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The Jungian Model of the Psyche

Few people have had as much influence on modern psychology as

Carl Jung; we have Jung to thank for concepts like extroversion and
introversion, archetypes, modern dream analysis, and the collective
unconscious. Psychological terms coined by Jung include the
archetype, the complex, synchronicity, and it is from his work that the
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was developed, a popular staple of
personality tests today.
Among Jungs most important work was his in-depth analysis of the
psyche, which he explained as follows: By psyche I understand the
totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious,
separating the concept from conventional concept of the mind, which
is generally limited to the processes of the conscious brain alone.
Jung believed that the psyche is a self-regulating system, rather like
the body, one that seeks to maintain a balance between opposing
qualities while constantly striving for growth, a process Jung called
Jung saw the psyche as something that could be divided into
component parts with complexes and archetypal contents personified,
in a metaphorical sense, and functioning rather like secondary selves
that contribute to the whole. His concept of the psyche is broken
down as follows:
The ego
To Jung, the ego was the center of the field of consciousness, the part
of the psyche where our conscious awareness resides, our sense of
identity and existence. This part can be seen as a kind of command
HQ, organizing our thoughts, feelings, senses, and intuition, and
regulating access to memory. It is the part that links the inner and
outer worlds together, forming how we relate to that which is external
to us.
How a person relates to the external world is, according to Jung,
determined by their levels of extroversion or introversion and how
they make use of the functions of thinking, feeling, sensation, and
intuition. Some people have developed more of one or two of these
facets than the others, which shapes how they perceive the world
around them.
The origin of the ego lies in the self archetype, where it forms over
the course of early development as the brain attempts to add
meaning and value to its various experiences.

The ego is just one small portion of the self, however; Jung believed
that consciousness is selective, and the ego is the part of the self that
selects the most relevant information from the environment and
chooses a direction to take based on it, while the rest of the
information sinks into the unconscious. It may, therefore, show up
later in the form of dreams or visions, thus entering into the conscious
The personal unconscious
The personal unconscious arises from the interaction between the
collective unconscious and ones personal growth, and was defined by
Jung as follows:
Everything of which I know, but of which I am not at the moment
thinking; everything of which I was once conscious but have now
forgotten; everything perceived by my senses, but not noted by my
conscious mind; everything which, involuntarily and without paying
attention to it, I feel, think, remember, want, and do; all the future
things which are taking shape in me and will sometime come to
consciousness; all this is the content of the unconscious Besides
these we must include all more or less intentional repressions of
painful thought and feelings. I call the sum of these contents the
personal unconscious.
Unlike Freud, Jung saw repression as just one element of the
unconscious, rather than the whole of it. Jung also saw the
unconscious as the house of potential future development, the place
where as yet undeveloped elements coalesced into conscious form.
Complexes, in the Jungian sense, are themed organizations in the
unconscious mind centering around patterns of memories, emotions,
perceptions, and wishes, patterns that are formed by experience and
by an individuals reactions to that experience. Unlike Freud, Jung
believed complexes could be very diverse, rather than individuals
simply having a core sexual complex.
Complexes often behave in a rather automatic manner, which can
lead to a person feeling like the behaviour that arises from them is
out of his or her control. People who are mentally ill or mislabeled as
possessed often have complexes that take over regularly and
Complexes are strongly influenced by the collective unconscious, and
as such, tend to have archetypal elements. In a healthy individual,
complexes are seldom a problem, and indeed are likely key to
balancing the rather one-sided views of the ego so that development

can occur. If the person is mentally unwell, however, and unable to

regulate his or herself (as seen in those experiencing dissociation
between these states), complexes may become overt and more of an
issue. In these cases, the ego is damaged, and is therefore not strong
enough to make use of the complexes via sound reflection, granting
them a full and unruly life of their own.
To treat such people, Jung looked more toward future development
than simply dealing with their pasts; he tried to find what the
symptoms meant and hoped to achieve, and work with them from
that angle.
The collective unconscious
The theory of the collective unconscious is one of Jungs more unique
theories; Jung believed, unlike many of his contemporaries, that all
the elements of an individuals nature are present from birth, and that
the environment of the person brings them out (rather than the
environment creating them). Jung felt that people are born with a
blueprint already in them that will determine the course of their
lives, something which, while controversial at the time, is fairly widely
supported to today owing to the amount of evidence there is in the
animal kingdom for various species being born with a repertoire of
behaviours uniquely adapted to their environments. It has been
observed that these behaviours in animals are activated by
environmental stimuli in the same manner that Jung felt human
behaviours are brought to the fore. According to Jung, the term
archetype is not meant to denote an inherited idea, but rather an
inherited mode of functioning, corresponding to the inborn way in
which the chick emerges from the egg, the bird builds its nest, a
certain kind of wasp stings the motor ganglion of the caterpillar, and
eels find their way to the Bermudas. In other words, it is a pattern of
behaviour. This aspect of the archetype, the purely biological one, is
the proper concern of scientific psychology.
Jung believed that these blueprints are influenced strongly by various
archetypes in our lives, such as our parents and other relatives, major
events (births, deaths, etc.), and archetypes originating in nature and
in our cultures (common symbols and elements like the moon, the
sun, water, fire, etc.). All of these things come together to find
expression in the psyche, and are frequently reflected in our stories
and myths.
Jung did not rule out the spiritual, despite the biological basis he
described the personality as having; he also felt there was an
opposing spiritual polarity which greatly impacts the psyche.
The Self

