collective unconscious

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collective unconscious

[kə′lek·tiv ən′kän·shəs]
(psychology)
In Jungian theory, a part of the unconscious that theoretically is inherited and common to all people.

collective unconscious

see JUNG.

Collective Unconscious (Archetypes)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The collective unconscious, a term coined by the psychologist Carl Jung, refers to the storehouse of myths and symbols to which all human beings have access. Much of traditional Jungian analysis focuses on the interpretation of dreams. Jung found that the dreams of his clients frequently contained images with which they were completely unfamiliar but that seemed to reflect symbols that could be found somewhere in the mythological systems of world culture; the notion of the collective unconscious was used to explain this phenomenon. Jung further found that he could often interpret his patients’ dreams if he studied and reflected upon the particular myth or symbol to which the dream image seemed to allude. In certain cases, deeper and more complete significance for the dream image could be uncovered by locating similar images in more than one cultural system. Researching such images in the quest for deeper meanings is referred to as amplification.

Jung’s unique contribution to modern psychology begins with the observation that the basic structure of many symbols and myths is nearly universal, even between cultures with no historical influence on one another. Most traditional societies, for example, tell hero myths and use circles to represent wholeness and the sky to symbolize transcendence, etc. Jung theorized that this universality resulted from unconscious patterns (genetic or quasi-genetic predispositions to utilize certain symbolic and mythic structures) that we inherited from our distant ancestors. The reservoir of these patterns constitutes a collective unconscious, distinct from the individual, personal unconscious that is the focus of Freudian psychoanalysis.

Jung referred to the unconscious, predisposing patterns for particular myths and symbols as archetypes; hence, one can talk about the mandala (i.e., the circle) archetype, the hero archetype (which was made famous by the Jungian thinker Joseph Campbell), and so forth. Astrologers adopted this kind of language for discussions about the elements of their craft, e.g., the Mars archetype, the Venus archetype, etc.

Sources:

Burt, Kathleen. Archetypes of the Zodiac. Saint Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1990.
Valentine, Christine. Images of the Psyche: Exploring the Planets Through Psychology and Myth. Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK: Element Books, 1991.

Collective Unconscious

(dreams)

The collective unconscious, a term coined by the psychologist Carl Jung, refers to the storehouse of myths and symbols to which all human beings have access. Jung found that the dreams of his clients frequently contained images with which they were completely unfamiliar but which seemed to reflect symbols that could be found somewhere in the mythological systems of world culture; the notion of the collective unconscious was used to explain this phenomenon.

Jung’s unique contribution to modern psychology begins with the observation that the basic structure of many symbols and myths is nearly universal, even between cultures with no historical influence on one another. Most traditional societies, for example, tell hero myths, use circles to represent wholeness, the sky to symbolize transcendence, and so forth. Jung theorized that this universality resulted from unconscious patterns (genetic or quasi-genetic predispositions to utilize certain symbolic and mythical structures) that we inherited from our distant ancestors. The reservoir of these patterns constitutes a collective unconscious, distinct from the individual, personal unconscious that is the focus of Freudian psychoanalysis.

Jung referred to the unconscious, predisposing patterns for particular myths and symbols as archetypes; hence, one can talk about the mandala (i.e., the circle) archetype, the hero archetype (the latter made famous by the Jungian thinker Joseph Campbell), and so forth. Jung asserted that his notions of the collective unconscious and the archetypes were on par with the theory of instincts (one examines certain kinds of behaviors and theorizes that they are the result of certain biological drives, although it is, of course, impossible to directly observe such drives/instincts).