One complaint I get during my A to Z Challenge is the length of my articles. I’ll admit they are quite long, and there are many blogs people want to visit and mine takes a bit of time to get through. I do apologize for that, but since last year, a number of my AtoZ article have been viewed throughout the year, so while I do this for AtoZ, I also do it for others visiting my site in the future.
Today we have Jungian Psychology.
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You might have heard the name Carl Jung, but are unaware who that really is. Carl Jung is perhaps most famous for the Myers-Biggs personality test, which was based on his studies.
So who is Carl Jungian and his psychology, and more importantly, what can he teach us?
To start off with, most people have heard of Freudian Psychology. Carl Jung disagreed with Freud. While there are parallels to their work, for the most part, Jung took a different approach to psychology.
Jungian Psychology is also known as Analytical Psychology. Analytical psychology emphasis the importance of individual psyche and person question for wholeness. It recognizes the importance of the symbolic human life and emphasizes the following concepts
- personal unconscious
- collective unconscious
A small bit of history before we get to the technical stuff. Both Jung and Freud worked together back in 1907. In 1911, they founded the International Psychoanalytical Association, to which Jung was the first President. Despite the working relationship however, Jung noted the Freud was stubborn when it came to ideas that were not his own. in 1913, their friendship ended and each worked on their own studies.
Jung disliked the idea of using natural science only to understand the human psyche. He focused on dreams, myth, and folklore to understand their deeper meaning. He felt that the unconscious mind couldn’t be studied directly.
The overall goal of Jungian psychology is attainment of self through individuation. Jung defined self as: archetype of wholeness and the regulating center of the psyche. It is primarily about an individual’s encounter with their psyche and the bringing of its elements into consciousness.
Jung states that humans experience the unconscious through symbols encountered in life: dreams, art, religion, relationship, and life pursuits. Essential to these numerous encounter is the merging of the individual’s consciousness with the collective consciousness through this symbolic language.
Jungian psychotherapy aims to assist the individual in reestablishing a healthy relationship to the unconscious mind. To undergo the individuation process, an individual must be open to the parts of oneself beyond one’s own ego. An individual grows when they become aware of their psyche, explores religion and spirituality, and questions societal worldview rather than accept norms and conventions.
So let us explore some of the Fundamentals
It is believed the most important part of the psyche is the unconscious mind. To obtain wholeness, one much have reliable communication between the conscious and unconscious mind.
One must accept that dreams show ideas, beliefs, and feelings that one may not be aware they have. Dreams use visual metaphors to communicate to our conscious mind. Many things are contained in our unconscious mind, and dreams are one of the ways it is communicated.
While we have a personal experiences that related directly to ourselves (personal unconscious), we also have archetypes that are common to all humans (collective unconscious). Collective unconsciousness is seen when an unconscious mind reveals elements not related to experiences of a single person.
To understand collective unconscious, we need to looking into Archetypes. Archetypes are thought to be like DNA to the human psyche. All humans share common DNA with each other, and the psyche also shares common psychological patterns with other humans.
In its framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. Concepts we all have and we build our life experience off of, though it is possible to create our own.
Archetypes are representations of elements that we may come in contact with, which is used as a foundation in how we define our selves.
- archetypal events: birth, death, separation from parents, initiation, marriage, the union of opposites
- archetypal figures: great mother, father, child, devil, god, wise old man, wise old woman, the trickster, the hero
- archetypal motifs: the apocalypse, the deluge, the creation
Jung noted that the possible Archetypes are limitless, but points out the many recurring archetypes as being: shadow, the wise old man, the child, the mother, the maiden, and anima/animus.
This might start sounding familiar. Such as the Monomyth (Hero’s Journey), developed by Joseph Campbell. Joseph Campbell made extensive use of Jung’s work (with a dash of Freud), in particular the Archetypes. The Monomyth is the 17 Stages to ones journey within narrative. The people we meet along the way are Archetypes. In fact, any character within a story is going through their own monomyth, it just so happens their adventure is not the one being focused on.
Another work that I focus on a lot is of Victoria Schmidt. To her, and many others, it appeared the monomyth was male bias. Her goal, using Jung and Campbell’s approach was to find Female Hero Journeys. What she found was not female archetypes, but rather an expansion to Archetypes that could be experience by male and female characters. This is revealed in her book, “45 Master Characters”. This is a book I highly recommend to writers.
Self-Realization and Neuroticism
Through our lives, we have a need to integrate these unknown elements and disowned parts to ourselves. Basically, as we live our lives, we start off as incomplete, and in trying to understand ourselves and the world around us, we can become complete. We start this in our youth, where we seek to identify who we are as individuals. This goes from adolescents to adulthood.
