Carl Jung – Summary


(This summary was produced for my introductory classes)

Jung – Psychology

©Peter Sjöstedt-H

Carl Jung – Bio

–       Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) is one of the most influential of all psychologists.

–       He founded what is known as analytical psychology.

–       He was born in Switzerland to a Reform (Calvinist) Pastor.

  • Eight of his uncles were parsons.

–       His mother suffered from a nervous disorder which had her hospitalised for several months.

–       Jung began studying medicine at Basel University, but then changed to psychiatry at the age of 24.

–       Jung was a keen reader of Freud, and sent Freud a copy of his first book in 1907.

  • Freud then invited Jung to Vienna in the same year, where they famously talked continuously for 13 hours when they first met!
  • Thus began a professional and personal relationship that was to last 6 years.
  • Jung’s thought, however, digressed from Freud’s as time passed, and with the publication of Jung’s book, ‘Symbols of Transformation’, their friendship was lost.
  • Jung did not believe that so many mental disturbances were derived from sexual complexes, as Freud did.

–       Jung is a controversial figure, but has had much influence on culture as well as on the science of evolutionary psychology and even on religion itself.

 

Overview

There are many concepts in Jungian psychology; however, as Jung himself emphasises, these concepts are closely intertwined with one another and manifest within the mind in varying degrees and balances.

Jung derived these concepts from observations in his patients; and from previous thinkers such as Freud, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer; and reflections on the workings of his own mind.

These are the important concepts:

Psyche, Ego, Consciousness, Personal Unconscious, Collective Unconscious;

The 4 Mental Functions: Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, Intuiting

The 2 Attitudes: Extraversion, Introversion; (combinations of mental functions and attitudes = 8 types)

Individuation; Complexes;

Archetypes: especially the Self, The Anima & Animus, the Persona, the Shadow; (and God Archetype)

Canalization of Psychical Energy; Symbolism and Dreams

Psyche

–       The whole personality, embracing all thought, feeling and behaviour.

–       Thus the word, ‘psychology’.

–       The psyche may be more than simply the brain. Jung leaves this possibility open, and thus the possibility of life after death.

–       The psyche includes everything mental, whether we are aware of them or not.

  • Freud calls this the id.

–       The Psyche can be divided, however, into 3 main parts: Consciousness, Personal Unconscious, Collective Unconscious.

 

Consciousness

–       Awareness of something, be it an external object or an aspect of your inner self.

–       (not to be confused with conscience: inner moral judge/ment)

–       What enters consciousness is determined by the ego:

Ego

–       Organises/manages the conscious mind.

–       It is composed of perceptions (of outside world), memories, thoughts and feelings.

–       It selects which of the above enters consciousness (there is a multitude in each component)

–       Selection is based on which mental function(s) (see below) a person is dominated by, as well as which Archetype(s) (see below) a person is dominated by.

–       Intense experiences (like a car crash) ‘gate crash’ consciousness though, without recourse to the ego.

–       A highly-individuated (see below) person’s ego will allow more things to enter consciousness.

 

Personal Unconscious

–       Commonly known as the subconscious.

–       It is both the memory bank of experiences not gained entry into consciousness by the ego (e.g. friends’ names), and repressed (‘kept down’) experiences (e.g. distressing thoughts, stresses, unsolved problems).

–       Experiences in the personal unconscious may appear in dreams.

  • Thus, Jung considered dream analysis to be important in understanding a person’s mental problems (more on this later).

–       A cluster of components in the personal unconsciousness Jung calls a complex (see below).

 

Collective Unconscious

–       The ‘primordial images’ (Archetypes) and predispositions we are born with due to evolution.

–       This is the concept that made Jung renown,

  • It constitutes the beginning of evolutionary psychology.

–       Throughout our evolutionary past, including the time at which we were animals, a number of common images and activities presented themselves to us. In time, the ability to recognise and identify with these images and activities became ingrained within successive generations of minds.

