Finding Your Self: Archetype: Formation of the Collective Unconscious

This blog post explains the concept of an Archetype (pattern of behavior/thought, innate images):

“An Archetype is an innate (i.e. existing from birth) tendency that molds and transforms the individual consciousness. Archetypes are defined more through a drive than through specific inherited contents (i.e. not formed from genetics alone). Archetypes are a matrix which influences the human behavior as well as his/her ideas and concepts on the ethical, moral, religious and cultural levels. Jung talks about the archetype (also called “primordial image”) as of biologists’ patterns of behavior (inborn behavior patterns). In short, “archetypes are natural tendencies which shape the human behavior.”

Other Headers from post include:

Historical Origin of the Term “Archetype”
Patterns of Behavior and archetype
Archetype and Instincts
Some Examples of Archetypes

Some Examples of Archetypes include (but not limited to):
• The father: Authority figure; stern; powerful.
• The mother: Nurturing; comforting.
• The child: Longing for innocence; rebirth; salvation.
• The wise old man: Guidance; knowledge; wisdom.
• The hero: Champion; defender; rescuer.
• The maiden: Innocence; desire; purity.
• The trickster: Deceiver; liar; trouble-maker.

If any of the above information interests you, please check out the below post of mine, originally posted on an old blog of mine titled, Finding Your Self, that is now slowly being merged into this one.

Enjoy

NOTE: Sources of where I found the information are cited at end of the blog post. Also, I updated my post Finding Your Self: Transference, The Make Up of our Lives

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Archetype – Formation of the Collective Unconscious

selfrealizationindividuationpost

A lot has happened in my life the past two years: I now have a bachelors in Social Work, my nephew who I feel at times is my son (he’s 4 years old) has joined preschool, I’ve been in and two intimate relationships that have helped me grow as a person and realize what I truly want in life. Through the ending of those relations I have found an understanding and acceptance of solitude and a blessing it can be to be “single” and independent. I have truly grown into my own self, and I have developed an understanding, awareness, and acceptance of my inner “gifts”. I also have developed a clearer picture of what I want to do career wise, internally and showing in my external reality. I see the sun over the horizon, and clarity is forming. Serenity is entering my being.

It has taken a lot of time, dedication, and analyzing for me to prepare this post, which is why I haven’t posted since July of ’12. I had to be in the right frame of mind to be able to prepare a post on such a complex, broad, topic. I have finally decided to though, and after weeks of editing and rearranging, I have decided to finally publish the Archetype post, relating to the works of C.G. Jung.

Introduction

C.G. Jung’s concept of collective unconscious is based on his experiences with schizophrenic individuals while he worked in the Burgholzli psychiatric hospital. Initially, Jung followed the Freudian theory of unconscious as the psychic stratification system (Bottom layer unconscious (instinct/drive, home for the ID), middle layer pre-consciousness (ego), top layer consciousness (super-ego)) formed by repressed drives (i.e. wishes or intentions)). Jung later developed his own theory on the unconscious to include some new concepts, and the most important of them is the archetype. Archetypes form the structure of the collective unconscious – the home for psychic innate dispositions to experience and represent basic human behavior and situations.

An Archetype is an innate (i.e. existing from birth) tendency that molds and transforms the individual consciousness. Archetypes are defined more through a drive than through specific inherited contents (i.e. not formed from genetics alone). Archetypes are a matrix which influences the human behavior as well as his/her ideas and concepts on the ethical, moral, religious and cultural levels. Jung talks about the archetype (also called “primordial image”) as of biologists’ patterns of behavior (inborn behavior patterns). In short, “archetypes are natural tendencies which shape the human behavior.”
In Jung’s words, archetype concept derives from the observation that myths and universal literature stories contain well defined themes. People often meet these themes in the fantasies, dreams, delirious ideas and illusions of individuals living in contemporary time. These themes impress, influence and fascinate the conscious mind (the ego). The fascination of the archetype (thought patterns that affect behavior) is what Jung calls numinous – that is, able to arise deep and intense emotions.

It can also be stated that Archetypes resemble the instincts in that that they cannot be recognized as such until they manifest in intention or action, i.e until a conscious thought and/or action takes place. The archetype is psychoid (psychic-like), meaning it shares both psychic (internal) and material (external) aspects and acts on both a psychic and material plane (i.e. internal and external plane) of the individual.