From the late 30’s to mid 40’s, Jung describe a ‘second puberty’. Essentially, we shed off the emphasis on materialism, sexuality, and procreation; concentrating instead of community and spirituality. We go from being individuals to reconnecting to the greater whole.
Jung further felt that rejection of this reconnect leads to phobias, psychosis, and depression.
The shadow is an unconscious complex defined as the repressed, suppressed, or disowned qualities of the conscious self. Humans deals with the realities of the shadow in four ways:
These are similar to how Freud described defense mechanisms found in the Ego.
A shadow is believed to have constructive and destructive aspects. In the destructive, the shadow can represents things people don’t accept about themselves. For a gentle person, the Shadow may be violence. Where as a violent person’s shadow could be gentle. Basically a gold in the shadow, that good still remains in evil.
This is noted in Star Wars The Return of the Jedi, where Luke felt that he could sense the good in Darth Vader. George Lucas acknowledges the use of Joseph Campbell in his works, and influence of Jung.
When it comes to dreams, the shadow is often represented as a dark figure(s) that is the same gender as the dreamer.
Anima and Animus
Anima is the unconscious feminine component in men and the Animus as the unconscious masculine component in women. While many modern Jungian Psychologist believe everyone has an aspect of Anima and Animus inside all of us, Jung felt that they act as guides to the unconscious self, that forming awareness and a connect with them is one of the most difficult and rewarding steps in self-actualizing growth.
Jung felt that people ignore anima/animus complexes. They vies for attention by projecting themselves onto others (almost like a defense mechanism). This is why sometimes we have immediate connection to strangers as we see our anima/animus in them. Love at first sight being an example.
As you can tell, there is a lot more to Jungian Psychology, but this is a good starting point for you to do research. I want you to note, that while I talk about this in great detail, it is in no way an endorsement unless stated otherwise. You also have to remember, I talk about Freudian Psychology in great length. Personally, Freud/Jung Psychology I don’t entirely subscribe to, but do use elements of each when working my character’s behaviors.
Knowing various types of psychologies can help you better understand characterization. Help you pick up stories you read or watch, and help you write these characters out. As writers, we need to understand these characters better than we understand anyone else, including ourselves.
Jungian Psychology helps out a lot in character development. Perhaps the most common is the Archetypes. He started the idea of Archetypes, but both Campbell and Schmidt expanded them for literature, and TV Tropes has expanded it even further with Archetypes seen in all narration. Click here to see a more complete list of TV Tropes Archetypes.
Jung was a big proponent in believing that feelings we have that we didn’t fully understand came from our unconscious mind. One common example of this is Gut Feeling. You feel something about a situation, and you feel it in your gut that it is not good, but have no evidence to base it on. Another name for this is Women’s Intuition.
The Gut feeling can be used in three ways.
1. Judge of Character. Our main character is infallible, and so if they don’t like someone, there is likely good reason we shouldn’t trust them. This distrust by the main character might be based on just a few seconds in meeting said character. WARNING: Common trait of a Mary Sue. Since they’re perfect, anyone they don’t like has to be the bad guy.
In Lord of the Ring books, Frodo trusts his gut to trust Aragorn. Later, he justifies this gut feeling by stating that an agent of the enemy wouldn’t look so dark and threatening.
2. Reading the Villain’s Mind. Knowing the villain is leading you down the wrong path, but can’t prove it. This is the Villain’s attempt to use a Red Herring. All evidence points one way, but the MC knows the villain well enough to know it is a trick.
In the film Broken Arrow, Hale was given clues that Deakins intended to bring his stolen nuclear missile to a hospital in Salt Lake City to hide the bomb. All signs point to SLC, but Hale feels it is a red herring. He uses a metaphor of a rope-a-dope (given that the first scene of the movie has Hale and Deakins in a boxing ring). Rope-a-dope is a strategy of putting oneself in what appears to be a losing position, using the false sense to capitalize for victory. The MC ended up being right and they were going to Denver.
3. He’s okay, I can feel it. Two characters are separated, and the question of what happens to one of the characters is question, and the other character has a gut feeling they are OK. Just like that.
Star Wars Ep 6, Leia feels that Luke wasn’t on the Death Star when it exploded. This gut reaction may have been an element of the Force or a Twin thing. Maybe even just wishful thinking, however, she was highly confident about it and ended up being right.
This article shows you a few places to start looking for your character. Namely that their unconscious mind has details or elements that is unbeknownst to them. This may explain subconscious behaviors they are unaware of. It may also be a need to connect to their inner self as they are unbalanced. Or to understand the darkness within themselves they need to deal with.