world (within for example, neuroscientific and in philosophical disciplines) has provided us with a timely opportunity to fully explore, for perhaps the first time, this strain in Jung’s thinking and its more radical implications.

To amplify such an exploration, I intend to call on the ideas of influential French philosopher Gilbert Simondon, whose opus magnum (Simondon 2020) offers a fascinating transfiguration of Jung’s central notion of individuation into a thoroughgoing philosophy of onto-genesis (Saban 2020).

For Simondon, affect and emotion provide the key to what he calls Transindividuation, whereby the individuation of the individual touches and is touched by a collective individuation that reaches far beyond the intersubjective.  Simondon points out that affects exceed the individual because they operate on what he calls a pre-individual basis; they thus generate engagement with a dimension within which the subject is (albeit unknowingly) always already in intimate relation – the dimension Jung articulates as the collective unconscious. Both Jung and Simondon understand the affects as the prime medium within which we as subjects are able to access, or rather, be accessed by this collective realm.

By staying with this affective/emotional dimension in Jung and in Simondon we are offered the opportunity to explore important potential developments in at least two arenas.  The affective turn not only provides a fresh perspective on clinical work (particularly transference/countertransference relations), but it also opens up a novel approach to the psychosocial (the realm of the transindividual) and thus, potentially, to a rigorous Jungian understanding of social and political fields.


Mark Saban PhD trained with the UK Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists, with whom he is a senior analyst, working in London and Oxford. He is also a lecturer in Jungian and post-Jungian studies in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex.

Recent Publications

Co-edited (with Emilija Kiehl and Andrew Samuels) Analysis and Activism - Social and Political Contributions of Jungian Psychology (Routledge 2016) and wrote Two Souls Alas: Jung’s Two Personalities and the Making of Analytical Psychology (Chiron 2019) which won the International Association of Jungian Studies’ Best Book of 2019.


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