Jung and analytical Psychology.
The structure of the mind according to Jung.
Jung points to the importance of more extensive knowledge of the normal psyche. He believes that diseases are disruptions of normal processes (and not entia per se). He describes the mind as a self-regulating system similar to the homeostatic mechanisms of the body.
Psychology is a science of the psyche; of consciousness ànd of the products of what we call the unconscious psyche.
We cannot explore the unconscious simply because it is unconscious and therefore we have no relation to it, only to its products that enter our consciousness. We are restricted in understanding the unconscious psyche because it is always expressed by consciousness and in terms of consciousness.
Consciousness, Jung says, is like a surface of a skin upon a vast unconscious area of unknown extent. The area of consciousness is a restricted field of momentary vision, a point of contact, a relation between what we consider “I” (ego) and what we consider not-“I”. Consciousness is in that view the product of our perception and orientation in the world outside us. It is important to realize that our ego, in Jung’s view, is our consciousnesses point of reference; nothing can be conscious without an ego.
So Jung defines the ego as our center of consciousness; a complex of psychic facts; constituted by general awareness (of body and existence) and by memory data (recorded past awareness?). “The ego is only a bit of consciousness which floats upon the ocean of the dark things” (the inner things), Jung says.
Jung distinguishes a number of functions that enable consciousness to become oriented in its relationship with facts and data coming in from the environment (ectopsychic facts) and those “popping up” from the unconscious (endopsychic facts).
The ectopsychic functions are (according to Jung):
1. Sensation; the sum-total of awareness of external facts I perceive through the function of my senses – something is
2. Thinking is perception and judgment; it tells me what a thing is
3. Feeling in Jung’s terms is the rational, differentiated function of giving value, the worth of this thing for me
4. Intuition is a not-exactly (Jung’s word)-sensory perception of subliminal data that enable me to look around a corner (beyond the time/space I am in).
These psychological functions have their specific energy and are usually controlled by our will; we can use, not use or suppress them with any chosen intensity and we can ideally direct them by our willpower (intention).
But they also can function involuntarily or even unconsciously.
Jung designed a diagram/model for his four ectopsychic functions and claims that two different functions contradict each other (E and F on one axe, S and I on the other); they become polarities. Jung talks about a dominant function which is the more conscious differentiated (civilized) function in a person, and the inferior function, the function that is more primitive and always associated with an archaic personality in this person. In our differentiated functions we are aware; we have free will, but when it comes to the inferior functions we are quite unaware and have no control. In the discussion Jung says something interesting; he is convinced that no truth can be established without all four functions. This seems to put man in a difficult position. We need all four, but an individual cannot have two opposing functions in the same degree of perfection at the same time. I think Jung indeed needs to explore the fourth dimension; just like he says: “when you speak of dynamics and processes you need the time factor”. Jung is reluctant to discuss this further and warns for prejudice where more philosophical or religious approaches are concerned.
I suspect we will get to these issues in his later work?
Jung thinks that there is always part of our personality which is still unconscious, which is still becoming. We are unfinished; we are growing and changing. Our potentialities lie in the shadow-word of the dark side of our ego.
It is interesting to see that in Jung’s view the direction of growth is indeed a direction of growing consciousness and differentiation. With consciousness and differentiation we have control, we can use our free will; our functions can be handled by intention. It is amazing to see that Jung seems to limit our potentiality to the dark side of our ego, leaving the trans-personal area outside what we could ultimately call “I”. I will come back to this later when I discuss Jung’s collective unconscious.
The endopsychic functions Jung mentions are:
1. memory: the faculty to reproduce things that have faded out of consciousness. (These are facts that have once been conscious, so they are not really from the unconscious in Jung’s meaning.)
Now we come to the components that have their source in the unconscious, dark sphere of our mind; the shadow-world. Whereas we seem to have some control over our memories, the level of our control over the next components seems to diminish to almost zero. Here “we” (our Ego) seems to lose its grip completely…
2. the subjective components of conscious functions: our dispositions to react in a certain way (not so favorable mostly).
3. emotions and affects are endopsychic components which effect us and seem to come from outside ourselves; our control is decreased to almost zero and we feel like we are possessed by our own inner side. You are in a real emotion (when you have a feeling you have control).
4. invasion is an extraordinary condition in which a person is seized upon by his unconscious; anything may come out of him. He suffers a loss of self. Jung calls this factor in many cases not pathological but merely undesirable.
Jung speaks of two classes of the unconscious;
First the personal unconscious, or subconscious mind that is entirely made up from personal elements that constitute the personality as a whole.
Then there is the collective unconscious. The contents of this sphere cannot be ascribed to individual acquisition but rather to patterns peculiar to mankind in general. Jung calls these collective patterns archetypes. They contain mythological motifs.
