C. G. Jung
Jung's Psychology of Consciousness
I. Psychological Types (see Snider, pp. 12-13)
A. Introversion: the libido (psychic energy) is turned inward, away
from the object, into the subject.
B. Extraversion: the libido is turned outward, toward the object
II. Functions of Consciousness: these are divided into four.
A. Thinking (this type relates to the world via thought, cognition,
logic: true vs. false)
B. Feeling (this type makes value judgments: good/bad, pleasant/unpleasant).
C. Sensation (this type experiences the world through the senses)
D. Intuition (this type "perceives through his or her unconscious")
An introvert's or an extravert's primary function can be any of these four, and he or she can (and ideally will) develop the others too. Also, introversion and extraversion are merely categories, not destiny, and any given individual can develop opposite traits, and ideally will do so.
Jung's Psychology of the Unconscious
While Freud believed in the personal unconscious, Jung, once an associate of Freud, accepted the concept of the personal unconscious but also postulated the concept of the collective unconscious. In it are the archetypes, tendencies to form universal images--archetypal images; these can be images of animals, people, anthropomorphic beings (such as the vampire or gods and goddesses), objects (a tree, a house, a cross or a mandala, for example), abstract ideas (made concrete by the images), and patterns such as the hero's journey, as in Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces.
Probably the central therapeutic concept of Jung's analytical psychology is the concept of the need for balance to gain psychic health. Therefore, when an individual is troubled, he or she will dream archetypal, as opposed to merely personal, dreams whose aim is to right an imbalance in the psyche of that individual. This is the concept of compensation. Just as dreams can be personal or archetypal, so can literature. Jung calls the former psychological (it springs from the personal unconscious) and the latter visionary (it springs from the collective unconscious). Visionary literature compensates for collective psychic imbalance.
The collective unconscious is common to the human race the world over. To achieve psychic health, or wholeness, the aim is individuation, becoming a whole, individual person. This process is different for each person (and most never achieve it or even attempt it), but Jung believed it especially involved coming to terms with the following archetypes: the shadow, the anima or animus, and the Self. Archetypes come from the collective unconscious and by definition can be positive and negative. In theory their numbers are limitless.
As a Jungian literary critic, I have searched for "new" archetypes (ones not thought of before, such as the archetype of Ideal Love I refer to in my book, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On, p. 49) and new ways of looking at well-known archetypes (for example, the concept of the "male" anima; see my essay on Oscar Wilde's fairy tales, link below). Also, I try to look for archetypes in literature that may not have been noticed before, such as shamanism in the poetry of Emily Dickinson (you can link to my essay on this topic below). For more on using Jung to analyze literature, see my book and the links below.
A Diagram of Jungian Psychology
LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS:
A. Individual (includes Ego, Persona, Personality
Types (Introversion or Extraversion, terms Jung coined), and Functions
of Consciousness (Thinking, Feeling, Intuition, Sensation)
E. Large group (e. g., The West, Asia, Africa, etc.). The archetypes from this level are much the same in any individual who comes from that group.
F. Primeval ancestors. This level applies to all humanity.
G. Animal ancestors in general. This level applies to all higher forms of life.
H. Central Fire (life itself). ("A spark from this fire ascends through all intervening levels into every living creature" (Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and Work (Boston: Shambhala, 1991), p. 16).
Hannah notes that with the layer or level of the nation considerable
differences in archetypal images appear--hence the difficulty of
nations in understanding each other. Only the individual and the family
are fully in the conscious sphere, yet elements from these will become
buried in the personal unconscious, much as Freud postulated.
Images, Themes, and Symbols
is important to remember, are bipolar. They always contain the
potential for the opposite of their central characteristic. If
they are conceived of as positive, the negative is a possibility as
well. Even the shadow,
generally a negative archetypal figure of the same gender as the
individual (containing traits he or she does not or prefers not to
acknowledge), can be a positive force (see Snider, pp. 3 and 15).
Also, archetypes overlap, so that, for instance, the scapegoat may also be a hero or a vampire could be a trickster. I have put the
archetypal images, themes, and symbols in boldface.
The Hero. Lord Raglan, in The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Dream, finds that traditionally the hero's mother is a virgin, the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and at birth some attempt is made to kill him. He is, however, carried away and raised by foster parents. We know little or nothing of his childhood, but when he reaches manhood he returns to his future kingdom. After a victory over the king or a wild beast, he marries a princess, becomes king, reigns uneventfully, but later loses favor with the gods. He is then driven from the city and meets a mysterious death, often at the top of a hill. There are many variations on this pattern, of course. The dying and reviving god of fertility is one of them. See the patterns demonstrated by Joseph Campbell in Hero With a Thousand Faces. The Feminine Hero is not as prominent in Western culture, but examples of both male and female heroes exist throughout the world, examples such as Gilgamesh, Ishtar, Osiris, Shiva, Krishna, Kali, Oedipus, Theseus, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Orpheus, Diana, Moses, Joseph, Elijah, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Arthur, Merlin, Robin Hood, Joan of Arc, Quetzalcoatl, and many, many others.
