Jungian Psychology & Jung’s Core Concepts

Jungian Psychology & Jung's Core Concepts - Nu Age Psychology

Jungian psychology originated from the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was fascinated by our inner world. After working with Freud, he developed his own system for understanding the human psyche, which he himself called analytical psychology. It was primarily intended as a theoretical foundation for the treatment of mental illness. His views have little resonance in contemporary psychology. Yet Jung has had a strong impact on our cultural baggage, with concepts such as archetype, shadow, collective unconscious, synchronicity, anima, and animus.

 Jung was regarded by his mentor and friend Sigmund Freud as his “heir to the throne”: together they would disseminate Freud’s psychoanalysis. But it didn’t go as planned. Their views on the cause of mental illness differed too much for this, making further cooperation impossible. Just like Freud, Jung considered the psyche to be made up of several separate but interacting systems. For Jung, the three most important were the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. It was mainly the existence of that last part of the psyche that Freud went against the hair. When Jung openly criticized Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex during a convention in 1912, it was clear that their ways would separate.

A different interpretation of the libido in Jungian psychology

 The main point of contention was Freud’s emphasis on repressed feelings of lust, which he saw as the only culprit for the occurrence of the diseases of the mind. In Freud’s view, the unconscious was a repository of traumatic experiences that the person had sustained as a child. Jung did not agree with Freud about the predominant role of sexuality. He believed that libido was not just sexual energy, but instead general psychic energy that could stimulate the individual spiritually, intellectually, and creatively. In other words, it is the energy that is needed to make the personality function. Jung compares it to nourishing the body: in the same way a person is ‘nourished’ by his experiences. Forms of psychic activity are for example sensation, memory, thinking, feeling, wishing, striving and lusting.

Different views on the structure of the psyche and the unconscious

jungian psychology concepts of the mind

Jung and Freud agreed that, in addition to the rational, conscious aspect of personality, there is an underground, hidden part of the psyche: the unconscious. However, their opinions differed on the content of that unconscious part of the psyche. Freud assumed that the instinctive needs of man in the unconscious came into conflict with the demands and expectations of society.

Association technique in psychoanalysis

 To gain access to the unconscious, Freud and Jung made use of word associations: by having their patients respond to stimulus words, they brought unconscious contents into consciousness up to this point. A person’s responses to stimulus words could then be associated with suppressed ideas and impulses that influenced his behavior. Jung had further refined Freud’s technique by introducing trade electrodes that registered changes in skin resistance when the patient read words. The emotional response was interpreted as an indication of a complex. Although he was successful with his ‘psycho-galvanometer’, Jung wanted to make faster progress in his exploration of the unconscious.

Different views on dreams

 Because Jung’s views (Jungian psychology in general) on the psyche were so different from Freud’s, it was inevitable that he developed other ideas about the meaning of dreams. He knew Freud’s work on Dui Duiding from 1900 and agreed that dreams were manifestations of the unconscious.

The ‘big dreams’

 However, unlike Freud, Jung believed that dreams do not always relate to a person’s personal life. Some dreams resemble visions from another world. Jung calls this ‘the big dreams’. It was a phenomenon that he had often noticed in patients undergoing psychoanalytic treatment.

Dream series

 An innovation that Jung introduced to dream analysis is the dream series method. Here particular attention is paid to recurring themes in dreams, in contrast to Freudians who analyze each dream in itself. Jung did not believe in invariable symbolism and interpretation of dreams. His method for interpreting dreams is called amplification.

Jungian psychology concepts - sleep


 With amplification, the analyst collects as much material as possible around a certain image from the dream of a patient grafting. So everything that in literature, mythology, religion and so on can be associated through association with what the patient tells. With this, the Jungian psychology analyst aims to uncover the symbolic meaning and the archetypal origin of the patient’s fantasies. For example, in alchemy, Jung found a rich source of symbols from which he could draw in his amplification technique.

Predictive dreams in Jungian psychology

 It is also striking that, as a scientist, he accepts that a dream can sometimes have a predictive meaning. It is then, as he states in ‘The human being and his symbols’ as if we are sending unconscious warning messages or giving guidelines on the way to restore the psychological balance.

Towards an own theory of psychoanalysis

 Between 1907 and 1920, Jung worked out the main lines of his theory, which he himself called analytical psychology. Towards the end of this period, the theory included the psychological types, the theory of complexes and archetypes, the notions of persona, shadow, anima and animus, and the process of individuation.

