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Analytical psychology is the movement started by Carl Jung and his followers, after his break with Sigmund Freud. It primarily explores how the collective unconscious, that part of the unconscious that is cross-cultural and common to all human beings, influences personality. It is utilized not only for those with a mental disorder, but also for those who desire to promote their own psychological development and well-being.
Carl Jung's work, known as Jungian psychology, is central to analytical psychology (the "Neopsychoanalytic school"). The goal of analytical or Jungian psychology is to explore the unconscious, both personal and collective, and integrate the conscious and unconscious through a variety of disciplines and psychological methods. Jung believed the unconscious to be a great guide, friend, and advisor of the conscious mind. His goal was the reconciliation of the life of the individual with the world of the supra-personal archetypes. He came to see the individual's encounter with the unconscious as central to this process.
Jung's approach to psychology emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of anthropology, astrology, alchemy, dreams, art, mythology, religion, and philosophy. Jung once commented that just as a biologist needs the science of comparative anatomy, a psychologist needs the experience and knowledge of the products of unconscious activity and mythology.
In Jungian psychology, the psyche is divided into three parts: the ego, or conscious mind; the personal unconscious, which includes the individual memories that are not currently conscious but that can be brought back into consciousness; and the collective unconscious, which contains the "psychic inheritance" of human experience stored in the form of archetypes and revealed in dreams and other mystical experiences, and in the symbolism found in myths. This conceptualization of the human psyche can be contrasted with Sigmund Freud's tripartite division into the ego, superego, and id (see Comparison: Psychoanalysis and Analytical Psychology).
Jung described the operation of the psyche according to three principles:
- The principle of opposites: the energy of the psyche comes from the contrast between two opposite thoughts or desires, as electric current flows between the two poles of a battery.
- The principle of equivalence: the energy available to the opposing thoughts is equal, but one is fulfilled and the other is not. If you acknowledge your opposite thought, the energy is used to help your psyche grow; if you deny it, the energy goes into a complex that develops around an archetype.
- The principle of entropy: similar to the concept of entropy in physics, there is a tendency for energy to become evenly distributed. In the case of the psyche, as we grow, older extreme differences, such as masculine and feminine, become less extreme and we better acknowledge or "transcend" the opposite tendencies in us leading to a more balanced and stable personality.
Thus, according to this model, the goal of life is to transcend the opposites within one's psyche and develop a balanced personality or self, in which every aspect, conscious and unconscious, personal and collective, is expressed and harmonized.
Analytical psychology distinguishes between a personal and a collective unconscious. The basic assumption is that the personal unconscious is a potent part—probably the more active part—of the normal human psyche. Reliable communication between the conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche is necessary for happiness.
Also crucial is the belief that dreams show ideas, beliefs, and feelings of which individuals may not be readily aware, but need to be, and that such material is expressed in a personalized vocabulary of visual metaphors. Things "known but unknown" are contained in the unconscious, and dreams are one of the main vehicles for the unconscious to express them.
The term "collective unconscious" was originally coined by Carl Jung. It refers to that part of a person's unconscious which is common to all human beings. Jung took on the task of exploring and even attempting to discern the mysteries stored in the collective unconscious. He discovered that certain symbolic themes existed in all cultures, all epochs, and in every individual. Together, these symbolic themes comprise "the archetypes of the collective unconscious."
We experience the unconscious through symbols encountered in all aspects of life: in dreams, art, religion, and the symbolic dramas we enact in our relationships and life pursuits. Essential to the encounter with the unconscious and the reconciliation of the individual's consciousness with this broader world, is learning this symbolic language, and thus interpreting the appearance of the various archetypes.
The term "archetype" can be understood as quite similar to—and was probably directly influenced by—Kant's "categories" of understanding and Plato's "forms" or "ideas." According to Jung's original structural view, archetypes are conceived of as sorts of psychological organs, directly analogous to our physical, bodily organs: both being morphological givens for the species, and both arising at least partially through evolutionary processes.