The hero often has a helper of some sort, perhaps a Wise Old Man or Wise Old Woman who guides him or her (or, conversely, leads him or her astray) and/or a companion, who may be a double (see below) for him or her. Examples of the former include Tiresias (for Oedipus), Merlin (for Arthur), and Naomi (for Ruth); see Snider, pp. 21 and 29. Examples of the latter include Gilgamesh and Enkidu, David and Jonathan, Achilles and Patroclus, Alexander and Hephaestion, Sam and Frodo in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and many others. Like all archetypes, the double can be both positive and negative. A form of the double used in formal literature is the foil, who provides a contrast with the hero, as does Laertes for Hamlet. Horatio is positive compared to the more negative Laertes.
A modern variation of this
archetype is the Antihero,
found in many forms of literature, from Byron's Don Juan to Hardy's Jude the Obscure to Knowles's A Separate Peace and Lowry's Under the Volcano. A psychological explanation
for the appearance of this archetype in the last two hundred years or
so is the partial disappearance of what Jung called the imago Dei
or the God Image, "imprinted
on the human soul [according to "the Church Fathers"]. When such
an image is spontaneously produced in dreams, fantasies, vision, etc.,
it is, from the psychological point of view, a symbol of the Self . . .
of psychic wholeness" (qtd. in Snider, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On,
p. 21). The need of a spiritual center filled by an imago Dei or
some Higher or Supreme Power seems
innate in humans, and heroes are often the incarnation of this
archetype. The alcoholic protagonist of Under the Volcano, on the other
hand, desperately needs some spiritual fulfillment such as that
provided by the imago
Scapegoat can also be a hero,
an outcast or outsider, and a wanderer (e.g., Cain, Oedipus, the
Jew, and Coleridge's Ancient Mariner). He or she is conceived as
the alien other. The
scapegoat is an animal
or more usually a human whose death in a public ceremony or expulsion
from the community expiates some taint or sin, the results of which
have been visited upon the community. In ancient times the
sacrifice of the scapegoat was meant to restore fertility to the land,
so that the scapegoat can be a kind of hero.
Scapegoating can also be intensely
in the form of persecution by one individual against another. To
use another as a scapegoat is to project one's shadow (or the
onto him or her or onto a group. The scapegoats are viewed as
aliens. As Jungian psychoanalyst Erich Neumann writes: "Inside a
nation, the aliens who provide the objects for this projection [of
evil] are the minorities" (Depth
Psychology and a New Ethic, Boston: Shambhala, 1990, p
52). Such minorities include, but are not limited to, "heretics
[i.e., religious minorities], political opponents and national
enemies," and the "fight against . . . [them] is actually the fight
against our own religious doubts, the insecurity of our own political
position, and the one-sidedness of our own national viewpoint" (p.
52). Hence, homophobia, defined by Robert Goss as "the
socialized state of fear, threat, aversion, prejudice, and irrational
hatred of the feelings of same-sex attraction" (Jesus Acted Up: A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto,
New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993, p. 1), is actually a fear of
one's own "feelings of same-sex attraction." Racism,
anti-Semitism, and sexism (and any other kind of prejudice against an
individual because of his or her status)
also involve projecting one's shadow onto the other so that whatever
faults one attributes to the scapegoat are likely to be unpalatable
faults of one's own.
Devil Figure is a form of the shadow,
evil incarnate, a figure who frequently offers the hero (or the
individual protagonist in a myth, poem, or story) worldly goods, fame,
or knowledge for possession of his soul. The Faust legend is an
obvious example, as is Wilde's The
Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the protagonist is offered
eternal youth and beauty, however obliquely.
Fool is a shadow figure distressed by some unconscious lack of power, often driven by greed or an inordinate desire for fame (all archetypes), who projects
his or her inadequacies against scapegoats as described above.
Modern examples range from political leaders with real power (such as Hitler and Stalin or current leaders from
various parts of the globe, including the United States) to some
(certainly not all) political commentators, leaders of crusades against
minorities, and religious leaders who are intolerant of the other as described above and/or take
financial and spiritual advantage of their followers because of their
greed and desire for power. Probably the most famous literary
example of the latter is Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry, but channel surfing
the TV or radio and doing an Internet search will easily provide more
contemporary examples of all the fools I cite. These fools or tricksters (see below) generally
suffer from psychic "inflation" (see Snider, pp. 80 and 84, n. 5); they
are unconsciously possessed by archetypal forces or figures that drive
them to compensate for their psychic split by persecuting others.
