Jung's Archetypes: Unraveling the Depths of the Collective Unconscious

Categories: Carl Jung

Abstract Carl Jung was the illegitimate son of a poet. Jung’s emotional voyage into the psychological unknown began early in his life; he became aware of two separate aspects of his Self. This experience drew him into the field of psychiatry, dealing with subjective phenomena. After relationship trauma, with Freud, Jung began a dangerous and painful journey into the unconscious, he communicated and named his archetypes, possible alternate personalities. This experience brought Jung to a new sense of individualization; this would be the birth of his theory that the mind consist of conscious and unconscious levels.

Indentifying the potential source of the various Archetypes or emotional disorders that haunted Jung’s in his endeavors, will be the goal of this research paper. Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious Archetypes Jana K. Lucas, Liberty University Carl Jung was born the illegitimate son of a German poet. Jung was always, an emotional and sensitive child, (Feist & Feist, p. 99). Before the age of ten Jung began differentiating between two various aspects of his personality, which he labeled as No.

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1 & No. 2. Jung believed that No. 2 was an old dead man, (reincarnation concept), (Jung, 1961, p. 68) . Jung wrote that No.

1 personality, emerged more dominant and gradually repressed intuitive premonitions brought on by the dead old man, known as personality No. 1. Jung’s professional interest were in archeology, (Feist & Feist p. 100), but due to his personal psychological experiences of the unknown, his curiosity drew him more into the natural and religious sciences than that of psychology.

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Jung’s paternal family openly professed and practiced within the field of occult phenomenon, this intrigued Jung enough to explore those avenues professionally. All these contributing factors led Jung to choose a profession in Psychiatry.

Jung was especially interested in this field due to the relationship psychiatry has within the subjective phenomena (Singer, 1994, Feist & Feist, p. 100).

Carl Jung became mesmerized with Freud, a relationship initiated that would have long- lasting and profound emotional implications on Jung. According to Feist & Feist, Freud identified with Jung as a potential, competent successor (Feist & Feist, p. 101), Jung viewed Freud in a more intimate manner, leaving him crushed when the relationship ended due to professional indifferences and potentially racial charged connotations initiated by Jung, according to Bergmann.

In the words of Bergmann, “The fact that Freud failed to understand, was generalized by Jung in the theory that Jews cannot understand the Aryan mentality. As far as Freud is concerned, it seemed that he succeeded in helping to bring about his worst nightmare. Freud had grand anticipation that Jung would succeed him as president of the International because he wanted to avoid labeling psychoanalysis a Jewish therapy (Bergmann, p. 252). In the words of Feist, (McGuire, 1974, p. 95) Jung wrote to Freud and confessed his “crush”, utilizing undeniable, erotic undertones.

Jung further explained that he believed these feelings to be the result of sexual abuse he had endured as a teen, by someone Jung had loved and trusted. For the next several years Jung would slip into a state of depression, described by Marvin Goldwert (1992) as a period of time he would he choose to identify as a “creative illness”, this experience would take Jung through the underground of his own unconscious psyche (Feist & Feist, p. 102).

Although dangerous and painful, the procedure would take Jung to a place where he would be able to become acquainted with his personal unconscious and demons that haunted him since childhood, that he did not understand (Feist & Feist, P. 103). Prolonged experiences in this emotional state would enabled Jung to explore deeper into the unconscious, these states could have been interpreted in today’s standards as a potential form of Self-hypnosis. The psychological states that Jung demonstrated were symptomatic of behaviors that are commonly identified with the state of hypnosis.

Jung claimed to use this process as a means to explore his collective unconscious. In the words of Tressoldi and Prete, “self hypnosis is characterized by self or outside influenced instructions to leave the body and allow the mind to go to the place where the target was presented”, this is exactly what Jung was attempting to accomplish when he became aware of the archetypes , (alternate personalities), (Jung 1961). Jung termed this personal emotional inner journey as "the process of individuation (Feist & Feist p. 106).

Jung believed this particular personality accomplishment of “individualization”, was found in the collective unconscious and made up the deep structures of the psyche, “Archetypes, (alternate personalities) are repressed in the collective unconscious, and are the building blocks behind an individual’s religious and mythological belief system, these are the basis of our thinking processes (Feist & Feist, p. 104).

The source of these archetype entities would be a controversial topic within the circles of Theorist throughout time, each has been relabeled, questioned, accepted and revoked numerous times due to Jung’s lack of investigative studies (Feist & Feist, p. 23), his theories are based primarily on personal experiences.