Current thinking in analytical psychology has explored nearly diametrically opposing paths. Some have pursued deeply structural views, along the lines of complexity theory in mathematics; others, most notably James Hillman's archetypal school, have tried to work in a post-structuralist way.
Perhaps the most important archetype would be what Jung termed the "self." It could be described as the ultimate pattern of psychological life. The self can be characterized as both the totality of the personality, conscious and unconscious, and the process of becoming the whole personality. It can be described as both the goal of one's psychological life and that which pulls one toward it.
A complex is a pattern of suppressed thoughts and feelings that cluster—constellate—around a theme provided by some archetype. A complex is an emotionally charged group of ideas or images, and may also be called a "feeling-toned idea" that accumulates over the years around certain archetypes, such as the mother, wise man, or child. Sigmund Freud's Oedipus complex is a clear example. Complexes can interfere with the intentions of the will, and disturb the memory and conscious performance. They can also be compared to the "splinter psyches" or "multiple personalities" described by other psychopathologists, whose origins spring from a trauma, an emotional shock for instance, that causes a split in the psyche.
Jung seemed to see complexes as quite autonomous parts of psychological life. He stressed that complexes are not negative in themselves, but their effects often are. The possession of complexes does not in itself cause neurosis, but the denial of their existence causes the complex to become pathological. Likewise, identification with a complex is a frequent source of neurosis. The key in analysis is not to get rid of the complexes, but to minimize their negative effects by understanding the part they play in eliciting behavioral and emotional reactions.
Individuation occurs when the conscious and unconscious have learned to live at peace and complement one another. This process leads an individual to become whole, integrated, calm, and happy. Jung believed that individuation was a natural process of maturation inherent in the nature of human beings, and was not only an analytic process. The encounter between consciousness and the symbols arising from the unconscious enriches life and promotes psychological development.
Jung pioneered this process of individuation in his work with the middle-aged and elderly, especially those who felt their lives had lost meaning. He helped them to view their lives from the perspective of history, religion, and spirituality. Many of these patients had lost their religious beliefs. Jung found that if they could rediscover their own meaning as expressed in dreams and imagination, as well as through the exploration of mythology and religion, they would develop more complete personalities. To undergo this individuation process, individuals must allow themselves to be open to the parts of themselves beyond their own ego and, when necessary, question the assumptions of the operant societal worldview, rather than just blindly live life in accordance with dominant norms and assumptions.
Individuation also takes on an expanded meaning: it is a dialectical process concerned with the development of wholeness. In Jung's opinion, the spontaneously produced symbols representing this cannot be distinguished from the God-image. Thus, individuation became identified with religious or spiritual development.
If a person does not proceed toward individuation, neurotic symptoms may arise. Symptoms can be diverse, including, for instance, phobias, fetishism, and depression. Symptoms are interpreted to be similar to dreams in that there is a concealed meaning in the apparently useless symptom.
"Neurosis" results from a disharmony between the individual's consciousness and the greater archetypal world. The aim of psychotherapy is to assist the individual in reestablishing a healthy relationship to the unconscious (neither being swamped by it—a state characteristic of psychosis—nor being completely shut off from it—a state that results in malaise, empty consumerism, narcissism, and a life cut off from deeper meaning).
Synchronicity is defined as two simultaneous events that occur coincidentally, and that are not causally related, but result in meaningful connection. Thus, synchronicity is a third alternative to the mechanistic idea, generally accepted by Freudians and Behaviorists, that the past determines the future through a process of cause and effect, and the teleological explanation, favored by Humanists and Existentialists, that we are led by our ideas about the future. Jung believed that synchronicity is evidence of our connection as human beings through the collective unconscious.
Synchronicity is also defined as the meaningful coincidence of an inner image with an outer event, which can often let one see the world in a new light, especially if one responds very deeply to the meaning of the event, with the full involvement of his or her being.
Synchronicity often occurs in the patient-therapist relationship and can cause psychological transformation when experienced, but it is not confined there. There is also evidence for synchronicity in the I Ching, astrology, alchemy, and parapsychology.
