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Concept of Collective Unconscious at Jung

Jung concept of collective unconscious is based on his experiences with schizophrenic persons since he worked in the Burgholzli psychiatric hospital.

Though initially Jung followed the Freudian theory of unconscious as the psychic strata formed by repressed wishes, he later developed his own theory on the unconscious to include some new concepts. The most important of them is the archetype.

Archetypes constitute the structure of the collective unconscious - they are psychic innate dispositions to experience and represent basic human behavior and situations. Thus mother-child relationship is governed by the mother archetype. Father-child - by the father archetype. Birth, death, power and failure are controlled by archetypes. The religious and mystique experiences are also governed by archetypes.

The most important of all is the Self, which is the archetype of the Center of the psychic person, his/her totality or wholeness. The Center is made of the unity of conscious and unconscious reached through the individuation process.

Archetypes manifest themselves through archetypal images (in all the cultures and religious doctrines), in dreams and visions. Therefore a great deal of Jungian interest in psyche focuses on dreams and symbols interpretation in order to discover the compensation induced by archetypes as marks of psyche transformation.

The collective unconscious is an universal datum, that is, every human being is endowed with this psychic archetype-layer since his/her birth. One can not acquire this strata by education or other conscious effort because it is innate.

We may also describe it as a universal library of human knowledge, or the sage in man, the very transcendental wisdom that guides mankind.

Jung stated that the religious experience must be linked with the experience of the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Thus, God himself is lived like a psychic experience of the path that leads one to the realization of his/her psychic wholeness.

Jung about the Collective Unconscious

The collective unconscious - so far as we can say anything about it at all  - appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious... We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual. (From The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 325.)

-> See also Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious

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iconArchetypes in dreams
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