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Carl Jung, also often known as C.G. Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist who became one of the most famous and influential psychological thinkers and innovators of all time. Early in his career, Jung became close friends with Sigmund Freud. In fact, many believed that Jung would succeed Freud as the leading promoter of Freud’s brand of psychoanalysis. However, Jung was unable to accept Freud’s views on the nature of the unconscious, especially what he saw as Freud’s hyper-focus on the role of sexuality as a driving motivational force. As a result, the two had a major parting of ways.

Charting his own unique course, Jung combined an endless curiosity about the depths of the human psyche with a diverse, eclectic set of interests ranging from both Eastern and Western religions and philosophy to mysticism, mythology and anthropology. He sought an integration of psychology with spiritual experience as he investigated the nature of the human condition from our very beginnings to the modern age, and pondered our likely future. The result was an enduring, profound psychological paradigm and body of knowledge of great depth that, decades after his death, continues to fascinate not only psychologists, but academicians and artists in countless fields.

In many ways, Jung was like a cartographer of the human mind and spirit, striving to identify their fundamental regions and landmarks. This quality is reflected in the titles both of his own writings, such as The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, and in those of others about his work, such as Jung’s Map of the Soul. Out of his explorations emerged a number of concepts that have provided now-ubiquitous terminology, stimulated new ways of viewing the development of the human mind and soul and changed the face of psychology.

Carl Jung’s Model of the Psyche

Carl Jung divided the psyche most generally into the unconscious and the conscious minds. This in itself was not novel among modern psychologists, of course. Sigmund Freud, most prominently, had popularized the study of the unconscious before him.

But, while Jung agreed with Freud on the importance of the unconscious, and spent most of his life studying its mysteries, detailing its symbolic language and explaining its relationship with and impact on our conscious lives, he differed from Freud in his view of the architecture of that unconscious.

Carl Jung’s Map of the Unconscious

Whereas Freud viewed the unconscious as containing the Id, much of the Superego and parts of the Ego, Jung developed a different model. Instead, he described the unconscious as consisting of two major components: the Personal Unconscious and the Collective Unconscious.

The Personal Unconscious

The Personal Unconscious, as conceived by Jung, encompasses the totality of what Freud recognized as “the unconscious” and corresponds to what most of us intuitively associate with the term “unconscious mind.” It contains those elements of our own unique life experience which have been forgotten, ignored, repressed, suppressed or otherwise blocked from consciousness. Some of these elements can be easily recalled into consciousness at will, while others may be more difficult to access or retrieve.

The Collective Unconscious

Throughout history, many philosophers have advanced the theory that the human mind is a “blank slate,” capable of being molded almost limitlessly by our upbringing, socialization and experiences. However, in working with patients - as well as in his own life - Carl Jung observed the emergence not of a seemingly random or infinite range of subject matter, but rather of repeated themes in different people’s artwork, dreams and fantasies. Moreover, he noticed that many of these themes bore no relation to and could not possibly have arisen from any connection to the person’s own individual life experiences. In addition, he recognized many of these same themes in the symbols, characters, fables and myths generated separately within disparate cultures in geographic locations the world over throughout various eras of mankind’s history.

In order to account for these otherwise seemingly inexplicable patterns, Jung posited that, in addition to our Personal Unconscious, we each possess – or are possessed by – a deeper aspect of the unconscious. It was in identifying this second unconscious region that Jung’s model drastically differentiated itself from Freud’s. Terming it the Collective Unconscious, Jung theorized that this region contained psychological elements not developed during the course of our own lives, but - much like the genetic code responsible for our basic human body and organ structures - passed on through our common evolutionary history to all members of our species. He referred to these shared, fundamental elements that make up the Collective Unconscious and generate a limiting framework around which our psychic material organizes as Archetypes.

