on May 28, 2003
This work, along with _Modern Man in Search of a Soul_, is one of the best places to start if you are new to reading Jung. It is also the companion piece and predecessor to _Aion_, which is another spectacular and groundbreaking work. If you want to read _Aion_, it would make sense for you to read this one first, since it is part 1 of volume nine, while _Aion_ is part two. Overall, I would say that both parts 1 and 2 of volume nine are absolutely essential reading for any Jungian, and if you're going to buy one, go ahead and buy both.
As for the actual content of _The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious_, I would describe it as an overview and recapitulation of many of Jung's key concepts. As the title implies, the main concepts are archetypal images (as revealed in to people in dreams) and the collective unconscious. These are trademark Jungian concepts, and Jung devoted a large portion of his writings to explaining what he meant by Archetypes and the collective unconscious. If I could explain it to you right here I would, but Jung spends a the first two hundred pages of this book simply explaining and defining "archetype" and "collective unconscious". These are key concepts in understanding the human mind, and may help unlock the mysteries of conscious existence; it is by no means superfluous to devote such rigorous study to these ideas. _The Archetypes and the Collcetive Unconscious_ is NOT a narrowly focused, specialized, or jargonistic work. It deals with ideas that are central to understanding the human psyche or soul, and applies universally to all of mankind.
There is also a pictorial section of the book in which Jung actually shows examples, in the form of paintings, of archetypal images that were seen by his patients in their dreams and subsequently drawn by the patients themselves. Some of these paintings are very artistic, and there are uncanny similarities among many of them. This pictorial section occurs about 200 pages in. After the pictures, Jung goes into a detailed explanation of each one, which I found to be somewhat tiresome, especially considering many of the paintings were extremely similar. Overall, the final, brief, section of the book in which the paintings are described is quite boring, and I would recommend that the reader simply look at the paintings and forego the final explanations, which are extremely redundant. In other words, read the first two hundred pages, look at the pictures, stop, and then move on to _Aion_. The weakness of this final section is not enough to justify removing a star from my ratings, however, simply because of the utter profundity and potency of the first 200 pages, which represents the majority of the book anyway. Keep in mind that the vast majority of Jung's writings consist of essays not more that 100 pages long each. You will find that most of his complete works contain numerous profound and insightful essays, occasionally laced with the odd, specialized, highly esoteric essays. When you come across one of these rare but unreadable essays the best idea is to just skip it rather than get bogged down. This is not to take anything away from Jung and his great, prophetic works; I am just trying to give you the heads up on how to avoid some of the rough patches.
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."
on January 19, 2004
It's a book of essays on a theme, like most of his other books. Here's an attempt to describe the whole theory in a few paragraphs. Jung suggests the existence of a 3-layered psyche consisting of (1) the conscious (active part of the mind), (2) the personal unconscious (thinking over which we have little or no control), and (3) the collective unconscious (unevolved, animal-instinctive mental activity). The collective unconscious is "collective" in the sense that humans resemble each other the most at the lowest, biological levels. "The body's carbon is simply carbon" (pg. 173). We inherit the collective unconscious from the common pool of human characteristics, like morphological aspects of the body such as arms, legs, etc.
The "archetypes" originate in the collective unconscious and are the psychological equivalents of Platonic Forms. (I realized about halfway through the book that archetype-figures also appear in the personal unconscious, where they're called "complexes"). The most important archetypes appear to be the Shadow (the inferior aspects of the self which we hide from others), the Anima/Animus (our object(s) of desire), and the Wise Old Man (e.g., teacher, medicine man). He also discusses a Mother archetype and a Child archetype and indicates the existence of numerous others. Identifying strongly with an archetype leads to psychosis.
The heart of the book is in the first essay, but the rest is useful in fleshing out descriptions and giving examples. The collective Anima archetype, for instance, can be found among movie stars and in the general pop culture. Devils and tricksters often represent the Shadow archetype. Tolkien's Gandalf is a good instance of the Wise Old Man. It's not so easy to identify a particular individual's Anima complex or Shadow complex.
