Stefan Stenudd
Stefan Stenudd
About me
I'm a Swedish writer of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist, a historian of ideas and an aikido instructor.



Psychoanalysis of Myth

Introduction

Sigmund Freud

Totem and Taboo

Moses and Monotheism

Carl G. Jung

Archetypes

Collective unconscious

Applying Jung to myth

Personal myth


MYTH

Creation Myths:
An Introduction

Psychoanalysis of Myth

Creation Myths Around the World

The Logics of Myth

Genesis 1: The First Creation of the Bible

Enuma Elish: Babylonian Creation

Ideas and Learning


THE GREEK PHILOSOPHERS

ARISTOTLE

Aristotle - Life and Work

Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle's Cosmology


Cosmos of the Ancients, by Stefan Stenudd.

Cosmos of the Ancients
The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Life Energy Encyclopedia, by Stefan Stenudd.

Life Energy Encyclopedia
by Stefan Stenudd. Qi, prana, spirit, and other life forces around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained, by Stefan Stenudd.

Tao Te Ching
The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Chinese classic, translated and extensively commented by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Tarot Unfolded, by Stefan Stenudd.

Tarot Unfolded
This book presents an imaginative reading of the Tarot divination cards, which is the most appropriate for the Tarot since it consists of symbolic images. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.



Stenudd's Blog


Psychoanalysis of Myth

Sigmund Freud's and C. G. Jung's Theories on Myth and Its Origin.

Psychoanalysis of Myth: Freud and Jung.

1   Psychoanalysis of Myth - Introduction

The psychoanalytical perspective on myth was unavoidable. When the study of myths and religions intensified through the 19th century, patterns of them were extracted and compared, and theories on what they revealed about common human conditions emerged. Myths were increasingly seen as expressions of needs in the human psyche.



     As such, they were rewarding fields of study of human nature, especially since there was a quickly growing mass of documentation of myths from around the world, as well as a quickly increasing knowledge of religions and traditions among distant and obscure cultures. By the end of the 19th century, the literature on the subject was already immense, and mostly pointing to psychological explanations for the structure and content of myths, as well as for the birth of religions.

     To name a few: Scottish Anthropologist James George Frazer's The Golden Bough, presenting a vast material on myth, lore and ritual around the world, was originally published in 1890, as a two volume work, in the following decades to expand considerably. Scottish writer Andrew Lang's two volume Myth, Ritual and Religion preceded it by just a few years, published in 1887. English anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor's Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Language, Art and Custom was published in 1871, but he had written Researches into the Early History of Mankind on the same theme in 1865. The German philologist and orientalist Max Müller, regarded as the initiator of comparative religion, and becoming Oxford's first professor of comparative theology in 1868, edited the 50 volume Sacred Books of the East, published 1879-1910. There were also journals of anthropology published since the mid-1800's, often containing documentation of myths and rituals in cultures without their own writing.

     This fast growth of interest in the traditions of other cultures was taking place rather simultaneously with the establishment of the science of psychology, and they influenced each other continuously. Anthropologists used psychological concepts to analyze and explain beliefs and religious practices of societies they studied, and psychologists searched anthropological material for support to their theories about the mental nature of man. This is still the case.

     The two persons so far most influential in the psychological treatment of myth are Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung, the latter to a much wider extent than the former. Since both were connected to the psychoanalytical movement, and their perspectives on man and myth search deeper into the psyche than mere emotions or instinctive stimuli, we could call their thoughts on myth psychoanalytical. The term depth psychology is often used in this framework, but that would imply an existence of a shallow counterpart, which can be questioned, and it also suggests a grading of the components of the psyche that is theirs, but not necessarily shared by other psychologists.

     By psychoanalytical perspectives on myths, I simply point out Freud, Jung, and their followers. For the 20th century, this line of theorists is so clear, it can be followed without any significant complications or alterations. For the future, though, it is sure to lose some of its clarity, since both Freudian and Jungian ideas about myth are increasingly questioned and altered in differing directions, where not altogether abandoned.

The illustration above is Francisco Goya's Saturn from c. 1821-23, where the primeval god Saturn devours one of his children.


Psychoanalysis
of Myth

  1. Introduction
  2. Sigmund Freud
  3. Totem and Taboo
  4. Moses and Monotheism
  5. Carl G. Jung
  6. Archetypes
  7. Collective unconscious
  8. Applying Jung to myth
  9. Personal myth
This article was originally written in 2006 for a seminar at the Department of History of Ideas, Lund University, as a part of my dissertation in progress on Creation Myths and their patterns of thought. Transforming the text to webpages, I have excluded footnotes. Published on this website September 10, 2007.


© Stefan Stenudd 2006