Ancient Wisdom in a Modern Era
Jungian Psychology
Carl Gustav Jung
Sacred Vibration of Aum
Jungian - Analytical
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and in every individual.

    Jungian archetypes    

The use of psychological archetypes was advanced by Jung in 1919 and generally adopted in the social sciences. In Jung's psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex, e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype. Jung treated the archetypes as psychological organs, analogous to physical ones in that both are morphological givens that arose through evolution.

According to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and his school of analytical psychology, archetypes are innate universal pre-conscious psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge. Being universal and innate,
Jungian psychology (or Analytical psychology) refers to the school of psychology originating from the ideas of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, and then advanced by his students and other thinkers who followed in his tradition. It is distinct from Freudian psychoanalysis but also has a number of similarities. Its aim is the apprehension and integration of the deep forces and motivations underlying human behaviour by the practice of an accumulative phenomenology around the significance of dreams, folklore and mythology. Depth psychology and archetypal psychology are related in that they both employ the model of the unconscious mind as the source of healing and development in the individual.


Jung developed his own distinctive approach to the study of the human mind. In his early years when working in a Swiss hospital with schizophrenic patients and working with Sigmund Freud and the burgeoning psychoanalytic community, he took a closer look at the mysterious depths of the human unconscious. Fascinated by what he saw (and spurred on with even more passion by the experiences and questions of his personal life) he devoted his life to the exploration of the subconscious. Unlike many modern psychologists, Jung did not feel that experimenting using natural science was the best means to understand the soul. For him, an empirical investigation of the world of dream, myth, and soul represented the most promising road to deeper
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In order to undergo the individuation process, the individual must be open to the parts of oneself beyond one's own ego. In order to do this, the modern individual must pay attention to dreams, explore the world of religion and spirituality, and question the assumptions of the operant societal worldview (rather than just blindly living life in accordance with dominant norms and assumptions).
    The fundamentals    

The unconscious
The basic assumption is that the personal unconscious is a potent part — probably the more active part — of the normal human psyche. Reliable communication between the conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche is necessary for wholeness.

Also crucial is the belief that dreams show ideas, beliefs, and feelings of which individuals are not readily aware, but need to be, and that such material is expressed in a personalized

The overarching goal of Jungian psychology is the reconciliation of the life of the individual with the world of the supra-personal archetypes. Central to this process is the individual's encounter with the subconscious. The human experiences the subconscious through symbols encountered in all aspects of life: in dreams, art, religion, and the symbolic dramas we enact in our relationships and life pursuits. Essential to the encounter with the subconscious, and the reconciliation of the individual's consciousness with this broader world, is learning this symbolic language. Only through attention and openness to this world is the individual able to harmonize their life with these suprapersonal archetypal forces.

"Neurosis" results from a disharmony between the individual's consciousness and the greater archetypal world. The aim of psychotherapy is to assist the individual in reestablishing a healthy relationship to the subconscious (neither being swamped by it — a state characteristic of psychosis — nor completely shut off from it — a state that results in malaise, empty consumerism, narcissism, and a life cut off from deeper meaning). The encounter between consciousness and the symbols arising from the subconscious enriches life and promotes psychological development. Jung considered this process of psychological growth and maturation (which he called the process of individuation) to be of critical importance to the human being, and ultimately to modern society.
vocabulary of visual metaphors. Things "known but unknown" are contained in the unconscious, and dreams are one of the main vehicles for the unconscious to express them.

Analytical psychology distinguishes between a personal and a collective unconscious. (see below)

The collective unconscious contains archetypes common to all human beings. That is, individuation may bring to surface symbols that do not relate to the life experiences of a single person. This content is more easily viewed as answers to the more fundamental questions of humanity: life, death, meaning, happiness, fear. Among these more spiritual concepts may arise and be integrated into the personality.

The collective unconscious
Jung's concept of the collective unconscious has often been misunderstood. In order to understand this concept, it is essential to understand Jungian archetypes.

