Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist who lived from 1875 to 1961. He developed his own theory about the human psyche then he collaborated with Freud for working out and spreading psychoanalytic ideas. Later, their different convictions about main issues led to their separation.
Jung saw the human psyche as a continuously changing and growing subject that is only partly influenced by the early experiences. The other part contains the urge itself of progressing into a more and more complete level of development. This process is the individuation, the harmonious integration of the conscious, unconscious part of the personality. Its long term goal is to achieve the biggest possible fulfillment of all of their capabilities. That implies that the development is not ready with the young adulthood, but gives assignments for the whole life.
Jung put big emphasis on the role of the unconscious processes in shaping our life. It is important to acknowledge both the creative and the destructive side, but that doesn’t mean let ourselves be dominated by the negatives. Our conscious attitude towards it determines how it relates to us. If we are hostile, rejective, judgmental, it would show its negative side in form of illnesses, symptoms, or other type of destruction. If we handle our unconscious friendly, with acceptance and understanding, it will show itself as creative energy in the form of different arts, creative solutions or helping dreams.
PERSONAL – COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS
A unique feature is in his theory of the division of the unconscious. He thought that we all have a personal part of our unconscious, with all of those memories, which had happened with us but were subliminal stimuli, or experiences that were repressed or suppressed into the unconscious. In addition he assumes that we all have a collective part too which contains the essence of the experience of humanity as a species. These are ancient universal human ways of reaction to general situations like fear, danger, child relation to parent, parent to child, genders relation to each other, mother, father figures, love, hate, birth, death, light and dark principium. These contents appear in the form of archetypes, as the ancient feeling-thought-reaction complex takes shape by projecting itself in some actual image. The most beautiful and most horrifying samples of these archetypes are found in the artwork of different cultures.
The “behavior” of the unconscious is mostly compensatory. If the conscious psyche is shifted towards one direction, the unconscious shows the tendency of the opposite. In this way it is creating balance inside the psyche.
Working with this immense material, we unavoidably find ourselves in front of contradictory feelings, thoughts or judgments. These are our complexes. The discrepancies are sometimes so emotionally charged that it drains our energy to deal with them until we find a solution or we constantly, actively try to keep them out of our conscious mind. Jung said that a complex attention drawing power is so strong, that even if you give a person a Russian Menu Card and ask him to associate on it freely, within 10 steps he would end up at his complex. That’s the very reason why we need to elaborate them in order to set free our mental capacity to get engaged with the serious assignments in our life.
Dream analysis played a very important role in Jung’s work because he thought it is the direct language of the unconscious, although its meaning require a little bit of riddle solving because of its symbolic character. However the main topics, struggles, motives are or can be universal. Its individual appearance is always unique. Therefore the person’s own associations are the best keys for understanding. Jung studied the symbols of different cultures of arts very thoroughly, because he thought these symbols are the projectiles of the archetypes. He found a tremendous amount of parallels with the symbols appearing in dreams and artwork.
Finally it is worth mentioning his elaborate study about Psychological Types.
He was the first who called extravert – introvert the direction of the psyche. After he considered the unconscious compensatory, he claimed if the conscious direction was extravert, the unconscious attitude was introvert. Moreover, he established two pairs of opposites: feeling versus thinking as the rational types and the sensing versus intuitive as the irrational types. (Irrational is not negative but emphasizes the perception’s dominance over the rational decisions.) The feeling types dominantly thinks about the world in terms of good and bad, while the thinking type brings decisions based on whether they are true or not. The sensorial type is led by his/her perception, the intuitive by the unknown perceptional processes. These types are compensatory too. If the conscious function is thinking, the unconscious is feeling. The more elaborate the conscious function, the more simple, archaic is the unconscious function. By the other pair too, if the conscious attitude is sensing, the unconscious is intuitive and so on. All four processing types are working in all of us, but in different proportion. As usual, the more we lean on one side, the more the unconscious compensates leaning to the other side. This is the other reason for exploring the unconscious as much as possible because that leads to more elaborate less primitive reactions. Also important to notice that someone’s type can change over the course of a lifetime.
SOME SIMILARITIES WITH FREUD
Both consider the unconscious psyche the main determinant of the human behavior.
They think the route to the healthy, balanced and highly developed psychic life is to get to know the unconscious as much as possible and integrate its contents to the conscious mind.
Both acknowledge that a person’s early experience impacts his/her life and development in an incredible manner.
Both think that dreams bring important messages from the unconscious.
SOME DIFFERENCES FROM FREUD
Jung gives credit to the innate self-actualization processes near the early experiences.
Jung divides the unconscious personal and collective part.
Jung is convinced that the unconscious is neutral like every natural force. Depending on our conscious attitude, it can manifest itself either in a positive or negative way.
Jung considers anything as a possible cause of complex not just libidinous impulses.
Jung sees dreams a symbolic, but straight language of the unconscious. He doesn’t assume censor or other kind of distortion.