Archetypes: The Fundamental Elements of the Collective Unconscious

According to Jung, every human being is born with a psyche that expects to engage with particular forces and influences and to undergo certain life milestones typical, evolutionarily, of the human condition and experience. For instance, our psyches have evolved to expect us to be born, to expect us to have parents, to expect us to encounter particular types of other people and creatures with which we share the earth, to expect us to have children, and to expect us to eventually die. These fundamental psychological expectations have become embodied, Jung claimed, in a common set of basic tendencies in the unconscious that predispose us to generate particular ideas, concepts and imagery related to them. He called these tendencies the Archetypes.

As we go out into and encounter the world, Jung taught, these archetypes then “actualize,” as particular individual experiences organize themselves around the various “pegs” provided by the archetypes, determining the specific qualities that any given person associates with that particular archetypal concept. So, for example, when we engage with an early nurturing caregiver, those qualities and ideas that we perceive as related to that figure – kind or unkind, warm or distant, beautiful or ugly, blonde or brunette - associate themselves with the mother archetype and, through that combination, form our particular conception of what a mother is. A similar process plays out as real world material interacts with archetypal influences related to other subjects ranging from the hero to the wise old man.

It must be noted that the resulting “archetypal” ideas, concepts and imagery, which drive us to deduce the existence of the underlying invisible archetypes, are not themselves the archetypes. The archetypes themselves consist only of the potential and tendency to create these and, of their own, have no substance. To help us understand this slippery distinction, Jung used the analogy of an animal’s instincts. Imagine that we discover, without exception, a particular instinct that motivates birds of specific type to carry out a certain behavior. Clearly, because we observe that all birds of that species share this instinct, there must be some common underlying genetic, anatomical or psychological structure that generates the universal impulse among these birds to carry out this behavior. However, that underlying structure itself is not the instinct, but rather – like the archetype – simply a hardwired tendency for such a behavior.

Jung recognized a number of such hardwired tendencies in the human Collective Unconscious. However, certain of these archetypes took center stage in his model of the psyche.

These most fundamental archetypes include The Shadow, The Anima & Animus, and the Self.
  • The Shadow - The Shadow is Carl Jung’s term for all of the aspects of ourselves that, due to inner conflicts resulting from our upbringing, socialization, traumas or from other origins, have been rendered unacceptable to us and that we therefore repress, suppress, deny or disavow through the use of our defense mechanisms. The Shadow can consist not only of parts of us that our culture at large would view as shameful or destructive, but may also include a “Golden Shadow” made up of otherwise constructive talents and strengths that, for one reason or another (ie: they posed a threat to an authority figure’s status), were not valued or were shamed by influential people in our lives. Elements cut off from consciousness within the Shadow may exert an enormous unseen influence in our lives and relationships. As long as we refuse to acknowledge their existence within ourselves, they threaten to project themselves onto others, with the potential for either exaggerated idealization, as may occur in hero worship or romantic attraction, or intense demonization and scapegoating. Indeed, the very occurrence of such experiences points to a likely unconscious origin within some aspects of our own Shadow.

  • Anima/Animus - Jung theorized that each of us contains an archetype with which we associate those parts of ourselves typical of the opposite gender. The Anima was his name for the archetype around which a man organizes his unconscious feminine aspects. The Animus was his name for the corresponding archetype around which a woman organizes her unconscious masculine aspects. Jung recognized that, through their tremendous influence on our overall concepts of femininity and masculinity, the Anima and Animus may be projected onto romantic prospects, profoundly impacting our choice of mate for better or worse. This understanding presaged Harville Hendrix’s detailed account, in his Imago Relationship Therapy, of how we may be unconsciously attracted to a partner in part due to their reflection of traits we have repressed within our denied “contrasexual self.”

  • mandala
    A Mandala
    (Thanks to Calypso)
    Self - The Self is the archetype that lies at the center of and represents the integrated conscious and unconscious whole of our psyche. Jung saw the Self, which he believed was symbolically represented by the Mandala, as the overriding force that propels our development through the stages of our lifespan. Because the Self drives us toward wholeness informed by its knowledge of our entire psyche, yet can only be considered through the lens of our limited conscious mind, the reasons behind its motives and directives may confuse us.