The archetypes of the collective unconscious could be thought of as the DNA of the human psyche[citation needed]. Just as all humans share a common physical heritage and predisposition towards specific gross physical forms (like having two legs, a heart, etc.) so do all humans have innate psychological predispositions in the form of archetypes, which compose the collective unconscious.

In contrast to the objective material world, the subjective realm of archetypes cannot be fully plumbed through quantitative modes of research. Instead it can be revealed more fully through an examination of the symbolic communications of the human psyche — in art, dreams, religion, myth, and the themes of human relational/behavioral patterns. Devoting his life to the task of exploring and understanding the collective unconscious, Jung theorized that certain symbolic themes exist across all cultures, all epochs,
their influence can be detected in the form of myths, symbols and psychic aptitudes of human beings the world over. The archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behaviour.
Archetypes hold control of the human life cycle. As we mature the archetypal plan unfolds through a programmed sequence which Jung called the stages of life. Each stage of life is mediated through a new set of archetypal imperatives which seek fulfillment in action. These may include being parented, initiation, courtship, marriage and preparation for death.

Introduction of archetypes
Virtually alone among the depth psychologists of the twentieth century, Jung rejected the tabula rasa theory of human psychological development, believing instead that evolutionary pressures had dictated the basic structures and functions of the human psyche. He believed that human experience was directed by a priori aptitudes. He wrote:
"The whole nature of man presupposes woman, both physically and spiritually. His system is tuned into woman from the start, just as it is prepared for a quite definite world into which he is already inborn in him as a virtual image. Likewise, parents, wife, children, birth and death are inborn in him as virtual images, as psychic aptitudes. These [categories] have individual predestinations. We must therefore, think of these images as lacking in solid content, hence as unconscious. They only acquire solidity, influence, and eventual consciousness in the encounter with empirical facts."

The archetypes form a dynamic substratum common to all humanity, on the basis of which each individual builds his own experience of life, developing a unique array of psychological characteristics. Thus while the archetypes themselves may be conceived as relatively few innate nebulous forms — heralding possibilities — from these may arise innumerable images, symbols and patterns of behaving. While the emerging images and forms are solid and conscious, the archetypes which they point to are elementary structures which are unconscious and more difficult to apprehend. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behaviour, images, art, myths, etc. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behaviour on contact with the outside world. The archetype is a crucial Jungian concept. Its significance to analytical psychology has been likened to that of gravity for Newtonian physics.


The intuition that there was more to the psyche than individual experience could put there began in Jung's childhood. The very first dream he could remember was that of an underground phallic god. His researches in schizophrenia later confirmed his early intuition that universal psychic structures exist which underlie all human experience and behaviour. Jung first referred to these as "primordial images" - a term he borrowed from Jacob Burckhardt. Later in 1917 he called them "dominants of the collective unconscious". It was not until 1919 that he first used the term "archetypes" in an essay titled Instinct and the unconscious.


The origins of the archetypal hypothesis date back as far as Plato. Jung himself compared archetypes to Platonic ideas. Plato's ideas were pure mental forms un-originated and eternal, existing in a world of such ideas that was inherently perfect and that were imprinted in the soul before it was born into the world. They were collective in the sense that they embodied the fundamental characteristics of a thing rather than its specific peculiarities.

Examples and conceptual difficulties

Although the general idea of an archetype is well recognized, there is considerable confusion as regards their exact nature and the way they result in universal experiences. The confusion about the archetypes can partly be attributed to Jung's own evolving ideas about them in his writings and his interchangeable use of the term "archetype" and "primordial image". Strictly speaking, archetypal figures such as the hero, the goddess and the wise man are not archetypes, but archetypal images which have crystallised out of the archetypes-as-such.

Jung described: archetypal events: birth, death, separation from parents, initiation, marriage, the union of opposites etc., archetypal figures: mother, father, child, God. trickster, hero, wise old man etc. and archetypal motifs: the Apocalypse, the Deluge, the Creation, etc.

