The interest with which the first psychoanalysts tried to portray the mechanisms by which the unconscious affects our way of thinking and acting is well known. These explanations generally relate to individuals and, in the case of Sigmund Freud’s theory, have served to explain the nature of certain mental pathologies.
However, one researcher has attempted to go far beyond the physiological functions explaining an individual’s behavior. Carl Gustav Jung transported psychoanalysis to a plane in which 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 come about?
Jung believed that in order to understand the unconscious, it was necessary to bring his theorization on a ground which transcended the functions of an organism (in this case, the human body). Therefore, according to the theory of Carl Jung, 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 how we perceive and interpret the experiences that happen to us as individuals.
Archetypes and the collective unconscious
Archetypes are the form given to certain experiences and memories of our early 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, Transmit patterns of thought and experimentation with reality inherited.
However, if we focus on the individual, archetypes become emotional and behavioral models that run through the way we treat sensations, images and perceptions as a meaningful whole. One way or another, for Jung, the archetypes accumulate in the depths of our collective unconscious to form a mold that makes sense of what is happening to us.
The symbols and myths that seem to exist in all known cultures are for Carl Gustav Jung a sign that all human societies think and act from a cognitive and emotional basis that does not depend on each person’s experiences or their individual differences. that come to him. since birth. In this way, the very existence of archetypes would be proof that there is one. collective unconscious which acts on individuals at the same time as on the part of the unconscious which is personal.
How are the archetypes expressed?
Jung’s archetypes are, in a way, recurring image patterns and symbols that appear in different forms in all cultures and that they have a side inherited from generation to generation. An archetype is a piece that shapes part of this partially inherited collective unconscious.
By definition, says Jung, these images are universal and they can be recognized both in the cultural manifestations of different societies and in the speech, behavior of people and, of course, in their dreams. This means that they can be localized and isolated in all kinds of human products, as culture affects everything we do even without realizing it.
Jungian archetypes are, for some psychoanalysts, what brings out certain roles and functions in cultural products as different as The Odyssey and the movie The Matrix. Of course, the existence of archetypes goes far beyond art criticism and is commonly 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 to classify 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 old sage, the virgin, etc.
Some examples of archetypes
Some of the main archetypes are listed below:
1. Animus and soul
the Color is the masculine side of the feminine personality, and the soul it is the archetype of the feminine in the mind of man. Both are linked to ideas that are either associated with gender roles.
2. The sea
For Jung, the archetype of awesome it allows us to detect the behaviors and images linked to motherhood as our ancestors experienced it.
3. The father
The archetype of the trim represents for Jung an authority figure who offers a guide on how to live life from his example.
4. The person
The archetype of the nobody it represents the aspect of ourselves that we want to share with others, that is to say our public image.
5. The shadow
Contrary to what happens with the Person, the shadow it represents everything about ourselves that we want to keep secret, because it is morally reprehensible or because it is too intimate.
6. The hero
the hero it is a figure of power which is characterized by the fight against the Shadow, that is to say which keeps at a distance everything that must not invade the social sphere so that the whole is not harmed. In addition, the Hero is ignorant, as his determination leads him not to stop to continually reflect on the nature of what he is fighting.
7. The wise men
Its role is to reveal the collective unconscious to the Hero. One way or another, the archetype that takes its name from the knew it lights the path of the hero.
8. The Trickster
The archetype of the Misleading, Or the entabanador, is the one who introduces the jokes and the violation of pre-established norms to show how vulnerable the laws that explain things are. Place traps and paradoxes in the hero’s path.
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- Kerényi, K. (2009). Greek heroes. Prologue Jaume Pórtulas. Cristina Serna translation. Imaginatio Vera Collection. Vilaür: Ediciones Atalanta.
- Wehr, G. (1991). Carl Gustav Jung. His life, his work, his influence. Buenos Aires: paid editions.