Two of Jung’s archetypes are the



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Jung gave the technical name archetype to the part of the psyche that creates the images shared in the collective unconscious. An archetype is a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image etc. They are an unlearned tendency to experience things in a certain way. Archetypes are universally present in individual psyches. The archetype has no form of its own, but it acts as an "organizing principle" on the things we see or do.

One of the reasons why Jung’s concept of archetypes has come under fire is because it has been misunderstood. Jung was not saying that the experiences of our ancestors are somehow handed down to us in the form of a set of mental pictures with which we are born. He was saying that the mind contains structures which, when combined with knowledge gained through our experiences, construct uniform images. In Jung’s words it is not ‘a question of inherited ideas, but a functional disposition to produce the same, or very similar ideas’.

Two of Jung’s archetypes are the Persona and the Shadow. The persona is the tendency to put up a front to cover our true natures, for the benefit of society. In dreams, the persona may manifest itself in images of ourselves trapped inside a heavy coat of armour, or appearing at a party in disguise.




Life instincts in general are represented in Jung's system; they are a part of an archetype called the shadow. It derives from our pre-human, animal past, when our concerns were limited to survival and reproduction, and when we weren't self-conscious. It embodies chaos and wildness of character. The shadow thus tends not to obey rules, and in doing so may discover new lands or plunge things into chaos and battle. The Shadow is the "dark side" of the ego, and the evil that we are capable of is often stored there. Actually, the shadow is amoral -- neither good nor bad, just like animals. An animal is capable of tender care for its young and vicious killing for food, but it doesn't choose to do either. It just does what it does. It is “innocent”.
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But from our human perspective, the animal world looks rather brutal, inhuman, so the shadow becomes something of a rubbish bin for the parts of ourselves that we can't quite admit to. In myth, it appears as the wild man, spider-people, mysterious fighters and dark enemies. The shadow denotes the disposition to portray the darker sides of our characters. In dreams the shadow may reveal itself in personifications of evil, for example, Satan, monsters etc.




The Anima (male), Animus (female), or, more simply, the Soul, and is the route to communication with the collective unconscious. The anima/animus represents our true self, as opposed to the masks we wear every day and is the source of our creativity. Anima and animus are male and female principles that represent this deep difference. Whilst men have a fundamental anima and women an animus, each may also have the other, just as men have a feminine side and women a masculine. The anima or animus is the archetype through which you communicate with the collective unconscious generally, and it is important to get into touch with it. It is also the
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archetype that is responsible for much of our love life: We are, as an ancient Greek myth suggests, always looking for our other half, the half that the Gods took from us, in members of the opposite sex. When we fall in love at first sight, then we have found someone that "fills" our anima or animus archetype particularly well!

The most important archetype of all is the Self. The Self is the ultimate unity of the personality. It is called the "midpoint of the personality" a centre between consciousness and the unconsciousness. It signifies the harmony and balance between the various opposing qualities that make up the psyche. It remains basically incomprehensible, as consciousness cannot grasp this personality of which the ego is only one element. The personifications that best represent self are Christ and Buddha, two people who many believe achieved perfection. But Jung felt that perfection of the personality is only truly achieved in death. The Self is also the name Jung used for God or the God image. The Self is the God Archetype and the images and experiences to which it gives birth are the meaning-laden God-images of humanity.
Concerning religion, Jung’s central claim was that our images of God are themselves archetypal. In other words, each of us is born with the tendency to generate religious images of gods, angels and other religious phenomena. The same principles apply here as with the other archetypes. That is, the actual images that we have of God are picked up through our own experiences in the world. The disposition to generate them is, however, innate. Jung argued that in a sense, any images or thoughts that are derived from the archetypes can be considered to be religious.

As such, Jung argued that ‘the numinosum – whatever its cause may be – is an experience of the subject independent of his will’. He stated that a religious experience is always ‘due to a cause external to the individual’. He added, however: ‘The numinousom, is either a quality belonging to a visible object or the influence of an invisible presence that causes a peculiar alteration of consciousness’. Upon this understanding, any experience which is archetypal in origin can be classed as religious, since it involves an invisible presence, independent of the subject’s will, which causes the required ‘alteration of consciousness’. As with the traditional religious concept of God, Jung affirmed that God, along with the images generated by all the other archetypes, is ineffable, since He comes from a part of the mind about which nothing concrete may be known.

If belief in God stems from structural components of the psyche, does this mean that God does or does not exist? Jung says there is no proof either way. He states: “We simply do not know the ultimate derivation of the archetype any more than we know the origin of the psyche. The competence of psychology as an empirical science only goes so far as to establish, on the basis of comparative research, whether for instance the imprint found in the psyche can or cannot be termed a ‘God-image’. Nothing positive or negative can thus be asserted about the possible existence of any God”.

All that can be asserted is that God, and the whole entity of religion, exists as a psychic reality; that is, to those who experience the effects of the archetypes, God is real. However, nothing can proved about his existence or nature outside the mind.

What is the name Jung gave the part of the psyche that creates the images shared in the collective unconscious?

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What is an archetype?

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Why did Jung’s theory of archetypes come under fire and what did he really mean by his theory?

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What is the persona?

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What sort of things does the persona appear as in our dreams?

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What does the shadow derive from?

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What is the shadow?

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What is the anima/animus and what does it represent?

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What does the Self signify?

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What is each of us born with the tendency to do?

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Why can any archetypal experience be classed as religious?

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Does Jung believe that God exists or not and why?

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