Archetypes In Jungian Psychology

Archetypes In Jungian Psychology

Introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, archetypes represent universal patterns and visuals that form the collective unconsciousness.

He identified four main archetypes: The Persona, The Shadow, The Animus, and The Self. These archetypes are not inferred directly, but by looking at religion, dreams, literature and art. The archetypes suggested by Carl Jung are universal, hereditary and play a significant role in our personality.

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The shadow is part of the unconscious mind, made up of our repressed ideas, desires, weaknesses, shortcomings and instincts. In our attempt to portray a certain persona, we create this shadow, our cache of envy, greed, prejudice, hate and violence.

It is a darker side of our psyche that appears in dreams as a snake, a demon, or some other dark and wild creature.

The persona is a kind of behavioural mask. It is the way we present ourselves in social groups and situations. Right from our childhood, we are taught to behave in a certain way to fit the expectations and norms of society. It suppresses all our primitive urges, impulses and feelings that are not acceptable in society.

People who start to believe in their own persona tend to move away from their true selves.

  • The Self is a circle, or ‘zero’, which represents the unified unconsciousness and consciousness of an individual.
  • Individuation is a process in which all aspects of our personality are integrated and in harmony.
  • The ego is the center of consciousness, but the self is at the center of our personality. An ego is false most of the time, but a self is always authentic and real.
  • Our personality is not just our consciousness, but also our ego and our unconsciousness.
  • If the circumference of a circle is our self, the ego is just the dot at the center.

Carl Jung rejected the theory of ‘tabula rasa’ which asserts that the human mind is completely blank at birth, ready to be programmed with life experiences and education. The human mind retains its fundamental biological aspects, the primordial images that provide a basic foundation for the individual.

Apart from the four main archetypes, Carl Jung also describes many other such identities like the father, the mother, the hero, the trickster or the child.

The Anima (female) or the Animus (male) are the sex and gender identities/roles that behave like Yin-Yang. The male and female energies are a balance influencing one another at all times. The Animus represents the male aspect in females, while the Anima is the female aspect in males. Society enforces strict gender stereotypes, which constrains normal psychological development.

The combined energy is called ‘syzygy’ or the divine couple, representing completion, unification and oneness.

Individual or personal unconscious is part of the three components of the human psyche, apart from the ego and the collective unconscious.

The ego represents the consciousness and the personal unconscious contains suppressed and repressed memories.

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In a public situation, we present a different version of ourselves than from the one at home. Every profession has unspoken agreements about which manners are acceptable, and which are not.

It is then the purpose of the persona to suppress the impulses and emotions that are not considered socially acceptable. The difficulty is when one becomes so identified with his persona that he loses all sense of self. The result is an inflated persona with excessive concern for what people think and a lack of courage to endure conflict and refuse others' wishes.

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The Hero

The concept of a hero is spellbinding, and this archetype has been in the human psyche since time immemorial, whether through verbal stories, or the earliest written epics.

The lifecycle of a hero is to overcome several obstacles to survive or to achieve specific goals. Heroes and superheroes are celebrated in all kinds of media. The most popular stories of epic adventures have the hero, who often fails, coming back spiritually richer in the end.

What Carl Jung is known for

Carl Jung introduced the theory of personality types. You have used some of Jung's ideas if you think of yourself as introvert or extrovert; if you have ever used the Myers-Briggs personality or spirituality test.

Two ideas central to his theory: the ego and the self.

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