  • I.e. evolution provides the blueprint of the psyche just as it provides the blueprints of the body.
  • E.g. We inherit predispositions to fear snakes and the dark because our primitive ancestors experienced these fears for countless generations.
  • The collective unconscious is a controversial notion because it seems to depend on an unpopular type of evolutionary thought: Lamarkism.
  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) was a French academic who proposed the theory of evolution before Darwin! (Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ published 1859.)
    • Lamarkism is tied to his notion of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (soft inheritance).
    • I.e. that acquired (learnt) behaviour, stature and thought is passed on to offspring.
    • This is opposed to ‘hard inheritance’ which states that such acquired characteristics cannot be passed on, but only the potentialities for those characteristics through mutation and natural selection.
  • Jung himself adopted Lamarckism, but the collective unconscious can still be explained in hard inheritance ways.
    • Though Lamarckism is still possibly true, despite its unpopularity today. The modern field of ‘Epigenetics’ is said by some to be Lamarckian in character.

Archetypes

–       The components of the Collective Unconscious.

–       They are the ‘primordial images’ and predispositions acquired through our ancestors.

–       There are innumerable Archetypes, but there are 4 main ones:

  • The Persona, the Anima or Animus, The Self, the Shadow (see below).

–       Other Archetypes include: the hero, power, birth, rebirth, death, magic, the child, the trickster, god, the demon, the wise old man, the earth mother, the giant; trees, the sun, the moon, rivers, wind, fire, animals (wolves, eagles, owls); rings, weapons (axe, hammer, sword), etc.

  • (think of examples of these in folklore, literature, film, your dreams, your objects of thought: your idols, etc.)
    • Of course, our ancestors probably never really experienced, say magic or god; but they at least believed they did often – thus the Archetypes.

–       People seem to have an innate identification with certain objects over others. For example, spiders or snakes (thus arachnophobia or ophidiophobia), or heroes (e.g. Batman or Leonidas)

–       It is important to understand that the Archetypes are not actual images. (with which we are born).

  • They are rather, ‘virtual’ or ‘primordial’ images. Jung writes they are forms without content.’
  • That is, They are forms potentially ‘filled in’ by real experience in this life.
    • They are like potential images, very much like Plato’s Forms. (of course Jung did not believe in Plato’s theory of Forms though.)

–       They are also predispositions to behaviour, potential behaviour patterns.

  • For example, they are very much like what Steven Pinker calls, ‘the language instinct’; or Noam Chomsky’s ‘universal grammar’: the innate (born-with) potential to quickly learn grammar and language generally. Obviously an evolved potentiality.

–       As different human races have slightly different evolutionary pasts, slightly different Archetypes pertain to different races Jung writes.

–       Along with the 4 main Archetypes (see below), people often identify with one or more Archetypes; an identification which influences their personality.

  • For example, a person who identifies with the Hero Archetype sees the world in heroic perspectives, looking for ways to prove his courage.
    • Note that ‘one’ does not choose an Archetype, rather ‘one’ has it innately and relates to the world accordingly from this perspective.

–       Archetypes can combine. For example, a ruthless leader type of person (e.g. Stalin, Mao) may have the combination of the Hero and Demon Archetypes.

–       Archetypes also act as the nucleus of a complex (see below).

 

Complexes

–       A cluster of components in the personal unconscious.

–       Like separate little personalities in the psyche: they have autonomy (independence) and drive (a will).

  • E.g. a mother-complex, god-complex.

–       Jung’s theory of complexes has entered modern parlance (e.g. ‘inferiority-complex’, ‘Napoleon-complex’)

–       A complex can be negative or positive (e.g. a mother-complex (“mummy’s boy”) and a beauty complex (for an artist)).

–       An Archetype is the nucleus of a complex, acting as a magnet attracting relevant experiences (through the ego) to form the complex.

  • When the complex has sufficient mass (sufficient experiences), it penetrates into consciousness as a whole.
  • For example, mother complex:
    • A man dominated by a strong mother complex will be extremely sensitive to everything his mother says and feels, and he will always be thinking of her. He will try to introduce his mother, or something associated with her, into every conversation whether it be pertinent or not. He will favour films, books and events in which mothers play a prominent role. He will imitate his mother’s behaviour and tastes and prefers older women to women of his own age.
  • God complex:
    • A person with a god complex may first see the world in terms of good and evil, righteousness and sin, and may judge others (and himself) in terms of religious morality. Such a person may become a priest, nun or monk. If the complex becomes very strong, he may sacrifice everything for the complex including his life (e.g. a suicide bomber or a end-of-world cultist). If the complex becomes too strong, he may favour himself a prophet or even God Himself, and end up in the mental institute.