In Jung’s view the personal unconscious is something we can (and ultimately should?) become aware of. The collective unconscious however cannot be made conscious at all. Contents of it, images mostly, behave as if they do not exist in ourselves, we cannot integrate them in our own consciousness. We need to project them to become conscious of them, so if they become activated, we become aware of certain things in our fellow man. It reminds me of Martin Buber who claims there can be no experience of self without the other. I think he is right.
Jung explains the phenomenon of a collective unconscious by saying that our mind, just as our body, has its history. In that sense our mind has been built up in the course of millions of years and represents the history of mankind. This is why archaic images are embedded in our (collective) unconscious. Cayce talks about the Akashic records where all souls record their experiences on the earth-plane. If individual souls (in this vision) have a history, these records hold mankind’s history.
The beauty of Jung’s view is that these “records” are more or less available to man in the form of archetypes; in the collective unconscious.
“The deepest layer we can reach in our exploration of the unconscious mind is the layer where man is no longer a distinct individual”, says Jung. There our mind widens out and merges into the mind of mankind – not the conscious mind, but the unconscious mind of mankind, where we are all the same. On this collective level we are no longer separate individuals, we are one.
Jung claims that this is because the basic structure of the mind is the same in everybody. Somehow it seems to me that he avoids to put to words the possibility that we share something which could be called a universal mind. He mentions the wholeness and the fact that fundamentally we are identical with everybody and everything, but he stops right there (at least he does in these lectures). He gives me the impression that he considers the collective unconscious something hidden deep inside us (his diagram “the Psyche”), unconquerable, whereas I would prefer to think it is surrounding us, and we participate in it.
I would like to introduce a simple model here I designed in a Gestalt paper two years ago. I envisioned two individual psyches as two icebergs floating in a sea of collective unconsciousness. The original iceberg model comes from Fuhr who explains that we are aware/conscious with only our tip (above the water) and that the unconscious part of our psyche lies under the surface (in his terms the “Mittlerer Modus”). I expanded this sea-less model to a two-iceberg model: You and I, both icebergs in the sea, in continual osmotic contact with the water (imagine the exchange of melting and re-freezing). If we can feel ourselves floating in this sea, we can also feel that we are connected there, actually have the same origin, are equal.
And of course this brings me to thoughts in a direction of the perennial philosophy. If growth means to become more conscious, as Jung suggests, I do not understand why he stops (here) at the boundaries of the collective unconscious. I agree that we have no way of integrating things that are not already part of us, but he contradicts himself when he says that our mind has its history. That would mean that the collective unconscious is indeed, and has always been, available to us, especially if we accept the concept that we participate in it. I envision that we are indeed able to access data from what Jung calls the collective unconscious. It forms our context, on a personal level, but also on a human-kind or universal (or should I say transpersonal-) level.
Ken Wilber thinks also of growth as
becoming more conscious when he describes the human evolution in his book “Up
The beginning point in his view is a oneness, wholeness without consciousness, whereas his destination-point for the human psyche would be the full consciousness of this wholeness. When I follow this train of thought I note that at that stage on consciousness one is no longer divided in “I” and “the other” (duality)., One is conscious and no longer “needs” the Ego, as Jung suggests, to be conscious of….
Let me try to link the idea of wholeness to Jung’s concept of synchronicity. He says that, as he speaks of our psyche in terms of dynamics and relationships, he considers all relative (except for the mythological pattern, which he considers profoundly unconscious as we saw). Doesn’t he imply that, at least our personal psyche, is a whole (conscious and unconscious).
Jung is very careful in describing what he means by synchronicity: “there is a peculiar principle of synchronicity active in the world so that things happen (miraculously) together somehow and behave as if they were the same, and yet for us they are not”. If we assume with Jung that even when we are not aware of it all is indeed relative/related, synchronicity becomes a fact of life: all is connected, even beyond our personal entities. This suggests a wholeness, a universal “system” in which we participate, doesn’t it? Jung believes that the human psyche is a self-regulating system. With synchronicity in mind this makes even more sense; the whole is looking for balance and all parts of this whole are interconnected, also in their effort to make the whole more whole.
Jung mentions three methods of analysis to approach the dark sphere of man; the unconscious:
1. the word association test
2. dream-analysis and
3. the method of active imagination
The word association test is in Jung’s method not used for the study of mental associations, but to discover disturbances of reaction which indicate that a deeper layer of psychic contents is hit. Jung calls this a complex: a usually repressed and hidden conglomeration of associations characterized by peculiar or traumatic feeling-tones. It is a sort of picture of a more or less complicated psychological nature, like a partial personality really (I’ll come back to that later). Because it is highly toned it is difficult to deal with; when something is important to us we tend to handle it with hesitance. So this complex causes a disturbance in our normal behavior (complex disturbance).
