An important aspect of Jung's analytical theory is his description of the conscious and unconscious desires of the personality. Specifically, Jung describes states of mind in which the person holds two contradictory desires simultaneously. In his book The Mystery of Human Relationship: Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self, Nathan Schwartz-Salant refers to these as "mad states" and acknowledges them as fundamental components of the psyches of persons acting in relationship.

It is not as though these are competing conscious desires, but often conscious and unconscious drives, desires, values, or even value systems that motivate the principles and actions of the individual simultaneously. The reason that the state is "mad" is these opposing faculties are not in conflict, though they are chaotic. Schwartz-Salant describes a process in which relationships benefit from acknowledging the mad states in one's self and in the persons to whom the self relates, even itself. He doesn't endorse a resolution of the opposing aspects or elimination of subordinate aspects, but the marriage of opposing faculties, the understanding that people are not simple but psychologically complex, and that adopting this understanding by individuals allows relationships to operate symbiotically not despite the chaos, but in light of the spontaneity, creativity, and possibility afforded by it.

In context of the will to power, this implies that for a person to say "yes" to the will, he may also be saying "no" to its compliment also present in the person, and in so doing may not be "self-overcoming" by affirming the will to power but merely forsaking one genuine and valuable aspect of the soul for another in order to achieve a perceived self-affirmed state.

In describing the will to power, does Nietzsche address this tendency of people to simultaneously hold opposing drives, desires, or values?


In discussing Adler's psychological application to will to power, Jung responds contemporarily, writing that all neuroses inevitably can be traced back according to that drive.

He says the same of Freud's psychosexual method, but he doesn't imply a contradiction. Jung observed that both methods described a singular human drive to live and affirm life, which he contrasted with the Thanatos- the drive to die, to retire from perturbations and return to the still of the cosmic womb. Is this acknowledging this life-affirming drive the yes-saying Nietzsche is discussing?

  • could you please differentiate "drive" and "desire"? Also, could you expand on Schwartz-Salant's definition of "mad states"?
    – martin
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 15:47
  • Are you talking about cognitive dissonance?
    – hellyale
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 16:42
  • 1
    @martin A drive is a need, originating in the unconscious, that has the power of driving the behaviour of an individual. A desire, on the other hand, is the conscious response to a stimulus to acquire or prolong the stimulation. A drive may constitute a complex that conditions value systems, aspirations, and desires.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 16:58
  • @hellyale No. In my understanding, cognitive dissonance is the stress associated with action or observation that is contradictory to established values or beliefs. Jung's theory is one of structure- the structure of the unconscious, which is the archetypes, is such that it exhibits a multiplicity of drives and value systems that are at the same time independent, hierarchical, and often contradictory. Jungian analysis seeks to marry these aspects, not eliminate contradiction. The question asks whether Nietzsche incorporated this multiplicity into his concept of the "yes-sayer" or otherwise.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 19:07
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    @martin A mad state is a state in which the personality holds multiple simultaneous yet mutually exclusive drives. Instead of "cancelling-out" in a linear sense, these states perturb and exacerbate each other. Jung writes about eliminating stress not by eliminating one aspect, but by acknowledging the presence of both and, well, doing other stuff that is clinical psychology and not philosophy. See the edit.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


I don't know about Nietzsche, but the following might help prompt a better answer:

Aristotle wrote in his Metaphysics (ie First Philosophy) that all philosophers affirm that principle of change in nature are contraries - ie opposing forces; recalling that the semantic range for nature in Aristotle is wider than is usual in English (consider human nature) then it might be suggestive to see that opposing forces in the mind or soul (anima) aren't states of madness - but are forces with a rational basis; and this force might propel from normality to extremity (ie madness); I don't know however, whether this reading is itself confirmed in Aristotles theory of mind.


Nietzsche was unfortunately himself plagued by madness (since after his staying in Turin - one famous Nietzsche's expert - Anacleto Verrecchia - used to say that even the fact that Nietzsche liked Turin was itself a sympton of his madness. Sadly, because Turin is very nice city). Anyway, madness in Nietzsche has an epistemologic value, it is used to break the boundary of conventional wisdom and ethics/tradition in a way similar as Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Madness is all about knowledge in Nietzsche (many passage in "Also sprach Zarathustra also proves it)

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