Collective Unconscious

The Unconscious

“Everything of which I know but of which I am not at the moment thinking; everything of which I was once conscious but have now forgotten; everything perceived by my senses, but not noted by my conscious mind; everything which, involuntarily and without paying attention to it, I feel, think, remember, want, and do; all the future things that are taking shape in me and will sometime come to consciousness:  all this is the content of the unconscious[5].”

Jung defines the ‘unconscious as:

 “The unknown at any given moment”, that ‘the unconscious is something that is really unconscious, and that “the real and authentic psyche is the unconscious. 

We spend the greater part of our life in the unconscious, which is neither inert nor inactive.  The personal unconscious entails all of the forgotten, suppressed, and repressed thoughts, wishes, emotions, and subliminally perceived and felt materials, and surrounds consciousness on all sides.  It would however be a mistake to think of the unconscious as the cesspool of the mind.

“If it is correct to say that conscious contents become subliminal, and therefore unconscious, through loss of energy, and conversely that unconscious processes become conscious through accretion of energy, then, if unconscious acts of volition are to be possible, it follows that these must possess an energy which enables them to achieve consciousness, or at any rate to achieve a state of secondary consciousness which consists in the unconscious process being ‘represented’ to a subliminal subject who chooses and decides.  This process must necessarily possess the amount of energy required for it to achieve such a consciousness; in other words, it is bound eventually to reach its “bursting point”. 

   Such a dissociation has two distinct aspects: in the one case, there is an originally conscious content that became subliminal because it was repressed on account of its incompatible nature: in the other case, the secondary subject consists essentially in a process that never entered into consciousness at all because no possibilities exist there of apperceiving it.  That is to say, ego-consciousness cannot accept it for lack of understanding, and in consequence it remains for the most part subliminal, although, from the energy point of view, it is quite capable of becoming conscious. 

Interestingly enough, because the function of the unconscious is to ‘keep balance within the mind,’ the personal unconscious will actually override a person’s conscious decision making ability and compel them to make mistakes in order to facilitate Individuation.

These unconscious tendencies overpower our conscious, and circumnavigate our will, in order to release the psychic contents that are expressions of the bottled up incongruities of the unconscious, always at the expense of the subject who usually doesn’t really know why they are doing it. 

While the ego is trying to create an individual of our ideals, desires, and attachments, the unconscious is sabotaging that creation because it is out of line with the natural existence of a balanced equanimous mind.  The unconscious identifies itself to us by the manifestation of “symptoms, complexes, images, and symbols that we encounter in dreams, fantasies, and visions.”

Unconscious – contains all of the stuff that isn’t conscious -   contents can be made conscious simply by an act of will – which requires effort, as well as contents that may never be recalled to consciousness again

The Unconscious is aware of and records[7] everything (like all of the things you did while you were drunk!).  All details of all experiences, dreams, etc., are recorded in the Unconscious, but it is difficult for much of this detail to be brought up into the conscious – unless it was clearly experienced through the functions (TFSN), which operate in the conscious. 

If the totality of the psyche does not measure up with the ego’s self-valuation, the unconscious corrects it.  The unconscious exacts itself through the manifestation of “symptoms, complexes, images, and symbols that we encounter in dreams, fantasies, and visions.”

“And it is not only psychology that suffers from the misfortune of having to give its object, the unconscious, a name that has often been criticized because it is merely negative; the same thing happened in physics, since it could not avoid using the ancient term “atom” (meaning “indivisible”) for the smallest particle of matter.  Just as the atom is not indivisible, so, as we shall see, the unconscious is not merely unconscious.”  

“The instinctual base governs the partie inferiéure of the function, while the partie superiéure corresponds to its predominantly “psychic” component.  The partie inferiéure proves to be the relatively unalterable, automatic part of the function, and the partie supérieure the voluntary and alterable part.” 

“The unconscious is God’s forgotten language or God’s way of guiding each individual    Jewish Values in Jungian Psychology – page 35

“Since the psyche is a self-regulating system, just as the body is, the regulating counteraction will always develop in the unconscious.  Were it not for the directedness of the conscious function, the counteracting influences of the unconscious could set in unhindered.  It is just this directedness that excludes them.”  …This, of course, does not inhibit the counteraction, which goes on in spite of everything.  Its regulating influence, however, is eliminated by critical attention and the directed will, because the counteraction as such seems incompatible with the conscious direction.  To this extent the psyche of civilized man is no longer a self-regulating system but could rather be compared to a machine whose speed-regulation is so insensitive that it can continue to function to the point of self-injury, while on the other hand it is subject to the arbitrary manipulations of a one-sided will.”

“What does one do with the unconscious?”  

“The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious” was my answer.

The unconscious was "discovered" in the late 19th c.

The feminine nature of the inferior function derives from its contamination with the unconscious.  Because of its feminine characteristics the unconscious is personified by the anima (that is to say, in men; in women it is masculine).

The unconscious as we know can never be "done with" once and for all.

The sin to be repented, of course, is unconsciousness. (Referring to the man who was born blind – John 9:1) Aion 191

Whatever we have to say about the unconscious is what the conscious mind says about it. Always unconscious psyche, which is entirely of an unknown nature, is expressed by consciousness and in terms of consciousness, and that is the only thing we can do. AP 6

Man's task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.

- Carl Jung

When a human being first meets the unconscious in an autonomous form, either in childhood or, for instance, in the beginning of an analysis, there is no question of shadow, animus or anima, and Self.  The first experience we usually have when we encounter the unconscious is with what we could best call the other side.  In those early stages it is personified in different forms, and it is advisable in analysis not to start introducing those formal concepts but to let the person first simply experience that there is another side to the ego and its ordinary world.  It is only after some time, when the fact of a completely different part of the personality has been realized, another inhabitant in our inner house, that then we slowly discern figures in the half darkness of the unconscious such as that of the inferior man, whom we might classify under the name shadow, and the figure of the heterosexual partner, which we might classify under the name of anima, just to bring some order into that other side.  But in itself, as a reality, it is really the impact of the unknown part of the personality.  You will find all over the world that the first meeting with the unconscious is often with such a personification, or a double, in which shadow, Self and anima (if it is a man) are completely oneTPoPA 191

(The unconscious is) the basis and precondition of all consciousness.  It represents the unconscious functioning of the psyche in general.  It is psychic life before, during, and after consciousness.  And inasmuch as the newborn child is presented with a ready-made, highly developed brain which owes its differentiation to the accretions of untold centuries of ancestral life, the unconscious psyche must consist of inherited instincts, functions, and forms that are peculiar to the ancestral psyche.  This collective heritage is by no means made up of inherited ideas, but rather of the possibilities of such ideas – in other words, of a priori categories of possible functioning.  Such an inheritance could be called instinct, using the word in its original sense.  But it is not quite so simple.  On the contrary, it is a most intricate web of what I have called archetypal conditions.  This implies the probability that a man will behave much as his ancestors behaved, right back to Methuselah.  Thus the unconscious is seen as the collective predisposition to extreme conservatism, a guarantee, almost, that nothing new will ever happen.   TPoP 34