The actual test is done as follows: The operator reads out a list of well-known words (stimulus words) and instructs the test person to react as quickly as possible to each of these words with the first word that comes to mind. The operator marks the time of each reaction and then repeats the procedure and asks the test person to reproduce his/her former answers.
The prolongation of the reaction time is important as are other disturbances because all these reactions are beyond the control of the will in Jung’s view. (If you submit to the experiment you are done for, and if you do not submit to it you are done for too) In order to increase the effect of critical stimulus words the words can be arranged in such a way that they occur within the presumable range of perseveration of an emotion that is sensitized by another stimulus word. This method is used in criminal cases only.
Jung mentions how he reads an individual’s story by looking at the test results. In his examples however he does evaluate the actual responses the test person gives and this person’s context.
Where then lies the healing capacity of this approach?
Jung claims that by uncovering complexes the patient is invited to integrate thus far hidden and repressed parts of him/herself into his/her (conscious) personality. (I am sure we will come back to what Jung calls the individuation process; the step-by-step identification with the totality of one’s personality, of one’s self).
His hypothesis is: If one can accept one’s sin (or any psychic content) one can live with it. If one cannot accept it, one has to suffer the inevitable consequences.
In order to accept (integrate) something, it has to be conscious. One has to have awareness of a psychic content (and possibly of its workings) before one can take responsibility for it consciously. This is the basic principle of Gestalttherapy so I am very familiar with it. The beauty of this approach lies in the promise that awareness of her processes brings a person in a position of detachment; she can look at herself from somewhere outside of herself, from a center of consciousness beyond ego (we’ll come back to this). In this way we can objectify our behavior or psychic contents. We are no longer a victim of the world around or inside us.
We are no longer a victim of life, but have become creators of it.
In one of the discussions Jung mentions a client who, by painting pictures and than studying its features, objectified the unconscious contents of her schizophrenic experiences. She needed to feel her connection with mankind to feel normal (right) and recognizing (being aware of) the archetypes in her pictures helped her with that.
In lecture four Jung points to the importance of raising a personal disease (or disturbance) to a higher and more impersonal level. Connecting the client with the general human meaning of his particular situation has a healing effect.
In general one can assume that a client, knowing that he does not stand alone in his ailment, is taken out of his isolation. This knowledge lifts him out of himself (detaches him from the personal or ego) and connects him with humanity. He may find a transpersonal meaning in his suffering, or even better: mobilize the forces of the unconscious to such an extent that the body begins to react in a normal way again (a symbol or mythological motif can work these wonders).
Back to the word-association test.
Jung claims he has empirical proof of the physiological difference between conscious and unconscious reactions. He discovered for example spasms in the thorax in the latter. This is the basic idea behind his evaluation of response-time in the word association test and it is interesting.
Highly toned feelings often are associated with physiological reactions (changes in breathing, the beating of one’s heart, blood pressure, secretions of intestines, the skin) and in that way these complexes do have their roots in our bodies.
I envision that the unconscious complexes are actively repressed, more or less willingly hidden, and I know from my personal experience that indeed we can bring those complexes “in the open” by bringing these disturbances in our body into awareness. If we wait too long in doing so the body itself might signal us that something is “wrong” by becoming painful or sick.
Jung acknowledges this when he says that a complex with its given tension or energy has the tendency to form a little personality of itself. A complex can interfere with you, with what you intent to do or say or even think. Jung even considers a complex to have a certain will-power, a consciousness with a sort of ego as its center (this personification of complexes is not in itself necessarily a pathological condition!).
He concludes that a unity of consciousness is an illusion; our unconscious consists of an indefinite number of complexes or fragmentary personalities.
When we accept the concept that our image of the world is a projection of the world of our self (as the world of our self is an introjection of the world) this is exactly what makes our projections (as products of our unconscious) so interesting to Jung (and psychologists in general), they are the key to our unconscious.
In the fifth lecture Jung comes back to the process of projection (and transference as a specific form of it). He defines projection as a general psychological mechanism (involuntary, automatic, spontaneous) that carries over subjective contents of any kind into an object or person. As soon as you realize (become conscious of) your projections they dissolve because from then on you re-own them (you know they belong to you) and all the projected energy can be reclaimed. Instead of projecting something “out there” (poverty principle), you realize it belongs to you (wealth principle) and you can make use of it as you please. (If you fall desperately in love with someone it is as if he is lovable (and you are not??) until you realize that you are the one that loves.)
Roberto Assagioli designed his psychosynthesis based on this concept.
Jung claims that all activated contents of the unconscious have the tendency to appear in projection. He even says: “the general psychological reason for projection is always an activated unconscious that seeks expression”.
Prove of the self-regulating system at work? I believe so. In terms of Gestalt: that what needs healing, to become whole (is an un-finished Gestalt) will present itself as fore-ground.
