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The types of unconscious according to Carl Jung

The types of unconscious according to Carl Jung

May 29, 2024

The idea that there is something unconscious in our minds that totally influences how we think, feel and act has seduced hundreds of thousands of people since Sigmund Freud published his first books on psychoanalysis. However, as the current of Freud's psychology heir is very much based on metaphysics, much has been hypothesized about what is the structure of that unconscious structure of the human psyche.

One of the best known explanations in this regard is that of Carl Jung, one of the first followers of the father of psychoanalysis who, however, ended up radically departing from the theories of his teacher. Next we will see what they consisted of the different types of unconscious according to Carl Jung .

  • Related article: "Carl Gustav Jung: biography and work of a spiritual psychologist"

Repressions, pathologies, symbolisms ... Psychodynamics

The current psychology that initiated Sigmund Freud, based on his beginnings in psychoanalysis, is famous for putting much emphasis on a concept called "the unconscious". This unconscious refers to that aspect of the human mind that stays away from the light bulbs of consciousness and that, consequently, it is difficult for us to take into account or even try to modify or anticipate.

However, that unconscious mind referred to by Freud's disciples is not any kind of unconscious (for example, it has nothing to do with the way in which current psychology and neurosciences understand non-consciousness), but rather part of a very specific way of understanding the psyche, deeply based on metaphysics and the analysis of symbols in search of a hidden meaning.

Thus, the descendants of psychoanalysis understand this concept as a set of entities that fight against the forces of the conscious psyche in order to become manifest and come to light. And the symbols and symbolic expressions of thoughts, sensations and memories have a great role: hence, for example, the emphasis that Freud came to put in the analysis of dreams and the result of the free association.

  • You may be interested: "The Theory of the Unconscious of Sigmund Freud (and the new theories)"

Beyond an individual phenomenon

Carl Jung rejected many of Freud's ideas, but in the end he used a conception of the mind that, in the most basic way, resembled that of the creator of psychoanalysis. He also believed in the need to look for symbols and signs of hidden meanings, albeit with a difference; If psychoanalysts understood that the unconscious was fundamentally confined to individuals, Jung proposed the opposite: that the unconscious it's basically a collective phenomenon, like the history of humanity .

How did you get to that conclusion? Through the study of symbologies and religions. As he learned about the different myths and ways of understanding the world of different cultures on the planet, Jung realized that many of these mythical elements had many characteristics in common: symbols, themes and development structures of the mythical stories .

However, the conclusions reached did not remain in the simple recognition of very similar aspects in different cultural elements of virtually all societies, regardless of their degree of isolation from the rest. In addition, Carl Jung defended the idea that these essential elements that can be found in all the mythical tales of the world manifest in dreams of patients with schizophrenia .

From there, this Swiss researcher proposed an idea that, according to him, allowed to answer the question of how it can be that these common symbolic elements appear in all kinds of people, regardless of where they live and if they have known other cultures or not. . There were two types of unconscious: one individual, and another collective .

Carl Jung and the types of unconscious he proposed

The most characteristic idea of ​​Carl Jung's work in comparison to other references of the current of psychodynamics is that for him the psyche of a person is not only a product of his individual personal experiences added to his biological propensities also individual, but that fundamentally works from elements that go beyond the individual.

This emphasis on the collective does not refer to the way in which others influence the behavior of the person when interacting with it; It goes much further. In fact, this "transpersonal" psychological factor has more to do with the history of humanity, that is, what has happened before that particular individual is born.It is a part of the psyche that existed before the individual psyche had the opportunity to begin to exist: hence, for Jung, symbols, myths and religion were of such importance when it comes to understanding the minds of people: they are products of the evolution of humanity as a whole.

So, the types of unconscious according to Jung are the following.

1. Personal unconscious

It has to do with all the repressed and hidden aspects that have arisen from the interaction between the person and their environment (including the people with whom they come in contact). For example, if someone's mother punished him very harshly during his childhood, that leaves a trace in his unconscious.

2. Collective unconscious

The collective unconscious is that kind of unconscious in which Carl Jung puts more emphasis. It contains historical and collective elements that modulate the way in which human beings think, feel and act. Specifically, it includes socially constructed and heritable psychological structures, called archetypes .

  • Related article: "The archetypes according to Carl Gustav Jung"


All the work of Carl Jung has been criticized by both the members of the psychodynamic current and by psychologists and philosophers of science who do not consider themselves Freud's heirs. The latter, in particular, They point out how unreliable it is to rely on your own interpretation to analyze the behavior of people; after all, there is no objectively valid way to interpret symbols.

In any case, the types of unconscious proposed by Carl Jung have had a great influence in the humanities and have been reflected in numerous art forms, so it is interesting to know them

Introduction to Carl Jung - The Psyche, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (May 2024).

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