What are Carl Jung's Archetypes, and what is their significance for understanding personalities at more profound levels?
What are Carl Jung's Archetypes?
Carl Jung's archetypes are universal symbols or patterns that are present in the collective unconscious of all humans. They are innate and inherited, and they shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Jung believed that by understanding these archetypes, we could gain insight into the human psyche and better understand ourselves and others.
Jungian archetypes include the persona, the shadow, the anima/animus, the self, and the hero. The persona is the mask we wear in social situations, while the shadow represents our repressed or hidden aspects.
The anima/animus represents the feminine/masculine aspects of our psyche, while the self is the true, integrated, and balanced self. The hero is the archetype of the journey and represents the struggle and transformation that we go through in life.
Jung's archetypes have been influential in the field of psychoanalysis, particularly in the areas of dream interpretation, personality assessment, and therapy. By identifying and exploring these archetypes, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their unconscious motivations and conflicts, and work towards greater self-awareness and personal growth.
Who was Carl Jung?
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist who proposed theories about how common myths and symbols affect human mind at both the levels of subconsciousness and consciousness. In the beginning, Jung worked with Sigmund Freud, but they both changed their paths, as Jung disagreed with Freud's opinion about the impact of biological factors such as the experience of intimacy, on human personality and behavior.
Jung was interested in studying how different areas of the human mind develop and influence the psyche. Carl identified the persona, or the image of one’s self that people like to present to the world, from their shadow, which may include repressed thoughts and hidden anxieties.
He developed theories related to the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the psyche, which have had a significant impact on the field of psychology and beyond. Some of his most well-known concepts include the persona, the shadow, the anima/animus, and the Self.
One of Jung's main focuses was on understanding human personality. He believed that the psyche was made up of both conscious and unconscious elements, and that the unconscious mind contained archetypes that were universal across all cultures and time periods.
These archetypes are symbols or images that represent certain aspects of the human experience, such as the mother, the hero, or the trickster. By understanding these archetypes, Jung believed that individuals could gain insight into their own personalities and the world around them.
Jung also documented the link between people’s personal unconscious, which holds their personal ideas and memories, as well as a collective unconscious, a combination of ideas and memories. Jung described shared concepts as archetypes, which arise as characters and themes in people's dreams and presented in literature, paintings, and films.
Jung observed that disparity between thinking in the conscious and personal subconscious could develop inner conflicts that may result in particular dominant personality attributes or anxieties.
Jung believed that these inner conflicts can be resolved by letting repressed thoughts to reach the conscious and accommodating these thoughts (instead of destroying). Hence, developing a state of inner harmony, by way of a process termed as individuation.
Below are Jung's theories related to psychoanalysis and some of Jungian archetypes.
Jung's concept of the personal unconscious is very close to the concept of unconscious proposed by the other psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud. C.G. Jung believes that Personal Unconscious is a personal experience which is different from collective unconscious, which is shared with other individuals.
Personal Unconscious has a large variety of emotions and memories that the person has rejected or repressed. In most cases, it is impossible to recall these emotions and memories consciously. A person may be unaware about these but his personal unconscious may repress memories of pain, hatred, bitterness and many others.
As people live in their conscious state, they are unable to reach their personal unconscious, but it appears when they are in a hypnotic state of regression or in their dreams.
It holds an important place in Carl Jung's theories of mind for including the archetypes. John Locke was an English philosopher, who thought that humans are born as a blank slate and a conscious mind is purely influenced by its surrounding environment. Unlike him, Carl Gustav Jung believed each individual holds a collective unconscious by birth.
An example of Collective Unconscious is how different cultures have same legends featuring similar themes and characters, for instance the beginning of the universe.
Carl Jung believed that the Collective Unconscious is composed of archetypal personalities that are shared by all humans. These archetypes are universal symbols that represent common human experiences and emotions.
The four main Archetypes
According to Jung, collective unconscious holds many archetypes that everyone can identify. A model image of a role or person is called an archetype.
A mother archetype has behaviour traits of being compassionate, and caring. People belonging to different cultures hold similar perception of a mother figure for instance using the term 'mother nature.’
Archetypes are often shown as characters in films, novels and myths – for example, role of Leigh Anne (Big Mike's mother) in the film Blind Side,' who is portrayed as a strong woman but is gentle by heart. Also, 'M' is depicted as the mother archetype in the James Bond spy series, whom the spy believes in and returns to.
One example of an archetypal personality is the Hero, who represents the desire for achievement and the need to overcome challenges. Another is the Wise Old Man, who symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. These archetypes are present in myths, legends, and stories from all cultures around the world.
Personality typology systems, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram, also draw on Jung's concept of archetypes in their own ways. For example, the Myers-Briggs system identifies 16 different personality types, each with its own set of traits and tendencies that can be linked back to Jung's archetypes.
Similarly, the Enneagram system identifies nine different personality types, each of which corresponds to a different archetype, such as the Perfectionist or the Helper. By exploring these archetypes and how they manifest in different people, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.
