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The archetypes according to Carl Gustav Jung

The archetypes according to Carl Gustav Jung

July 14, 2024

The interest with which the first psychoanalysts tried to portray the mechanisms by which the unconscious affects our way of thinking and acting is known. These explanations tend to focus on individuals and, in the case of Sigmund Freud's theory, they served to explain the nature of certain mental pathologies.

However, there was a researcher who tried to go far beyond the physiological functions that explain the behavior of the individual. Carl Gustav Jung transported psychoanalysis to a plane in which the ancestral phenomena that occur collectively in different cultures and societies shape our way of being. And he did it through a concept called "archetype ".


How did the idea originate?

Jung believed that to understand the unconscious he had to take his theorizing to a terrain that transcended the functions of an organism (in this case, the human body). That's why, from Carl Jung's theory, it is understood "the unconscious" that inhabits us as a composition of individual and collective aspects . This secret part of our mind has, so to speak, a culturally inherited component, a mental matrix that shapes our way of perceiving and interpreting the experiences that occur to us as individuals.

The archetypes and the collective unconscious

The archetypes are the form that is given to some experiences and memories of our first ancestors, according to Jung. This implies that we do not develop in isolation from the rest of society, but that the cultural context influences us in the most intimate , transmitting schemes of thought and experimentation of reality that are inherited.


However, if we focus on the individual, the archetypes become emotional and behavioral patterns that carve our way of processing sensations, images and perceptions as a whole with meaning. In some way, for Jung the archetypes accumulate in the depths of our collective unconscious to form a mold that gives meaning to what happens to us.

The symbols Y Myths that seem to be in all known cultures are for Carl Gustav Jung a sign that all human societies think and act from a cognitive and emotional base that does not depend on the experiences of each person or their individual differences that come to him of birth In this way, the very existence of the archetypes would be evidence that there is a collective unconscious that acts on the individuals at the same time that the part of the unconscious that is personal does.


How are the archetypes expressed?

Jung's archetypes are, in some way, patterns of images and recurring symbols that appear under different forms in all cultures and that have a side that is inherited from generation to generation. An archetype is a piece that gives form to a part of this collective unconscious that is partially inherited.

By definition, says Jung, these images are universal and they can be recognized in cultural manifestations of different societies as well as in speech, the behavior of people and, of course, in their dreams. This means that they can be located and isolated in all kinds of products of the human being, since the culture affects everything we do even without realizing it.

Jungian archetypes are, for certain psychoanalysts, what makes certain roles and functions appear in products of culture as distinct as The odyssey and the movie Matrix. Of course, the existence of archetypes goes far beyond art criticism and is usually used by some therapists to detect internal conflicts between the unconscious and the conscious part of the mind.

Are there types of archetypes?

Yes, there are certain ways of classifying the different archetypes . For example, there are archetypal events such as birth or death, archetypal themes such as creation or revenge, and archetypal figures, such as the wise old man, the virgin, etc.

Some examples of archetypes

Some of the main archetypes are those listed below:

1. Animus and Anima

The Ánimus is the masculine side of the female personality, and the Anima it is the archetype of the feminine in the mind of man. Both are related to ideas that are associated with gender roles.

2. Mother

For Jung, the archetype of Mother it allows us to detect behaviors and images related to motherhood as our ancestors have been experiencing it.

3. The Father

The archetype of Father represents for Jung an authority figure who offers a guide on how to live life based on his example.

4. The Person

The archetype of Person It represents the side of ourselves that we want to share with others, that is, our public image.

5. The Shadow

Contrary to what happens with the Person, the Shadow it represents all that of ourselves that we want to remain secret, because it is morally reprehensible or because it is too intimate.

6. The Hero

The Hero is a figure of power that is characterized by fighting against the Shadow, that is, that keeps at bay all that should not invade the social sphere so that the whole is not harmed. In addition, the Hero is ignorant, since his determination leads him not to stop to reflect continuously on the nature of what he fights.

7. The Sage

Its role is to reveal to the Hero the collective unconscious. In a way, the archetype that receives the name of the Wise sheds light on the path of the Hero.

8. The Trickster

The archetype of Trickster , or the trickster, is the one who introduces the jokes and the violation of the pre-established norms to show to what extent the laws that explain things are vulnerable. It puts traps and paradoxes in the path of the Hero.

Bibliographic references:

  • Dunne, C. (2012). Carl Jung. Pioneering psychiatrist, artisan of the soul. Biography illustrated with fragments of his writings, letters and paintings. 272 pages, cardboard. Barcelona: Editorial Blume.
  • Jaffé, A. (2009). Memories, dreams, thoughts. Barcelona: Seix Barral.
  • Kerényi, K. (2009). The Greek heroes. Prologue Jaume Pórtulas. Translation Cristina Serna. Imaginatio Vera Collection. Vilaür: Editions Atalanta.
  • Wehr, G. (1991). Carl Gustav Jung. His life, his work, his influence. Buenos Aires: Paidós Editions.

Carl Jung - What are the Archetypes? (July 2024).


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