Jung believed there were many archetypes, and they dwelled within the collective unconscious, of all people. Jung’s theory was that archetypes are the product of ancient or archaic images accumulated from past and present life experience, (Feist & Feist, p. 106). Jung put himself into an emotional state that resembled a form of depression or could be thought of as a form of self-hypnosis, as mentioned earlier. Some believe this was in effort to cope with his unresolved emotional issues that haunted him since childhood. Jung referred to this state as “living within the collective unconscious, or “creative illness”, (McIntosh, p. 136).

Theorist such as Bakhtin referred to it as the “boundaries of consciousness”, both Jung and McIntosh is more likely to refer to this state as “emergent consciousness”, because that can only come into existence in that space between self and the other (McIntosh, p. 140). In the words of Feist, “The personal unconscious embraces all repressed, forgotten, or subliminally perceived experiences of one particular individual”. (Feist & Feist, p. 104)

All the experiences as a baby, including impulses and inherited experiences are stored in the personal unconscious and are unique to each individual. The primary element of the personal unconscious was labeled by Jung as complexes. (Jung, 1931/1960b). Jung believed not all these emotions and ideas were completely conscious, but partly stemmed from the collective unconscious (Feist & Feist, p. 104).

According to McIntosh, “Jung thought the function of the unconscious is to construct compensatory, perspectives to the biases that may be held by the consciousness, such as partial or defective attitudes. The aim of this process is ultimately the individuation of the ego in relation to the self. What is repressed, ignored or neglected by the conscious is compensated for by the unconscious, and it is the opportunity that this will provide to the integration of the psyche that is sought through it”. (McIntosh, p.

136). Jung believed the collective unconscious makes up the deep structures of the psyche, “Archetypes, are repressed in the collective unconscious, and are the building blocks behind an individual’s religious and mythological belief system, these are the basis of our thinking processes (Feist & Feist, p. 104). Archetypes dwell within the collective unconscious, and are the product of ancient or archaic images accumulated from past and present life experiences, (I. e. inherited ancestry reincarnated experiences) (Feist & Feist, p. 106).

Jean Knox describes Jung’s alternate personalities or entities as, “Archetypes are often thought of as pre-formed innate packets of imagery and fantasy waiting to pop out like butterflies from a chrysalis given the right environmental trigger (Knox, J. 2004, pg. 3). Sabrina. Speilrein, described archetypes as the mode of consciousness found in dreams, myths, and fairytales, and the delusional thinking of schizophrenics” (Skea, B. 2006. Pg. 535).

Brian Skea described archetypes as an island of unconscious thoughts and emotions remerging from a sea of consciousness in the form of symbols. (Feist & Feist, 2009, p. 112), archetypes became Jung’s emotional and social replacement for the lost camaraderie he had with Freud. These alternate personalities helped Jung cope with his grief.

Jung suffered a catastrophic, personal, social dilemma when his fond admiration for Freud ended. Jung’s childhood was rattled with emotional issues, from introversion, neglect from his mother to identify confusion. According to Feist, Jung was searching what he believed to be the ultimate realization, the archetypes of all archetypes the “self”(Feist & Feist, p. 111).

Studies of families done by the American Sociological Review, show “schizophrenic children provide empirical descriptions of both the underlying responsive orientation in the context of parent and child relations, i. e. , where the expectation is and of the inner emotional condition of a person caught in the conflicting streams of supportive surface and rejecting substructure” (Etziono, . 881). Martin Bergmann wrote, “Winnicott detected, Jung's childhood schizophrenia, it also appeared that Jung expressed paranoid attitude towards Freudian psychoanalysis.

In the words of Brian Feldman, “Jung utilized his theories to stabilize his personality after the important period of his 'confrontation with the unconscious' which occurred following his break with Freud. Jung had difficulty confronting object loss and a sense of abandonment by his mother, if you focus on the aspects of Jung's personality which are 'typical of psychosis and psychotic character” (Feldman, p. 256). According to Bergman, Jung had many religious issues that were unresolved (Bergman, p. 362).

Jung’s identification with God and exposure to the occult created boundaries that Jung was unable to clarify nor hurdle. Jung was an extremist, held that madness is religion that has not yet understood itself, that man is essentially religious, which is shown by the anthropological fact that all known cultures incorporate a belief in God or gods (Bergman, p. 361).

It is only modern aberrant ‘‘urban’’man, according to Jung, who has departed from this and has paid the price in rampant mental disorders and dislocation. For the idea of God, to use Jung’s terminology, is a central archetype in our collective unconscious; hence trying to deny it is like trying to deny it is like trying to deny that we human beings needed a parent (Bergman, p. 361). Freud and Jung did not share the same belief system when it came to religion, rued was very agnostic, according to Bergman. Even through their differences, Freud still held Jung in high regard.