Analytical psychology distinguishes several psychological types or temperaments. In order to better understand ourselves we need to understand the way we characteristically perceive, and then act upon, information. Jung identified two core psychological processes that he termed "extravert" (as originally spelled by Jung and considered a variant of the word "extrovert" in the Merriam Webster Dictionary) and "introvert." In Jung's original usage, the "extravert" orientation finds meaning outside the self, preferring the external world of things, people, and activities. The "introvert" is introspective and finds meaning within, preferring the internal world of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and dreams.
Jung also identified four primary modes of experiencing the world, which he termed the four functions: sensing, thinking, intuiting, and feeling. Generally speaking, we tend to work from our most developed function, while we need to broaden our personality by developing the other less developed functions.
These "type preferences" are inborn and not socially constructed through interaction with parents, family, culture, or other external influences. Even so, the individual is impacted in the quality and strength of the development in his or her preferences. Nature and nurture are both at play. A supportive environment will support and facilitate inborn preference development; a contrary environment will impede or retard the natural development of inborn preferences. The mental health problems of many left-handed children, who are forced to be right-handed, appear similar to what often occurs when people are "forced" into a non-preferred mode of personal orientation.
Comparison: Psychoanalysis and Analytical Psychology
Generally speaking, psychological analysis is a way to experience and integrate unknown material. It is a search for the meaning of behaviors, symptoms, and events. This effort to understand the "deep" contents of the psyche that underlie cognitive and behavioral processes has come to be known as depth psychology. Freudian psychoanalysis and Jung's analytical psychology are different schools within depth psychology. While they both attempt to understand the workings of the human psyche, they conceptualize it differently. For both though, a healthy personality is one in which the different aspects have been brought into harmony.
For Jungian analysts, the mind has three aspects: the conscious mind, or "ego," the "personal unconscious," where memories of the individual's experiences may be stored, and the "collective unconscious," which contains the wisdom of all human experience and is common to all human beings, but which is not directly accessible to the conscious ego, and is only manifested through dreams and spiritual experiences. Thus, for Jungian analysts, the healthy person is one who has brought into consciousness the wise guidance of the collective unconscious and harmonized this with their personal desires and experiences.
Freud also divided the mind into three components, called the ego, superego, and id. The "ego" is again the conscious aspect of the individual's mind, while the "superego" and "id" are unconscious. The "superego" contains internalized rules, morals, and expectations of appropriate behavior. The "id" consists of instinctual desires, particularly sexual desire, and provides energy to think and act, often in ways the superego disapproves of. Thus, for Freud, the ego must strive to bring balance between the primal desires of the id and the strict controls of the superego, in order to develop a healthy personality.
Analysts from both schools work on helping their clients get in touch with the unconscious aspects of their minds to help them achieve the goal of a healthy personality. There are many channels to reach this greater self-knowledge. The analysis of dreams is the most common. Others may include analyzing feelings expressed in art works, poetry, or other forms of creativity.
Giving a complete description of the process of dream interpretation is complex. While the Freudian approach assumes that the material hidden in the unconscious is based on repressed sexual instincts, analytical psychology has a more general approach, with no preconceived assumption about the unconscious material. The unconscious, for Jungian analysts, may contain repressed sexual drives, but also aspirations, fears, and archetypes of the collective unconscious. Freudians would interpret dreams of long objects as representing the phallus, and therefore ascribe sexual desire to such dreams. On the other hand, Jungian analysts would include the context of the object, other people or objects in the dream, and the emotions experienced, etc., and might well conclude that even a dream involving sexual organs did not primarily refer to sexual desire, but, for example, could be about spiritual power or fertility.
Jung started his career working with hospitalized patients who had major mental illnesses, most notably schizophrenia. He was interested in the possibilities of an unknown "brain toxin" that could be the cause of schizophrenia. Jung hypothesized a medical basis for schizophrenia that was beyond the understanding of the medical science of his day. It can perhaps be said that schizophrenia is both medical and psychological. Theorists and scientists may say that schizophrenia occurs on the genetic and electrochemical levels, but for one who suffers from schizophrenia, it also exists in their mind and experience.
