Psychoanalysis of Myth 7
Sigmund Freud's and C. G. Jung's Theories on Myth and Its Origin.
Jung's Collective UnconsciousJung's idea of archetypes existing and remaining in some kind of human awareness through generations, independently of time and place, calls for an explanation similar in kind to Freud's theory of an archaic heritage, mentioned above. That was also what Jung started with, but he continued to develop a solution of his own, the collective unconscious - which is not that different at all from Freud's concept.
Somehow instincts progress and adapt in animals, as they change by evolution and their needs alter according to changes in their surroundings. Otherwise their instincts would soon be their doom instead of their support in survival. Therefore, some kind of evolution of instincts is possible. Jung imagines a similar development of the human brain, as the means by which the collective unconscious appeared and was filled with archetypes. To Jung, the complexity of the human mind allows for that additional and more refined set of instincts which is the collective unconscious.
The hypothesis of the collective unconscious is, therefore, no more daring than to assume there are instincts.
To Jung, the collective unconscious seems to have little else to do than store the archetypes, which are the instruments for any person to reach self-realization in the individuation process. Archetypes are essentially all that the collective unconscious consists of. What is kept there is in the form of archetypes, as if this is the way for the unconscious to code such parts of itself.
Myths are born out of the collective unconscious, therefore made up of archetypes. To Jung, they are little more than expressions of that part of the psyche: "In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious." Dreams, on the other hand, come from the personal unconscious, and cannot become myths, because of their personal nature. Whereas the personal unconscious is unable to influence the collective unconscious, the reverse is possible:
The collective unconscious influences our dreams only occasionally, and whenever this happens, it produces strange and marvelous dreams remarkable for their beauty, or their demoniacal horror, or for their enigmatic wisdom - "big dreams," as certain primitives call them.
So, Jung's collective unconscious is an inherited part of the psyche, a fundamental driving force, a container of great truths, and the only trustworthy guide to self-realization. Yet, it is hidden in the depth of the mind, unknown to man. Myths are the instruments to discover and to utilize it.
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I'm a Swedish writer of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist, an historian of ideas and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.