A Brief History


Before any discussion of Carl Jung and Archetypes takes place, it is necessary to say a few words about Sigmund Freud, the "Father" of modern psychology.








Freud was a medical doctor in Vienna, Austria. In treating his patients he noticed that there were some physical symptoms and conditions that did not seem to have a physical cause. They were not pathogenic illnesses. He was not the first to notice this, but he was the first to make a set of unique observations and connections that led him to theorize that there were illnesses that were not caused by physical sources, but that were caused by upsets in what could not be observed in humans, what he called the human unconscious.

Freud talked with many patients that had symptoms that could not be explained with physical reasons, and began to notice the occurrence of symptoms that were associated with mental upsets. In deeper investigation, he began to discuss the dreams that patients had, and made the connection that dreams were unconscious wishes and a careful analysis of them could get to the cause of a patient's upset, or anxiety, which manifested itself in physical illness of some sort.

In a nutshell, Freud believed that human beings were in a profound and basic conflict with their own animal instincts and their need to be civilized in order to survive. Freud saw the basic human instincts as either seeking pleasure, or avoiding pain. These instincts were common to all animals, but it was the human who learned to repress these instincts into appropriate social behavior in order to use civilization as humankind's primary weapon of survival against nature.

This conflict created the need for humans to repress their basic animal instinct to be able to socialize and survive, which in turn caused a deep discontent in human beings. This discontent, the inability to act out human basic instincts whenever we wanted, could not be repressed forever, and would come out in various self-destructive, or antisocial ways which he termed psychosis, neurosis, and anxiety. It was his psychotherapy and the revelations of the human mind from this study that would allow humans to be aware of their behaviors and to channel the inevitable discontent from the conflict into positive behaviors.

Freud never believed that humans were any more sophisticated than animals when it came to the motivation for their behavior. It always came back to the seeking of pleasure, or the avoiding of pain.






Carl Jung was a contemporary of Freud. He was a physician who lived near Zurich, Switzerland. When word of Freud's discoveries began to spread, Jung, a quiet, introspective, spiritual, and studious person sought Freud out to discuss his theories. Jung became a student of Freud, meaning he studied with Freud and became a Freudian analyst.

After some time, Jung began to have some ideas of his own about unconscious human desires and how they effect human behavior. Foremost, Jung could not come to agree with Freud's rather cold analysis that humans were like all other animals in that no matter what, they sought pleasure and avoided pain, and this is all the purpose that humans had.

Jung believed that human beings were motivated by a higher purpose that differentiated them from animals. Jung believed that human beings lived in order to find meaning in, of, and for their lives. They found this meaning by connecting their own dreams and wishes to something bigger than themselves. That something bigger was the "Collective Unconscious." The means to making that connection was in the recognition and mindful living-out of ancient shared images of human experience called archetypes.

Jung worked hard and studied many cultures, their myths, their cultural values, and their ideas about the mind-body connection. Jung theorized that human beings not only had a personal unconscious, which held all of our inappropriate social impulses (what Freud called the Id), but he also contended that there was a "Collective Unconscious" that we all shared as a humankind. This Collective Unconscious held the ages-old wisdom of what it means to be human and how to access the energy to experience our humanness completely.

The key to accessing the energy of this wisdom of the Collective Unconscious lay in the recognition and interpretation of ancient images represented in the dreams, the literature (written or spoken), and the rituals common in all cultures including Western Culture.

The purpose of these images, these archetypes, was to allow us to recognize and then model our behaviors after them. This awareness and mindful practice would allow us to enter into the power of the energy of the Collective Unconscious and thus bring unity and harmony to ourselves living as an individual, and at the same time as a living part of the whole of creation. Our purpose would merge with the purpose of all things, thus giving meaning to our lives.

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