JUNG AND THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS
Jung made a daring hypothesis: in effect, there are two sources of human experience - not just one. The traditional, philosophical and scientific view is that all our experience originates in the physical world of things outside ourselves. Nonetheless, we never confront the external world in "the raw", so to speak, because the mind always imposes an organization prior to experience. When a group of notes is played in sequence, we hear a melody - not just a sequence of sounds. The organizing categories of the conscious mind, within which all experience comes to us, are those of space, time and causality.
But, said Jung, there was another source of human experience in addition to the external world - one that is contained within the human psyche itself. This inner source of experience is the deeper stratum of the unconscious, which Jung called the "COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS".
Just as the individual never experiences the external world "in the raw", so does he never experience the internal world "in the raw - in its unadulterated form. The organizing structures of this psychic source of experience are "ARCHETYPES", the structures which provide the patterns for dreams, fantasies and imagination.
ARCHETYPES are most clearly elaborated in myths which, in ancient times, served the same function as the therapist does today - i.e., to serve as a screen upon which to project the products of the collective unconscious. The nature of ARCHETYPES can, therefore, be gleaned from the basic elements of mythological drama. There are ARCHETYPAL themes (love, faith, hate), ARCHETYPAL settings (the cave, the river crossing), ARCHETYPAL plots (the chase, the battle, the search) and ARCHETYPAL moods (storm and turbulence, serenity and rest).
Accordingly, we know the external world only as it has been transformed by the organizing categories of space, time and causality, and we know the internal world only as it is presented in the dramatic categories of the ARCHETYPES.
It should be said here that Jung regarded the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS as a purely psychological hypothesis to the effect that all people, of whatever race or culture, share, at some psychic level, an archaic heritage of ARCHETYPAL forms. These COLLECTIVE ARCHETYPES, like the materials of the personal unconscious described by Freud, are active and come to the fore in human experience in both direct and indirect ways throughout an individual's lifetime. In a sense, Jung was saying that our behavior is not a simple matter of reflexes and habits, but rather that each of us lives a myth - a drama, if you will - in which themes, plots and settings play a considerable role.
While Jung believed that such ARCHETYPAL patterns were inherited, he was also convinced that there were not sufficient data to warrant speculation about the biological nature of this inheritance [even today, with our extraordinary knowledge about genetic coding, the orientation between each chemical codes and human thought and behavior remains a matter largely of speculation rather than fact.] As a consequence o this scientific caution, his statements about the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS often seemed vague and won him the label of "mystical" - a euphemism for "unscientific and soft-headed".
Jung was, however, anything but soft-headed, and he saw the hypothesis of a COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS as opening up a whole new territory for psychological research. The inner world of experience within the psyche was almost totally unexplored country as far as modern Western man was concerned, although it was familiar terrain to primitive man and to the practitioners of such Eastern philosophies as Zen Buddhism and yoga. Jung saw his next task as a dangerous and formidable one, the exploration of the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS. Such an exploration was essential for the problem that was to preoccupy him for the rest of his life - i.e., the significance of the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS for the development of the individual and of society.
The ensuing period of Jung's life - roughly, the years 1913 to 1917 - he described as his "confrontation with the unconscious". By a variety of techniques, including meditation and painting, Jung opened himself to the materials originating in the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS. In particular, he found that, to re-establish the vivid inner life he had experienced as a child, there was nothing for it but to play childish games. On the Zurich lake shore, he began collecting stones and building a miniature village, including a castle, cottages and a church. The building game had the desired effect and released a stream of vivid fantasies.
It was a dangerous period because much of the fantasy material he encountered was the stuff of psychosis and there was always a danger of being trapped by the imagery and of going insane. His family (wife, who was an analyst and their four daughters and a son) and his practice served as reality counterpoises to his descent into the depths. Jung was sure the same material was in everyone but that it seemed so fearful most people turned away with fear and trembling. Clearly, Jung was thinking of Faust: "Now let me dare to open wide the gate/Past which men's steps have ever flinching trod." As Jung described that self-exploration: "Unpopular, ambiguous and dangerous, it is a voyage of discovery to the other pole of the world."
