Collective Unconscious

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Collective unconscious, sometimes misstated as collective subconscious, is a term of analytical psychology, coined by Carl Jung. It is a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems, and describes how the structure of the psyche autonomously organizing experience. Jung distinguished the Collective Unconscious from the Personal unconscious, in that the Personal Unconscious is a personal reservoir of experience unique to each individual, while the Collective Unconscious collects and organizes those personal experiences in a similar way with each member of a particular species.

Jung stated in his book Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (p.43) “My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.”

Jung also made reference to contents of this category of the unconscious psyche as being similar to Levy-Brul's use of collective representations or "representations collectives," Mythological "motifs," Hubert and Mauss's "categories of the imagination," and Adolf Bastian's "primordial thoughts."

Jung's writing style has often been described as dense and technical, which might have contributed to the definition of the Collective Unconscious being misconstrued as an inheritance of accumulated experience from preceding generations.

Further reading

  • Jung, Carl. (1959). Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.
  • Jung, Carl. The Development of Personality.
  • Jung, Carl. (1970). "Psychic conflicts in a child.", Collected Works of C. G. Jung, 17. Princeton University Press. 235 p. (p. 1-35).
  • Whitmont, Edward C. (1969). The Symbolic Quest. Princeton University Press.
  • Gallo, Ernest. "Synchronicity and the Archetypes," Skeptical Inquirer, 18 (4). Summer 1994.

External links