Carl Gustav Jung and the Collective Unconscious

Although Freud was Carl Jung’s
mentor he is more sympathetic
towards religion than Freud
Jung was born in 1875 and
grew up in the vicarage of a
Swiss Reformed Church
His father was a pastor
After constantly hearing the
term ‘taken by Jesus’ in his
youth he became afraid of Jesus
and the term Jesuit
Jung was the founder of analytical psychology
Jung was Freud’s friend and collaborator for
many years. The first conversation that the two
had together is reported to have lasted for over
Freud often analysed Jung and his dreams
Although Jung was influenced by Freud, this did
not prevent him from pursuing his own ideas
These ultimately led him to reject many of
Freud’s conclusions, especially those concerning
Although he accepted that religion was a psychological
phenomenon, he objected to Freud’s conclusions that:
◦ Religion is a neurotic illness
caused by sexual trauma
◦ Religion is a dangerous entity,
to be exposed and overthrown
Jung replaced Freud’s conclusions with the following
oReligion is a natural process that stems
from archetypes within the unconscious
oIt performs the function of harmonising
the psyche
oAs such it is a beneficial phenomenon
oThe removal of religion would lead to
psychological problems
Which of these assessments of religion do
you think is best?
Jung’s work with patients suffering from
schizophrenia led him to reject Freud’s view that
neuroses were caused by a repressed sexuality –
although schizophrenia was a neurosis it had no
obvious sexual component
He was also unconvinced by Freud’s view that the
suckling of a baby was a sexual act
From these observations he concluded that
religion, as another neurosis, in no way
depended on sexual trauma
Jung noted how people who were dreaming, or
suffering from psychic disorders, were often
preoccupied with similar ideas and images
For example, Miss Miller had a dream in which her
desire for God was compared with a moth’s desire for
Jung noted how this parallel between God and light
can be found in countless religious traditions
Two examples are the Aztec preoccupation with the
Sun and the Christian view of Jesus as ‘Light of the
To account for the similarities in mental images
Jung suggested a further division of the
unconscious mind into the personal unconscious
and the collective unconscious
In pairs or small groups indentify any similarities
in the types of thing you have dreamt about e.g.
many people have dreamt that they are being
chased by something.
If there are any common features, how would you
account for them?
Jung distinguished between the Collective Unconscious and
the Personal Unconscious
He said that the Personal Unconscious is a personal
reservoir of experience and is unique to each individual
The Collective Unconscious collects and organises those
personal experiences in a similar way with each member of
a particular species
The Collective Unconscious is the oldest part of the mind
It contains the blueprints for a whole range of ideas and
This means each one of us is born with the tendency to
conceive similar kinds of primordial images
Can you think of any examples of shared
ideas that seem to be innate within us?
Do you think we have a collective
unconscious or just a personal one?
Jung believed that the God concept is one of
these primordial images
The Collective Unconscious means, therefore,
that many of ideas about God will be shared
with others
Jung gave the technical name archetype to
the part of the psyche that creates these
Jung stated in his book ‘Archetypes and the
Collective Unconscious’:
My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate
consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we
believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the
personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic
system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is
identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not
develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms,
the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and
which give definite form to certain psychic contents