27 May
2012

Review of Carl Jung’s Personality Theory
The Pros and Cons of Jung’s Ideas
Kelly A. Burton
Park University

Review of Carl Jung’s Personality Theory
The Pros and Cons of Jung’s Ideas

Carl Jung was one of the first western psychologist who was not afraid to include Eastern ideologies into his work.  While his work was based on freudian theories, Jung’s extensive background knowledge in mythology, alchemy, buddhism and many more ideologies bled into his work in a positive way.  His Eastern influence is shown throughout his personality theories.  While Jung covered many areas in his theory of personality, this paper will cover two main areas,  the Psyche and Archetypes.


Psyche

According to Jung, the psyche, contains three areas, the ego, personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.  While the first two are freudian based, the third, collective unconscious seems based in mysticism and has an Eastern flair.

Ego – The main part of conscious but not part of the personality, basically the ego only deals with things the real time conscious deals with but does not rely or use the subconscious (Feist, & J., 2008).

Personal Unconscious –  A collection of experiences that are unique to the the individual, basically the persons entire life history is store into the personal unconscious. Experiences are grouped into like clusters called complexes. Complexes can be anchored and trigger emotional responses (Feist, & J., 2008).

Collective Unconscious – According to Jung, “Probably none of my empirical concepts has met with so much misunderstanding as the idea of the collective unconscious.” (Jung 1990, p42). The  collective unconscious is part of the unconscious that is not personal or belonging to the individual, rather is a collection of  unconscious that has never been conscious, based on heredity and manifest itself in the Archetypes (Jung 1990).

Archetypes

Jung defined seven archetypes: Persona, Shadow, Anima, Animus, Great Mother, Wise Old Man, and Hero.  Persona, this is the side of personality that we show the world.  Shadow, this is an individual’s dark side of their personality.  Anima, the male side of our personality, Jung believed that we have both sexes in our personality. Animus, the female side of our personality.  Great Mother, the older much wiser version of the Animus roughly based on our own mothers.  Wise Old Man,  the figure of wisdom and knowledge. The Hero, the fighter of evil in the world (Feist, & J., 2008).

Discussion

I have a profound respect for Jung’s work, his ability to look beyond traditional Western logic and incorporate Eastern thought into his work was courageous for his time era and an inspiration for all future psychologist.  The collective unconscious is one area that I must add one small addition.  Jung outlines a collective subconscious that contains the vast thought and knowledge of all mankind, past and present,  manifesting themselves in his defined archetypes.  To this collective conscious theory, I add that the collective conscious contains the set of core beliefs that all humans inherit.  In alignment with Jung’s, theory of archetypes, perhaps each of the archetypes contains a one or more of the core belief that contributes to the persons overall personality.  This core consists of basic values that all humans inherit from some unknown cosmic well, for example, the basic rule of  “do not kill”.  Where this core set of values comes from and how they are passed unto each person remains a mystery.

Jung was on to something with his idea of a collective unconscious,  while we cannot define, analyze or see it, there is some thread in the world that somehow connects us all.  For example, you have a great idea for a product, but do not take action, later you find that someone else has take the idea and capitalized on it, making a fortune.  No thought is original, if you are having a thought, others in the collective unconscious are too.

As people we all have similar feelings, regardless of your cultural upbringing or where in the world you live, there is a commonality among us, that Jung’s theory of unconscious can help explain.  If you were to take a survey of people around the world what they felt when they looked at the night sky.  I believe that most would respond with a sense of awe at how large the universe really is and how small we are compared to it.  Similar in fashion, the collective unconscious can be seen in the humanity that is shown all over the world when a natural disaster strikes and others need help, the world comes together and provides aid to even those who are not our kin.

Jung’s theory is sound however, I would have made a few modifications,  adding a set of core beliefs, and that the collective unconscious contains all knowledge past and present from all living things up to their death.  According to my theory, the flow of knowledge into the collective unconscious stops at a person’s death.  This addition is needed to balance the knowledge base of collective, otherwise if the flow of information did not stop at death, our collective unconscious would be able to answer some of our biggest questions.  For example:  Is there an afterlife? Is there a God or many Gods, or any God at all? What religion if any is the correct one? What is the meaning of life?

If the collective unconscious is truly a vast well of human experience that extended beyond life, the previous questions would be easily answered.  Perhaps Jung’s theory assumes this fact that the flow of information stops at a person’s death, and at death we are detached from the collective unconscious.  But does our collective unconscious end at death, or is there just another layer of knowledge that we move unto when our physical bodies are no longer functioning, another unknown part of the collective unconscious, yet completely separate from the living pool of knowledge.  Perhaps there is a completely other set of archetypes waiting for us at our death.

In following Jung’s archetype theory, I postulate that each one of the archetypes contain a core value and their strength or level of presence in your collective unconscious determine how you adhere to the core belief and present yourself to others.  Perhaps evil in the world comes from those of us who’s shadow archetype is the dominate factor in the personality preventing the other core values from surfacing.  While I enjoy the idea of the archetypes and my theory of each of them holding a core value that we each inherit, I do find flaw in Jung’s archetype model as applied to development.  Jung’s model of archetypes fits well into an adult psyche, however where to the archetypes fit into human development.  The collective unconscious manifested into the archetypes seems more for an adult person than for infant or even during adolescence.  While infants are not able to speak, I do believe their behavior would be quite different if they had the knowledge of the complete collective at birth.   Perhaps the archetypes are related to the different stages of development, with early development consisting of only he Anima and Animus, later during the adolescence the persona are released, and perhaps the hero. Concluding with the Great Mother and Hero during adult hood and wise old man in later adult hood.

Like many of the personality theories Jung’s theory cannot cover every little detail of the personality, leaving us with holes that we must fill in with our own ideas. While Jung’s basic ideas stem from Freud, his interests in Eastern Philosophy, Alchemy, Mysticism and other non scientific areas of studies makes his theories some of the most interesting to study.  Currently Jung’s main works cover over 21 volumes of information, enough to keep any of us memorized for a long time.  Jung theories are ones that I can most closely relate to in my own theories of our personalities.  The collective unconscious comes closest to my theories of a core set of beliefs and a commonality of mankind that connects us all.

References

Feist, J, & J., G. (2008). Theories of personality. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill HumanitiesSocial SciencesLanguages.

Jung, C.G. (1990), The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. New York, NY: Princeton University Press.

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