“Thought cannot see the whole but thinks that it can.”

Krishnamurti

Consciousness

Our consciousness is everything we are aware of. We become conscious of things via thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition. Our thinking plays a major role in our consciousness. The contents of our thinking are the sediments of our nurture-experiences: personal and cultural influences. Our thinking resides in our head, and stems from the higher brain functions that humans have since a few thousand years. Our level of consciousness and rationality is what differentiates us from animals. It speaks via the language of words. We also call this: mind. 

The unconscious

The contents of our unconscious are complexes plus the sediments of billions of years of human experiences: instincts and archetypes. (See below for explanation.) The unconscious forms the fundament of who we are: our character, our nature. Our unconscious works autonomously: we do not decide what we dream of, what we love, or if our heart beats. This is given to us. The unconscious is much older than rationality, consciousness, language or civilization. It communicates with our consciousness via two languages. Via the symbolical language: dreams, imagination and creativity. And via body language. We also call this the languages of your soul and your body. Our unconscious is rich in information and is very influential in our lives. Humans can also suppress and forget things. This then goes to our unconscious. Example: a song or scent from your youth can revive long forgotten memories and (bodily) feelings into consciousness.  

“Dreams are the illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

Marsha Norman

What is the purpose of Jungian, archetypal psychology?

Together we work on increasing your consciousness and soulfulness. We connect your consciousness with your unconscious; your mind with body and soul. We make that what is unconscious, conscious. Then you can process or change it if you want. In the treatment we look amongst other things at: psychic abscesses and ugly ducklings.  

Psychic abscesses

We humans are clever! We can suppress our pain in our unconscious. These wounds then become part of our shadow. Jung discovered: everything unconscious, you are forced to live out. Your problem comes back at you via the outside world until you have faced it. It forms into an unconscious recurring pattern. Besides, they cause crisis: unhealed wounds fester. They make us gradually more ill at ease, physically and mentally, and via this way they force us to face them. Do you recognize this call for consciousness? 

The ugly duckling

We humans adapt to the (silent) expectations of our outside world, consciously ánd unconsciously. Plus: we learn from our experiences! These are the roots of unconscious convictions and associations that create self-alienation. Do you want your life story to be like the story of the ugly duckling? The creature that was born as a swan in a duckling nest? Who adapted to the ducks? The creature that thought it was an ugly duckling. Who was deeply unhappy because it tried to be something it was not. Do you know your dreams, imagination and creativity tell you how you can become your true self?  

 

Characters, archetypes, complexes and multiplicity

Jung: “…a poet has the capacity to dramatize and personify his mental contents. When he creates a character on the stage, or in his poem or drama or novel, he thinks it is merely a product of his imagination; but that character in a certain secret way has made itself. Any novelist or writer will deny that these characters have a psychological meaning, but as a matter of fact you know as well as I do that they have one. Therefore you can read a writer’s mind when you [respectfully] study the characters he creates” (1969b, para 152). 

The characters in dreams and fantasy, Hillman explains, “are self-perceptions of instinct” (1979, p.55). The fantasy characters are namely representations of what Jung called archetypes: primal images (1968b, para 80). Archetypes are the unconscious structures of a psyche (1968b, para 99). They are energetic centres of gravity that give psychic energy [libido], meaning, affect and ‘colour’ to psychic contents (Jacobi, 2004, p.61-74). They are much like the basic colours black, white, blue, red and yellow that colour all existence. Archetypes determine meaning giving, expectations and behavioural responses: they are instinctive, unconscious, inborn primal patterns of behaviour and are present in each human (ibid.). 

Archetypes are constructed out of the sediments of human experiences acquired throughout history, just like instincts (Jung, 1968b). They can be described as the organs of the psyche (Jacobi, 1953, p.36). Our character is determined by the working and strength of the various archetypes in us (Jacobi, 2004, p.61-74). Dormant archetypes can be awakened by outer reality triggers (ibid.). The more affect or emotion a person feels, the closer to an archetypal centre of gravity one is (deeper in unconscious) (Grant, 2004, p. 168). Love is a prime example of an archetype at work.  

Jungian psychoanalysis is based on the nature-philosophy, since archetypes are independent of experience, i.e. nurture (Jung, 1968b). However Adams states: “[Archetypes are] prior to experience, although dependent on experience for its expression as a particular image” (2013, p.49). Archetypes are structures, which are clothed by a complex set of nurture experiences: so called complexes. A complex is an affect-loaded themed set of associations related to the archetype, based on personal experiences (Jacobi, 2004, p. 57; Sharp, 1991). (For example a minority complex. We experience complex work in our contact with others if someone triggers us and we respond ‘uncharacteristically’; differently than normally.) 

