Jung’s Plurality of the Psyche Theory | Analysis

Tamara Gordon

Jung & Archetypal Psychology

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It has been said that Jung’s psychology is an investigation into ‘the meaning of being plural.’ Explore Jung’s ideas about the plurality of the psyche, indicating why he regarded the person as a site for multiple selves, complexes and parts. Further, explore the relationship between unity and diversity, the One and Many, in Jung’s psychology.

Jung believed it was too simple to say that there one just one self. Jung believed there are many parts to the self, that there is a plurality to the psyche. These parts of the self includes, the idea of multiple selves, the anima and animus, the ego, shadow, the Self and the persona. This also includes complexes and parts. Jung also discusses the idea of the self and in context to unity and diversity, being one and many; this can be connected to the self in terms of the collective unconscious. I will explore this idea through the idea of being one self amongst a collective, and the relationship between the person unconscious and the collective unconscious.

The Self “is an archetype which expresses the totality of the psyche, and includes the ego and unconscious,” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 25) the Self is an integration of parts. Jung believes that the Self is plural and that “the more aware we are that we are composed of different selves, the less likely we are to suffer a full splitting of the personality” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 25). Jung puts forward the idea of two selves. He saw himself as two selves, one, “the son of my parents…etc,” the other was a “grown up- old…” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 23). He believed that the first self is the ego self and the second self the more creative self. “it is the second self, he believed, that generates creativity and intuition, whereas the ego- the first self- is more concerned with social adaptation and personal stability” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 26). “To achieve wholeness, one first has to go through the experience of fragmentation and experience the many parts of which the psyche is composed” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 73).To be able to really experience what it is to be a whole self, we need to experience all the parts as an individual so that we can then experience the self. One needs to experience the ego and experience the shadow, animus and anima as individuals to be able to experience our self as a whole.

Our ego is what makes our personality. The ego is the “complex factor to which all conscious contents are related” (Tacey, The Jung Reader, 2012, p. 155). The ego is the “centre of the field of consciousness,” and the “centre of all personal acts” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 155). Jung believes that the ego has no limitations as it is “capable of indefinite extension,” however it is limited by the unknown, which falls into two groups of objects, “those which are outside and can be experienced by the senses and those which are inside and are experienced immediately.” The first being the “outer world,” and the second the “inner world,” Jung also calls the inner world the “unconscious” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 155) thereby relating the ego to the unconscious. This ego is in the centre of our conscious; the ego is what brings all these parts together to create the self.

The shadow is the part of our ‘inner world,’ part of our unconscious. We work on bringing our shadow into conscious awareness so that we can better understand ourselves as a whole. Jung describes this part of ourselves as the “dark side” (Tacey, The Jung Reader, 2012, p. 55). He believed that “the more an individual or group strived for light, the longer and darker is the shadow that is cast” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 55). The shadow along with the anima and animus are believed to be the “most disturbing influence on the ego” (Tacey, The Jung Reader, 2012, p. 158). We attempt to bring these aspects into conscious awareness so that we can experience them. The easiest of these to experience is the shadow. According to Jung the shadow is “a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considering moral effort.” This involves “recognising the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.” (Tacey, How to Read Jung, 2007, p. 158). By bringing these dark parts of ourselves, our shadow parts of self into consciousness we are able to better understand our self and our weaknesses. By bringing them into our conscious we are able to experience them and strengthen our self. We can do this through experiencing and acknowledging our projections. “The evil within ourselves is experienced first of all through projection. “Since the idea of possessing evil qualities is abhorrent, we ‘project’ these qualities upon those around us” (Tacey, The Jung Reader, 2012, p. 57).

Anima and animus are the inner parts of our self which balances out our masculine and feminine energies. A man possesses the anima and the woman possesses the Animus. Jung describes these through Logos and Eros. In men, “Eros, the function of relationship, is usually less developed than logos.” In woman, “Eros is an expression of their true nature, while Logos is often only a regrettable accident” (Tacey, The Jung Reader, 2012, p. 163). “Anima – The internal, unconscious feminine aspect of a man,” where as the “Animus – The internal, unconscious male aspect of a woman.” Anima is the Latin word for soul, the “seductive and feminine power within a man,” this is the Eros. The animus is Latin for mind or spirit, this is the “willful and visionary masculine luminosity within woman,” (David Van Nuys) this is the Logos. “Since the anima is an archetype that is found in men it is reasonable to suppose that an equivalent archetype must be present in women,” just like the “man is compensated by a feminine element, so to the woman is compensated by a masculine one” (Tacey, The Jung Reader, 2012, p. 63). Jung believes that “masculinity and femininity are principles of the human psyche,” these are “essential elements or constitutive qualities of the mind” (Tacey, The Jung Reader, 2012, p. 65). For Jung the masculinity and femininity are co-existing and complementary, they work together in unconscious of the psyche. These are the harder parts of the unconscious to experience. When we are able to experience our inner Eros and Logos we are able to gain a greater awareness of self.