It is important to note that Jung himself seemed to see his work not as a complete psychology in itself, but as his unique contribution to the field. Jung claimed late in his career that for only about a third of his patients did he use "Jungian analysis." For another third, Freudian psychoanalysis seemed to best suit the patient's needs and for the final third Adlerian analysis was most appropriate. In fact, it seems that most contemporary Jungian clinicians merge a developmentally grounded theory, such as self psychology, with Jungian theories in order to have a "whole" theoretical repertoire to perform effective clinical work.
The "I," or ego, is tremendously important to Jung's clinical work. Jung's theory of the etiology of psychopathology can be simplified to regarding a psychotic episode as the conscious ego being overwhelmed by the "rest" of the psyche, as a reaction to the ego having completely repressed the psyche as a whole. John Weir Perry's psychological description of a psychotic episode, recounted in his book The Far Side of Madness, explores and fleshes out this idea of Jung's very well.
Samuels (1985) has distinguished three schools of "post-Jungian" therapy: the classical, the developmental, and the archetypal. In addition, depth psychology is strongly influenced by Jung, with contributions from Freud, James Hillman, and Alfred Adler.
The classical school tries to remain faithful to what Jung himself proposed and taught in person, and in his over 20 volumes of published material. There are evolutions within the classical school, however the focus is on the self and individuation.
The developmental school has a focus on the importance of infancy in the evolution of adult personality and character, and an equally stringent emphasis on the analysis of transference-countertransference dynamics in clinical work. This school, associated with Michael Fordham, Brian Feldman, and others, has a very close relationship with psychoanalysis and can be considered a bridge between Jungian analysis and Melanie Klein's "object relations theory."
Archetypal psychology was founded by James Hillman, who is considered one of the most original psychologists of the twentieth century. He trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich, and acknowledges that archetypal psychology originated with Jung, although it developed in a somewhat different direction. Whereas Jung’s psychology focused on the self, its dynamics and its constellations of archetypes (ego, anima, animus, shadow), Hillman’s archetypal psychology relativizes and de-literalizes the ego and focuses on the psyche, or soul, itself and the "archai," the deepest patterns of psychic functioning, known as "the fundamental fantasies that animate all life."
Other contributors to the archetypal school (sometimes called "the imaginal school"), include Clarissa Pinkola Estés, who views ethnic and aboriginal people as the originators of archetypal psychology who have long carried the maps to the journey of the soul in their songs, tales, dream-telling, art,and rituals; and Marion Woodman, who proposes a feminist viewpoint regarding archetypal psychology. Robert L. Moore, one of Jung's most dedicated followers, has explored the archetypal level of the human psyche in a series of five books co-authored with Douglas Gillette. Moore likens the archetypal level of the human psyche to the hard wiring of a computer, while our personalized ego consciousness is likened to the software.
Most mythopoeticists/archetypal psychology innovators regard the self not as the main archetype of the collective unconscious as Jung thought, but rather assign each archetype equal value. Some think of the self as that which contains, and yet is suffused by, all the other archetypes, each giving life to the other.
Depth psychology is a broad term that refers to any psychological approach examining the depth (the hidden or deeper parts) of human experience. It is strongly influenced by the work of Carl Jung, especially his emphasis on questions of psyche, human development, and personality development (or individuation).
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Bouree, C. George. 1997, 2006. Carl Jung. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- Jung, C. G., and J. Campbell. 1976. The Portable Jung. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0140150706.
- Jung, C. G., and Antony Storr. 1983. The Essential Jung. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691024553.
- Perry, John Weir. 1974. The Far Side of Madness. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0133030245
- Samuels, Andrew. 1986. Jung and the Post-Jungians. London: Routledge. ISBN 0710208642.
All links retrieved July 26, 2023.
- International Association for Analytical Psychology
- Outline of Jungian Psychology by Clifton Snider.
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