The Creation of Consciousness
Jung's exposition of the collective unconscious builds on the classic issue in psychology and biology regarding nature versus nurture. If we accept that nature, or heredity, has some influence on the individual psyche, we must examine the question of how this influence takes hold in the real world. On exactly one night in its entire lifetime, the yucca moth discovers pollen in the opened flowers of the yucca plant, forms some into a pellet, and then transports this pellet, with one of its eggs, to the pistil of another yucca plant.
This activity cannot be "learned"; it makes more sense to describe the yucca moth as experiencing intuition about how to act. Humans experience five main types of instinct , wrote Jung: hunger, sexuality, activity, reflection, and creativity. These instincts, listed in order of increasing abstraction, elicit and constrain human behavior, but also leave room for freedom in their implementation and especially in their interplay.
Even a simple hungry feeling can lead to many different responses, including metaphorical sublimation. Proof of the existence of a collective unconscious, and insight into its nature, could be gleaned primarily from dreams and from active imagination , a waking exploration of fantasy. Jung considered that 'the shadow ' and the anima and animus differ from the other archetypes in the fact that their content is more directly related to the individual's personal situation'.
Jung encouraged direct conscious dialogue of the patient's with these personalities within. Jung suggested that parapsychology , alchemy , and occult religious ideas could contribute understanding of the collective unconscious. In humans, the psyche mediates between the primal force of the collective unconscious and the experience of consciousness or dream. Therefore, symbols may require interpretation before they can be understood as archetypes.
Jung writes:. We have only to disregard the dependence of dream language on environment and substitute "eagle" for "aeroplane," "dragon" for "automobile" or "train," "snake-bite" for "injection," and so forth, in order to arrive at the more universal and more fundamental language of mythology. This give us access to the primordial images that underlie all thinking and have a considerable influence even on our scientific ideas.
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A single archetype can manifest in many different ways. Regarding the Mother archetype, Jung suggests that not only can it apply to mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, mothers-in-law, and mothers in mythology, but to various concepts, places, objects, and animals:. Other symbols of the mother in a figurative sense appear in things representing the goal of our longing for redemption, such as Paradise, the Kingdom of God, the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Many things arousing devotion or feelings of awe, as for instance the Church, university, city or country, heaven, earth, the woods, the sea or any still waters, matter even, the underworld and the moon, can be mother-symbols. The archetype is often associated with things and places standing for fertility and fruitfulness: the cornucopia, a ploughed field, a garden.
It can be attached to a rock, a cave, a tree, a spring, a deep well, or to various vessels such as the baptismal font, or to vessel-shaped flowers like the rose or the lotus. Because of the protection it implies, the magic circle or mandala can be a form of mother archetype.
Hollow objects such as ovens or cooking vessels are associated with the mother archetype, and, of course, the uterus, yoni , and anything of a like shape. Added to this list there are many animals, such as the cow, hare, and helpful animals in general. Care must be taken, however, to determine the meaning of a symbol through further investigation; one cannot simply decode a dream by assuming these meanings are constant.
Archetypal explanations work best when an already-known mythological narrative can clearly help to explain the confusing experience of an individual. In his clinical psychiatry practice, Jung identified mythological elements which seemed to recur in the minds of his patients—above and beyond the usual complexes which could be explained in terms of their personal lives.
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Jung cited recurring themes as evidence of the existence of psychic elements shared among all humans. For example: "The snake-motif was certainly not an individual acquisition of the dreamer, for snake-dreams are very common even among city-dwellers who have probably never seen a real snake. Jung found a direct analogue of this idea in the " Mithras Liturgy ", from the Greek Magical Papyri of Ancient Egypt—only just translated into German—which also discussed a phallic tube, hanging from the sun, and causing wind to blow on earth.
He concluded that the patient's vision and the ancient Liturgy arose from the same source in the collective unconscious. Going beyond the individual mind, Jung believed that "the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious". Therefore, psychologists could learn about the collective unconscious by studying religions and spiritual practices of all cultures, as well as belief systems like astrology.
Popperian critic Ray Scott Percival disputes some of Jung's examples and argues that his strongest claims are not falsifiable. Percival takes especial issue with Jung's claim that major scientific discoveries emanate from the collective unconscious and not from unpredictable or innovative work done by scientists. Percival charges Jung with excessive determinism and writes: "He could not countenance the possibility that people sometimes create ideas that cannot be predicted, even in principle.
Because all people have families, encounter plants and animals, and experience night and day, it should come as no surprise that they develop basic mental structures around these phenomena. This latter example has been the subject of contentious debate, and Jung critic Richard Noll has argued against its authenticity. Animals all have some innate psychological concepts which guide their mental development. The concept of imprinting in ethology is one well-studied example, dealing most famously with the Mother constructs of newborn animals. The many predetermined scripts for animal behavior are called innate releasing mechanisms.
Proponents of the collective unconscious theory in neuroscience suggest that mental commonalities in humans originate especially from the subcortical area of the brain: specifically, the thalamus and limbic system. These centrally located structures link the brain to the rest of the nervous system and said to control vital processes including emotions and long-term memory. A more common experimental approach investigates the unique effects of archetypal images. Using data from the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism and a jury of evaluators, Rosen et al.
Many of these connotations were obscure to laypeople.
For example, a picture of a diamond represented "self"; a square represented "Earth". They found that even when subjects did not consciously associate the word with the symbol, they were better able to remember the pairing of the symbol with its chosen word. Maloney asked people questions about their feelings to variations on images featuring the same archetype: some positive, some negative, and some non-anthropomorphic. He found that although the images did not elicit significantly different responses to questions about whether they were "interesting" or "pleasant", but did provoke highly significant differences in response to the statement: "If I were to keep this image with me forever, I would be".
