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Collective Unconscious

  The collective unconscious is a Jungian term for the many symbols, chiefly religious, which are collective and not individual in nature. These collective symbols are natural, spontaneous products which cannot be made by an individual person.

A religious person might see these symbols as accessible to people who accept God. An atheist might think that they are invented; but they are impossible to invent. We are not able to place invention dates, times or authors for symbols. They seem to have no human source.

Jung\'s analytical psychology believed them to be collective representations, evolving from creative fantasies and dreams that existed in the first age of the human world—‘primeval dreaming’. They are therefore ‘involuntary spontaneous manifestations’, which were not, and could not have been, created intentionally. Jung saw dreams as the holding place of this collective unconscious, and read his patients\' dreams symbolically from this point of view, rather than as elements which disguised repressed emotional meaning.

Dreams contain these archaic remnants in much the same way as the human body contains the history of its evolution. The human mind is seen to be organized in a similar way, containing traces of archaic man whose mind was closer to that of an animal. The old psyche is the basis of our mind, full of collective images and primitive motifs. This collective unconscious throws up archetypes which are primordial images and are not inherited representations. MJ

Further reading C.G. Jung, Four Archetypes: Mother, Rebirth, Spirit, Trickster.



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