Carl Gustav Jung

It began with Freud...


It is hard for us to imagine now, with our well-established culture of seeing therapists, but Sigmund Freud was the first psychiatrist to engage in “talk therapy.”  This talk therapy mostly centered around dream analysis and a free-flow exploration of his patients’ fantasy life (free association)  meant to access unconscious material. When Jung heard about this new talk therapy, he was inspired!    Jung looked at Freud as a psychological pioneer and was eager to learn all he could.  The two would share intellectual and clinical commonalities for many years.  In fact, Freud used to say that Jung was the “heir apparent” in the field of psychoanalysis. 

The Split

However, all that changed when Jung began to re-conceptualize the unconscious. Jung’s intuition had to do with a deeper layer of the unconscious that was not just a repression of personal material. Jung's work with clients had offered him inroads into a deeper layer of the unconscious – one that had never been conscious to individuals, only discoverable by consciousness.  Jung called this stratum of the unconscious the collective unconscious or, sometimes, the objective psyche – objective because it exists without the subjective realm of personal unconscious; really, without us entirely. 

The Collective Unconscious and the Birth of Analytical Psychology

“The collective unconscious comprises in itself the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings. It is the matrix of all conscious psychic occurrences…(CW 8, para. 230).

 Jung's theoretical construct suggests that the collective unconscious is universal and exists across cultures and history. It expresses itself in the form of myth; fairy tale; folk tales; and the “big dreams” common in cultures where ritual connection with this realm is encouraged and respected.