Analytical psychology Essay Sample
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Analytical psychology Essay Sample
Termed by Carl Jung, collective unconscious offers a respectable insight into the field of analytical psychology. Describing the concept as “a psychic activity which goes on independently of the conscious mind”, Jung clearly differentiates this term from personal unconscious and states that collective unconscious, as suggested by its name, refers to the part of a person’s unconscious that is shared by all people, ignoring the uniqueness of each person (Jung).
Born with a set of beliefs that were inherited from our previous generations, we do not form the thoughts as a result of our current life experiences, but is rather already present from the start (Jung). Although not available to us directly, collective unconscious, he argued, is encountered by us in our unconscious states, such as in dreams, religious beliefs, and myths. A huge component of, as well as a way Jung justified his concept of collective unconscious, is the idea of archetypes, or universal themes and images.
Jung highlighted a number of archetypes, including the ‘anima, animus‘, the ‘mother’, the ‘shadow’, the ‘child’, the ‘wise old man’, the ‘spirits’ of fairytales, and the ‘trickster‘ figure found in myths and history (Holley). The anima, for example, is the feminine personality that is present in the unconscious mind of every man, and the animus is the masculine personality that is present in the unconscious mind of every woman. This archetype also presents itself in dreams, and can affect the way in which either gender interacts with the other.
For example, a man is told not to cry or be too sensitive, thus repressing his anima. This can affect the way he interacts with women. He may become totally detached, or a womanizer (Holley). The immense power of the little-known collective unconscious can subtly change the whole dynamics of a person’s characteristics. We can see the presence of collective unconscious throughout our society today, as there are numerous patterns in history in which we see repeatedly. Take entertainment and story-telling as an example.
In the earliest civilizations, such as the Greek cultivation, mythology is a significant portion of their culture, and in the myths, it is commonly found to contain the archetypes of characters like a righteous warrior, such as Hercules whose power and strength were demonstrated through the slaying of the nine-headed hydra, or a villain who must be overcome, such as Ares, the devious and decisive God of War. Today, we see the same resemblance in our story-telling, although thousands of years apart.
Superhero comics and books, like Batman or Superman, depict the same archetypes: a warrior who fearlessly fights out the evil and a villain who attempts to “destroy the planet”. The fact that these archetypes can transcend time, culture, and geography shows the collective unconscious thoughts inherited to us and shared by each and every human. In addition, the collective unconscious may be used to explain specific phobias. A phobia of snakes (ophidiophobia), for example, is exhibited in most children even when there is no apparent traumatic origin for their fear.
A study found one-third of British children at age six are afraid of snakes even though it\’s rare to encounter a snake in the British Isles. The children had never come in contact with a snake in a traumatic situation, but snakes still generated an anxious response. This again showcases the resemblance of all human minds and how we are designed to think in a way since birth. Although collective unconscious advocates the idea that humans have common thoughts, humans use them differently and thus shape a “personal expression of a universal form”.
The mother archetype, for example, is present in the unconscious mind of all people, as babies share an inherent expectation for a motherly caregiver. The mother archetype, as a matter of fact, is not limited to the birth-giver of the child; instead, it can be in the form of a caregiver such as grandmother, governess, maid, or others, and it can also be interpreted figuratively with examples like Mother Mary and even Earth or Church (“The Collective Unconscious”).
The unconscious image of the mother archetype is similar in all humans but can have drastically different effects – men may become fixated on trying to please all women (the way he tried to please his mother from young), and women may showcase an exaggerated resemblance to the mother figure, possessing extreme care, intense maternal instinct, and the willingness to give up all individuality for her offspring. This “mother-complex”, although all based upon the same “mother” archetype, is influenced heavily by the personal experiences and childhood recollections of a person and thus branches out to form different personalities.
In addition to its impact to a person’s personality and character, collective unconscious has a crucial function of bridging the gap between different cultures, time periods, language and race (Holley). The shared unconsciousness between the people may not appear to be extremely helpful in building relations because of their lack of awareness, but it is indeed subtly helping people find common place in their thoughts. However, the validity of this concept is to be questioned, as there remains to be no scientific way to prove that the unconscious mind exists, let alone prove that a part of the unconscious mind is shared by all humans.
After all, the word “unconscious” suggests that we are not aware of it, and it is essentially inaccessible, blocking any possibility of using the scientific method to observe and thus prove its existence. For example, Carl Jung argues that we each have an unconscious persona that provides a compromise between one’s true desires and social expectations (similar to Freud’s concept of the “ego”), but the fact that he pointed out this supposedly unconscious and thus undiscovered idea contradicts the definition of collective unconscious, making it no longer an unconscious thought but a conscious thought (Yetwen).
The ever-existing contradiction between the definition of unconsciousness and proving the concept scientifically makes it impossible to treat the subject as true science. Regardless of whether or not we can scientifically prove the existence of the collective unconscious, it is without doubt that collective unconsciousness, if exists, can explain the many similarities across culture, time periods, and language. It is truly amazing that the myths told thousands of years ago resemble a superhero movie made a few years ago. Thanks to Carl Jung, the human race has profited a new common ground.