Thursday, June 27, 2024

‘I Am What I Choose to Become’ Was Said By This Jungian, Not Jung Himself

Stuart K. Hayashi

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

That is an excellent and wise quotation. It is a perfect affirmation of the presence of free will. 

All too often in our culture we hear the phrase “Nature versus Nurture.” The insinuation is that your personal identity, as an adult, is the result of you being passive in being shaped by forces external to your conscious decision-making. As the phrase goes, what molded you into you was either inborn biological mechanisms beyond your control (“nature”), or conditioning from circumstances impinging upon you (“nurture”). Those factors do have some influence. But as the quotation reminds us, the biggest factor in making you the person you are as an adult is the one that goes unmentioned and unacknowledged. That factor is the series of choices you made on your own, proactively. (It is no accident that “Nature versus Nurture” was coined by Sir Francis Galton, the founder and namer of eugenics. He favored Nature over Nurture, and ignored free will completely.)

And all over the World Wide Web and in memes in Google Images, and even throughout works you can find in Google Books, that quotation is misattributed to Carl Jung.

Here is the actual source:
Betty DeShong Meador, “Uncursing the Dark: Restoring the Lost Feminine,” Quadrant: Journal of the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytic Psychology vol. 22 (no. 1, 1989): 27–39.
This was in a journal published by the C. G. Jung Foundation. That is how the quotation ended up being ascribed inaccurately to the man himself.

As I write this, I must say that this psychoanalyst and therapist, Betty DeShong Meador, died relatively recently. She was born in 1931 and died on February 20, 2023. I wish that it could have been within her lifetime that this quotation was sourced properly to her.