However the precise relationships between images such as, for example, "the fish" and its archetype were not adequately explained by Jung. Here the image of the fish is not strictly speaking an archetype. However the "archetype of the fish" points to the ubiquitous existence of an innate "fish archetype" which gives rise to the fish image. In clarifying the contentious statement that fish archetypes are universal; Anthony Stevens explains that the archetype-as-such is at once an innate predisposition to form such an image and a preparation to encounter and respond appropriately to the creature per se. This would explain the existence of snake and spider phobias, for example, in people living in urban environments where they have never encountered either creature.

Jung also proposed the existence of the Self, the anima, the animus and the shadow as psychological structures having an archetypal nature.

Actualisation and complexes

Archetypes seek actualisation within the context of an individuals environment and determine the degree of individuation. Jung also used the terms 'evocation' and 'constellation' to explain the process of actualisation. Thus for example, the mother archetype is actualised in the mind of the child by the evoking of innate anticipations of the maternal archetype when the child is in the proximity of a maternal figure who corresponds closely enough to its archetypal template. This mother archetype is built into the personal unconscious of the child as a mother complex. Complexes are functional units of the personal unconscious, in the same way that archetypes are units for the collective unconscious.

Psychoid archetype

Jung proposed that the archetype had a dual nature - it exists both in the psyche and in the world at large. He called this non-psychic aspect of the archetype, the ' psychoid ' archetype. It represents his boldest contribution to the resolution of the mind-body problem. He illustrated this by drawing on the analogy of the electromagnetic spectrum. The part of the spectrum which is visible to us corresponds to the conscious aspects of the archetype. The invisible infra-red end of the spectrum corresponds to the unsconscious biological aspects of the archetype that merges with its chemical and physical conditions.

He suggested that not only do the archetypal structures govern the behaviour of all living organisms, but that they were contiguous with structures controlling the behaviour of organic matter as well. The archetype was not merely a psychic entity, but more fundamentally, a bridge to matter in general Jung used the ancient term of unus mundus to describe the unitary reality which he believed underlay all manifest phenomena. He conceived archetypes to be the mediators of the unus mundus - organising not only ideas in the psyche, but also the fundamental principles of matter and energy in the physical world.

It was this psychoid aspect of the archetype that so impressed Nobel laureate physicist Wolfgang Pauli. Embracing Jung's concept Pauli believed that the archetype provided a link between physical events and the mind of the scientist who studied them. In doing so he echoed the position adopted by German astronomer Johannes Kepler. Thus the archetypes which ordered our perceptions and ideas are themselves the product of an objective order which transcends both the human mind and the external world.

Parallels and developments of the archetype

Although the term "archetype" did not originate with Jung, its current use has largely been influenced by his conception of it. The idea of innate psychic structures, at one time a relative novelty in the humanities and sciences has now been widely adopted. Related concepts arguably include the work of Claude Levi Strauss, an advocate of structuralism in anthropology, the concept of 'social instincts' proposed by Charles Darwin, the 'faculties' of Henri Bergson and the isomorphs of gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Kohler. In 1965 Noam Chomsky's ideas of human language acquisition being based an 'innate acquisition device' became known to the world.

Self-realization and neuroticism
An innate need for self-realization leads people to explore and integrate these rejected materials. This natural process is called individuation, or the process of becoming an individual.

According to Jung, Self-realization can be divided into two distinct tiers. In the first half of our lives we separate from humanity. We attempt to create our own identities (I, myself). This is why there is such a need for young men to be destructive, and can be expressed as animosity from teens directed at their parents. Jung also said we have a sort of “second puberty” that occurs between 35-40- outlook shifts from emphasis on materialism, sexuality, and having children to concerns about community and spirituality.

In the second half of our lives, we reunite with the human race. We become part of the collective once again. This is when adults start to contribute to humanity (volunteer time, build, garden, create art, etc.) rather than destroy. They are also more likely to pay attention to their unconscious and conscious feelings. How often do you hear a young man state, "I feel angry." or "I feel sad.”? This is because they have not rejoined the collective in their older, wiser years, according to Jung. A common theme is for young rebels to "search" for their true selves and realize that a contribution to humanity is essentially a necessity for a whole self.