Key concepts of Jungian psychology

 Both Freud and Jung believed in the existence of a personal unconscious. Jung, however, refused to trace everything the patient experienced in his life back to repressed childhood instincts. According to him, there was a part missing in their model of the psyche that could explain why his patients, for example, dreamed about images that could not be traced back to personal experiences in their lives. This led him to assume the existence of the collective unconscious with the archetypes as universal patterns of experience.

Personal and collective unconscious in Jungian psychology

Freud and Jung used common concepts such as conscious, unconscious, and repression. However, Jung made a distinction between the personally unconscious (Freud’s unconscious) and the collective unconscious. The “psyche” (personality as a whole) contains all conscious or unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When some experiences are not admitted to consciousness because, for example, they are too disruptive, they end up in the personal unconscious.

Access to the collective unconscious through dreams and meditation

 Jung’s “collective unconscious” contains instinctive drives and behavioral patterns that we as a human species have in common. In Jung’s vision, just as physical traits are passed onto future generations via DNA, all the memories and experiences of our ancestors are genetically transferred. Normally we are not aware of this part of the psyche. According to Jungian psychology, we can only access it through dreams and fantasies that spring up from the unconscious, or through meditation. Artists are even able to draw on this universal source of collective images. They unconsciously get inspiration from this collective of primitive images.

The collective unconscious as a source of dreams and magical phenomena

Jung’s collective unconscious, by the way, is strongly reminiscent of the ‘akashic chronicle’ of the esoteric. According to this originally Hindu concept, all events that have ever taken place, every thought, and emotion, would be preserved forever in a kind of ethereal database of humanity. Jung also saw the collective unconscious as the source of our dreams and paranormal or magical phenomena. Jungian psychology, despite the scientific name, bears a lot of esoteric meanings.

Archetypes as universal images in the collective unconscious

 Jung called the contents of the collective unconscious archetypes. In Jungian psychology’s view, images and thoughts have universal meanings in the most diverse cultures; images that can pop up in dreams, literature, art or religion and show remarkable similarities around the world.

In other words, according to Jung, the human mind has innate characteristics that are “imprinted” as a result of evolution. This universal disposition comes from our ancestral past. Examples of this are fear of the dark, or of snakes and spiders. This idea was later, incidentally, revived in the theory of evolutionary Jungian psychology.

Jung’s five most important archetypes are the anima and animus, the persona, the shadow, and the self.

The anima

 The anima is the archetype of the female side of the male psyche. The anima includes everything that relates a man’s psyche to the opposite sex – his deeply felt unconscious beliefs. Jung says about this:

“Every man carries within her the eternal image of a woman, not as an image of a certain woman, but of the woman as a representation of femininity. This image is fundamentally unconscious as if it was engraved as a print or ‘archetype’ with all impressions ever made by the woman. Since this image is unconscious, it is always unconsciously projected onto the person of the loved one and is one of the main reasons for passionate love or aversion. “

Because it’s about conscious content, knowledge about the anima can only be obtained indirectly through projections that men make on women who may or may not correspond to their inner image of women.

The animus

The animus is the counterpart of the anima in women: the male side of the female psyche. According to Jung, the animus is a more complex archetype than the anima. For men, the anima consists of only one dominant image, while in the unconscious for women, multiple animus images exert their influence when they enter into relationships with men.

Jung states in Unpublished Seminar Notes. Visions I that the natural function of animus and anima is to maintain their position between the individual consciousness and the collective unconscious. They function as a bridge that leads to the archetypal images of the collective unconscious. The persona has a similar function, which acts as a connection to the outside world.

Jung also has a theory about how animus and anima originated in the psyche. He explains that there has been an intense interaction between men and women for centuries and this has led to evolutionary changes in the sexes.


The persona is the social mask of a person, that which he or she shows or wants to show to the world. This archetype has the function to conform to the expectations of society so that the individual can maintain a smooth and safe contact with the outside world. As such, the persona also protects the person’s vulnerable inner psyche. However, there may also be drawbacks.

The danger of too strong identification with the persona

 If the person starts to identify too strongly with the persona, his personality can go beyond its limits. This phenomenon is called psychological inflation. It produces personalities that are literally outside of themselves and behave like a fanatic. For example, they think of themselves as being a hero, a sage or a saint, while this is actually alien to them. In such identifications, one sees a dangerous effect of collectively unconscious images that impose themselves on personal consciousness.