During this entire period, he made careful transcriptions of his dreams, fantasies and visionary experiences that became the data for much of his later work. The period ended with several spontaneous productions. One of these was the almost automatic setting down of the "Seven Sermons of the Dead", which was written in the style of the Gnostics (an early Christian heretical sect) and which foreshadowed many of his later ideas about the human personality.
A few excerpts from "Seven Sermons" may help to convey its flavor:
"Yet when night was come the dead again approached with lamentable mien and said: There is yet one matter we forgot to mention. Teach us about man.
Man is a gateway, through which from the outer world of gods, demons and souls ye pass into the inner world out of the greater into the smaller world. Small and transitory is man. Already he is behind you, and once again ye find yourselves in endless space, in the smaller or innermost infinity. At immeasurable distance standeth one single Star in the zenith.
This is the one god of this one man. This is his world, his pleroma [nothingness and completeness], his divinity."
[Jung used the mandala.] The mandala held a clue to the major question that troubled Jung at this time - what is the adaptive significance of the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS? Is it merely a troublesome carry-over from primitive times (like our prehistoric emotional tendency toward fight or flight, which is not appropriate for a mechanized world?) or does it have some useful purpose for man and for mankind? The mandala seemed to hold the answer.
Jung gradually came to regard the mandala as a symbol of psychic wholeness which man could move toward only after he had mastered both the inner and outer worlds with which he must, at some point, contend. THE GOAL OF LIFE, Jung came to believe, WAS INDIVIDUATION, THE EMERGENCE OF A UNIQUE AND INTEGRATED SELF THROUGH CONFRONTATION AND MASTERY OF BOTH THE OUTER WORLD OF MAN AND SOCIETY AND THE INNER WORLD OF MYTHOLOGY AND FANTASY. The mandala - the square within the circle, or the circle within the square - symbolized the psychic wholeness derived from man's mastery and integration of his inner and outer worlds of experience. Jung drew and painted mandalas at various points in his own life and they seemed to express both how far he had come and how far he had yet to go in the process of individuation.
Jung felt that psychotherapy was the modern man's avenue to contact with the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS. He also sought to explore the difference between the opposing theory of "inferiority complex" and the theory of "the will to power" as central to man's motivation. It seemed to Jung that the difference had somewhat to do with their respective positions in life, that a man's psychology reflected his personal situation... The study of this difference, together with his own clinical experience, led to Jung's famous delineation of introversion and extraversion, which he described in the book "Psychological Types" (1921)...
For Jung, introversion and extraversion were conscious attitudes toward social and physical reality: the extravert tends to be guided by directions and suggestions from without while the introvert tends to be guided by his/her personal predilections. Later, he indicated that introversion and extraversion were attitudes taken by the four basic functions of the psyche - thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition...
The paired functions are somewhat in opposition to one another, and development or differentiation of one is always at the expense of the other. The more highly differentiated a man's thinking, for example, the more childlike will be his feelings...
Therapeutic treatment becomes one of helping the individual to find the unexplored resources and potentials within himself...
The first structure the individual encounters in the quest of individuation Jung called the persona. An individual's persona includes the sum total of his social roles - the masks he wears in his interpersonal relations as son, husband, father, employee, employer, friend, etc....
The next phase in the process of individuation involves confrontation with the shadow. The shadow in general has to do with those parts of ourselves that we dislike and are reluctant to acknowledge. We like to think of ourselves as honest, straightforward, generous, etc. - "only too willing", when, in fact we are not really, or at least not always these things. What happens is that we project the shadow upon others? For example we get angry at others when they display OUR FAULTS. In coming to grips with our shadow, the individual must discover the relativity of good and evil and come to accept the shadow as part of him/herself and as having some value...