Jung proposes that the ultimate goal of the collective unconscious and self-realization is to pull us to the highest experience. This, of course, is spiritual.

If a person does not proceed toward self-knowledge, neurotic symptoms may arise. Symptoms are widely defined, including, for instance, phobias, fetishism, depression.

The shadow
The shadow is an unconscious complex that is defined as the repressed and suppressed aspects of the conscious self.
There are constructive and destructive types of shadow.

On the destructive side, it often represents everything that the conscious person does not wish to acknowledge within themselves. For instance, someone who identifies as being kind has a shadow that is harsh or unkind. Conversely, an individual who is brutal has a kind shadow. The shadow of persons who are convinced that they are ugly appears to be beautiful.
On the constructive side, the shadow may represent hidden positive influences. This has been referred to as "the gold in the shadow." Jung points to the story of Moses and Al-Khidr in the 18th Sura (Chapter) of the Koran as an example.

Jung emphasized the importance of being aware of shadow material and incorporating it into conscious awareness, lest one project these attributes on others.

The shadow in dreams is often represented by dark figures of the same gender as the dreamer.
According to Jung the human being deals with the reality of the Shadow in four ways: denial, projection, integration and/or transmutation.

Anima and animus
Jung identified the anima as being the unconscious feminine component of men and the animus as the unconscious masculine component in women. However, this is rarely taken as a literal definition: many modern day Jungian practitioners believe that every person has both an anima and an animus. Jung stated that the anima and animus act as guides to the unconscious unified Self, and that forming an awareness and a connection with the anima or animus is one of the most difficult and rewarding steps in psychological growth. Jung reported that he identified his anima as she spoke to him, as an inner voice, unexpectedly one day.

Often, when people ignore the anima or animus complexes, the anima or animus vies for attention by projecting itself on others. This explains, according to Jung, why we are sometimes immediately attracted to certain strangers: we see our anima or animus in them. Love at first sight is an example of anima and animus projection. Moreover, people who strongly identify with their gender role (e.g. a man who acts aggressively and never cries) have not actively recognized or engaged their anima or animus.
Jung attributes human rational thought to be the male nature, while the irrational aspect is considered to be natural female. Consequently, irrationality is the male anima shadow and rationality is the female animus shadow.

Analysis is a way to experience and integrate the unknown material. It is a search for the meaning of behaviors, symptoms, events. Many are the channels to reach this greater self-knowledge. The analysis of dreams is the most common. Others may include expressing feelings in art pieces, poetry or other expressions of creativity.

Giving a complete description of the process of dream interpretation and individuation is complex. The nature of the complexity lies on the fact that the process is highly specific to the person who does it.

While Freudian psychoanalysis assumes that the repressed material hidden in the unconscious is given by repressed sexual instincts, Analytical psychology has a more general approach. There is no preconceived assumption about the unconscious material. The unconscious, for Jungian analysts, may contain repressed sexual drives, but also aspirations, fears, etc.

Psychological types

Analytical psychology distinguishes several psychological types or temperaments.

Extravert & Introvert
(Jung's spelling is extravert, which most dictionaries use; the variant "extrovert" is not preferred)

The attitude type could be thought of as the flow of libido (psychic energy). The Introvert's flow is directed inward toward concepts and ideas and the Extravert's is directed outward towards people and objects. There are several contrasting characteristics between Extraverts and Introverts: Extraverts desire breadth and are action-oriented, while introverts seek depth and are self-oriented.

Research has shown that there may be a positive correlation between the Introversion/Extraversion types and health deterioration. Introverts may be more inclined to catatonic type schizophrenia and extraverts towards manic depression.

The often misunderstood terms extravert and introvert derive from this work. In Jung's original usage, the extraversion "is an outward-turning of libido", whereas introversion is an inward-turning of libido. Everyone has both the intraversion and the extraversion mechanisms, and the collectively dominant type determines whether an individual is introvert or extravert.