Complexes: The Fundamental Elements of the Personal Unconscious

If the Collective Unconscious is made up of archetypes, you might wonder what makes up the Personal Unconscious. Carl Jung’s answer is Complexes. A complex – also called by Jung a “feeling toned complex” – is the group of associations organized around a particular archetype in a given individual’s psyche. Hence, for example, those qualities that, due to a particular person’s unique experience with nurturing caregivers, were associated with their Collective Unconscious’ mother archetype make up the mother complex in that person’s Personal Unconscious.

Since we have a number of archetypes in our Collective Unconscious, we also have a number of related complexes in our Personal Unconscious. Some may be accessible to consciousness, while others may be exiled from awareness as a result of trauma. These complexes may assert themselves at various times, thrusting related material into consciousness. In doing so, the complexes may even create the experience of an array of sub-personalities within the individual psyche, a phenomenon, central to the Internal Family Systems model, known as multiplicity of mind. Indeed, many of Jung’s later interests and ideas originated from the seed planted by a very early powerful exposure to multiplicity of mind in which, as a young boy, he suddenly experienced himself as containing a second personality, that of a wise old man.

At times, perhaps as a result of a particular trigger, a complex may not only inject material into awareness, but may hijack the Ego and exert a powerful control over the psyche. Such an event - analogous to the blending of an extreme part with the Self described in Internal Family Systems (IFS) or the hijacking of the cortex by the emotional brain detailed by Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence - may be Jung’s way of describing the process that ignites our defense mechanisms. Whenever we are acting in ways disconnected from our usual character or out of proportion with the reality of our present situation, it is possible that a complex has been activated. Among the many complexes in our Personal Unconscious, two – the Ego and the Persona – are of particular importance to Jungian psychologists.
  • Ego - In Freudian psychology, the Ego is the aspect of the psyche that lies between the conscious and unconscious minds and mediates between the pressures of intruding unconscious material and the demands of the external world. In Jung’s model, the Ego is the seat of consciousness, the aspect of our psyche to which we refer when we say “I” or “me.” It is often imagined as a tiny island of consciousness amidst the vast, primarily unconscious, ocean of the psyche. It may be somewhat confusing to view the Ego simultaneously as the seat of consciousness and itself a complex of the Personal Unconscious. However, Jung did claim that the Ego is indeed a complex – the complex that is the subject of consciousness – and ultimately emerges from an Ego archetype.

    • Theory of Psychological Types - Jung’s study of the Ego also led to his laying the foundation for the study of psychological types. Jung was fascinated with the concept of classifying people according to their particular personality traits and preferences. Based on his observations, detailed in Psychological Types, he identified two psychological attitudes – Introversion, in which psychological energy is directed inward and Extraversion, in which it is directed outward - and four psychological Ego-functions - Intuition, Sensing, Thinking and Feeling. He explained that each of us exhibits both attitudes and all four functions at times, but that we each prefer one of the attitudes and one function from each of the Intuition/Sensing and Thinking/Feeling dichotomies. As we become more whole and integrate more unconscious material into our personality, however, we may, at key developmental points in the lifespan, become more adept at using our inferior functions.

      This work later formed the basis for the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, currently the most popular personality typing system in the world. Its concepts can also be related to the Enneagram, another popular personality typing scheme.

  • Persona - In between the Ego and the external world, serving as a filter for what comes in, as well as a means of controlling what we show to others, is the Persona. Jung borrowed the term from the word used to describe the masks worn by ancient Greek actors in their plays. We may possess several masks or Personas, and thus display different identities in different situations or when interacting with different people. Like the Ego, the Persona is a complex that emerges from an archetype, in its case the Persona archetype.

Analytical Psychotherapy

Analytical Psychologists practice a form of psychoanalysis that applies the theories of Carl Jung to psychotherapy with clients. Since Jung’s work has inspired a number of schools of thought based on variations on his original ideas, these practitioners may bring a range of different approaches to treatment. However, in general, they all employ a form of Depth Psychology that aims at similar goals using related tools and techniques.