Jung believes that people have an identity or persona that they want to project to others. People’s persona are different from their inner self. Jung purposely used the Latin word 'persona,’, for the mask of an actor or an individual's personality, because the persona can be influenced by the thinking of social roles in society or created from the collective unconscious archetypes.
For instance, a father may try to conceal his actual behaviour traits and acquire attributes which he thinks are usual for a father - disciplining and sober.
Since the persona is an idealised image not a real reflection of one’s consciousness, associating extraordinarily with a persona may result in repression of a person’s individuality and cause inner conflicts. However, according to Jung, it could be controlled through individuation.
Jungian Archetypes include the shadow archetype, which consists of behaviour traits of one's self that he sees as negative. People conceal this aspect of the self to others as it could be a source of shame or stress. But, a shadow archetype can also include positive attributes, for example perceived weaknesses (such as empathy) which is opposite to the 'toughness' that people wish to show to others in their persona.
The shadow archetype is mostly shown as a villainous character in literature- for example, Gollum represents the shadow archetype in the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. Also the snake in The Jungle Book or the Garden of Eden
In Jungian Archetypes, the animus (in women) or anima (in men) depicts the other gender to one’s self. As someone builds a gender identity he/she tends to repress the attributes of his/ her personality which might be associated with the opposite gender, such as demonstrating empathy in everyday life in public.
As these attributes create part of the true, they are hidden from one’s persona and are demonstrated in form of the masculine archetype animus in women or feminine archetype anima in men.
As people grow older, they may allow different aspects of their personality repressed while forming their gender identity. For instance, a male may show his empathetic behaviour more often after developing his masculine persona.
The animus and anima are frequently found in different cultures. For instance, the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, shows the aloof romantic Mr Darcey 's anima archetype.
The animus and anima archetypes are essential to understanding the depth of personality in individuals. These archetypes represent the masculine and feminine qualities that exist within every person, regardless of gender.
By exploring and integrating these archetypes, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationships with others. It's important to note that the animus and anima are not fixed identities, but rather fluid and evolving aspects of the psyche.
The Jungarian archetype 'self’ indicates the unified consciousness and unconsciousness of a person. In most cases, C. F. Jung indicates the self as a mandala, square or circle.
Self-creation takes place through a process termed as individuation, which incorporates different aspects of human personality. According to Jung, conflict of the conscious and unconscious minds may result in psychological troubles.
Bringing this disharmony into knowledge and accommodating in conscious understanding is an important aspect of the process of individuation. Jung believes that there are two distinct centres of personality:
- At the core of consciousness is the ego; however, self remains at the core of personality.
- Personality includes both the conscious and the unconscious mind and ego.
One may understand this by supposing a circle with a dot at its center. The complete circle give rise to the self, and in its center the small dot indicates the ego.
Jung believes that the ultimate goal for a person is to gain a sense of Ego-feeding, self-validating behaviors and cohesive self, in some ways close to the concept of self-actualization by Maslow.
A brand archetype indicates a brand in the same way as a writer presents a fictional character in a story. Brand archetypes demonstrate distinct messages, behaviours, values and symbology to show a brand story and persona, which is identifiable, and apparently relatable, to its target audience. Following are the brand archetypes:
The Innocent brands
Jester brands and
The idealised attributes of the mother figure are present in The Great Mother archetype. She is loving, caring, dependable and compassionate, and, just like the Wise Old Man, she may provide guidance whenever needed. The Great Mother archetype is frequently shown in novels, stories and films as a fairy godmother.
According to Jung’s theory of archetype to gain individuation and demonstrate one’s true self, instead of repressing those attributes from the shadow, people should 'integrate' these attributes by bringing them to the surface and allowing them to coexist with true self.
Jung did not only categorise people for their psyche, C.G. Jung also proposed that individuals can be divided in terms of their personality type. He pointed towards the extrovert and introvert personality types. Introverts are unsociable and quiet and sometimes take more time to find the solution to a problem; whereas, extroverts are more popular in their peers and do not hesitate to express their feelings.
Jungian Psychology in Modern Times
Jungian theories had a great impact on the analytical psychology field, which is named as Jungian psychology. Although, his theories did not gain as much popularity as Freud's psychodynamic approach, his ideas were influential and their impact can still be found in 20th century.
Carl Jung’s ideas such as the difference between outgoing extrovert and inward-looking introvert personality types, and that people tend to project an idealised and inspirational version of themselves in their personas, not real personality have resulted in the development of various tests in context of personality that are still in use today.
Human personality is a complex and multifaceted concept that has been studied extensively throughout history. However, Jung's archetypes have provided a unique perspective on understanding the different aspects of human personality.
In modern times, these archetypes are still used in various personality tests and assessments to help individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their behaviors. By identifying and exploring these archetypes, individuals can gain insight into their strengths, weaknesses, and potential for personal growth and development.