According to Jung, the conscious psyche is an apparatus for adaptation and orientation, and consists of a number of different psychic functions. Among these he distinguishes four basic functions:
sensing - perception by means of the sense organs;
intuition - perceiving in unconscious way or perception of unconscious contents.
thinking - function of intellectual cognition; the forming of logical conclusions;
feeling - function of subjective estimation;

Thinking and feeling functions are rational, while sensing and intuition are nonrational. According to Jung, rationality consists of figurative thoughts, feelings or actions with reason—a point of view based on objective value, which is set by practical experience. Nonrationality is not based in reason. Jung notes that elementary facts are also nonrational, not because they are illogical but because, as thoughts, they are not judgments.

In any person, the degree of introversion/extraversion of one function can be quite different from that of another function.

Generally, we tend to favor our most developed, superior function, while we can broaden our personality by developing the others. Related to this, Jung noted that the unconscious often tends to reveal itself most easily through a person's least developed, inferior function. The encounter with the unconscious and development of the underdeveloped function(s) thus tend to progress together.

The complex

Early in Jung's career he coined the term and described the concept of the "complex". Jung claims to have discovered the concept during his free association and galvanic skin response experiments. Freud obviously took up this concept in his Oedipus complex amongst others. Jung seemed to see complexes as quite autonomous parts of psychological life. It is almost as if Jung were describing separate personalities within what is considered a single individual, but to equate Jung's use of complexes with something along the lines of multiple personality disorder would be a step out of bounds.

Jung saw an archetype as always being the central organizing structure of a complex. For instance, in a "negative mother complex," the archetype of the "negative mother" would be seen to be central to the identity of that complex. This is to say, our psychological lives are patterned on common human experiences. Interestingly, Jung saw the Ego (which Freud wrote about in German literally as the "I", one's conscious experience of oneself) as a complex. If the "I" is a complex, what might be the archetype that structures it? Jung, and many Jungians, might say "the hero," one who separates from the community to ultimately carry the community further.

Clinical theories

Jung's writings have been of much interest to people of many backgrounds and interests, including theologians, people from the humanities, and mythologists. Jung often seemed to seek to make contributions to various fields, but he was mostly a practicing psychiatrist, involved during his whole career in treating patients. A description of Jung's clinical relevance is to address the core of his work.

Jung started his career working with hospitalized patients with major mental illnesses, most notably schizophrenia. He was interested in the possibilities of an unknown "brain toxin" that could be the cause of schizophrenia. But the majority and the heart of Jung's clinical career was taken up with what we might call today individual psychodynamic psychotherapy, in gross structure very much in the strain of psychoanalytic practice first formed by Freud.

It is important to state that Jung seemed to often see his work as not a complete psychology in itself but as his unique contribution to the field of psychology. Jung claimed late in his career that only for about a third of his patients did he use "Jungian analysis." For another third, Freudian psychology seemed to best suit the patient's needs and for the final third Adlerian analysis was most appropriate. In fact, it seems that most contemporary Jungian clinicians merge a developmentally grounded theory, such as Self psychology or Donald Winnicott's work, with the Jungian theories in order to have a "whole" theoretical repertoire to do actual clinical work.

The "I" or Ego is tremendously important to Jung's clinical work. Jung's theory of etiology of psychopathology could almost be simplified to be stated as a too rigid conscious attitude towards the whole of the psyche. That is, a psychotic episode can be seen from a Jungian perspective as the "rest" of the psyche overwhelming the conscious psyche because the conscious psyche effectively was locking out and repressing the psyche as a whole.

John Weir Perry's book The Far Side of Madness explores and fleshes out this idea of Jung's very well. Note: this is a psychological description of a psychotic episode.