Complexes can be negative, positive or somewhere in between. When the personal associations and experiences are negative and unwanted the complex is conflicting with consciousness and instead of being integrated the complex becomes incompatible; the archetypal energy manifests itself in (unconscious) negative symbols (Jacobi, 2004, p.51-74). Evil characters thus symbolize incompatible complexes, such as a trauma-complex (the experiences and feelings felt during the trauma, Tolkien), feelings of depression (Rowling) or the negative experiences and feelings felt in relation to one’s father (Lucas). Incompatible complexes cause internal unbalance and problems. (These are the ‘wounds’.)

Whenever the associations are positive the complex is positive and the archetypal energy manifests itself in friendly symbols and characters. Each archetype and subsequent associated complex(es) can express themselves through many different symbols, ranging from characters, to animals, objects, elements, plants, energy etc.

The characters in fantasy are thus representations of archetypes and complexes (Jung, 1969b, para 383-388; Watkins, 1986, p.107). They can be described as ‘subpersonalities’ (Jung, 1969b, para 383-388). This is the second difference with other psychological theories: Jungian psychoanalysis sees a person as being a multiplicity of (sub)personalities. The strongest, conscious personality is normally and always should be, the ego, also known as consciousness, mind or identity (Jung, 1969b, para 383; Fitzpatrick, 2020, p.24; Adams, 2013, p.21). The subpersonalities, i.e. characters of fantasy, complexes or archetypes are – just like instincts – unconscious and autonomous (Sharp, 1991), meaning they are not under the influence of the ego/conscious will. Jungian psychoanalysts work with these unconscious subpersonalities all the time, and researches validate that having multiple unconscious subpersonalities is normal in every psyche (Barret, 1995; Bowers & Brecher, 1955; Jung, 1971 para 798-9; Lynn et al., 1994; Rickeport, 1992; Watkins, 1993; Watkins & Watkins, 1979-80; Watkins 1986). (For example: your inner child.) 

An example: the ego/consciousness is an archetype: a psychic centre of gravity universally present in humans. And it is a complex: everyone has their own associations, based on nurture experiences (like feelings, memories etc.) about what it means to be ‘me’. In Lord of the Rings this phenomenon can also be seen in the symbol of Sauron: archetype of evil, universally present in stories. And the symbol of the Ring: a power-complex that is associated with and drawn to the archetype of evil. The power-complex is constructed by Tolkien’s experiences with and ideas of power and powerlessness.

Fantasy figures that do not resemble anyone from outer reality (nurture experiences) have less personal associations (complex load) and are more archetypal (inborn); they come from deeper depths of the unconscious. The character is no longer someone the imaginist knows from outer reality, but becomes archetypal: primordial, mythological, universal. For example: a princess, a magician, a warrior, or a witch etc. (Jacobi, 2004, p.61). 

(For references see the thesis Discovering wild imagination.) 

Context

The figure above gives an overview of the different forms of therapy that are available. It shows till what ‘depth’ they go. Every next level thereby envelops and transcends the levels above; these are thus included in the therapy. Jungian, archetypal psychology can go deep, but that is not a must of course. However, we do always envelop the persona and ego-levels in the therapy while we go on discovery in your unconscious. 

The therapy can follow up on other treatments you have had. For example because you want to do more, or because you have noticed that your problem is not yet solved or has returned. It can be that the roots were not (fully) removed. Furthermore, this form of therapy is also suitable for people who notice that something is amiss, but who don’t know what exactly. 

On a side note: in Jungian, archetypal psychology we go further then solving problems; simultaneously we search for meaning and who you truly are. (Source: Wilber set out ‘therapies and the levels of the spectrum’ and Reynolds made the figure above (Embracing reality, 2004, pg93).)

Want to know more?

Chapter 1 of the thesis Discovering wild imagination explores the basic principles and terms of Jungian, archetypal psychology. Click here. In the thesis you find recommended literature and a reference list if you want to read some yourself. 

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attachment issues and development issues
personality issues
posttraumatic stress issues
relationship issues
mood issues, such depression or dysthymia

Jungian Archetypal Psychology

social anxiety
general anxiety 
identity issues 
aging issues

numbing, flattening
overstraining, burn out, adaptivity issues
preverbal / early childhood issues
pre- and perinatal issues

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