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Archetypes: Jungian

Updated on June 15, 2011

Founder of Analytical Psychology, Carl Jung

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One Smart Swiss Dude

Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), was an influential thinker and among a system of Archetypes he developed concerning "psychic dispositions" in people, he influenced the fields of psychology in a number of other significant ways. His theories and shared knowledge goes beyond the discipline of psychology and into multiple disciplines, including philosophy, psychiatry, religion, and more.

Jung's ideas are useful in so many ways and are studied by students in philosophy, religion, psychiaty, psychology, sociology, mythology, the arts, those who study dreams and both new school and old school psychology. Jung's ideas and theories are, without doubt, part of any basic College or University education for any student who commits to a first level psychology course anywhere in the Western world. Many current principles of psychology are linked with Jungian ideas or theories, including Jung's "Archetypes," which is what the rest of this hub will be about.

Most people in the Western world are aware of Jung's importance in multiple disciplines and even most people who haven't gone beyond basic education provided in most of the Western world are quite aware of who Jung is.

Since this hub is primarily about Archetypes as provided, according to Jung's ideas, I'll leave off now on the biographical content and offer you some other Hub Page author links which provide more depth on biographical information on Carl Jung:

Carl Jung and a Modern Foundation For Bridging The Gap Between Reasoning and Emotion by Glenda Klint  

Modern Man in Search of a Soul Jung by coyjay

Archtypes and Dispositions, No Tabula Rasa For Jung

Innate or inherent and universal psychic dispositions are what Jung is concerned with regarding Archetypes. According to Jung, these inherent, universal psychic dispositions are the basic foundation (substrate) from which human life derives. Jung's theories concerning Archetypes follow a chronological sequence and, according to Jung, this is how the human psychic disposition operates, as well - according to archetypal imperatives which seek fulfillment in action.

Jung rejected a tabula rasa concept, made most well known through the works of John Locke. The concept of tabula rasa holds that human beings are a 'blank slate' at birth and that all each individual human being learns is whatever he/she gleans from his/her environment. This idea has been around since Aristotle's era, but John Locke (1632-1704) wrote and spoke extensively on this topic during his lifetime and is usually the first name mentioned that is connected with the "Tabula Rasa" concept.

Please note - Jung was almost entirely ALONE during his day and among others considered experts in human sciences (psychology, psychiatry, sociology and related disciplines) when he came forth to reject the idea of tabula rasa. Today, we have many competing theories which suggest that humans are not conditioned entirely by the tabula rasa effect. Additionally, this means that Jungian ideas of a basic foundation of the human psyche resting upon Archetypes and 'dispositions' actually move toward theories involving predestination. ie: we don't emerge tabula rasa, therefore, we have 'programming' (dispositions) prior to birth and are predisposed to follow a certain course.

Jung's Archetypes are critical and significant concepts of psychology and philosophy, and not the "literary devices" mentioned on several of my other hubs where "Archetypes" are mentioned - however - a well schooled man like Jung would have also been thoroughly aware of nuances of archetypes as literary devices in fables, Scriptures, superstitions, stories, storytelling, legends, folklore, etc.

Still, Jungian Archtypes have ended up blending into many literary works that are not specifically about psychology or the human sciences. Jung's archetypes and his ideas have actually spread in pop culture in the 60's and onward (in the Western world, in particular) so that it is not exclusively scholars and academics who are aware of Jung's Archetypes. You may have already seen some of Jung's Archetypes turned into literary devices by pop culture.

Jung on Transference and Archetypes

Archetypes: Chronology and Origin

Jung doesn't seem to have been a thinker who rose in primary academics, building upon his knowledge and isolating his thinking in degrees. He used his whole life knowledge - his intuitions from childhood, and all - in the development of his theories. In my opinion (and just remember, this is just my statement and my opinion), he seems to have been either a very perceptive child, sensitive to knowledge, or his memory recall was wonderful - or both - and also seems to have been a very spiritual personality since childhood. (that's all - end of opinion). 