In Jung’s view personal projections can and should be dissolved through conscious realization (awareness). The impersonal projections however cannot be destroyed because they belong to the structural elements of our psyche. The archetypes intervene, so to say, in for example a dangerous situation. A person reacts in the way mankind has always reacted. Instead of drowning in the chaos of his unconscious psyche and its projected world, this person is able to objectify the impersonal images and relates to them in a detached way. He steps out of the puddle of his ego-concerns and connects to his basic “reality” (structure) of being human. Jung speaks of this condition of detachment as a sort of center within the psyche of the individual that is non-ego.
Man has to keep in touch with the collective unconscious according to Jung; his psychic and spiritual health depends on it. Jung claims that man has his religions for that reason.
No wonder that Jung is so intrigued by his methods of analyzing these products of our unconscious. Whatever a psyche creates/projects tells us something about that psyche and its hidden components, and gives us an opportunity for healing or growth.
Which brings us to the second approach to the unconscious:
Dream-analysis. Presumably we are dreaming all the time, but during the day we are not aware of it because consciousness is too clear. At night dreams can break through and become visible.
Jung reminds us that our consciousness is only a surface, the avant-garde of our psychological existence. He pictures our consciousness as a head, burdened by a body that can walk only on the earth (unlike angels who have winged heads), or as a head with a long saurian’s tail.
So Jung studies dreams to learn what the tail is doing; what a person’s unconscious is doing with his complexes. In other words: what is this person preparing himself for, what (does he feel) is in store for him.
He is convinced that a dream does not conceal; we simply do not understand its language. The dream is its own interpretation, the whole thing. (Here of course he differs from Freud who thought that a dream was a distorted and therefore unrecognizable representation of a secret incompatible desire. Freud was looking for the complexes whereas Jung looks for what the unconscious is doing with them…)
Jung starts his dream-analysis with the assumption that he does not understand it. Amplification, the seeking of parallels, is than a logical first step: find out where un-understandable words or images are used in other texts or applications and try if the formula you discovered fits the dream story. You can always ask the dreamer how a certain object appears to him to find its context, so you know what tissue the word or image is embedded in.
When you are dealing with the personal unconscious, working with dreams, you are not allowed to think too much or to add anything to the associations of the client. The client has to sort out his own individual associations in order to properly integrate the beforehand unconscious material into his conscious personality.
Where the collective consciousness is concerned the client has no idea where the contents of his dream come from and it is the therapists task to provide the material. In this area client and therapist have the same basic structure of mind, an universal language so to speak. There the therapist can associate for the client. Jung impresses his audience (and me) with his enormous mythological knowledge. It touches me when he says that special knowledge is also a terrible disadvantage: ”it leads you in a way too far, so that you cannot explain anymore”.
If the main substance of a dream is mythological, Jung speaks of a mythological dream, or big dream. These dreams contain a general, collective meaning and its dreamers have an instinctive tendency to tell them. History prepares itself, Jung says; when the archetypes are activated and come to the surface in a number of people, we are in the midst of history. Our personal psychology is just a thin skin, a ripple upon the ocean of collective psychology.
Jung warns his audience that it is not safe to interpret a dream without going into careful detail as to the context. As dreams are the reaction to our conscious attitude, the natural reaction of the self-regulating psychic system, they have a compensatory function: they are an indication, a symptom, that the individual is at variance with unconscious conditions, that somewhere he has deviated from his natural path. Jung says: “my snake does not agree.”
I think this is a beautiful and probably right way of looking at our dreams, or all true products of our unconscious minds. I do believe in a self-regulating system, on a holistic level even. (When Jung talks about synchronicity he surely points in the same direction?) When, at the final stages of our individuation process we can (almost) identify with our self, maybe our heads and tails will agree and small dreams will no longer be necessary. Which still leaves us with humanity’s tail, its historical burdens (Jung names Christianity, and I can feel his enormous concern).
At the end of lecture three Jung compares an (analyzed content of a) dream with the advise/opinion of a two-million-year-old man you come to as an ignorant child. You always have the choice and thus full responsibility to do with it what you want.
No therapist should try to hinder a client doing what he intents to do.
He later says:” it is wrong to cheat people out of their fate and to help them go beyond their level. If a man has it in him to be adapted, help him by all means; but if it is really his task not to be adapted, help him by all means not to be adapted, because then he is all right.”
Since by active imagination the material is produced in a conscious state of mind, the material is far more rounded out than the dreams with their precarious language, Jung says. He considers active imagination an invaluable tool in making the unconscious understandable to a client.
He also describes the process of painting or drawing pictures (I suppose any creative work) as a means to objectify unconscious contents of our psyche.
Creating images, in any form, has a definite healing effect on the “artist”, and Jung says: “it is almost impossible to define this effect in rational terms; it is a sort of “magical” effect, that is, a suggestive influence which goes out from the images to the individual, and in this way his unconscious is extended and is changed.”