False life

 It doesn’t have to be that dramatic, but often someone starts thinking about the choices he or she made later in life. That someone’s life suddenly seems empty and meaningless is, of course, a consequence of the fact that he has done his very best to present himself as someone he is essentially not. In such a period, during a “dark night of the soul,” the person realizes that he has lied to himself all the time about who he is and what he wants. After all, too long identification with the persona leads to an untruthful life, comparable to Sartre’s ‘mauvaise foi’: the person who deceives himself by giving himself an alien essence.

Jung states in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious that Every calling or profession has its own characteristic persona: the professor identifies with his book, the tenor with his voice. That identification is triggered by the expectations of the environment so that the persona is not what we are, but what we ourselves and others think we are.

The shadow in Jungian psychology

Jungian psychology concepts - the shadow

 The shadow is the archetype that represents their own gender and is also responsible for relationships with people of the same gender. Jung sees it as the most powerful and potentially dangerous archetype because it is very deeply rooted in human evolutionary history.

The manifestation of the shadow through projections and dreams

 In Jung’s psychoanalytic system, the shadow stands for the unconsciously animal, instinctive side of someone’s personality.

Because it concerns an irrational part of the unconscious, one can only gain access to it through projections and dreams. A hard to handle an aspect of the shadow is the indecency to manifest through projections. It is a process that is completely unconscious and that everyone has to deal with: we do not notice our own mistakes but project them on others (on the partner, for example). In other words: we attribute our negative qualities to the other as if they belong to him or her. He who is jealous blames the other. Anyone who is stingy will notice that error sooner at someone else. Incidentally, it’s hard to recognize your own projections, because the ego doesn’t want to know anything about negative traits.

In dreams the shadow manifests itself in the form of an animal or when a human with animal characteristics Jung advises to get to know that shadow side – the animal side – of yourself. Those who fail to do so allow the shadow to become stronger, which in daily life can lead to dramas when unmanageably strong emotions suddenly breakthrough.

Positive aspects of the shadow in Jungian psychology

 To the position

The side makes the shadow, our passionate and creative nature, life exciting. Living without shadow would be boring, especially when his counterpart, the persona, gets too strong an emphasis. The shadow is the unstoppable source from which art and all forms of creativity arise. No inspiration for the artist without the shadow. No zest for life and energy without him. Rejection of drives the personality. In this respect, the shadow is, therefore, an important and valuable archetype that can never be tamed. Whoever manages to let his I (the part of the psyche that determines our identity) work well together with his shadow, bursting with vitality and vitality.

The self as the center of personality

 In Jung’s model of the psyche, the self is the center of the whole personality. As such, it includes the conscious, the unconscious, and the outer self. The conscious I (or ego) therefore does not coincide as the conscious identity with the self. In other words, the self is the inner, guiding factor, and psychic growth is only possible by listening to the unconscious messages of the self in dreams.

The process of individuation

 Jung conceived it as the central archetype of the personality or psyche. Within the collective unconscious, it ensures that the archetypes are harmoniously aligned with each other. However, this does not happen automatically. The development of the self, Jung says, can last a lifetime, because people only go through the process of “individuation” at a later age. Nowadays this is called “self-realization”. With Jung, individuation is becoming an individual. Acquiring self-knowledge is, therefore, a lengthy process.

The integration of unconscious contents has a healing and harmonizing effect.

 A properly functioning self gives a sense of harmony and satisfaction with itself. Conversely, if a person continues to project their own mistakes onto others, this is an indication that the self is not working properly: in this case, the personality is insufficiently developed and individualized. Becoming aware of certain things has a therapeutic effect: the integration of unconscious contents leads to greater harmony with one’s own nature. The process of individuation, says Jung, never comes to an end. He compares it in his writings with the pursuit of enlightenment in Buddhism, which is reserved for only a few.

Personality types in Jungian psychology

 One of Jung’s achievements that are still applied today – albeit in a modified form – is his typology of personality. In particular, the current Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a psychological test derived from Jung’s typology that is used as a basis for determining the different types of personalities.

Four psychological functions

 Jung provided a refined model for his Jungian psychology to classify the different personality types. He distinguished between four psychological functions of which the only one could be dominant in a personality: thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. For Jung, thinking and feeling are the “rational functions” because they act judiciously, while perception and intuition are referred to as “irrational functions”.

Explanation of Jung

 To better understand the four psychological functions, Jung explained them in his book “Man and his Symbols” with a simple association:

“Sensation (i.e., sensory perception) tells us that something exists; thought tells us what it is; feeling tells us whether or not it is pleasant, and intuition tells us where it comes from and where it comes from is going.”