A few things bothered me about the book. For one, Jung indicates that the "Primitive mentality differs from the civilized chiefly in that the conscious mind is far less developed in scope ... The Primitive cannot assert that he thinks; it is rather that something thinks in him" (pg. 153). This is a dubious kind of distinction between civilized and uncivilized states of mind that seems to have gone out of fashion over the decades. Also, I couldn't tell from this book what methodology Jung used to determine the significance of dream symbols. Does every dream about climbing a tree represent the psyche climbing the "World Tree" toward higher states of consciousness? Do snakes always represent the unconscious? Is every old woman in a dream an example of the Mother archetype? Etc.
One of the more interesting and also frustrating essays describes a case study of a woman who paints mandalas over a period of 16-plus years. Why mandalas? Jung says the mandala represents the Self, and painting them is useful for determining the contents of the psyche. He discusses the first dozen or so in detail (reprinted in color), but then glosses over the rest, which came into his hands after the patient had died from cancer!
on May 21, 2001
This intriguing study of the archetypes of our collective human unconscious is FASCINATING. Here we confront the fountainheads of the hypostasis of dreams and the active genesis of fecund mythology. The collective unconscious differs from the personal in that it is not constituted of repressed or forgotten complexes but of inherited archetypes that were never a part of your conscious life. Anyone who plans to study mythology should be required to read this book... ignorance of it would prevent your comprehension of the primitive man and tribes' living mythology and religion. (Also would be an essential tool in exploring dreamwork or human nature) The archetypes are felt in our most personal life and encountered in dreams. Unconsciously, unprojected, it turns out that our own minds have a "sea of possibilities", and that they assume definite forms only in projection. The archetypes are vessels that we can never empty or fill, having only potential existence, taking shape they become no longer what they were. They need be interpreted anew throughout the ages. They are the imperishable elements of the unconscious, but they change their shape continually, being the "treasure in the realm of the shadowy thoughts" which Kant spoke of, and among the highest values of the human pysche. They are the simple solution of how archaic myths, far from being merely historical remnants or allegories of physical processes, still grasp us with profound effect in all levels of society and eras. Awareness is needed of these jewels to understand the unconscious' interconnectedness with our conscious life and the fact that the human pysche is not born tabula rasa. This is a classic work, that some may not adhere to, but far from being a philosophy, and me far from being a pyschologist, I would not take the bold step here to criticize Jung's work. Jungian or not, I give it my stamp and seal of approval guaranteeing your utmost interest.
on February 11, 2001
My previous review of CW9, part 1 was really for part 2 and was posted in error. Here is the review for CW9, part 1:
Jung used the word archetype to represent a concept about unseen, powerful influences that result in predictable psychological states. An archetype is a psychic format in which instinctual and conditioned behavior plays out in human activity. They are best seen in action, and their actions are recorded in so-called fairytales and in religious symbols and stories.
Jung spends most of this volume discussing archetypes by using examples found in fairytales and religious imagery. The remainder of the book discusses the process of individuation, Jung's term for a process of psychological "wholeness (which) consists in the union of the conscious and unconscious personality." (p.175)
If you are a reader of Jung you will need to grasp his concept of the archetype in order to fully understand his theories. If you have not yet been able to experience yourself in the grip of an archetype, this may help you, should you become aware during an archetypical experience, which sometimes happens intermittently during an experience with the Archetypes Venus and Cupid. Knowing how archetypes work can help you stay above the waves they cause.
Recommended to those who want a deeper understanding of their experience, and need some tools with which to explore the unknown. It is intellectual and dense reading and not recommended to a casual reader of Jung.
on February 11, 2001
"In psychology one possesses nothing unless one has experienced it in reality." (Jung p. 33) In this volume Jung provides us with his experiences with the human psyche and conclusions about these experiences.
Jung suggests that humans have a psychological makeup that generally exceeds their ability to comprehend it. In this volume he defines and describes these "hidden" aspects of the human psyche, such as: the Ego, the Self, the Shadow, the Anima and others. Jung makes suggestions as to how modern Western humans can discover these unconscious aspects of themselves and how they can be integrated into human consciousness.
This volume hints at a process Jung called individuation, in which the personally unconscious aspects of a human being are united with their normal consciousness, and then this expanded consciousness becomes subservient to a new meta-consciousness, which he called The Self, and which transcends human comprehension, except as an experience. (It is beyond names and forms.) Jung spends a good deal of time describing The Self using Western religious metaphors to make his examples.
Most of Jung's theories have slipped into our collective Western unconsciousness, so that they are now part of our unconscious assumptions, (e.g. projection, shadow, denial, the unconsciousness of our faults) and if you would like to become conscious of these assumptions, a reading of this book might facilitate that experience.
