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Keywords:

  • compensatory relation;
  • concentric dualism;
  • diametric dualism;
  • foreground-background interaction;
  • inverted symmetry;
  • mandala

Abstract:

The parallels between Jung's and Lévi-Strauss’ concentric cross-cultural structures of the unconscious are highlighted. Lévi-Strauss’ basic contrasts between concentric and diametric dualisms are developed into psychologically relevant differences regarding symmetry, connection and separation, and interaction between foreground and background structures respectively. These contrasts between concentric and diametric structures are applied as a common structural framework for understanding Jungian conceptions of the self, the ego and their relations, Freudian views of compensation and repetition in obsessional neurosis, and Winnicott's conception of a child's transitional object. Developing the contrasts between concentric and diametric structures reveals a compensatory relation between both structures. This supports an argument that concentric structures express the self and diametric structures express the ego in their mutual compensatory interrelation. Contrasting concentric with ­diametric structures challenges traditional Western logic, including Fordham's view that it is contradictory to treat the self as both centre and totality. It also develops an understanding of Jung's transcendent function which seeks to go beyond the ego-shadow opposition.