Jung: The human and his symbols p. 49

The dominant function

 As mentioned, each of us has one dominant function with which he approaches the world and tries to understand.

Some examples:

A person with perception as a dominant psychological function lets his behavior be determined by inner and outer stimuli that come at him or her. The intuitive personality type relies on its gut feeling and does not have to think about knowing anything. He blindly follows the promptings that come upon him without considering whether what he is doing is reasonable or well thought out.

A type of thinking, on the other hand, has its behavior mainly determined by what logic and thinking give him. That is also the reason that Jung called it a rational function.

Someone with feeling as a dominant function makes decisions and judges according to the feeling that something is triggering in him. Even though thinking is not used in the first place, there is still a valuation or judgment. that is why the feeling is a rational function for Jung.

Inferior function

 Thinking places Jung as a function versus feeling, and sensation versus intuition. This means that when someone has thought as the dominant function, he or she is inclined to disable feeling because it hinders thinking. Exactly the other way around, a feeling type will eliminate thinking as much as possible. These functions contradict each other. The same applies to sensation and intuitive types. Because with a thinking type the feeling is not so differentiated, one speaks of its ‘inferior’ function. For example, a feeling type has thinking as an inferior function, an awareness type has intuition as an inferior function, and an intuitive personality type has a sensation as an inferior function.

Jung says the following about the functions and intuition:

“These functions have nothing to do with each other. When you observe physical facts [awareness type] you cannot simultaneously” look around the corner “[intuitive type]. If you look at the eyes of intuitive people, you see that their gaze is only along things are ironing – they don’t look carefully, they look at something because they want to absorb things in their totality. “

Jung: About foundations of analytical psychology, p.29

Introversion and extroversion

In addition to the four functions, Jung personalities are classified according to two fundamental attitudes: introversion and extroversion. However, that has nothing to do with what is usually understood by it (shyness versus exuberance). It does have to do with the direction of the psychic energy (which is called ‘libido’ in Jung).

Extroverted people are more concerned with the outside world: with the people and things that constantly control their thoughts. The opposite is true with introverts: the introverted personality focuses its attention on one’s own inner self and is constantly working on it. It seems to be a contradiction, but it is not excluded that an introverted personality gives an extroverted impression. However, he will not allow the outside world to balance his psychological balance. Conversely, someone who gives an introverted impression can be strongly focused on the outside world, which he needs for his well-being and spiritual balance.

Focus on the outside world or on the inner world

In other words: the awareness of extrovert types is focused on the outside world, and that the outside world determines their decisions. The consciousness of introverted types, on the other hand, is focused on their inner world and it is that inner world that will ultimately determine their decisions.

Jungian psychology concepts - focus on the inner world

Combinations of functions and attitudes

 By combining Jung’s four psychological functions with the two poses, a total of eight possible personality types are created:

  • the extrovert type of thinking: the ‘scientist’, knowledge collector, inclined to displace his emotional side;
  • the introverted type of thinking: the philosopher, inward-looking thinking, also protects himself against feelings from the unconscious;
  • the extroverted feeling type: mostly women, changeable feelings, sentimental;
  • the introverted feeling type: mostly women, hide their strong feelings, incomprehensible;
  • the extroverted sensation type: mostly men, gatherers of facts, practical, realistic, self-indulgent;
  • the introverted sensation type: attention to one’s own inner sensations, externally calm and passive;
  • the extroverted intuitive type: mostly women, fickle and unstable, always looking for something new;
  • and the introverted intuitive type: the type of the artist, dreamer, fantastic. enigmatic person, difficult communication.

Meaning of Jungian psychology today

In his research into the conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche, Jung came into contact with the borderland between science and esotericism. Freud already accused him of mysticism, and even now Jung’s interest in paranormal phenomena and esoteric subjects such as astrology and the I Ching seems to be “unscientific.” However, Jung was convinced that it was important for the mental balance of his patients to understand the symbolism of the unconscious. He studied this symbolism in the archetypal images that he repeatedly encountered in different cultures in dreams, art, literature, and religion. The more practically oriented psychologists reject his model of the psyche, but that does not alter the fact that Jung’s concepts such as archetype, persona, animus and anima, synchronicity and collective unconsciousness are now part of our cultural baggage. In any case, Jung’s psychoanalysis and Jungian psychology remains attractive to more spiritually oriented people.

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