On Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’ and pop psychology 

What was the spell that Carl Jung’s theory of ‘collective unconscious’ cast on 20th C psychiatry and literature, philosophy and theology asks this piece on Aeon

Another aspect of Jungian theory, barely touched upon in Psychological Types, was destined to cast a longer and more beguiling spell on popular psychology. ‘The collective unconscious,’ wrote Jung in his essay ‘The Structure of the Psyche’ (1927), ‘appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images … In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious.’ The archetypes that Jung initially had in mind were essentially sub-personalities of the ego – the persona (a people-pleasing mask) was juxtaposed against the shadow (the negative qualities hidden by the persona); the anima was the male sexual essence, versus animus, for females. Over the course of four decades, this therapeutic symbolism would expand to include mandalas (expressions of the ‘the specific centre of the personality’) and UFOs (a fantasy that swapped heaven for interstellar space). To ignore these powerful archetypal symbols was, in Jung’s mind, ‘to rob the individual of his roots and guiding instincts’, to let her become a mere ‘particle in the mass’.

Read the full piece here
(Photo credit: Aeon & the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York/Detail from the Mandala of Jnanadakini, 14th century, Tibet)

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