The Goals of Analytical Psychotherapy

Erich Neumann, a student of Jung’s, coined the term “centroversion” to describe an organism’s innate drive for wholeness. Each of us, consciously or unconsciously, experiences this drive and, in order to satisfy it, we must reconnect with buried parts of our psyche, restore them to conscious access, and own them as parts of ourselves. In Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, Neumann - along with Jung, who provides the book’s foreword - explains why doing so is crucial not only for our own health, but for the health of others and of our world. For, as long as we perceive these aspects as separate from ourselves, we run the risk of projecting them onto others, a process fundamental to much of the conflict and destruction that takes place between members of human systems. Therefore, Neumann reasons, in the interest of health and sustainability in a precarious age, wholeness, rather than “goodness”, must be the ideal of the “New Ethic.”

Analytical Psychotherapy aims to foster this wholeness by facilitating the process that Jung called individuation. As Jung explains, much of our dysfunction arises as a result of identifying too narrowly with certain psychological regions that, in reality, represent but a small portion of our whole selves. Therefore, guiding the client in an exploration of his or her psyche, the Analytical psychotherapist assists in the development of a healthy relationship between the client’s conscious and unconscious minds.

For example, many of us believe that our Ego makes up the whole of our identity. However, the Ego, as has been described, comprises only one complex amidst a plethora of other complexes and archetypes dispersed throughout the vast sea of our psyche. As long as we feel obligated to defend our false sense of the Ego as our full identity, we will experience the intruding awareness of other regions of the psyche not as a welcome visit from parts of ourselves, but as a threat from outside forces, and may be plagued by deep insecurity. Similarly, while it is healthy, and even necessary, to appropriately employ the various masks of our Persona as life situations dictate, there is a danger if we forget their limited purpose and come to believe that these masks represent our true Self or if our Persona begins to deviate so far from our real identity that it becomes misleading and fake.

In order to resolve such faulty perceptions and attachments and build a sustainable sense of inner security, Analytical Psychotherapy aims to help us see beyond the limits of our tiny conscious Ego and Persona to identify more and more with the vast Self that truly motivates us at our deepest levels and represents the whole of our psyche. This goal, Jung’s version of “self-realization,” though facilitated through a process somewhat more abstract than ascending the Hierarchy of Needs, nonetheless resembles, in spirit, Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualization. Many of the fields that I promote most strongly, including Internal Family Systems Therapy, Inner Child Therapy and Imago Relationship Therapy, provide tools through which we increase our freedom to make wise, conscious choices by building awareness of and strong relationships with previously unconscious parts of us. Analytical Psychotherapy joins them in this category. As we individuate further, we gain insight into and build greater connection with the operation of our many complexes, diminish their ability to autonomously hijack our psyche and drive us to dysfunctional states and behaviors, and strengthen our ability to meaningfully express more of who we really are and maintain balanced nurturing relationships.

Steps in the Analytical Psychotherapy Process

During Analytical Psychotherapy, the client is assisted in connecting with various complexes and aspects of the psyche. However, in particular, the process focuses on the further integration of two major complexes.
  • Integrating the Shadow - Shadow Work, often the first phase of the Analytical Psychotherapy process, helps a client face the fear, shame, guilt, anxiety and anger that may arise as they begin to contact and reintegrate those repressed, suppressed and denied aspects of themselves associated with their Shadow. This may involve a consideration of those situations, qualities and other people that one loves, hates, fears or otherwise feels strongly about, since such experiences often point to the presence of projection of an unconscious Shadow element. As we own both our hidden “dark side” and our forgotten or stifled strengths and talents, we may withdraw these potentially harmful projections and unravel our destructive defense mechanisms with great benefit to ourselves and those around us.

  • Integrating the Anima/Animus - In addition to integrating the Shadow, Analytical Psychotherapy seeks to foster integration of the Anima/Animus, as well. As a man integrates his Anima, he may open himself to greater emotion and sensitivity, while a woman, through integrating her Animus, may build her capacity for assertive action. Many Jungians believe that it is only after significantly integrating our Shadow that we can begin to work effectively with the Anima/Animus.