Simply put, the archetype is essentially an unconscious content (internal perception/understanding) that is altered by becoming conscious and by being perceived, and it takes form (image, color, description) from the individual consciousness (perception of external reality) in which it happens to appear (based on our own interpretation and perception of our external reality).

(above information found at: http://www.carl-jung.net/archetypes.html)

Historical Origin of the Term “Archetype”

The term archetype has been documented as early as PhiloJudaeus with its reference to the Imago Dei (God-image) in man. Archetype can also be noted by Irenaeus, who once said “The creator of the world did not fashion these images directly from himself but copied them from archetypes outside himself.” In the Corpus Hermeticum God is called Archetypal Light. The earliest known documentation of Archetype and its meaning was through Platonic teachings. According to the Platonic view, archetype is archaic (primordial) types of the collective unconscious contents, i.e. “universal images that have existed since the remotest times”.

In fact, the word “idea” traces back to the concept of Plato, and the eternal ideas are primordial images stored up as external, transcendent forms. E.g. the eye of the seer perceives them as images in dreams and revelatory visions. Another example is the concept of “energy”, which is an interpretation of physical events. In earlier times it was the “secret fire of the alchemists, or phlogiston, or the heat force in adherent in matter, like the “primal warmth” of the Stoics or the Heraclitean (ever living fire), which borders on the primitive notion of an all pervading vital force, a power of growth and magic healing that is generally called mana.”

There is not a single important idea or view that does not possess historical antecedents. Ultimately they are all founded on primordial archetypal forms whose concreteness dates from a time when consciousness did not think but only perceived. “Thoughts” were objects of inner perception, not thought at all, but sensed as external phenomena, seen or heard, so-to-speak. Thought was revelation, not invented but forced upon us or bringing convicting through its immediacy and actuality. Thinking of this kind precedes the primitive ego consciousness, and the latter is more its object than its subject.

Patterns of Behavior and archetype

According to Jung, behaviors result from patterns of functioning, which are described as images. The term ‘image’ is intended to express not only the form of the activity taking place, but the typical situation in which the activity is released. These images are primordial images in so far as they are peculiar to whole species and if they ever ‘originated’ their origin must have coincided at least with the beginning of the species. They are the ‘human quality’ of the human being, the specifically human form his activities take. This specific form is hereditary and is already present in the germ-plasm.

Related to patterns of behavior is Individuation: statement of a fact observed and experienced in numerable times throughout one’s life (part of “growth” and getting in touch with all functions as one grows up and experiences throughout their life). Functions and attitude types of individuation make up the psychology of the spirit. Growth at all levels includes spiritual development. Life of the spirit resides in the psyche (unconscious) and evolves through all levels of existence (thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition), evolves in certain principles and forms called archetypes. The individuation process lies at the core of all spiritual experience because it’s part of a creative transformation of inner self, and reflects the ‘archetypal’ experience of an “inner birth” (awakening). The impact of symbol (alchemy) become the experience of meaning, and the archetypal image become “psychic truth” and reality. This is where the connection between psychology and religion lies.

[information found in Intro of The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung]

Archetype and Instincts

Instinct and the archaic mode meet in the illogical conception of the “pattern of behavior”. Every instinct bears in itself the pattern of its situation. Instinct always fulfills an image that has fixed qualities. E.g. instincts of the leave cutter fulfill the image of: ant, tree, leaf, cutting transport, and the little fungi garden. All instincts are inborn in every species that affect the “pattern of behavior”.

Archetypes act as instincts in dreams – regulating, modifying, and motivating content of dreams. Archetypes are “spiritual” or “magical” and come in the form of spirits or ghosts in dreams, also as fantasies that have some sort of effect on the dreamer.

The underlining of all psychic energy is archetypical and instinct. Psychic processes behave like a scale – at one minute it finds in instinct and falls under its influences and at another it slides to the other end where spirit predominates and assimilates the instinctual processes, which is the opposite of it. Spiritual is opposite of instinct. Spiritual and instinct make up the psyche.

First, instinctual includes natural impulses. Second, archetype, dominates what emerge into consciousness and universal ideas. “Archetype: is an unconscious content that is altered by becoming conscious and by being perceived, and it takes it’s color from the individual consciousness in which it happens to appear.”

Some Examples of Archetypes
There are an innumerable amount of archetypes that affect patterns of behavior in individuals worldwide, and none should be memorized by heart, unless it pertains to the individual’s current situation. A few universal archetypes are the shadow, Anima (the archetype of female in man), Animus (the archetype of male in woman), and Wise old Man (Archetypal image that embodies wisdom and, in the individuation process, embodies the collective unconscious (A guide to “wholeness”, a perceiver of light)), the Great Mother is the female archetype of the Wise Old man.

