The Collective Unconscious

Below is a detailed description of the Collective Unconscious, as explained by C.G. Jung. It is mainly quotes of bits and pieces of insight I’ve gathered over the course of 5 years, and I wanted a place to share it, store it, for future reference. Maybe some of the information can help you in some area of life. Yes, the post is long – too long for a blog post – but I wanted to post it in this way, as it is, for a purpose that is inside myself. The information gathered within this post came from Collective Works of C.G. Jung, volume 3 and Dreams, memories, reflections by C.G. Jung. Enjoy.


From: The relations between the ego and the unconscious:

Part I: The effects of the unconscious upon consciousness: The personal and the collective unconscious:

The unconscious is always active, continuously group and regrouping its contents.

Personal unconscious:

personal nature: partly of acquisitions from the individuals life, and partly of psychological factors that could be conscious.

-Recognized as personal contents because we can discover their effects, partial manifestation, or specific origin in our personal past.

-they are integral components of the personality, belonging to its inventory, and their loss to consciousness produces an inferiority – that has the psychological character as of a want which gives rise to a feeling or moral resentment.

Inventory, like a file cabinet, that stores our past experiences and feelings that result in our perception of our external reality; a lot of which we are not currently conscious (aware) of.

-Moral inferiority: indicates that the missing elements are something which one feels shouldn’t be missing. This feeling comes from conflict will. It is the man’s moral qualities that force him, either through direct recognition of the necessity do so, or indirect through painful neurosis, to assimilate his unconscious self and to keep himself fully conscious.

That feeling of something not adding up, i.e. a feeling of not understanding why you feel a certain way toward a person or situation; something is currently affecting you from your past that you have repressed (filed away in personal unconsciousness) but now you are trying to recognize the element once again.

Steps to recognition:

To realize the unconscious self one must inevitably bring into consciousness the contents of the personal conscious, widening the scope of his personality (moral consciousness). These are the contents that come through confession, but to a limited extent. The rest comes out as dream analysis.

Or, in modern days, cognitive therapy; dream analysis is a long term/life long process but can be suggested from therapist if one would like to conduct it on their own terms.

Nature of the Psyche (Jung collective works)

-The psyche is made up of alchemy codes and symbols – irrational, rational, primary, even, uneven, negative, and positive – all thoughts start in the subconscious, all have alchemy codes. Codes come in the form of words to the conscious mind while they are made up of symbols and numerical codes in the subconscious.

Hence mathematical formulas scientists use to prove or disprove a theory.

-All knowledge is the result of some kind of order of the reactions of the psyche systems that flow into our consciousness – an order which reflects the system coincides and identical with our conscious mind. [With that said] we are impossible to know everything that is capable of being known, everything that which lies within the limits of knowledge.

Dissociability of the psyche:

-Conscious contents of unconscious mind through loss of energy and conversely the unconscious processes become conscious through accretion of energy. i.e. if unconscious acts of volition are to be possible it follows that these must possess an energy which enables them to achieve consciousness, or a state of “secondary unconsciousness” which consists in the unconscious process being “represented: to a subject who chooses and decides.”

-Secondary consciousness: represents a personality component which has not been separated from the “ego consciousness” by mere accident, but by definite causes.

-The unconscious, like the conscious mind, has a subject, an ego. Unconscious contents were once conscious thought that have been “forgotten”. Everything is stored in unconscious, though; nothing is ever truly forgotten.

Will and Instinct:

Instincts: are physiological and psychological which cause us to move in a clear direction.

-Inferior parts of the psyche: are functions that have been in use for a long time. It contains parts that are old (work easily) and represented by very distinctive organisms.

-Superior parts of the psyche: consist in the functions adaptations to more recent and less usual (circumstances) and more represented by organs which are differentiated in less degrees.

-Psyche is an emancipation of function from its instinctual form, and so from the compulsive which causes it to harden into a mechanism.

-Psychic condition begins where the function loses its outer and inner determinism and becomes capable of more extensive and freer application, meaning accessible to a WILL motivated by other sources.

-With increasing freedom from the sheer instinct the superior function will reach a point that ceases all together to be oriented by instinct and attain a “spiritual form.”

-Will: is motivated by instincts. Will is a certain amount of energy given out by the psych. Will is freedom of choice.

-instincts are the unconscious. Will is conscious. Will makes instincts conscious.

Instinct + Will = Consciousness

Conscious and Unconscious:

Unconscious: depicts an extremely fluid state of affairs “everything of which we know, but we aren’t at the moment thinking; everything of which we were once conscious, but now forgotten; everything perceived by our senses, but not noted by our conscious mind; everything which, not knowing or paying attention to it, feel, think, remember, want, and do; all the future things that are taking shape and will eventually come to consciousness”.

– Everything happens in the unconscious the same way it happens in the conscious. i.e. a double personality (alter ego).

Conscious thought: lose their automatic [independent] character and can be thought as substantially transformed. They loose the mythological process and enter the adaptive process going forward in consciousness, personalized and nationalized to the point and dialectical discussion becomes possible.

Second ego (alter ego): voluntary decisions in everyone (everyone has some form of an alter ego).

