Friday, April 6, 2012

Jungian Psychology: Concepts

I mentioned a while ago that I've been introducing myself to Jungian psychology. It is now about time to conclude this "unit" and move on - but how could I do that without sharing what I've learned?


Viewed simplistically, the human psyche is a series of concentric circles. At the center is the ego; then, the sphere of consciousness, the sphere of the personal unconscious, and the sphere of the collective unconscious (primordial reactions). The unconscious comes first; eventually, we grow into consciousness.

Functions of the conscious: thinking (logically interpreting the world) and feeling (emotional interpretation), and sensation (“the sense of reality”, details) and intuition (inner meaning).

In every individual, one or another of the four functions is predominant, with the others falling in afterward hierarchically. The fourth, or “inferior”, function is in darkness, or in the unconscious.

Attitude types: describe how a person reacts to outward stimulus.

Extraverts orient themselves based on the outside environment, while introverts tend to recoil and orient themselves on the self. The conscious is one of these, the unconscious is the other; this causes strife when a person projects the negative traits of his unconscious on others.

Persona: the part of the ego that is turned outward, facilitating contact between the ego and the outer world. It must contend with the ideals had of a person by himself and by society, and with “the physical and psychic contingencies which limit the realization of these ideals” (Jacobi 28).

When the persona becomes rigid, the person’s real character can wither away; problems also arise when others (parents) attempt to force a persona onto someone else, or when the collective consciousness exerts too much influence on the persona.

Unconscious: forgotten and repressed material makes up the personal unconscious.

Surrounding the personal unconscious is the collective unconscious, some parts of which can never be made conscious. This is related to the “central energy” that penetrates through all the layers that lead to the individual psyche: animal and human ancestors, ethnic groups, nations, etc. - what Jung called “the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution”.

Complexes are parts of the psyche that have escaped the sphere of consciousness and may wreak havoc on it because of their great energy. However, they can also be useful as stimuli to psychic development.

Archetypes are primordial images in the collective unconscious. They are themselves stable, but change depending on the viewer as they become conscious. Another way of seeing them is as instinctive reactions or patterns of behavior, akin to the inborn knowledge possessed by animals.

As the archetype becomes illuminated, or more conscious, they become more detailed and personal. Indeed, the individual becomes more aware (called Bewusstwerdung, which means approximately coming to consciousness or awakening) primarily through differentiating.

Archetypes can be circumscribed by metaphors, but not definitively explained; they connect individual suffering to humanity’s.

Psychic energy describes the intensity of psychic processes; it is dynamic and reflects drive/will. Opposites regulate the psyche and preserve the equilibrium or conservation of psychic energy.

However, transfer of energy back and forth between the unconscious and conscious down a gradient is necessary, as a complete equalization of energy leads to stagnation. In this case, the consciousness needs to intervene in the psyche to bring about a reversal.

Value intensity refers to how much an image in the psyche is charged with meaning. Psychic energy flows from the tension between “nature and spirit”, or instinct v. individual response.

Progressive movement, directed by the consciousness, allows a person to adapt to life and solve conflicts; regressive movement is the process in which the contents of the unconscious rise to the surface, and reflects an adaptation to the inner rather than outer world.

Synchronicity is coincidence without causality (being related by cause and effect), as when an inner perception coincides with outer events.

Finality is another concept that subverts causality. It describes the striving for an unknown goal. In analysis, causality is analyzed by looking to the past, while finality is analyzed by extrapolating from the present to the future.


Next: dreams.



Chalquist, Craig. "A Glossary of Jungian Terms." Terrapsych. Web.

Jacobi, Jolande. The Psychology of C. G. Jung. 1973 ed. New Haven: Yale Univ., 1973. Print.

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