–       As complexes are often destructive to one’s self, therapy may be advised. Jungian therapy is the process whereby one becomes conscious of the unconscious (e.g. the Archetypes causing complexes) and tries to harmonise the psyche. This therapy is known as individuation: becoming a ‘well-rounded’ individual.

 

Individuation

–       The process of Self-consciousness, knowing oneself as completely as possible, making conscious the unconscious, thereby harmonising all the parts that might otherwise remain repressed and underdeveloped.

–       This can be achieved through therapy but also through self-reflection through the years and through symbolism, including religious symbolism (see below).

 

The Persona (Archetype)

–       The persona is the mask someone wears, the outward appearance and behaviour s/he presents to society.

–       As with all Archetypes, the persona is necessary for survival (otherwise the archetypes would not have evolved).

–       The persona affects personal characteristics such as grooming, clothing, manners, the car one drives, the people with whom one associates, sometimes even accent (“poshing it up”, or sounding regional to ‘get on’).

  • I.e. the persona has social benefits.

–       Sometimes, however, the persona can become harmful. If a person becomes too preoccupied with the role he is playing (his persona), the other sides of his personality will be shoved aside into the personal unconscious where they will lie underdeveloped and thus cause inner tension.

 

The Anima or Animus (Archetypes)

–       The anima is the feminine side in males; the animus is the masculine side in females.

–       Man has developed his anima through continuous exposure to women over the generations; and woman, men, Jung argues.

–       If the personality is to be well-adjusted and harmoniously balanced, the feminine side of a man’s personality must be allowed to express itself in consciousness and behaviour; and vice versa in women.

–       The anima or animus is also responsible for deciding which potential partner one finds attractive, and this is often unconscious as the anima/animus is often unconscious.

–       If a man has a strong anima, or a woman a strong animus archetype, and represses it because society judges femininity in men (or vice versa), s/he may become outwardly homophobic as s/he is really judging the aspect of his own personality he hates when judging another.

–       In Western society, femininity in men and masculinity is often disparaged (“sissies”, “tomboys”), therefore the persona can often take over and stifle the anima or animus.

  • A possible consequence of this, Jung writes, is that it may trigger off a rebellion of this archetype, in which case the person over-reacts (as archetypes suppressed in the unconscious remain underdeveloped), in which case a male can become more feminine than masculine, or vice versa. Jung writes that effeminate homosexuals and transvestites fall into this category – in extreme cases a sex operation may occur.

–       (Note that Jung’s theory on this archetype relies on the belief that masculine and feminine traits are biologically male and female, respectively; rather than being socially-constructed concepts as some argue.)

 

The Shadow (Archetype)

–       The shadow contains more of man’s basic violent animal nature than any other.

–       The persona often suppresses the shadow in western civilisation.

  • A person who completely suppresses his shadow will lose his/her power for spontaneity, creativity, strong emotions and deep insights.
  • Jung writes that a shadowless life tends to become shallow and spiritless.

–       When the shadow is accepted and thus becomes conscious, a person appears more energetic and creative and so appears a little ‘mad’ as their persona will not dominate their composure.

  • As a popular adage goes, “there’s a thin line between madness and genius”.

–       However, there are also dark, “evil”, cruel elements to the shadow (as there are in the animal kingdom).

–       Jung writes that “the animal in us becomes more beastlike” when repressed.

  • Christianity is a religion that tries to suppress violence, judging it ‘sinful’. This is why Jung writes that, “that is no doubt the reason why no religion is so defiled with the spilling of innocent blood as Christianity, and why the world has never seen a bloodier war than the war of the Christian nations” (vol. 10, p22).
  • Perhaps today we can observe a similar link between the repressive nature of strands of Islam and the violence issued therefrom (e.g. sexually frustrated suicide bombers).
  • We can also consider whether violent films, video games, heavy metal,, etc actually make people less violent as they act as conduits releasing people’s shadow.
    • In a society where violence in media was completely banned, people’s shadows would have no outlet and thus people would perhaps become more violent to one another.
    • In the book and film, ‘American Psycho’, the central character desperately wants to ‘fit in’ and as a result represses his shadow to such an extent that he has to go out and torture and kill people.

