This essay will discuss Jung’s theories including conscious, personal unconscious and collective unconscious, archetypes, complexes, universal influences, the principal of equivalence, the principle of entropy, the principal of polarity and how they relate or not relate to people in the latter stages of life.
The Conscious, Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious
Jung believed the psyche was made up of three parts, the conscious, which he described as the experience of the here and now. Jung posited the conscious mind was only a tiny part of the psyche. The personal unconscious, as described by Jung is the part of the mind which stores all that was once conscious, Jung saw the unconscious as a reservoir of both repressed material and creativity, this is where he differed from Freud, who took the view that the personal unconscious was where we stored not only repressed material but also instincts. The final part of Jung’s theory of the mind is the Collective Unconscious and it is this part of Jung’s theory that differs considerably from other theories. Jung believed we inherit this part of our mind from our ancestors, within this part of our mind lies the shared journey and a search for meaning, as well as archetypes. As we are born with all of these parts of our psyche in place, we are conscious from the moment we are born, our memories will then drop to our personal unconscious and according to Jung’s archetype theory in particular the mother archetype, we arrive into the world needing a mother type relationship I would argue this piece of Jung’s theory does not just relate to a person in the latter stages of their lives.
According to Jung, archetypes are stored in the collective unconscious and are inherited by our ancestors. Archetypes are describes as an organizing principle on things we do or see.( http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/jung.html ). Examples of common archetypes are the mother archetype – our ability to recognise and need a certain relationship in our lives, that of mothering. The shadow – according to Jung our sex and life instincts are stored within the Shadow archetype. It is the dark side of our ego and the evil we are capable is stored there. The Personal archetype is described as the mask we put on before we face the world outside. Anima and Animus is part of our persona, the role of male or female we must play. There are many other archetypes and Jung did not supply a comprehensive list. As we are born with the collective unconscious already in place having inherited it as it were from our ancestors it would seem that this part of Jung’s theory does not only apply to the latter stages of our lives.
Jung,s Theory of the Dynamics of the Psyche
Jung put forward three theories of the dynamics of the psyche; the principle of opposites, the principle of equivalence and the principle of entropy.
The Principle of Opposites
This principle is found throughout Jung’s theories e.g. Introversion and extroversion, analytical and spiritual. The principal works on the basis of if we have a good thought that somewhere in our mind we will have a bad thought. These opposites are found even in the smallest of children for example children often know the difference between good and bad, and often have good and bad thoughts at the same time. To quote the website
http://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/famous_psychologist_and_psychologists/psychologist_famous_carl_jung.htm the author gives an example of when he was a eleven year old bird rescuing a small bird, there was a part of him that wanted to crush the bird in his hand (his shadow) and another part of him that wanted to save and nurture the bird. I believe this is a part of all of us as children, there were many times in my own childhood when I was told not to touch something or take something and a part of me considered both touching or taking that certain thing that was forbidden.
According to Jung equal energy was given to both choices, he described this theory as the principle of equivalence, in the example given with regards to saving the wild bird, there was an equal amount of psychic energy given to both choices ; saving the bird and crushing the bird. Common sense tells us that if an eleven year old boy can have opposite thoughts about crushing and saving a bird then there is no reason why both Jung’s theories of equivalence and opposites should not only apply to people in the latter stages of life.
As in the case of the author of the website who chose to save the bird the energy that was given to this end of the continuum was used to save the bird. The energy from the other end of the continuum can be used in two ways, if the author had of denied he had this thought then the energy would have gone toward creating a complex.
A complex is according to Jung, a cluster of thoughts and feelings that gather around a theme provided by an archetype, in the case of crushing the bird, the cluster might be around the Shadow archetype.
Jung put forward the idea we all have opposites