Jung’s theory divides the psyche into three parts. The first is the ego, which Jung identifies with the conscious mind. Closely related is the personal unconscious, which includes anything which is not presently conscious, but can be. The personal unconscious is like most people’s understanding of the unconscious in that it includes both memories that are easily brought to mind and those that have been suppressed for some reason. But it does not include the instincts that Freud would have included it.
But then Jung adds the part of the psyche that makes his theory stand out from all others: the collective unconscious. You could call it your “psychic inheritance”. It is the reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with. And yet we can never be directly conscious of it. It influences all of our experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional ones, but we only know about it indirectly, by looking at those influences.
There are some experiences that show the effects of the collective unconscious more clearly than others: The experiences of love at first sight, of deja vu (the feeling that you’ve been here before), and the immediate recognition of certain symbols and the meanings of certain myths, could all be understood as the sudden conjunction of our outer reality and the inner reality of the collective unconscious. Grander examples are the creative experiences shared by artists and musicians all over the world and in all times, or the spiritual experiences of mystics of all religions, or the parallels in dreams, fantasies, mythologies, fairy tales, and literature.
A nice example that has been greatly discussed recently is the near-death experience. It seems that many people, of many different cultural backgrounds, find that they have very similar recollections when they are brought back from a close encounter with death. They speak of leaving their bodies, seeing their bodies and the events surrounding them clearly, of being pulled through a long tunnel towards a bright light, of seeing deceased relatives or religious figures waiting for them, and of their disappointment at having to leave this happy scene to return to their bodies. Perhaps we are all “built” to experience death in this fashion.
The contents of the collective unconscious are called archetypes. An archetype is an unlearned tendency to experience things in a certain way.
The archetype has no form of its own, but it acts as an “organizing principle” on the things we see or do. It works the way that instincts work in Freud’s theory: At first, the baby just wants something to eat, without knowing what it wants. It has a rather indefinite yearning which, nevertheless, can be satisfied by some things and not by others. Later, with experience, the child begins to yearn for something more specific when it is hungry – a bottle, a cookie, a broiled lobster, a slice of New York style pizza.
The archetype is like a black hole in space: You only know its there by how it draws matter and light to itself.
The mother archetype
The mother archetype is a particularly good example. All of our ancestors had mothers. We have evolved in an environment that included a mother or mother-substitute. We would never have survived without our connection with a nurturing-one during our times as helpless infants.
So the mother archetype is our built-in ability to recognize a certain relationship, that of “mothering”. Jung says that this is rather abstract, and we are likely to project the archetype out into the world and onto a particular person, usually our own mothers. Even when an archetype doesn’t have a particular real person available, we tend to personify the archetype, that is, turn it into a mythological “story-book” character. This character symbolizes the archetype.
The mother archetype is symbolized by the primordial mother or “earth mother” of mythology, by Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean. According to Jung, someone whose own mother failed to satisfy the demands of the archetype may well be one that spends his or her life seeking comfort in the church, or in identification with “the motherland”, or in meditating upon the figure of Mary.
Sex and the life instincts in general are, of course, represented somewhere in Jung’s system. They are a part of an archetype called the shadow. It derives from our prehuman, animal past, when our concerns were limited to survival and reproduction, and when we weren’t self-conscious.
It is the “dark side” of the ego, and the evil that we are capable of is often stored there. Actually, the shadow is amoral – neither good nor bad, just like animals. An animal is capable of tender care for its young and vicious killing for food, but it doesn’t choose to do either. It just does what it does. It is “innocent”. But from our human perspective, the animal world looks rather brutal, inhuman, so the shadow becomes something of a garbage can for the parts of ourselves that we can’t quite admit to.
Symbols of the shadow include the snake (as in the garden of Eden), the dragon, monsters, and demons. It often guards the entrance to a cave or a pool of water, which is the collective unconscious. Next time you dream about wrestling with the devil, it may only be yourself you are wrestling with!
The persona represents your public image. The word is, obviously, related to the word person and personality, and comes from a Latin word for mask. So the persona is the mask you put on before you show yourself to the outside world. Although it begins as an archetype, by the time we are finished realizing it, it is the part of us most distant from the collective unconscious.
At its best, it is just the “good impression” we all wish to present as we fill the roles society requires of us. But, of course, it can also be the “false impression” we use to manipulate people’s opinions and behaviors. And, at its worst, it can be mistaken, even by ourselves, for our true nature: Sometimes we believe we really are what we pretend to be!
1. Say if these statements are true, false or not given
The archetype has no form of its own, but it acts as an “organizing principle” on the things we see or do.
Jung adds the part of the psyche that makes his theory stand out from all others: the collective unconscious.
The personal unconscious includes instincts
The creative experiences shared by artists and musicians all over the world and in all times are the effects of the collective unconscious.
The collective unconscious includes anything which is not presently conscious, but can be.
The collective unconscious does not influence all of our experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional ones.
2. Match the terms and definitions
a part of the unconscious mind incorporating patterns of memories, instincts, and experiences common to all mankind. These patterns are inherited, may be arranged into archetypes, and are observable through their effects on dreams, behaviour, etc
one of the inherited mental images postulated by Jung as the content of the collective unconscious
The thoughts, ideas, emotions, and other mental phenomena acquired and repressed during one’s lifetime.
a particular incident, feeling, etc., that a person has undergone, direct personal participation or observation; actual knowledge or contact
the experience of perceiving a new situation as if it had occurred before. It is sometimes associated with exhaustion or certain types of mental disorder
Bring to mind
An instantaneous attraction to someone or something.
an experience, instances of which have been widely reported, in which a person near death is apparently outside his body and aware of it and the attendant circumstances as separate from him
To cause you to think of someone or something
the derivation of characteristics of one generation from an earlier one by heredity
the human mind or soul
Love at first sight
the act of recalling something from memory; the ability to remember