The persona we don’t generally see as part of our self, though it is. This part helps us shape our personality and who we are. The persona is a “social mask,” it is the “sum total of the conventional attitudes that an individual adopts because he belongs to certain groups,” (Ellenberger, 1970, p. 707) for example, social class, occupation, political parties, etc. It is possible that a person can identify so strongly with their persona that they lose themselves in it and lose contact with their true personality. Identifying ones persona may help us connect back into our true selves.

This image bellow, diagram 1, shows the relationship between the Ego, Shadow and Self and where it falls in the consciousness. The Ego is shown to be in the consciousness, meaning that everything in our ego is known to us, this is what creates our personality and makes up who we are as a person. The persona we take on knowingly, this is why it is in our consciousness. The shadow falls into our personal unconscious. Meaning that the things we don’t like about ourselves and things we cannot cope with gets pushed down into the unconscious. The Self is found in the collective unconscious. These are the parts of us that everyone possesses in them, though may not be known to us. These are our archetypal layers, our anima and animus.

Diagram 1.



Personal Unconscious

Collective unconscious

(Jung Talks, 2011)

The complex is found within the personal unconscious. The personal unconscious is made up of “content which have at one time been conscious but which have disappeared from consciousness through having been forgotten or repressed” (Jung) In Jung’s view of a complex, a complex is an “individual’s experience of a universal tendency” (Jung Talks, 2011). For example the individuals view of their mother, which is universal. The complex is a set of feeling tones and ideas clustered around an archetypal core. When working with a complex, i.e. the mother complex, the complex begins to shift and change within the therapy. The good mother image and the bad mother image come together and change the archetype. It is important to bring to light our complexes, to work through them and be able to strengthen our inner self.

Unlike the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious is not experienced. The content of the collective unconscious have “never been in consciousness, and therefore have never been individually acquired, but owe their existence exclusively to heredity” (Jung). While the personal unconscious is made up of mostly complexes the collective unconscious is made up of archetypes. It consists of “pre-existing forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents” (Jung). These archetypes that we find in the collective unconscious are identifiable universally and culturally. As an individual we all possess different aspects, traits and beliefs within our communities, social groups, work places, etc., as well as universally. These are all part of our collective unconscious. Universally, we inherit the archetypes of simply being human. Along with this we inherit the beliefs and values of what it means to be a human. In our social groups we inherit archetypes such as, the nerd or the jock and these are played out and seen through stereo types.

One can be an individual and plural together, both the ego self and the collective unconscious. For example, in my collective unconscious I possess archetypes such as, Jewish woman, student, waitress etc. I can relate universally to anyone who also poses these archetypes within their collective unconscious. It is my ego and my Self that makes me who I am in relation to these archetypes. It is these parts of myself who make me act in certain ways whilst in these roles, much like the persona. My ego directs me on the way I show that I am Jewish through my personality and behaviours. It is through my ego that directs me to be a studious student and to learn in the manner I learn best in. It is also my ego who directs my personality to be a kind and helpful waitress. It is the collective unconscious who helps direct the ego and all its elements in developing the knowledge of what it truly is to have one Self.

Through this paper I have discussed the idea of multiple selves thorough discussing the anima, animus, ego, shadow, the Self and persona. As well as the idea of the personal unconscious compared to the collective unconscious and how they work together. From here we can see how Jung felt believed that whiles we are one person we can be many Selves.


David Van Nuys, P. (n.d.). Myth, Dream and Symbol Psychology 322. Retrieved from http://www.sonoma.edu/users/v/vannuysd/322/AnimaAnimus.pdf

Ellenberger, H. F. (1970). The Discovery of the Unconscious. USA: Basic Books.

Jung Talks. (2011). C.G Jung Society of Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia: Annette Lowe.

Jung, C. (n.d.). The concept of the Collective Unconscious. Retrieved from http://www.bahaistudies.net/asma/The-Concept-of-the-Collective-Unconscious.pdf

Tacey, D. (2007). How to Read Jung. Great Britain: Granata Publication.

Tacey, D. (Ed.). (2012). The Jung Reader. Sussex: Routleedge.

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