The attitude of the unconscious:

Instinct can never be rooted out from an individual by any arbitrary measures; it requires the slow organic transformation from many generations to effect radical changes because instinct is the energetic expression of a definite organic foundation.

Survival skills/traits.

-Whatever exaggerations of the unconscious standpoint takes place, the unconscious egoism, infantilism, and archaism lose their original compensation, characters, and appear in more or less open opposition to the conscious attitude. This process begins in the form of an exaggeration of the conscious standpoint, which is aimed at a farther repression of the unconscious, but usually ends in a catastrophe (collapse).

Breakdown of a pattern of behavior (modern day archetype).

The compensating attitude of the unconscious finds expression in the process of psychic equilibrium. Its normal extroverted attitude doesn’t mean the individual behaves invariably in accordance with the dual extroverted schema. In the extroverted attitude the inferior function always reveal a highly subjective determination with pronounced egocentricity and personal biases, thus demonstrating their close connection with the unconscious.

The battled between ego [rational conscious thought] and the unconscious [irrational symbolism of innate traits.

The unconscious attitude:

-The superior position of the subjective facto in consciousness involves an inferiority of the objective fact. The object plays a too little role in the introverted attitude, just as it plays too much of a role in the extroverted attitude. One does to a too little role in objective, the introverted consciousness is subjected, thus bestowing importance to the ego [the mediator], the object then is in a position which in time becomes untenable. The object is a factor of undeniable power, while the ego is restricted and transitory. The more the ego seeks to secure every possible liberty, independence, superiority, and freedom from obligations, the deeper does it fall into the slavery of objective facts. The subject’s freedom of mind is then claimed to dependence and his unconcern of action suffers, sometimes a distressing collapse in public opinion, his moral superiority gets swamped in inferior relationships, and his desire concern to dominate ends in a pitiful craving to be loved.

-An analysis of the personal unconsciousness yields an abundance of poor fantasies coupled with fear of the animated objects. By fearing this object, the strings from making either himself or his opinion effective, are always dreading an intensified influence on the part of the object. He’s terrified of the affect (reaction) in others and is hardly ever free from falling under hostile influence. Strange new objects excite fear and distrust; objects long rooted and blessed by tradition are attached to his soul as if by invisible threads.

Footnote 1:

The material added to the consciousness widens one’s horizon, and deepens the knowledge which is calculated to humanize a man and make him modest.

i.e. facing the past; accepting what has passed and emotions going through you; forgiving and expressing your emotions rather than repressing and suppressing.

-The unconscious produces content which is valid not only for personal concern, but for others as well. The processes of the collective unconscious are concerned with the more or less personal relations of an individual to his family or to a wider social group, but with his relations to society and to the human.

-Unconscious processes are constantly supplying us with contents which, if consciously recognized, could extend our consciousness. The unconscious is not just a reactive mirror reflection, but an independent, productive activity. Its realm of experience is a self-contained world, having its own reality, of which we can only say that it affects us as we affect it, which is exactly what we say about our experience of the outer world.

As within so without.

Footnote 2:

The more limited a man’s field of consciousness is, the more numerous the psychic contents (imagos) which meet him as quasi-external apparitions, either in the form of spirits, or as magical potencies projected upon living people (magicians, witches). At a higher stage of development where the idea of the soul already exist, not all images continue to be projected (here when trees and stones talk) near enough to consciousness to be felt as no longer strange but as “belonging”. This feeling at first remains in a sort of ‘no man’s land’ between conscious and unconscious.

Limbo state.


Jung – dreams memories reflections

Timelessness & Spacelessness of Unconsciousness

“The psyche at times functions outside of the spatio-temporal law of causality. This indicates that our conceptions of space and time, and therefore of causality also, are incomplete. A complete picture of the world would require the addition of still another dimension; only then could the totality of phenomena be given a unified explanation. Hence it is that the rationalists insist to this day that Parapsychological experiences do not really exist; for there world-view stands or falls by this question. If such phenomena occur at all, the rationalistic picture of the universe is invalid, because incomplete. Then the possibility of an other-valued reality behind the phenomenal world becomes an inescapable problem, and we must face the fact that our world, with its time, space, and causality, relates to another order of things lying behind or beneath it, in which neither “here and there” nor “earlier and later” are of importance. The least part of our psychic existence is characterized by a relativity of time and space. This relativity seems to increase, in proportion to the distance from consciousness, to an absolute condition of timelessness and spacelessness.”

Evolution of the Unconsciousness

“Consciousness is phylogenetically and ontogenetically a secondary phenomenon. Just as the body has an anatomical prehistory of millions of years, so also does the psychic system. And just as the human body today represents in each of its parts the result of this evolution, and everywhere still shows traces of its earlier stages – so the same may be said of the psyche. Consciousness began its evolution from an animal-like state which seems to us unconscious, and the same process of differentiation is repeated in every child. The psyche of the child in its preconscious state is anything but a tabula rasa; it is already preformed in a recognizably individual way, and is moreover equipped with all specifically human instincts, as well as with the priori foundations of the higher functions.”

One thought on “The Collective Unconscious

  1. Pingback: C.G Jung: Clash of the Opposites – “Shadow Self” – Spiritual Battle – Ego Continued | Inside A Soul

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