Following the confrontation with the shadow, the individual is ready to come to grips with the anima (in the case of a man, or the animus in the case of a woman). In Jung's view, the man has some archetypal conceptions of the female which he projects outward and that determine his relations to women. He needs to come to see women more as individuals.
In women, parallel masculine archetypes can be found. These figures are projected onto other persons and women at different points in their lives will be attracted to men accordingly.
To the extent men and women become aware of the archetypes which govern their relations with the other sex, to that extent are they freed from enslavement by projections - and to that extent are their relationships founded on a more realistic and sympathetic basis.
Once the individual has dealt with the persona, the shadow, the anima and animus, he/she has moved far along the road to individualization and to the realization of the self which, for Jung, is THE INTEGRATING FORCE BETWEEN OUR ARCHAIC HERITAGE AND OUR PERSONAL HISTORY. THE SELF integrates all that is required with all that is innate in us.
No person ever realizes all sides of him or herself and all of his/her potential for no person is perfect(!) We can only strive for wholeness and completeness (CHRIST-ness) and THAT - in Jung's psychology - IS WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT.
Jung later turned his attention of the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS from individual patients to problems of society... He argued that a culture, no less than an individual, can exaggerate a particular attitude or function - with the inevitable compensatory reaction of the opposing function. Thus, in Western society, the DEIFICATION OF REASON, of industrialization and technology together the INTELLECTUALIZATION OF RELIGION, has progressively alienated modern man from his inner world and from his feeling function...
In the realm of religion Jung introduced still other themes: that man is naturally religious in the sense that he has an inborn urge to realize and to relate at a transpersonal level of being. But to relate at the transpersonal level, man needs what Jung called "livingsymbols" - REPRESENTATIONS which retain some indefiniteness of meaning and mystery. Living symbols given man's religious archetypes a medium of expression and realization. Such symbols were once provided by the church, but modern religion - particularly Protestantism - has given up most of its symbols. Those which exist are to a large extent "dead" in that they have become so intellectualized that they have lost the uncertainty and mystery that made them such a welcome host to archetypal projections. JUNG WARNS THAT GOD IS AN ARCHETYPE WHICH BE PROJECTED INTO SOMETHING - AND THAT WHERE RELIGION FAILS, THE DEMAGOGUE PREVAILS.
Jung's conception of opposites, compensation and symbolism helps to explain some other contemporary phenomena. The sexual and maternal sides of women's functions have been so exploited and exaggerated that their symbols have lost their meaning. What women are looking for today, in Jung's terms, would be new symbols to express the creative and intellectual components of their personalities. Likewise, today's youths are generally disdainful of the dead symbols of institutional religion, but are intensely interested in spiritual matter, in finding new ways to explore inner experience and in finding new symbols to guide their explorations - in those that retain the air of mystery.
Jung always maintained that his psychology was a personal confession of value only to him and to those of similar inclinations, and he expressed this confession most simply as follows:
"FULFILL SOMETHING YOU ARE ABLE TO FULFILL, RATHER THAN RUN AFTER WHAT YOU WILL NEVER ACHIEVE. NOBODY IS PERFECT. REMEMBER THE SAYING "NONE IS GOOD BUT GOD ALONE". AND NOBODY CAN BE. IT IS AN ILLUSION. WE CAN MODESTLY STRIVE TO FULFILL OURSELVES AND TO BE AS COMPLETE HUMAN BEINGS AS POSSIBLE, AND THAT WILL GIVE US TROUBLE ENOUGH."
BUT, PRAISE BE TO ALMIGHTY GOD MOST HIGH - HE HAS OPENED A WAY
THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, OUR LORD TO PRESENT US FAULTLESS - SPIRIT, SOUL AND
BODY - AND TO BRING US INTO HIS FULL PRESENCE WITH JOY! i bow.