The Self, according to Jung, was the sum total of the psyche, with all
its potential included. This is the part of the psyche that looks
forward, that contains the drive toward fulfillment and wholeness. In
this, the Self was said to drive the process of individuation, the quest
of the individual to reach his or her fullest potential.
In this area Jung once again is seen to differ from Freud; in Freudian
theory, the ego is responsible for the above process and forms the
axis on which a persons individual psychology spins, whereas in
Jungian theory, the ego is just one part which rises out of the
(infinitely more complex) self.
Jung said that the Persona is an element of the personality which
arises for reasons of adaptation or personal convenience. If you
have certain masks you put on in various situations (such as the
side of yourself you present at work, or to family), that is a persona.
The Persona can be seen as the public relations part of the ego, the
part that allows us to interact socially in a variety of situations with
relative ease.
Those who identify too strongly with their personas, however, can run
into problemsthink of the celebrity who becomes too involved with
his or herself as the star, the person who cannot leave work at
work, or the academic who seems condescending to everyone. Doing
the aforementioned can stunt someones personal growth a great
deal, as other aspects of the self then cannot properly develop,
crippling overall growth.
The persona usually grows from the parts of people that wished once
to please teachers, parents, and other authority figures, and as such
it leans heavily toward embodying only ones best qualities, leaving
those negative traits which contradict the Persona to form the
The Shadow
Those traits that we dislike, or would rather ignore, come together to
form what Jung called the Shadow. This part of the psyche, which is
also influenced heavily by the collective unconscious, is a form of
complex, and is generally the complex most accessible by the
conscious mind.
Jung did not believe the Shadow to be without purpose or merit; he
felt that where there is light, there must also be shadowwhich is
to say that the Shadow has an important role to play in balancing the
overall psyche. Without a well-developed shadow side, a person can
easily become shallow and extremely preoccupied with the opinions
of others, a walking Persona. Just as conflict is necessary to advancing

the plot of any good novel, light and dark are necessary to our
personal growth.
Jung believed that, not wanting to look at their Shadows directly,
many people project them onto others, meaning that the qualities we
often cannot stand in others, we have in ourselves and wish to not
see. To truly grow as a person, one must cease such willful blindness
to ones Shadow and attempt to balance it with the Persona.
Anima and animus
According to Jung, the anima and animus are the contra-sexual
archetypes of the psyche, with the anima being in a man and animus
in a woman. These are built from feminine and masculine archetypes
the individual experiences, as well as experience with members of the
opposite sex (beginning with a parent), and seek to balance out ones
otherwise possible one-sided experience of gender. Like the Shadow,
these archetypes tend to wind up being projected, only in a more
idealized form; one looks for the reflection of ones anima or animus
in a potential mate, accounting for the phenomenon of love at first
Jung did see either masculinity or femininity as the superior side of
the gender coin (unlike many of his peers, who favoured masculinity),
but merely as two halves of a whole, such as light and shadow, halves
which ought to serve to balance one another out.
Individuation, to Jung, was the quest for wholeness that the human
psyche invariably undertakes, the journey to become conscious of his
or herself as a unique human being, but unique only in the same
sense that we all are, not more or less so than others.
Jung did not try to run from the importance of conflict to human
psychology; he saw it as inherent and necessary for growth. In dealing
with the challenges of the outside world and ones own many internal
opposites, one slowly becomes more conscious, enlightened, and
creative. The product of overcoming these clashes was a symbol
which Jung felt would contribute to a new direction where justice was
done to all sides of a conflict. This symbol was seen as a product of
the unconscious rather than of rational thought, and carried with it
aspects of both the conscious and unconscious worlds in its work as a
transformative agent. The development that springs from this
transmutation, which is so essential to Jungian psychology, is the
process of individuation.