When such figures have real power, it goes without saying they can and
do cause real harm against their own people and especially against
others whom they demonize as the enemy.*
Most wars involve this kind of psychology on the part of those who lead
their nations to war. War
and Peace are powerful
Fool is not always negative, of course. A relatively
benevolent form of the fool is the Clown,
who is more aware of his or her trickster aspect, perhaps, than is the
fool. Indeed, laughter can be a great healing force. That
cruelty is often a part of comedy demonstrates a need to displace our
own shadow urges to be cruel. The clown is cruel, or suffers
cruelty, for us. The trickster
often plays this role, for the trickster and the fool or the clown
usually embody the same archetype.
* * *
Anima (the feminine side of a man's psyche) can take many forms,
from the merely physical to the highest spirituality and wisdom (see
Snider, p. 17). She can be the Kore
figure (mother/maiden/hag), the Earth
Mother (symbol of fruition, abundance, fertility, but also of
destruction on a grand scale), the
temptress (or femme fatale), the
unfaithful wife or mate, the star-crossed lover, the jilted lover, and so on. See
Erich Neumann's The Great Mother: An
Analysis of the Archetype.
Mother and Child together and separately are powerful
archetypes, as are the Father and
Child. Jung says that "'Child'
means something evolving towards independence" (qtd. in Snider, p.
115). The Mother in her
positive aspect is nurturing, protecting, and loving; in her negative
aspect she is withholding of nurture, protection, and love. The Father, too, is protective,
loving in his positive aspect but destructive and hurtful in his
negative aspect. At their best, the mother and the father serve as teachers and
examples of love and acceptance to their children.
There are also the Oedipus and the Electra Complexes for men and women
respectively. Though commonly associated with Freudian theory,
these archetypes are not incompatible with Jungian theory.
Animus (the masculine side of a woman's psyche) can also take
many forms, including the merely physical to the highest spirituality
and wisdom (see Snider, p. 18). Whereas the number of wholeness
for a woman, according to Jung, is more often three, for a man is it
four. The animus can also be the tempter
(the rapist is an extreme
example), an homme
fatale, an unfaithful husband
or mate, the star-crossed lover, the jilted lover, and so on.
For the homosexual man, Robert
possibility of a "male anima"
who functions exactly as the anima has
functioned, as "guide to the unconscious and to relatedness with
and who, again like the traditional anima, is "a figure of often
erotic charge, all too frequently idealized and projected out onto a
object of love" (Men's Dreams, Men's
1990, p. 122). Presumably, the "female
animus" can do the same for the lesbian,
although I have not found research on this topic to date.
Another archetype that can apply to
all sexual orientations, although usually it is of the same gender as
the individual, is the Double,
which in Plato's Symposium is
a symbol for male and female same-sex wholeness, as well as for
opposite-sex wholeness. (See Mitchell Walker's "The Double, an
Archetypal Configuration," Spring
(1976): 165-175.) Included in examples of this archetype are
brothers or sisters (often twins), friends, and lovers. To the
examples I cite above in my paragraph on the hero's helper, I would add the Sufi
poet, Rumi, and Shams al-Din.
variation of the double archetype
is the puer aeternus (the
and the senex
(the old man,
often the Wise Old Man, see
Snider, pp. 77-78) and their feminine counterparts, the puella aeternus
and the Wise Old Woman.
These can form
a constellation of the Self,
the archetype of Wholeness,
just as the anima and the animus can lead to such psychic
wholeness. An example of the negative
double is the hostile
brothers (e.g., Cain and Abel); sibling rivalry is
another, often milder, form of this aspect of the archetype.
Hermaphrodite, joining the opposites of male/female, is a symbol
of psychic wholeness (see Snider, pp. 20-21). The transgendered
(as well as the bisexual) figure, although not quite the same as the
hermaphrodite, could symbolize wholeness as well, depending on the
context in which it is found. Androgyny,
as I show in my discussion of Virginia Woolf's Orlando
(Snider, pp. 87-93), can also symbolize psychic wholeness, or the Self. Among native Americans
in the Western Hemisphere, the "two-spirit"
third and fourth gender person fits this archetype.
Trickster, Jung says, is an aspect of the shadow archetype, at
least in its negative traits (see "On the Psychology of the
Trickster-Figure" in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.