According to Jung, and with Jung incorporating information from his childhood dreams (he remembered dreaming of an underground phallic god in the earliest of dream-memories he attempted to remember), he arrived at this concept: universal psychic structures exist and these psychic structures are the base of all human experience and behavior. Studies Jung conducted with/about schizophrenics also played a part in the formulation of the above concept, so basically, Jung was able to take note that (the 'universal' part of his concept) persons he studied, as well as schizophrenics - basically both those considered mentally stable and mentally ill, all have an underlying base for human experience and behavior. This of course, means that - as a human species, mental wellness does not eliminate a basic construction and base for disposition in people.

A brief aside: for more information on Jung and his studies relating to schizophrenia and mental illness, please see the article: Soul in Exile at the Jung Circle website

These remembrances of first known impressions, Jung called "Primordial Images."

Shadow, Anima, Animus, Self - The Basic Archetypes

The Shadow Archetype: Jung explained that the 'shadow' archetype is a part of our being that reflects the deeper portions of our psyche, and is where our 'latent' predispositions reside. The shadow parts can be dark, mysterious, unexplained, potentially troubling and largely unknown. Chaos and wildness of character resides or is represented here, and the shadow archetype tends not to obey rules. Because the shadow archetype may not follow rules, there's a chance for it to embark upon unexpected journeys and experiences, which could be good (exciting) or bad (chaotic, dark, moving into dangerous realms), but all of this may be fascinating and hard to let go of.

We are often able to see the shadow in others and prefer not to associate the shadow with ourselves or have our shadow archetype pointed out, preferring to project it on to others. If we are aware of our shadow archetype, we often deny it in ourselves, for it is sometimes difficult for us to admit if our shadow archetype is active. It may in fact, frighten us, so we deny it and project it on others and tend to look outward and rather search for the shadow in others.

Jung felt the shadow was a split of sorts. Part of the self that split early on - into dark and light, if you will - because of something mis-managed or not well managed. Sometimes the shadow becomes a life of its own, but it, too, can be integrated back into wholeness with our 'light' side with the right methods.

Our shadow may make its presence known in dreams, hallucinations and musings - moments when we're awake but not exactly in the act of thinking critically. It may seduce us over to darker interests or frighten and threaten us with cold disregard. As an aspect of the subconscious, our prolonged or repeated interaction or recognition of the shadow may indicate and reveal deeper fears than we'll admit on the surface. The shadow may overtake us when we are daxed, overwhelmed, or drugged.

Anima (male) and Animus (female) Archetype: these are what Jung considered the second most prevalent archetypes, or the secondmost notable patterns of ourselves. Really, anima and animus are treated as one most of the time by Jung, and the male/female self is what we all really are when we rid ourselves of our masks (social conventions, the 'rules' we have to outwardly follow in society and around other people).

Often, Jung mentions anima/animus in conjunction with the prenatal phase of life and also with the young child stage of life because - the latter stage mentioned because when we're small children, we have no sense of male/female - we just "are," and are naturally thinking and being as both genders together. We learn that we're male or female from our surroundings, from our parents, siblings, and individuals we develop social relations with.

AT THE SAME TIME - the world DOES harbour both males and females, so the two distinctive genders are represented by anima and animus. These inherent features of living beings are BOTH together and separate - one is defined by NOT being the other and so on...we associate for parts of our lives with both genders as part of us and for parts of our lives as identifying with one gender more than the other, but essentially, we never rid ourselves of "BEING" anima and animus together. Males have a feminine side and females have a male side all throughout our lives.

One of Jung's concepts concerning the anima/animus archetype was that the develoment of the anima/animus begins with the infant projecting onto the mother then continuing to project on others until a lasting partner can be found. (I know, it sounds a little Freudian, doesn't it? Hey - I didn't make this concept up - Jung did).

Another unique feature of Jung's theory about this anima/animus archetype is that he felt males have a dominant part of personality/anima, while females have a more complex and variable animus with more parts and considerations involved than do males identifying as anima.

In the relationships of two separate people, Jung uses the phrase, "The Syzygy/The Divine Couple," and explains the Diving Couple as being the successful lasting pairing of a man and woman. Not just any couple becomes the Divine Couple, complimenting each other and coming together to actually make a 'whole.' Apparently, the man and woman must come to be together in a compatible way and also their anima and animus must be compatible at the same time. A more contemporary term for what Jung is talking about is "soul-mate."