If you are familiar with Jung's work, this will increase your understanding of his concept of the human psyche, its parts and the goal of unification of those parts.
on December 13, 2009
This book is a collection of Jung's articles dealing with the archetypes of the collective unconscious. In it, Jung expands the definition Freud used of the unconscious, which Jung refers to as the personal unconscious, which is simply the collection of all things forgotten. The collective unconscious is trans-personal and common to all members of our species. It contains primary ideas or symbols that guide the development of people, formed though millennia of human behaviors becoming in part encoded in our genetic make up, much like instinctual behavior in animals. Personally, I feel that if a bird can spontaneously remember how to build a nest, I do not see it difficult at all for a human to recognize a mother or perhaps remember how to spiritually cultivate his/her self. However, there is no one direct expression of any one archetype as they are colored by the experiences of the individual consciousness. Life experiences that seem to take on a larger than life significance often are those that pair up with the archetypes. Such archetypes are the way we relate to our parents, to our spouses and even how we transform spiritually. It is crucial that these archetypes are allowed to express themselves spontaneously in the individual, for if they solidify, they cease to interact with the world and their energy begins to stagnate in the unconscious where it will eventually erupt. Much of religion then, according to Jung, is a means to express the archetypal energy of the individual in a healthy and productive fashion. It is important to note that the rational process, which distances the individual from the act or thought primarily squelches the spontaneity of this energy, which is subjective and often synchronistic. The consequence of not expressing this energy is impulsive thoughts and behavior that makes up the shadow, or the collection of all neglected energetic impulses.
This book is an explanation of some of the more regularly encountered archetypes. The first archetype Jung deals with is the mother, which symbolically represents fertility on many levels, from a plowed field to the alma mater of academic institutions to Kundalini shakti or the primordial generative energy of prakriti or matter. The mother is also represented as the terrible mother as found in the Hindu goddess Kali. Jung goes on to write about the various neuroses that may result when a child identifies their own shadow with their biological mother. It its worse case, this can lead to "Don Juan-ism" in men and hyper-femininity in women. At its best, it leads to compassion and sensitivity in men and a healthy awareness of oneself as mother in women.
Rebirth is another primary archetype whose expressions can be found anywhere from religious beliefs in the afterlife to the journey of the hero in mythology. Jung mentions spiritual cultivation is the process of uncovering this transformative archetype, which is expressed well in Christian mysticism and Hindu Yoga (presumably the Yoga Sutras). Jung gives many examples of dreams in which an individual is confronting their own unconscious so that they can grow beyond their current limited mental state. He also gives the detailed story of a female painter who transferred her religious development into mandala paintings. Jung carefully explains how the patient is dealing with her archetypes by how they are expressed in each of the paintings. Other archetypes covered are the child (new-ness, potential for change, virgin birth, continuation), Persephone (mother-daughter relationship), various quests of fairytales and the trickster figure (the success of non-thinking).
In brief, this book presents plentiful examples in which Jung demonstrates how seemingly universal concepts manifest in patients' psyches. By doing so, Jung gives the reader ample evidence to support his method and theory.
This is a collection of essays by Jung about his work with archetypes and individuation. I highly recommend it if you want to understand the psychological concepts and the context in which those concepts are framed. There's some interesting perspectives that Jung shares on these terms that can help readers understand what they mean and how they apply to states of awareness the person experiences. I also found the case studies and art useful for further demonstrating what the author was sharing in terms of what his patients experienced. If you want to understand archetypes and individuation read this work.
on January 8, 2014
Wonderful Author and psychotherapist. and Father of Analytical Psychology among other things! Original creator of the hypothesis Jung is the developer the theories and concepts that underlie the collective unconscious, much of the dreaming theories and hypothesis' as well as being the original one to speak to what are known as "Archetypes." Archetypes are foundational to the Witch, and Witchcraft, especially to the practices in divination such as divining with the Tarot.
This is an awesome book as well as an awesome man, would like to have every book Jung has written. I was a psych student in University and have been a student of his for a very long time.
on September 22, 2015
Jung is one of my favorite thinker and analyst It is wonderful to be able to have his complete work available in such a nice edition. The organization of the contents aloud me to choose very well which volume to get from the total of them