Jung hypothesized a medical basis for schizophrenia that was beyond the understanding of the medical science of his day (and seems to still be beyond present medical science in a satisfactory sense). Twin studies and plenty of clinical material seem to point clearly to a medical basis for schizophrenia. It perhaps can best be said that schizophrenia is both medical and psychological. A medical understanding (again, as yet still lacking) would not change the fact that schizophrenia is lived by those who have it psychologically; that is to say, as theorists and scientists, we may be able to say that schizophrenia happens in genes, brains, and the electrochemical, but for one who has schizophrenia it also happens in their mind and experience. This is to say a purely medical treatment of major mental illness is inadequate, as is a purely psychological treatment of major mental illness.


Samuels (1985) has distinguished three schools of "post-Jungian" therapy - the classical, the developmental and the archetypal.

Classical school
The classical school is that which tries to remain faithful to what Jung himself proposed and taught in person and in his 20-plus volumes of work.

Developmental school
The developmental school, associated with Michael Fordham, Brian Feldman etc., can be considered a bridge between Jungian psychoanalysis and Melanie Klein's object relations theory. Laings and Goodheart are also often mentioned.

Archetypal school

The archetypal school (sometimes called "the imaginal school"), with different views associated with the Mythopoeticists, such as James Hillman in his intellectual theoretical view of Archetypal psychology, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, in her view that ethnic and aboriginal people are the originators of archetypal psychology and have long carried the maps to the journey of the soul in their songs, tales, dream-telling, art and rituals; Marion Woodman who proposes a feminist viewpoint regarding archetypal psychology, and other Jungians like Thomas Moore, as well. Most mythopoeticists/archetypal psychology innovators either imagine the Self not to be the main archetype of the collective unconscious as Jung thought, but rather assign each archetype equal value...Others, who are modern progenitors of archetypal psychology (such as Estés), think of the Self as that which contains and yet is suffused by all the other archetypes, each giving life to the other.

Robert L. Moore, one of Jung's most dedicated followers, has explored the archetypal level of the human psyche in a series of five books co-authored with Douglas Gillette, which have played an important role in the men's movement in the United States. R. Moore likes to use computerese, so he likens the archetypal level of the human psyche to the hard wiring of a computer. Our personal experiences of course influence our accessing the archetypal level of the human psyche, but personalized ego consciousness can be likened to the software in a computer (e.g., Microsoft Word).

    Jung's theory of neurosis    

Jung's theory of neurosis is based on the premise of a self-regulating psyche composed of tensions between opposing attitudes of the ego and the unconscious. A neurosis is a significant unresolved tension between these contending attitudes. Each neurosis is unique, and different things work in different cases, so no therapeutic method can be arbitrarily applied. Nevertheless, there is a set of cases that Jung especially addressed. Although adjusted well enough to everyday life, the individual has lost a fulfilling sense of meaning and purpose, and has no living religious belief to which to turn. There seems to be no readily apparent way to set matters right. In these cases, Jung turned to ongoing symbolic communication from the unconscious in the form of dreams and visions.

Resolution of the tension causing this type of neurosis involves a careful constructive study of the fantasies. The seriousness with which the individual (ego) must take the mythological aspects of the fantasies may compare with the regard that devoted believers have toward their religion. It is not merely an intellectual exercise, but requires the commitment of the whole person and realization that the unconscious has a connection to life-giving spiritual forces. Only a belief founded on direct experience with this process is sufficient to oppose, balance, and otherwise adjust the attitude of the ego.

When this process works, this type of neurosis may be considered a life-guiding gift from the unconscious, even though the personal journey forced upon the individual sometimes takes decades. This may seem absurd to someone looking at a neurosis from the attitude that it is always an illness that should not have to happen, expects the doctor to have a quick cure, and that fantasies are unreliable subjective experiences.

A significant aspect of Jung's theory of neurosis is how symptoms can vary by psychological type. The hierarchy of discriminating psychological functions gives each individual a dominant sensation, intuition, feeling, or thinking function preference with either an extroverted or introverted attitude. The dominant is quite under the control of the ego. But the inferior function remains a gateway for unconscious contents. This creates typical manifestations of inferior insight and behavior when extreme function one-sidedness accompanies the neurosis.