–       The German philosopher Nietzsche (1844-1900) argued (in Beyond Good & Evil) that some high arts (music, poetry, theatre, especially tragedy) expressed the inherent cruelty of the human animal. For Nietzsche, the highest men actually valued pain and battle, identifying with the heroes in tragedy (originally Dionysus).

  • Nietzsche also wrote that the warlike in man must be let out in order to retain a non-resentful mind (Genealogy of Morality, Treatise 1), in much the same way as Jung suggests.

 

The Self  (Archetype)

–       The self is the archetype of order, organisation, and unification.

–       It draws to itself and harmonises all the archetypes; it unites the personality with all its once separate parts giving it a sense of “oneness” and firmness.

–       When a person says he is “out of sorts” or “falling apart”, it indicates that the self is not doing its job properly.

–       The ultimate goal (for Jung) of every person is to achieve a state of selfhood and self-realisation.

  • This is not easy nor does it happen quickly. In fact, most people never achieve it. Jung does single out Jesus and the Buddha as examples of people who have.
  • Usually the self archetype does not become evident until middle age.

–       By focussing on the self, individuation can then take place. The self archetype aids individuation by generating images of wholeness.

–       Knowledge of the self is accessible through the study of one’s dreams.

–       More importantly, through true religious experience one can understand and realise the self.

  • In eastern religions the ritualistic practices for achieving selfhood, such as the meditation aspects of yoga, enable eastern man to perceive the self more readily than western man does, Jung argues.
  • When Jung speaks of religion, he is referring to spiritual development and not to supernatural phenomenon.
    • I.e. Jung does not find it important whether a spiritual experience is an experience of god or of the unconscious and self – it has the same effect of self-realisation.

–       As mentioned, the Self archetype aids individuation by generating images of wholeness.

  • The self archetype therefore latches on to symbols representing such wholeness.
    • An example Jung gives is the mandala, or balancing circles. E.g.:mandala jung psychology individuation philosophy

 

  • In Hinduism and Buddhism, a mandala acts as an aid in meditation or trance so that the person experiences a feeling of complete unity.
  • The self would recognise a mandala as a representation of the unconscious and conscious mind, and their unity.

–       Another example of a symbol expressing the self, or wholeness, was the religious images of God.

  • In fact, the images created by (and recognised by) the God archetype are the same as those images created by the self archetype:
  • “The symbols of divinity coincide with those of the self: what, on the one side, appears as a psychological experience, signifying psychic wholeness, expresses on the other side the idea of god.”

–       Therefore, religious images (the cross, god in the clouds, halos, light, angels, etc) are used by the mind to individuate the personality.

–       Hence, religion does have an important role to play in helping people become self-conscious, harmonised characters.

  • If one rejects religion and its symbolism, one thereby rejects a substantial tool in individuation. An atheists may always have inner turmoil and in conflict with himself and thus others.
    • Although, an atheist may find other routes to individuation. Buddhism is often called a practice rather than a religion.

So, for Jung, religion can be both a thing which aids individuation and a thing which hinders it.

Christianity, for example, can provide symbols and experiences that help the personality unify; it can also, however, repress aspects of the personality (the shadow) with dangerous results.

The truth of the religion seems somewhat irrelevant to Jung. What matters is its aiding of individuation.

Even Buddhism can arguably have negative effects as well. In 1998 Brian Daizen Victoria wrote a critical account of Zen Buddhism and how it cultivated Japanese militarism with its focus on submission, culminating in the disaster for the Japanese people of the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WW2.

So even Buddhism, arguably, can lead to individuation as well as submission (thus being dominated by another as opposed to your self).

©Peter Sjöstedt-H

Carl Jung philosophy metaphysics god shadow self archetypes freud nietzsche