Jungian Archetypes

“The inherited part of the psyche; structuring patterns of psychological performance linked to instinct; a hypothetical entity irrepresentable in itself and evident only through its manifestations. Jung’s theory of the archetypes developed in three stages. In 1912 he wrote of primordial images which he recognised in the unconscious life of his patients as well as by way of his own self-analysis. These images were similar to motifs repeated everywhere and throughout history but their main features were their numinosity, unconsciousness and autonomy. As conceived by Jung, the collective unconscious promotes such images. By 1917, he was writing of non-personal dominants or nodal points in the psyche which attract energy and influence a person’s functioning. It was in 1919 that he first made use of the term archetype and he did so to avoid any suggestion that it was the content and not the unconscious and irrepresentable outline or pattern that was fundamental. References are made to the archetype per se to be clearly distinguished from an archetypal image realisable (or realised) by man. The archetype is a psychosomatic concept, linking body and psyche, instinct and image. This was important for Jung since he did not regard psychology and imagery as correlates or reflections of biological drives. His assertion that images evoke the aim of the instincts implies that they deserve equal place. Archetypes are recognisable in outer behaviours, especially those that cluster around the basic and universal experiences of life such as birth, marriage, motherhood, death and separation. They also adhere to the structure of the human psyche itself and are observable in relation to inner or psychic life, revealing themselves by way of such inner figures as anima, shadow, persona and so forth. Theoretically, there could be any number of archetypes. Archetypal patterns wait to be realised in the personality, are capable of infinite variation, are dependent upon individual expression and exercise a fascination reinforced by traditional or cultural expectation; and, so, carry a strong, potentially overpowering charge of energy which it is difficult to resist (someone’s ability to do so being dependent upon his stage of development and state of consciousness). Archetypes arouse affect, blind one to realities and take possession of will. To live archetypally is to live without limitations.” (Samuels et al, (1986)  A Critical Dictionary Of Analytical Psychology. London: Routledge.