In Bergmann’s words, “ I believe that if Freud ever read what Jung said about Freudian psychoanalysis after 1914, it would have caused him a great deal of pain”. (Bergmann, p. 52). Jung appeared to be hiding from his issues by escaping into his unconscious, according to Bandura, individuals who avoid risk or have low self-efficacy beliefs will probably stay in their old pattern of thinking and behaving as long as possible (Bandura, 1997). In the words of Pinquart and Silbereisen, Jung’s individual resources (such as self-efficacy; Bandura, 1997).

And the perception that confidants, such as family and friends, support or tolerate new patterns of thinking and behaving (Myers & Booth, 2002), have an impact on whether one grasps new opportunities or falls into depressive or emotionally destructive behaviors (Pinquart & Silbereisen, p. 294). Jung had no one that could help him through his turmoil, he and his confidant, Freud had parted ways. No one else really could understand on Jung’s intellectual level what he was going through emotionally. As a coping device, Jung escaped into an emotional abyss, this is where he found his inner beings, we call archetypes.

According to Feist, Jung related personally to eight archetypes as symbols, the persona, shadow, anima, animus, the Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Hero, and the Self. Jung each archetype held a particular position and had a particular function within the personality and/or forming of the personality, throughout lifespan. Jung identified them as “players” in the shaping process of the personality (Feist & Fesit, p. 106 -112). Jung identified the persona as his first Archetype, he would describe this inner journey as "the process of individuation”.

According to Doran, Jung wrote “the process of becoming one's own self, individuation means becoming an 'individual,' and, insofar as 'individuality' embraces our innermost last and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one's own self “(Doran R. Jung, Gnosis).

The archetype known as the “self” became a key symbol in Jung’s archetype theory and closely related to his most powerful personal religious experience. Jung defines the Self as “the totality of the personality, our life’s goal, the centre and circumference of the whole psyche embracing consciousness and the unconscious, and supra ordinate to the conscious ego” (1916/1928, pars. 274, 404; 1944, par. 44; 1963, p. 417).

‘There is little hope of our ever being able to reach even approximate consciousness of the Self. (Schlamm, p. 410) Schalamm wrote that towards the end of Jung’s life” he declared that the experience of the Self carried with it a luminosity of such intensity that it could be likened to the experience of being ‘anchored in God’ (Jung, 1976, p. 371), (Schlamm, p. 410).

Jung believed that self-realization was reached as a final step in growth and maturity, and not all would achieve this enlightened state of accomplishment (Feist & Feist, p. 111)). Yet this was an individual that did not reach that enlightened stage within his own perception. Jung associated with eight various personalities, archetypes, within his own mind, this could be symptomatic of potential Dissociative Disorder, (DD), which has also been associated with religious possession.

According to Rosik, DD patients claim to distinguish demons from alter egos (archetypes), based on the subjective conclusions of secular and religious observers, each rooted in different worldviews (Rosik, p. 114). Religious or spiritual possession has been questioned as a possible alternative to the “alter ego’s” expressed and identified by Jung (Singleton, p. 178), “Experiences of evil are generally considered to be counters with evil spirits, which possess special powers, identified by name and act against humans.(i. e. Legion in the Bible).

This is in no way how Jung described his alter ego’s known as “archetypes”. The theory of possession seems unlikely for a man of Jung’s belief in God. The description of Jung’s inner journey and findings of “alter ego’s” are more descriptive of emotional turmoil, rather than that identified with spiritual possession. In Bowman’s word, “DD (Dissociative Disorder) is not a spiritual disorder, but a mental disorder that calls for Psychological treatment. Exorcism is a spiritual treatment that does not belong in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, DD included (Rosik, p. 114).

Bowman believed delayed memories of childhood trauma, (i. e. Jung’s sexual abuse identified later in life), played a key role in DD and/or MPD. (Bowman, p. 232-243). Jung identified eight distinct archetypes symbols, DID/MPD have defining features, that are in close comparison to Jung’s archetypes. Symptoms of DD and MPD are defined as “the existence within the individuals that expresses two or more distinct personalities, each of which is dominant at a particular time” (American Psychiatric Association, 1980. . 257).

According to Phelps there are over fifty definitions of personality; most refer to internal variables that somehow cause a person’s behavior but do not refer to personality as being behavior (Phelps, p. 237). In contrast, Eysenck (1959) stated his position as “Personality as the sum total of actual or potential behavior patterns of the person, as determined by heredity and environment”.

