Jung and Archetypes

Jung’s books are not easy reads, but they are almost invariably eye-openers. I recommend first reading his student’s works (von Franz, Barbara Hanna, Joland Jacobi), his “Man and His Symbols,” & (especially with respect to this book) Joseph Campbell & Jean Shinoda Bolen. It helps a lot to understand mythology when exploring the collective unconscious. Jung goes to great lengths to show how the denizens of the collective unconscious (archetypes–universal images~Plato’s view) map onto very different cultures throughout time & space–appearing in art, dreams, visions, etc. Bolen uses Greek goddesses & gods to depict these. Jung disliked neologisms (creating new words) instead he transplanted them from other disciplines to map into his psychological theories & constructs–thus, “archetypes” & “complexes”–paralleling General Systems Theory (cf. biologist von Bertalanfy’s works). “Complex” comes from mathematics’ complex numbers. Jung knew & conversed with physicist Pauli, Kabbalah professor Scholem, & many other famous, high-caliber scholars. It is important to realize, when reading this book, the important differences between archetypes of the collective unconscious & complexes of the personal unconscious–though they have the same names! Thus, the mother archetype is the pure image of motherhood–with both positive & negative aspects. But, each person has an actual, individual mother (or lack thereof–absent mother). The interaction or combination of these two forms one’s mother complex. As in math, it has a rational part (actual mother) & an imaginary part (archetype). In math, the imaginary part is multiplied by i, the square root of minus 1–which cannot exist, yet mathematicians use it creatively! So does Jung. Even modern works by “post-Jungians” often confuse or confound these two. The Anima/animus is particularly prone to this confusion. Unfortunately, Jung added to this confusion IMHO by calling the anima soul & the animus spirit. The anima/animus use gender & projection to enable people attune to the Self, the overarching archetype (others are essentially subsets). It is the image of wholeness &, thus, the object of psychological individuation–not integration. Jung says one cannot integrate the entire unconscious–that is beyond human capability. This is more subtle than it seems–esp. regarding western mystics’ unio mystica (union with God) & eastern enlightenment. Jung attempts to assist people evolve, ~the U.S. Army: “be all you can be,” rather than a thin veneer of civilization–p. 269 “Outwardly people are more or less civilized, but inwardly they are still primitives.” Further, p. 322 “The view that we can simply turn our back on evil & in this way eschew it belongs to the long list of antiquated naiveté’s. This is sheer ostrich policy & does not affect the reality of evil in the slightest.” Therefore, Jung includes the negative aspects of both archetypes & complexes. Finally, as scientific psychologist, Jung notes that p. 269 “We should never forget that in any psychological discussion we are not saying anything about the psyche, but that the psyche is always speaking about itself.”


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