Archetypes

Previously we discussed the general structure of the psyche in Living between Worlds and some indicators of the split in Psychopathology. Now let’s take a look at the archetypes that create those indicators.

Carl Jung in the Collected Works, Volume 9, talks about the archetypes of the collective unconscious.

As Jim Hollis described, the archetype is the organizing function, that includes a cluster of energies, responsible for the specific type of a split, and a corresponding compensatory function. 

Archetypes are the content of the collective unconscious, which are very old patterns of experience that every human goes through, unconsciously. They formed long time ago, and every person is born with them. This collective inheritance makes us human.

The way we can become aware of archetypes is by projection onto external things. When we are trying to perceive something, we always have to deal with projections, whether we know about it or not. Those projections reflect the psychic processes that are so deep in our psyche that we cannot easily differentiate them from our perception.

Figure 1. The structure of the psyche with expanded archetypes functions

The psychopathological function provides plenty of examples of archetypal projections that distort our normal perception of reality, and our reactions. Loosing self-awareness, experiencing strange feelings, dreams, changes of energy level are the results of archetypal projections.

Even our normal social function is govern by the archetypes. Our language is based on them too. When we think, we think in the forms that are organized by the archetypes. Our insights are the archetypal projections.

Let’s discuss the following major archetypes:

  • The archetype of meaning
  • The archetype of transformation
  • The archetype of the shadow
  • The archetype of the anima / animus
  • The archetype of the Self

When we first approach the unconscious, we face the personal unconscious. This is a thin layer where our individual experiences that are repressed or forgotten are stored. It contains feeling-toned complexes that we encounter when we are tired or irritated. This layer is governed by the shadow archetype. Usually we experience shadow projections in terms like “the enemy” or something “bad”.

The next layer is anima (for men) / animus (for women). This is a beginning of the huge collective unconscious realm. It is not easy to get there, because our shadow as the door is on the way. The anima is a real “witch” that can really mess us up. At the same time the anima is the feeling of being alive, and true happiness.

The archetype of meaning defines the purpose to live, feeling connected to the real truth, getting an insight. We all seek this meaning. When we get it, we have this resonance feeling as the affirmation.

To get to the archetype of meaning, one has to invoke the archetype of transformation. This transformation pattern allows us to go through the shadow and anima to the archetype of the Self.

The archetype of the Self is “stopping the world” experience. Our projections and perceptions cease to exist. We have the numinous experience. This is called “the enlightenment”.

The whole discovery of these archetypes and going through the transformation process is called “individuation” or “a hero journey”. This process provides the healing of the split between the ego and the instincts, and eliminates the psychopathological symptoms (a “victory”).

While these concepts were defined and redefined using different terminology through the entire history of mankind, each person still has to discover them on one’s own to get practical understanding of them. We all are busy with our social function, and our system of education, including family, does not provide such a background. Therefore, we continue with what we got, mostly quietly working on our own symptoms, and getting things done regardless of the shortcomings of our consciousness.

One thought on “Archetypes

  1. Pingback: Psychological Teachings – Iconologist Psyche

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