Volume 1, Number 1                                                                                                                                                           June 1998

by Carl G. Jung


Here I must clarify the relation between instincts and archetypes:  What we properly call instincts are physiological urges, and are perceived by the senses.  But at the same time, they also manifest themselves in fantasies and often reveal their presence only by symbolic images.  THESE MANIFESTATIONS ARE WHAT I CALL ARCHETYPES.  They are without known origin; and they reproduce themselves in any time or in any part of the world - even where transmission by direct descent or "cross fertilization" through migration must be ruled out.

Man's unconscious archetypal images are as instinctive as the ability of geese to migrate (in formation); as ants' forming organized societies; as bees' tail-wagging dance that communicates to the hive the exact location of a food source.

Elements often occur in a dream that are not individual and that cannot be derived from the dreamer's personal experience.  These elements, as I have previously mentioned, are what Freud called "archaic remnants" - mental forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual's own life and which seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind.

Some of the symbols in such dreams derive from what Dr. Jung has called "the collective unconscious" - that is, the part of the psyche that retains and transmits the common psychological inheritance of mankind.  These symbols are so ancient and unfamiliar to man that he cannot directly understand or assimilate them...They exist because the unconscious mind of modern man preserves the symbol-making capacity that once found expression in the beliefs and rituals of the primitive.  And that capacity still plays a role of vital psychic importance.  IN MORE WAYS THAN WE REALIZE, WE ARE DEPENDENT ON THE MESSAGES THAT ARE CARRIED BY SUCH SYMBOLS, AND BOTH OUR ATTITUDES AND OUR BEHAVIOR ARE PROFOUNDLY INFLUENCED BY THEM.

Just as the human body represents a whole museum of organs, each with a long evolutionary history behind it, so we should expect to find that the mind is organized in a similar way.  It can no more be a product without history than is the body in which it exists.  By "history" I do not mean the fact that the mind builds itself up by conscious reference to the past through language and other cultural traditions.  I am referring to the biological, PREHISTORIC, and UNCONSCIOUS development of the mind in archaic man, whose psyche was still close to that of the animal [instinctive].

This immensely old psyche forms the basis of our mind, just as much as the structure of our body is based on the general anatomical pattern of the mammal.  The trained eye of the anatomist or the biologist finds many traces of this original pattern in our bodies.  The experienced investigator of the mind can similarly see the analogies between the dream pictures of modern man and the products of the primitive mind, its "collective images", and its mythological motifs.

My views about the "archaic remnants" which I call "ARCHETYPES" or "PRIMORDIAL IMAGES", have been constantly criticized by people who lack a sufficient knowledge of the psychology of dreams and of mythology.  The term "ARCHETYPE" is often misunderstood as meaning certain definite mythological images or motifs.  But these are nothing more than conscious representations; it would be absurd to assume that such variable representations could be inherited.

The archetype is a tendency to form such representations of a motif - representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern.  There are, for instance, many representations of the motif of the hostile brethren, but the motif itself remains the same.  My critics have incorrectly assumed that I am dealing with "inherited representations", and on that ground they have dismissed the idea of the archetype as mere superstition.  They have failed to take into account the fact that IF ARCHETYPES WERE REPRESENTATIONS THAT ORIGINATED IN OUR CONSCIOUSNESS (or were acquired by consciousness), WE SHOULD SURELY UNDERSTAND THEM, AND NOT BE BEWILDERED AND ASTONISHED WHEN THEY PRESENT THEMSELVES IN OUR CONSCIOUSNESS .  They are, indeed, an instinctive trend, as marked as the impulse of birds to build nests or ants to form organized colonies ["determinate"!].

The production of archetypes by children is especially significant, because one can sometimes be quite certain that a child has had no direct access to the tradition concerned....[Dr. Jung has described how the dreams of a girl of eight contained the symbols one normally associates with old age.  Her dreams presented aspects of initiation into life as belonging to the same archetypal pattern as initiation into death.  This progression of symbolic ideas may take place, therefore, within the unconscious mind of modern man just as it took place in the rituals of ancient societies.]   In this case, the girl's family had no more than a superficial acquaintance with the Christian tradition.  Christian themes may, of course, be represented by such ideas as God, angels, heaven, hell, and evil.  But the way in which they are treated by this child points to a totally non-Christian origin.