The attitude of the unconscious

Jung's theory of neurosis is based on a psyche that consists of tensions between various opposite attitudes in a self-regulating dynamic. The ego, being the center of consciousness, represents the coalescing attitude of consciousness. The ego's attitude is in tension with a complementary and balancing attitude in the unconscious.

In appropriate circumstances the unconscious attitude can directly oppose the ego's attitude and produce all manner of neuroses. These situations arise when the conscious attitude has been unable to recognize and effectively integrate issues important to the attitude of the unconscious.

It may perhaps seem odd that I should speak of an "attitude of the unconscious." As I have repeatedly indicated, I regard the attitude of the unconscious as compensatory to consciousness. According to this view, the unconscious has as good a claim to an "attitude" as the latter (Jung, [1921] 1971: par. 568).

Freud, Alfred Adler, and psychological types

Jung started from Freud's and Adler's already developed and competing theories of neurosis. Both claimed universal applicability and rejected the other's. Jung saw both theories as valuable but limited in scope. As such, he used them at appropriate times. His attempt to reconcile his appreciation of each theory compelled Jung to investigate and incorporate psychological types into his theory. Jung considered Freud's "Eros" theory extroverted and Adler's power theory introverted.

The actual existence of far-reaching type-differences, of which I have described eight groups in [Psychological Types], has enabled me to conceive the two controversial theories of neurosis as manifestations of a type-antagonism. This discovery brought with it the need to rise above the opposition and to create a theory which would do justice not merely to one or the other side, but to both equally (Jung, 1966: pars. 65-66).

Despite their apparently irreconcilable differences, Jung found his "justice" perspective by identifying a fundamental limitation in common.

They are critical methods, having, like all criticism, the power to do good when there is something that must be destroyed, dissolved, or reduced, but capable only of harm when there is something to be built (Jung, 1966: par. 65).

Positive meaning of neurosis

For Jung, a neurosis is not completely negative, despite, and even because of, its debilitating aspects. Interpreted positively, it has fundamental purpose for some people.

The reader will doubtless ask: What in the world is the value and meaning of a neurosis, this most useless and pestilent curse of humanity? To be neurotic – what good can that do? ... I myself have known more than one person who owed his whole usefulness and reason for existence to a neurosis, which prevented all the worst follies in his life and forced him to a mode of living that developed his valuable potentialities. These might have been stifled had not the neurosis, with iron grip, held him to the place where he belonged (Jung, 1966: par. 68).

Collective mythological images

Jung distinguished between the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. To find the positive therapeutic direction as impartially as he could, Jung identified and interpreted dream images generated by the collective unconscious in a constructive way rather than reducing them to personal indications. Since collective themes are common to all humanity, they find their counterpart in mythological motifs.

[Freud's and Adler's theories] rest on an exclusively causal and reductive procedure which resolves the dream (or fantasy) into its memory components and the underlying instinctual processes. I have indicated above the justification as well as the limitation of this procedure. It breaks down at the point where the dream symbols can no longer be reduced to personal reminiscences or aspirations, that is, when the images of the collective unconscious begin to appear (Jung, 1966: par. 122).

Normalcy of the divided psyche

Jung considered the divided psyche normal even though it manifests itself pathologically in neurosis and, more especially, in psychosis.

As a matter of history, is was the study of dreams that first enabled psychologists to investigate the unconscious aspect of conscious psychic events.

It is on such evidence that psychologists assume the existence of an unconscious psyche – though many scientists and philosophers deny its existence. They argue naively that such an assumption implies the existence of two "subjects," or (to put it in a common phrase) two personalities within the same individual. But that is exactly what it does imply – quite correctly. And it is one of the curses of modern man that many people suffer from this divided personality. It is by no means a pathological symptom; it is a normal fact that can be observed at any time and anywhere. It is not merely the neurotic whose right hand does not know what the left is doing. This predicament is a symptom of a general unconsciousness that is the undeniable common inheritance of all mankind (Jung, 1964:23).

He hears and does not hear; he sees, yet is blind; he knows and is ignorant (Jung, 1964:33).

