Finding Ourselves: Writing Memoir and Jungian Individuation Print

This lecture is geared toward people interested in personal growth, who use writing as a means toward that end.


A memoir is a work of literature that focuses on the meaning and intensity of a phase or a singular relationship in the author’s life—unresolved feelings for a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend; coming to terms with a loss, an illness, a death; remembering a significant phase like childhood or adolescence or a period like college in which the writer was challenged or changed.

One reason for the memoir’s popularity in our time is our deep need to explore the age-old questions: Who am I? Why am I? What is the purpose of my life?

Memoirist and critic Thomas Larson, author of The Memoir and the Memoirist, examines the link between the new memoir and the psychological idea of individuation. Larson’s talk combines C.G. Jung’s process of individuation, the lifelong struggle to become a person, with an author’s process of writing a memoir. Questions he focuses on include: What is individuation? What is its value? Why are people attracted to individuate in the second half of their lives? How do the arts, in general, and the memoir, in particular, facilitate individuation?