It was as if future events were casting their shadow back by arousing in the child certain thought forms that, though normally dormant, describe or accompany the approach of a fatal issue.  Although the specific shape in which they express themselves is more or less personal, their general pattern is collective.  THEY ARE FOUND EVERYWHERE AND AT ALL TIMES, just as animal instincts vary a good deal in the different species and yet serve the same general purposes.  We do not assume that each new-born animal creates its own instincts as an individual acquisition, and we must not suppose that human individuals invent their specific human ways with every new birth.  Like the instincts, THE COLLECTIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS OF THE HUMAN MIND ARE INNATE AND INHERITED.  THEY FUNCTION WHEN THE OCCASION ARISES IN MORE OR LESS THE SAME WAY IN ALL OF US.

Emotional manifestations, to which such thought patterns belong, are recognizably the same all over the earth.  We can identify them even in animals, and the animals themselves understand one another in this respect, even though they may belong to different species.  And what about insects, with their complicated symbiotic functions?  Most of them do not even know their parents and have nobody to teach them.  Why should one assume, then, that man is the only living being deprived of specific instincts? Or that his psyche ["nephesh"; "psuche":  soul] is devoid of all traces of its evolution?

Naturally, if you identify the psyche with consciousness, you can easily fall into the erroneous idea that man comes into the world with a psyche that is empty, and that in later years it contains nothing more than what it has learned by individual experience.  BUT THE PSYCHE IS MORE THAN CONSCIOUSNESS.  Animals have little consciousness, but many impulses and reactions that denote the existence of a psyche; and primitives do a lot of things whose meaning is unknown to them.

The further we delve into the origins of a "collective image" (or, to express it in ecclesiastical language, of a dogma), the more we uncover a seemingly unending web of archetypal patterns that, before modern times, were never the object of conscious reflection.  Thus paradoxically enough, we know more about mythological symbolism than did any generation before our own.  The fact is [though] that in former times men did not reflect upon their symbols; THEY LIVED THEM AND WERE UNCONSCIOUSLY ANIMATED BY THEIR MEANING.

These inner motives spring from a deep source that is not made by consciousness and is not under its control.  IN THE MYTHOLOGY OF EARLIER TIMES, THESE FORCES WERE CALLED MANA, OR SPIRITS, DEMONS AND GODS ['elohiym!].  They are as active today as they ever were.  If they conform to our wishes, we call them happy hunches or impulses and pat ourselves on the back for being smart fellows.  If they go against us, then we say that it is just bad luck, or that certain people are against us, or that the cause of our misfortunes must be pathological [disease].  The one thing we refuse to admit is that we are dependent upon [not FREE from] "powers" that are beyond our control ["controlled"; "determined"; "formed"].

Contemporary man pays the price in a remarkable lack of introspection.  He is blind to the fact that with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by "powers" that are beyond his control.  His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names.  THEY KEEP HIM ON THE RUN WITH RESTLESSNESS, VAGUE APPREHENSIONS, PSYCHOLOGICAL COMPLICATIONS, AN INSATIABLE NEED FOR PILLS, ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FOOD---AND, ABOVE ALL, A LARGE ARRAY OF NEUROSES.

The archetypes have an enormous impact on the individual, FORMING HIS EMOTIONS AND HIS ETHICAL AND MENTAL OUTLOOK, INFLUENCING HIS RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS, AND THUS AFFECTING HIS WHOLE DESTINY.  We can also see that the arrangement of archetypal symbols follows A PATTERN OF WHOLENESS in the individual, and that an appropriate understanding of the symbols can have a healing effect.  And we can see that THE ARCHETYPES CAN ACT AS CREATIVE OR DESTRUCTIVE FORCES IN OUR MIND:  creative when they inspire new ideas, destructive when these same ideas stiffen into conscious prejudices that inhibit further discoveries.

The powerful forces of the unconscious most certainly appear not only in clinical material but also in the mythological, religious, artistic, and ALL other CULTURAL ACTIVITIES BY WHICH MAN EXPRESSES HIMSELF.  Obviously, if all men have common inherited patterns of emotional and mental behavior (which Jung called ARCHETYPES), it is only to be expected that we shall find their products (symbolic FANTASIES, THOUGHTS, and ACTIONS) in practically EVERY field of human activity.