Shadow, Anima/Animus, Mana Personality: wise old man, the great mother, and the Self
When there is a necessary need for reaction from the collective unconscious, it expresses itself in archetypal formed ideas. For example, the meeting with one self in dreams by first meeting with one’s own shadows self.

In Jung’s words, the three archetypes – the shadow, the anima, and the wise old man – can be directly experienced in personified form. In course of immediate experience the process of the archetypes appear as active personalities in dreams and fantasies. These archetypes are a class of archetypes that can be called the archetypes of transformation (part of the individuation process). They are not personalities, but are typical situations, plays, ways and means, that symbolize the kind of transformation in question. Like the personalities, these archetypes are true and genuine symbols that cannot be exhaustively interpreted, either as signs or as allegories. They are genuine symbols precisely because they are ambiguous, full of half glimpsed meanings. The ground principles of the unconscious are indescribable because of their wealth of reference, although in themselves recognizable. The one thing consistent with their nature is their manifold meaning, their almost limitless wealth of reference.

Some extra archetypes, connected with “The great mother”

Mother archetype: the goddess, mother of god, the virgin, and Sophia. Mythology offers many variations of the mother archetype, as for instance the mother who reappears as the maiden in the myth of Demeter and Kore, or the mother who is also beloved as in the Cybele-Attis myth. The archetype is often associated with things and places standing for fertility and fruitfulness: the cornucopia, a plowed field, a garden. It can be attached to a rock, a cave, a tree, a spring, a deep well, or to various vessels such as the baptismal font, or the vessel shaped flowers like the rose or the lotus. Because of the protection it implies, the magic circle or mandala can be a form of mother archetype. Hollow objects such as ovens and cooking vessels are associated with the mother archetype, and of course the uterus, yoni, and anything of a like shape. Added to this list there are many animals, such as the cow, hare, and helpful animals in general.

Child motif: is a small remnant of memory from one’s own childhood. The child motif is a picture of certain forgotten things in one’s childhood. The individual is getting closer to the truth. The child motif represents the preconscious, childhood aspect of the collective psyche. The child motif represents not only something that existed in the distant past, but also something that exists now; that is to say it is not just a vestige but a system functioning in the present whose purpose is to compensator correct in a meaningful manner the inevitable one sidedness and extravagances of the conscious mind. The child is also potential future. The occurrence of the child motif in psychology of the individual signifies an anticipation of future developments, even though at first sight it may seem like a retrospective configuration. “The child paves the way for a future change of personality”. It is a symbol that which unites the opposites; a mediator, bringer of healing, one who makes whole.

The Self 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.

The shadow self, wise old man and great mother, and Self will be spoken about more in-depth in my following post, on the Individuation process.

[Information found in his book: C.G. Jung, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious]

Some examples of Archetypes in short:

  • The father: Authority figure; stern; powerful.
  • The mother: Nurturing; comforting.
  • The child: Longing for innocence; rebirth; salvation.
  • The wise old man: Guidance; knowledge; wisdom.
  • The hero: Champion; defender; rescuer.
  • The maiden: Innocence; desire; purity.
  • The trickster: Deceiver; liar; trouble-maker.

These are the characteristics of some archetypes that may be visible in dreams, fantasies, and other situations in life based off our interpretation and how we interact in the world around us.

Reference list

(NOTE: the bold texts in paragraphs have hyperlinks that have not been cited below)

  1. (2014), “Concept of Archetypes at Carl Jung”, Copyright Carl Jung Resources, retrieved http://www.carl-jung.net/archetypes.html
  1. de Laszlo, Violet (1993), The basic writings of C.G. Jung, The Modern Library trademark of Random House, Inc, New York, NY, Copyright 1953, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1987 by Bollingen Foundation, Copyright 1943 by The Analytical Psychology Club of New York City, Copyright 1938 by Yale University Press.
  1. Jung, C.G (1959), The archetypes and the collective unconscious, copyright by Bollingen Foundation, New York, N,Y, New Material Copyright (1969) by Princeton University Press, Library of Congress Catalog Card #: 75-156, ISBN 0-691-09761-5, ISBN 0-691-01833-2 PBK
  1. Cherry, Kendra (2014), “Jung’s Archetypes”, copyright about.com, Retrieved http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydevelopment/tp/archetypes.htm
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