Ironically, Feist describes Jung’s “Wise Old Man Archetype in the same manner (Feist & Feist, p. 110) Skinner (1953) argued that personalities represent “topographical subdivisions of behavior”. ‘As we know from Jung’s association experiments, anomalies signify complexes. Behind personal complexes, we may find an archetypal “system of readiness for action’. (Zabriski, p. 36).

As Jung described that a slip of the tongue, a memory lapse are simply unconscious phenomenon that typically emerges from the unconscious, in the process of “individualization” As we have already stated, ‘Jung’s method of studying archetypes does not employ an experimental technique’ (Shelburne 1988, pp. 33, 122). ‘The transference phenomenon is without doubt one of the most important syndromes on the process of individualization’. (Jung, para. 539 Jung identified archetypes a way to organize emotions responsible for the formation and reaction

to external issues, that formed internal habits within the human psyche. Exploring the options that Jung’s archetypes were the result of mystical possession, transference, multiple personality disorder or other emotional disorders as a result of a traumatic and introverted childhood experiences due to sexual abuse. The onset of depressive behavior initiated by the termination of the relationship between Freud and Jung, leading to the potential process of utilizing self- hypnosis as form of escape, which led to the communication and discovery of the many archetypes that Jung describes in his theory of personality development as symbols.

According to Feist & Feist, Jung claimed that everyone has many archetypes, they serve individual functions and come from unique experiences of the individual. The understanding that Jung’s archetypes were simply use of symbols, seems to be a shared theory. ‘Symbolic form’ denotes a symbolic expression in its most extensive meaning: the expression of ‘mental’ contents through perceptual ‘signs’ and ‘images’. The crucial question concerning these forms is whether they are in all their varieties of possible applications based on one fundamental principle” (Pietikainer, p. 331).

Studies don’t specify why Jung used symbols to identify, categorize and associate with these unexplained symbols within the collective unconscious, known as archetypes. First he divided the psyche into three parts, the ego being the most conscious. Jung believed memories were the contents of the unconscious. The collective unconscious is where the archetypes were stored. Archetypes, according to Jung were simply inherited memories, such as how to love, bond and react in certain situations, automatic, built in reactions.

According to Dr. George Boeree, ‘The contents of the collective unconscious are called archetypes. Jung also called them dominants, imagos, mythological or primordial images, and a few other names’ (Boeree, 1997). According to Jung the Mother archetype symbol represents nurturing and “mothering”. The symbol of the Shadow that Jung uses is representative of the dark side of the ego, the evil we possess, but don’t admit.

The persona is the image that the public see’s, not our true self, how we want others to view us. The Anima and Animus are part of our persona, anima is the female aspect present in the collective unconscious of men, and the animus is the male aspect present in the collective unconscious of women. Jung’s theory involved many family archetypes.

The father, symbolized as an authority figure, the child archetype represents the future, becoming, rebirth, and salvation. Archetypes represent story characters such as the hero, and the maiden. In Jung’s theory the hero is guided by the wise old man. He is a form of the animus, and reveals to the hero the nature of the collective unconscious. There is an animal archetype that represents humanity's relationships with the animal world, nature verses nurture.

According to Jung there are many archetypes in every person, you can never reach “individualization” until you have encountered them personally through some form of emotional experience. Ironically, Jung admitted that we can never be able to know what the archetypes really are, and even through his profound efforts to explain them, they are nothing but more or less successful translations from one metaphorical language to another (Jung 1949, para. 271).

This statement of Jung is somewhat self-defeating, if we conceive the study of archetypes from a scientific prospective. Jung seemed to live in a world of animation, a world of creation of his own making.

Although, he was a great observer of human nature, he offered no empirical or experimental evidence that could provide proof that his theories were falsifiable and viable. In Conclusion: In light of Jung’s belief that all people possess numerous alter ego’s, known as archetypes, must be denied.

In order to subscribe to this theory would be to suggest that the majority of the population is mentally ill to some degree, subject to hallucinations and/or delusions such as Jung experienced in his personal, self induced hypnotic states, known as “creative illnesses. To subscribe to Carl Jung’s belief system in part, would be to subscribe to it as a whole, and that would include “denying our innate archetype as God” (Bergmann 361).

In light of many opinions and observations, the archetype may simply be the human conscious in its mature and moralistic state. An emotionally healthy person should have the premonition and emotional intelligence to second guesses their behaviors and decisions. These decisions aren’t based on voices and conversations of innate “alter ego’s” and beings, that dwell in our collective unconscious, but from our personal character traits and moral beliefs that we acquire and adopt in life, by choice and exposure, both good and bad. We did not inherit these reactions, we learned these reactions and were given “free will” to accept or deny them.

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Jung's Archetypes: Unraveling the Depths of the Collective Unconscious essay
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