Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, theorized that archetypes move through the human psyche and influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in many ways. He proposed the concept of the “collective unconscious,” which is a layer of the unconscious mind shared by all human beings. Within this collective unconscious, he identified many archetypes—universal, primordial symbols and patterns of thought that are inherited and shared across cultures and generations. These archetypes are not developed through personal experiences but are thought to be innate.
Archetypes can be recognized in archetypal images or symbols such as the mother, father, hero, and shadow. They are common to human experience and can be found in myths, fairy tales, religions, and dreams throughout history and across cultures. Archetypes are activated (or “constellated”) in individuals’ lives through personal experiences, dreams, and psychological processes. When an archetype is activated, it exerts a powerful influence on an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This activation often occurs during times of crisis, personal growth, or when facing significant life challenges.
Jung also proposed the idea of “complexes,” which are emotionally charged networks of associations related to a particular archetype. For example, someone with a strong mother complex may have deep-seated feelings and thoughts related to the mother archetype that influence their relationships and behaviors.
He believed that the goal of psychological development was individuation, which involves becoming conscious of and acting out of one’s true, unique self. This process involves recognizing, confronting, and integrating the various archetypal influences within the individual’s psyche. It requires bringing the unconscious elements into conscious awareness and finding a harmonious balance between them.
Jungians (scholars and therapists who resonate with his theories) observe that individuals often project their unconscious archetypal elements onto others. For example, if someone is not in touch with their own inner “hero,” they might project heroic qualities onto someone they admire or perceive as a hero figure. This projection can lead to idealization or demonization of others and is a key aspect of interpersonal dynamics.
So within each of us, there are many archetypal patterns and forces at play, some of them known to us, and some of them unknown. If we want to understand why we think the way that we think, why we do the things that we do, and why we are attracted to who and what we are attracted to, it behooves us to not just stop with the childhood trauma and family dynamics stories, but to also explore the larger forces in the collective unconscious that are always influencing us in subtle and not so subtle ways.
There are many ways to do this sort of exploration:
1) you can hire a Jungian analyst to help you understand your dreams and personal symbolism and story.
2) you can read books by Jung and other Jungian authors such as Marion Woodman, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Robert Bly, Marie-Louise Von Franz, James Hillman, James Hollis, Barbara Hannah, and more
3) you can join Jamie in an 8 week class on Greek Goddess archetypes- discovering the 7 goddess archetypes in women and men (sign up here: https://attractwell.com/TheInnerWisdomSchool/page/goddesses-course)
4) You can sign up to get lots of resources on the Inner Wisdom School website where Noah and Jamie will be posting new blogs, podcasts, and other resources to help you on your individuation and self-discovery journeys. You can see that site and sign up for updates here: https://attractwell.com/TheInnerWisdomSchool/page/choose-your-journey)
5) You can sign up for a 1 or 2 hour session with Noah or Jamie to talk about symbolism and your dreams. Any emotions that are coming up while discovering these archetypes and complexes can be resolved easily with Inner Freedom Technique, so don’t hesitate to book with us if you are feeling overwhelmed in relationship to these themes. You can book one of those sessions HERE.
Self discovery can be fun and also difficult at times, but it is so much easier with support. Please reach out and let us know how we can help you in this journey!
(Image: The Star by Emily Balivet)