The Jungian Model of Psyche

PsychologyPersonality Psychology

The Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung maintained that the psyche is a self-regulating system. Like Freud, Jung also believed that the mind, or psyche, has a conscious and unconscious threshold, and this idea served as the foundation for his theory of personality. Unlike Freud, however, Jung firmly believed that the most significant aspect of the unconscious originates not from a person's personal experiences but rather from the history of human existence. Jung referred to this idea as the collective unconscious.

What is Unconscious?

According to Jung's analytic psychology, the unconscious usually makes up for our conscious propensities of the psyche. For instance, if we consciously look for stimulation and excitement, the unconscious will try to balance this by forcing us to find peace and quiet— perhaps by being sick and having to miss a party. Alternatively, if we experience discontentment in our work or interpersonal relationships, the unconscious may make up for it by giving us dreams in which we feel competent and in control.

In his theory of the psyche, the ego serves as the unconscious self's support system in a psychologically healthy person. As a result, awareness is not given much weight in analytical psychology, and focusing too much attention on developing one's conscious psyche might predispose one to psychological instability.

Reflexes and Personal Unconscious

Every person has unconscious inclinations that grow into patterns resulting from emotionally bound (sometimes unpleasant) suppressed events, especially those that happened when they were young. Jung refers to these unconscious behaviors as "complexes." For instance, we could develop an "inferiority complex" due to early failures or experiences of being repeatedly made fun. These unconscious complexes significantly impact our behavior. Complexes, according to Jung, form their basis in a part of the psyche he refers to as the "personal unconscious."

What is the Basis of Jung's Collective Unconscious?

Just like Freud, Jung also laid great emphasis on dreams and their symbolic interpretation. His theory of the collective unconscious was largely based on dreams. From childhood, he was fascinated by an instinct that he was connected to something bigger than himself, and he noticed that his dreams contained things beyond his knowledge and experiences. Later, Jung got the opportunity to observe schizophrenia patients up close and turn his insights into science while working in a hospital. He saw that the hallucinations and delusions of his patients contained pictures and symbols that were larger than any potential personal encounters and even had mythological dimensions, which greatly influenced Jungian concepts of the collective unconscious.

The Collective Unconscious and Archetypes

According to Jung, the collective unconscious is a part of our unconscious mind that we carry with us when we are born and links us to the history of human thinking and behavior. After having a dream in which he was in a house with the first floor being well decorated and organized (representing the conscious personality), the ground floor being more medieval and dark (representing the personal unconscious), and the basement being primitively decorated and containing ancient skulls, Jung got an insight into his concept of the collective unconscious.

In the contemporary setting, the collective unconscious might be parallel to a current "database" or the "Cloud" storage of computers. We all have access to a great body of knowledge that dates back to ancient times, allowing us to have experiences characteristic of humanity—and this is what Jung referred to as the "archetypes."

Archetypes are ideas that everyone understands intuitively, or what Carl Jung called "identical psychic structures" that are common. Because of archetypes, we may share ideas and perspectives with individuals we have never met, despite their very diverse backgrounds and cultures—for instance, the mother-child relationships. We respond to the mother figure in a certain way regardless of where we were born in the globe, as well as our culture, religion, or race.


The correlated Jungian concepts of archetypes and collective unconscious remain dormant in explaining the psyche. They can be seen as "the deposits of all our ancestral experiences, but they are not the experiences themselves," as Carl Jung put it. Like blueprints, archetypes only come to life as experiences when we unknowingly choose to act them out in response to an external event, such as a challenge or a crisis in our personal lives. Individuals also utilize and express elements of the collective unconscious in a way that is unique to them.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47