Collective neuroses in politics

Jung saw the divided psyche in the normal individual reflected in the neurotic nature of global politics, and vice versa.
If, for a moment, we regard mankind as one individual, we see that the human race is like a person carried away by unconscious powers; and the human race also likes to keep certain problems tucked away in separate drawers . . . Our world is, so to speak, dissociated like a neurotic, with the Iron Curtain making a symbolic line of division. . . . It is the face of his own evil shadow that grins at Western man from the other side of the Iron Curtain (Jung, 1964:85).

    Jungian interpretation of religion    

The Jungian interpretation of religion views all religious experience as a psychological phenomenon, and regards the personal experience of God as indistinguishable — for scientific purposes — as a communication with one's own unconscious mind.


Carl Jung established a school of psychology called depth psychology, which emphasizes understanding the psyche through dream analysis. Other workers in depth psychology have used other methods with some success, but dream analysis remains the core of depth psychology. Works of art and mythology are interpreted similarly to dreams: a myth is "a dream being experienced by a whole culture."

Inevitably archetypal figures appear in personal dreams which closely resemble mythic figures, which leads to a natural interest in experience of religion as a psychological phenomenon.

Jung emphasized the importance of balance in a healthy mind. He wrote that modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the unconscious.

Jungian psychology is typically missing from the curriculum of most major universities' psychology departments. Jung's ideas are occasionally explored in humanities departments, particularly in the study of mythography.


Jung's parents were fervent Christian missionaries, and part of Jung's early life was occupied with resolving his personal conflict between his stern upbringing and his his own feelings about religion. This settled in on the "scientific" interpretation of religion, which treats religion as a psychological phenomenon only, and neither affirms nor denies a greater reality.

Although Carl Jung was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician, he searched through other subjects, attempting to find a pre-existing myth or mythic system which aptly illustrated his ideas about the human psychology of religion. He began with Gnosticism, but abandoned it early on. Later he studied astrology and then speculative alchemy as a symbolic system. It is not clear from his writings if he ever settled on any one of these systems of symbols.

Jung and Mead's study of Gnosticism

Carl Jung and his associate G.R.S. Mead worked on trying to understand and explain the Gnostic faith from a psychological standpoint. Jung's analytical psychology in many ways schematically mirrors ancient Gnostic mythology, particularly those of Valentinus and the 'classic' Gnostic doctrine described in most detail in the Apocryphon of John.

Jung understands the emergence of the Demiurge out of the original, unified monadic source of the spiritual universe by gradual stages to be analogous to (and a symbolic depiction of) the emergence of the ego from the unconscious

However, it is uncertain as to whether the similarities between Jung's psychological teachings and those of the gnostics are due to their sharing a "perennial philosophy", or whether Jung was unwittingly influenced by the Gnostics in the formation of his theories. Jung's own 'gnostic hymn', the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos (Latin: The Seven Sermons to the Dead), would tend to imply the latter, but after circulating the manuscript, Jung declined to publish it during his lifetime. Since it is not clear whether Jung was ultimately displeased with the book or whether he merely suppressed it as too controversial, the issue remains contested.

Uncertain too are Jung's belief that the gnostics were aware of and intended psychological meaning or significance within their myths.

On the other hand, it is clear from a comparison of Jung's writings and that of ancient Gnostics, that Jung disagreed with them on the ultimate goal of the individual. Gnostics in ancient times clearly sought a return to a supreme, other-worldly Godhead. In a study of Jung, Robert Segal claimed that the eminent psychologist would have found the psychological interpretation of the goal of ancient Gnosticism (that is, re-unification with the Pleroma, or the unknown God) to be psychically 'dangerous', as being a total identification with the unconscious.

To contend that there is at least some disagreement between Jung and Gnosticism is at least supportable: the Jungian process of individuation involves the addition of unconscious psychic tropes to consciousness in order to achieve a trans-conscious centre to the personality. Jung did not intend this addition to take the form of a complete identification of the Self with the Unconscious.