The Self Archetype:  the "self" is not completely singular for Jung. The self is self+God. Jung conveyed such ideas about this "self" as are consistent with most universal ideas of  "spirit," "inner spirit," "innermost spirit" and this spirit connects with God and the universe. In short, this self+God connection IS INHERENTLY part of the Universe, not simply residing somewhere WITHIN the universe. It is more connected with God and the universe than just the idea of it being within the universe. This archetype is the coherent whole with both consciousness and unconsciousness together, unified. This is a very "Nirvana-like" idea, or described the same as the idea of ecstatic harmony.


Jung's Archetypes Bridge Over Several Disciplines

You might have noticed that Jung's archetypes contain flavours from several disciplines. There are mainly psychological considerations involved with the Shadow Archetype, but a lot of natural science, sociological, biological and physiological details enter the picture in Jung's Anima/Animus Archetype. Concepts aligned with philosophy and theology round out The Self Archetype, and Jung's ideas are a blend of religion, natural sciences, social sciences.

Jung has more classifications of archetypes, more branches out from these main ones, but I wished to provide the basics here rather than lists of archetypes - which may end up resembling some of the same "stock character" and "archetype" lists that are used in literature and the arts.

A lot of people are thrown a little sideways as they work through the details even about these main archetypes above - due to Jung's decided incorporation of the 'spirit' and "God" concepts. Many people believe that science and religion or that science and God do not belong together or do not compliment each other. For Jung, the "SELF" archetype is the very thing that dissipates and removes any barrier between self and the universe, self and God, science and religion.

Jung is talking about INHERENT "BEING" in the world, in the cosmos, and our archetypes are designed (if we guide them right with any conscious control we're allowed) to achieve the "Self" existence. Jung isn't concerned with our concepts of "religion" and different religions.

Interesting Animation Film Representing Jungian Archetypes


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    • hawkdad73 profile image

      hawkdad73 6 years ago from Riverside, Iowa


      great hub. I am researching for a hub on religion and psychology and would like to reference your hub.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi lorlie6 - I'll head over to your profile to see about your archetypes and writing! Thx for reading.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      I hope it's okay with you to link to this hub, MB. I'm currently writing one about archetypes and writing.


    • profile image

      Virginia.Routh 7 years ago

      Very interesting article. A joy to read good English. I wonder what Jung would have thought about being called "one smart Swiss dude" . Loved it, I would think. One thing I would like to take you up on : there is a difference between the personal shadow (those things which belong to the ego and have been repressed) and the archetypal shadow (this I can hardly get my head around -it is dark terrifying threatening, the stuff of evil. The personal shadow is what is projected ie seen in other people and can be made conscious. This is not the case with the archetypal shadow.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey lorlie6 - I'm fairly familiar with Myers-Briggs, however, one can always learn more, right? lol I have been tested with Myers-Briggs-Keirsey (Temperament) - several times - 5yrs to decades apart! I'm INFP (Introvert, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception). I think infp is the 2nd least populated classification, yikes, so according to Myers Briggs, I don't think/process information very much like most people do lol Go figure.

      I believe the Myers-Briggs is an extension of Jung's personality types...sort of more finely-tuned with more numerous and particular classifications.

      I will add some stuff to this hub over the weekend and double-check on things. Thanks for the questions and comments.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      I am very interested in Jung, so much so that I wanted to write a hub about his thought. I realized, though, that I hadn't read enough! MB, you've done a thorough and great job here.

      I'd like to ask you something-are you familiar with the Myers-Briggs test? Does it reflect Jung's thought?

      I'd appreciate your thoughts!

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey starvagrant, thanks for stopping by to comment. I appreciate your viewpoint, especially because you spoke "personally." I can easily agree on the interpretation of "shadow" as closely related to or as "alter ego." I think we all have internal workings that are just a piece of "shadow," that are unlike or not consistent with the "usual" rest of ourselves.

    • starvagrant profile image

      starvagrant 7 years ago from Missouri

      I think shadow can come out of the concept of an alter ego. Having written some fiction about my alter ego, he is reckless, cares nothing for the feelings of others, and is constantly hungry for adventure whereas I am reserved and conflict avoidant.

      Good work on Jung by the way.