2nd ed. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Princeton: Princeton
1969. Vol. 9, part i, of The Collected Works
of C. G. Jung, pp. 255-272, as well as my articles on
Importance of Being Earnest and on the trickster in Edward Lear). The trickster, obviously,
deceives, often playfully, sometimes painfully. A very sexual
archetype, it has the ability to change genders and play havoc with the
hyper-rational personality and community. Examples of the
trickster are Satan, Loki, and, in Native American mythology, the
coyote, the raven, and the Winnebago trickster. The vampire is,
in fact, a kind of trickster,
to change into many shapes, among them bats, wolves, spiders,
fog, or even a bit of straw" (see my essay on "The
Vampire Archetype in Charlotte and Emily
A necessary archetype is the Healer, be he or she a spiritual
figure (such as a shaman or priest), a physician, or, indeed, a
psychotherapist. One example is the curandera in Rudolfo Anaya's Bless
Me, Ultima. Sadly, people who need healing, whether
spiritually or physically or both, sometimes seek help from charlatans, who are actually
tricksters of a very malignant order. Because the need for
wholeness is so strong, sometimes even these charlatans can be
Other powerful healing archetypes
are confession and forgiveness.
Persona, though intimately tied to the psychology of the
conscious mind, can also be an archetype. It is the role we play
at any given time. The psychological danger is to identify too
closely with one particular role (see Snider, p. 9).
* * *
Concepts and Themes
The Platonic Ideal is a source of inspiration and a spiritual ideal for the individual (or protagonist in myth and literature). It is an intellectual or a spiritual rather than a physical attraction.
Quest can be a search for virtually anything, noble or
ignoble, spiritual or physical; in any case, the goal (also called the treasure hard to obtain) has great
for the quester.
Task is something that must be done to achieve something
the hero must perform this task to save the kingdom, win the fair lady,
involves going from one stage of life to another. Typically
experienced by a young person, it can also occur during any stage of
as in the James Dickey novel, Deliverance.
The proverbial mid-life crisis,
if successful, is a kind of initiation.
The Journey can combine all or some of the above. Indeed, the individuation process (see above) is a kind of journey.
The Fall involves going from a higher to a lower state of being, as in Paradise Lost, Sister Carrie, The Great Gatsby, or The Mayor of Casterbridge.
("sacred wedding") or coniunctio can symbolize the
union of opposites that is achieved in the Self (see Snider, p. 20).
and Rebirth. The most common of all situational
death and rebirth grows out of the parallel between the cycle of nature
and the cycle of
life. Life and Death are themselves archetypes
These are too many even to begin to be comprehensive, but here are a few (and this is not to say the images and themes above are not symbolic; they are).
Mandala, a circle, often squared, can also symbolize the
wholeness of the Self or the
yearning for such wholeness.
(the conscious and the unconscious), Water or wetness/Dryness or the desert,
Heaven/Hell, Trees, Rocks, Dirt, Flowers, Animals of all
kinds (insects, birds, fish, mammals), etc., etc. Birds,
for instance, often symbolize the spirit (e.g., the Holy Spirit as a
dove), but could symbolize many other things, as, for example, fear and
destruction (e.g., in the Hitchcock movie, The Birds), courage, wisdom,
etc. For many American Indians, the eagle is a particularly
sacred symbol. By definition, a symbol
has an infinitive number of possible meanings. The trickster, as I point out above,
often appears as an animal, as does the vampire.
can symbolize the unconscious, as can bodies
of water, the forest, night, the moon, etc. These tend to be
feminine symbols as well, just as anything that encloses or nourishes,
depending on the context, can be a
In addition to light, the sky, the sun, the eyes, etc., can symbolize
seascape or the sea itself can symbolize many
things, as in Melville's Moby Dick or
Annie Proulx's The Shipping News.
Similarly, in Proulx's story, "Brokeback Mountain," as well in the
movie based on the story, the landscape
is a powerful symbol standing for the relationship of Jack and Ennis
and for many other things.
Although, as Freud is said to have
sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes it is indeed a phallic symbol, as are other items,
depending on the context, whose lengths are much longer than their
The meaning of any of the above archetypal
characters, concepts, themes, and symbols depends on the context in
which they are found, be it an individual's dreams, life and psyche or
a given myth, fairy tale, piece of art, literature or whatever.
The context is vital if any real
meaning is to be attached to the
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
See also Snider, The
Dreams Are Made On: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature.
For some of my essays using Jungian psychology to analyze literature
Read about my novels, Wrestling
with Angels: A Tale of Two Brothers, Bare
Roots, and Loud Whisper.
Links: C. G.