Analytical Psychotherapy Techniques

Analytical Psychotherapy may employ a wide range of techniques in order to bring to awareness and explore elements of the psyche. However, the most common methods include:
  • Dream Analysis and Interpretation – Carl Jung strongly believed that the unconscious uses dreams to transmit important messages to the conscious mind in the language of symbolism. Analytical Psychotherapists and their clients may spend time interpreting this symbolic dream content in order to translate these communications and unwrap their meaning and implications for the person’s waking life and individuation process.

  • Imagination and Fantasy Exploration – Similar to dream analysis, therapist and client may explore the content and meaning of fantasies, wishes, and daydreams.

  • Artwork – Jung frequently gained tremendous insights into his unconscious through creative artistic endeavors. He discovered a profound representation of the nature of the Self while painting Mandalas and experienced an early indication of the existence of a Collective Unconscious when he recognized similarities between his childhood creation of and interaction with a tiny mannequin and the rituals of certain native peoples. Analytical Psychotherapy may employ the creation of art as a means to facilitate and investigate the expressions of the unconscious mind.

  • Therapist-Client Relationship – As in many forms of psychotherapy, the interaction between the client and the analyst itself serves as a screen onto which, through the processes of transference (projection of unconscious material from the client onto the therapist) and counter-transference (projection of unconscious material from the therapist onto the client), a great deal of unconscious material may be surfaced, observed and analyzed.

Other Concepts Associated with Carl Jung

  • Synchronicity – Many of us have experienced coincidences in which two seemingly unrelated events interact in a surprising fashion. We may find these occurrences quite eerie and begin to speculate on whether they result from mere chance or instead indicate unseen forces generating a mysterious order in the universe. Carl Jung believed that these events were indeed evidence of a greater pattern underlying human experience and coined the term “synchronicity” to describe cases where events that are not causally related nonetheless exhibit a connection to each other.

  • Nirdvandva – A number of thinkers have commented on the transformative power of transcending dichotomies. Daniel Quinn’s “third-hand solution” concept, the dialectical approach associated with Hegel and central to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the dynamic model of the Enneagram, and communication and therapeutic techniques stemming from IFS and Imago recognize the power of resolving polarizations through fostering the development of a new synthesis that integrates both of the poles. Carl Jung also recognized the power of transcending duality and, in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, discussed the Sanskrit word “Nirdvandva” which he described as meaning “freedom from opposites.”

Books Related to Jungian Psychology

There are a number of great books where you can learn more about Carl Jung, his ideas and their impact and importance in the world.

Carl Jung's Own Writings

Jung wrote prolifically and his own writings, obviously the best source to learn about his ideas directly, are collected in the 21 volumes of The Collected Works of C.G. Jung.

These works are available in separate volumes, which include:

Selected Compilations of Carl Jung's Writings

The Portable Jung by C.G. Jung, Edited by Joseph Campbell

The Portable Jung
by C.G. Jung, Edited by Joseph Campbell
- Famed mythologist Joseph Campbell shares carefully selected passages from Jung's collected works.

The Essential Jung by C.G. Jung, Edited by Anthony Storr

The Essential Jung
by C.G. Jung, Edited by Anthony Storr
- Important selections from Jung's work chosen and with an introduction by English psychiatrist Anthony Storr.

Carl Jung's Autobiography

Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. Jung

Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. Jung -
Jung's profound and revealing autobiography written shortly before his death.

Other Books Related to Jungian Psychology

Depth Psychology and a New Ethic by Erich Neumann

Depth Psychology and a New Ethic
by Erich Neumann
- One of Jung's best known students explains why wholeness, along with an acceptance of our own Shadow, must be the foundation of a new ethic in order to minimize the perils of scapegoating in our dangerous world.

Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves by James Hollis

Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves
by James Hollis
- The Executive Director of the Jung Center of Houston explains the personal and global importance of recognizing and reintegrating our Shadow.

The Two Million-year-old Self by Anthony Stevens

The Two Million-year-old Self by Anthony Stevens -
The brilliant Jungian analyst and Evolutionary Psychiatrist writes about the intersection between these two fascinating subjects.

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