Maloney suggested that this question led the respondents to process the archetypal images on a deeper level, which strongly reflected their positive or negative valence. Ultimately, although Jung referred to the collective unconscious as an empirical concept, based on evidence, its elusive nature does create a barrier to traditional experimental research. June Singer writes:. But the collective unconscious lies beyond the conceptual limitations of individual human consciousness, and thus cannot possibly be encompassed by them.
We cannot, therefore, make controlled experiments to prove the existence of the collective unconscious, for the psyche of man, holistically conceived, cannot be brought under laboratory conditions without doing violence to its nature. The heavenly bodies must be observed where they exist in the natural universe, under their own conditions, rather than under conditions we might propose to set for them.
Psychotherapy based on analytical psychology would seek to analyze the relationship between a person's individual consciousness and the deeper common structures which underlie them. Personal experiences both activate archetypes in the mind and give them meaning and substance for individual. In the interpretation of analytical psychologist Mary Williams, a patient who understands the impact of the archetype can help to dissociate the underlying symbol from the real person who embodies the symbol for the patient.
In this way, the patient no longer uncritically transfers their feelings about the archetype onto people in everyday life, and as a result can develop healthier and more personal relationships. Practitioners of analytic psychotherapy, Jung cautioned, could become so fascinated with manifestations of the collective unconscious that they facilitated their appearance at the expense of their patient's well-being. Elements from the collective unconscious can manifest among groups of people, who by definition all share a connection to these elements.
Groups of people can become especially receptive to specific symbols due to the historical situation they find themselves in. Although civilization leads people to disavow their links with the mythological world of uncivilized societies, Jung argued that aspects of the primitive unconscious would nevertheless reassert themselves in the form of superstitions , everyday practices, and unquestioned traditions such as the Christmas tree.
Based on empirical inquiry, Jung felt that all humans, regardless of racial and geographic differences, share the same collective pool of instincts and images, though these manifest differently due to the moulding influence of culture. Jung called the UFO phenomenon a "living myth", a legend in the process of consolidation. The circular shape of the flying saucer confirms its symbolic connection to repressed but psychically necessary ideas of divinity. The universal applicability of archetypes has not escaped the attention of marketing specialists, who observe that branding can resonate with consumers through appeal to archetypes of the collective unconscious.
Jung contrasted the collective unconscious with the personal unconscious , the unique aspects of an individual study which Jung says constitute the focus of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. These elements appeared even in patients who were probably not exposed to the original story. For example, mythology offers many examples of the "dual mother" narrative, according to which a child has a biological mother and a divine mother.
Therefore, argues Jung, Freudian psychoanalysis would neglect important sources for unconscious ideas, in the case of a patient with neurosis around a dual-mother image. This divergence over the nature of the unconscious has been cited as a key aspect of Jung's famous split from Sigmund Freud and his school of psychoanalysis. Jung, October 19,  . Jung also distinguished the collective unconscious and collective consciousness , between which lay "an almost unbridgeable gulf over which the subject finds himself suspended".
According to Jung, collective consciousness meaning something along the lines of consensus reality offered only generalizations, simplistic ideas, and the fashionable ideologies of the age. This tension between collective unconscious and collective consciousness corresponds roughly to the "everlasting cosmic tug of war between good and evil" and has worsened in the time of the mass man. Organized religion , exemplified by the Catholic Church , lies more with the collective consciousness; but, through its all-encompassing dogma it channels and molds the images which inevitably pass from the collective unconscious into the minds of people.
In a minimalist interpretation of what would then appear as "Jung's much misunderstood idea of the collective unconscious", his idea was "simply that certain structures and predispositions of the unconscious are common to all of us Others point out however that "there does seem to be a basic ambiguity in Jung's various descriptions of the Collective Unconscious. Sometimes he seems to regard the predisposition to experience certain images as understandable in terms of some genetic model"  — as with the collective arm.
However, Jung was "also at pains to stress the numinous quality of these experiences, and there can be no doubt that he was attracted to the idea that the archetypes afford evidence of some communion with some divine or world mind', and perhaps 'his popularity as a thinker derives precisely from this"  — the maximal interpretation. Marie-Louise von Franz accepted that "it is naturally very tempting to identify the hypothesis of the collective unconscious historically and regressively with the ancient idea of an all-extensive world-soul.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Probably none of my empirical concepts has met with so much misunderstanding as the idea of the collective unconscious. John What does it mean to be human? Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
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Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality beyond Religion. Spring Journal Books. According to the Collected Works editors, the essay was translated by M. I , "The Concept of the Collective Unconscious" , p. Editors' note: "Originally given as a lecture to the Abernethian Society at St. The present version has been slightly revised by the author and edited in terminology. Jung, Man and his Symbols London p. Quoting Jung, Collected Works vol. What is left is an arbitrary segment of collective psyche, which Jung has called the persona. The word persona is appropriate, since it originally meant the mask worn by an actor, signifying the role he played.
It can also be found in Irenaeus, who says: 'The creator of the world did not fashion these things directly from himself but copied them from archetypes outside himself. In the Corpus Hermeticum , God is called 'archetypal light. For example, qualities of the shadow archetype may be prominent in an archetypal image of the anima or animus.
There would seem, then, to be no definitive decision procedure for determining the exact boundaries of an individual archetype. One admits readily that human activity is influenced to a high degree by instincts, quite apart from the rational motivations of the conscious mind. Book Description Inner City Books. Seller Inventory NEW Brand New!. Seller Inventory VIB Edward F. Publisher: Inner City Books , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis Drawing on a variety of disciplines, the author attempts to create a world-view which brings together science and its search for knowledge with the religious quest for meaning.
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