Unconscious: Revisited


Unconscious, the bread and butter of Psychoanalysis, that has widely believed to have been started its inception in the literature by Sigmund Freud at the end of 19th century, it has been indeed coined by the German philosopher Friedrich Scheeling in 18th century. Probing into the history, in fact, unconscious has been known in the scientific arena long ago and in the written materials, as early as 16th century by Paracelsus, a Swiss physician. William Shakespeare has also explored the unconscious in some of his plays very well, and other philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have discussed the subject.   Indeed Nietzsche in his “Thus Spake Zarathustra” who wrote between 1882 to 1885, not just describes the unconscious (soul/spirit), but the ego and the Self while making a clear distinction between them. “body am I entirely, and nothing more; and soulis only the name of some thing in the body…Ego, sayest thou, and are proud of that word. But the greater thing in which thou art unwilling to believe is thy body with its big sagacity…Instruments and playthings are sense and spirit; behind them there is still the Self. The Self seeketh with the eyes of the senses, it hearkenth also with the ears of the spirit…It ruleth, and is also the ego’s ruler. Behind the thoughts and feelings, my brother, there is a mighty lord, an uknown sage, it is called Self…” He even goes beyond what a century later Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis discussed, and talks about self-esteem that’s a significant psychological core nowadays. “The creating Self created for itself esteeming and despising, it created for itself joy and woe”.    

 In psychology even Freud has not been the first one to address the topic, but the American psychology and philosopher, William James in his treatise, “The Principles of Psychology” examined the unconscious and subconscious. In fact Freud was influenced by the French Jean-Martin Charcot, a neurologist like Freud, who treated his hysterical patients with hypnosis and reached their unconscious minds. This influence drew Freud from neurology to hypnosis, then the world of unconscious and his following theories of compartmentalization of conscious to “ego”, and unconscious into “id” and “superego”, then “repression” of unacceptable ideas, wishes, traumatic memories and painful emotions by the conscious into unconscious. Freud used his “Interpretation of dreams” at the turn of the 20th century and later on his technique of “Free association” by laying down the patients on his psychoanalytic couch, that became the bread and butter of the future analysts, to reach their patients’ hidden worlds so to cure them.

Freud with all his generalization to expand his theories did not go farther than discussing “neuroses” and treating neurotic and hysterical patients. But the Swiss Carl Gustav Jung, another psychiatrist, who initially had the aspiration of becoming a preacher or minister and later on study archaeology and later on mesmerized by the unconscious, brought his original interest in spirituality and mythology into his psychology. Although psychoanalysis like any other non-scientifically based ideas did not pass the test of time and is almost obsolete in our era, this paper analyzes the Jungian psychology that not for its implication in clinical psychological/psychiatric practice, as it is rarely used nowadays, but for its grandiose generalization beyond the field into culture, philosophy, arts, anthropology and so on. “Man and his Symbols” written by Jung and a few of his immediate associates just before his death that published a few years after, and contains most of his ideas is the subject of this analysis. 

Jungian Psychology: Back to the ancient mythological psychic reading

“Man and his Symbols” and Jung’s other texts along with other Jungian publications, are easily understood even by a lay reader as attempts to take us back to the interpretation of dreams conducted by the ancient oracles and priests, recorded in the history. So as we will see, Jungian psychology did not bring any new idea to the psychology and treating the emotionally and mentally disturbed individuals, in contrary to its claims, but it has been a futile attempt to bridge between the psychology and mystic and mythology.

The whole book of “Man and his Symbols” and the Jungian psychology as we read is an attempt to reach the unconscious of man through the interpretation of his dreams in search of meaningful symbols. As we will see Jung knowledgeable and mesmerized by the mythological and cultural symbols, strives to project them on his patients’ unconscious with a final conclusion and proof of his own theories. Although any dream interpretations, ancient and modern would lead no useful applications for a daily life, but the interpreter like a psychic or ancient oracle and priest projects his own ideas or hypothesis onto the person’s mind. Unlike the modern science that reaches hypotheses first through observation of the events then testing them by scientific methods, the psychoanalysis either of Freud’s or Jung’s start from a firm belief on their hypotheses then strives to prove and force it onto others as unshakable facts. These man made convictions that the history is full of them, out of ignorance of scientific methods, have been commonly overgeneralized and spread thin to cover and explain beyond their starting point or idea. Among all these, Jung psychology despite its contention of modesty, stands out in grandiosity to the point of expansion of its theory “Individual unconscious” to “Collective unconscious” and its psychology to arts, culture and even interpretation of science and scientific discoveries.

Man’s creations, inventions and discoveries all by intuitions:

Jung goes that far to prove that most of great ideas and achievements of our time have not been by hard work of the conscious and intellectual minds, even in science but by intuitions of the unconscious. “We find this in everyday life, where dilemmas are sometimes solved by the most surprising new propositions; many artists, philosophers, and even scientists owe some of their best ideas to inspirations that appear suddenly from the unconscious. The ability to reach a rich vein of such material and to translate it effectively into philosophy, literature, music, or scientific discovery is one of the hallmarks of what is commonly called genius. We can find clear proof of this fact in the history of science itself. For example, the French mathematician Poincare and the chemist Kekule owed important scientific discoveries as they themselves admit to sudden pictorial revelations from the unconscious”. “…Even the most carefully defined philosophical or mathematical concept, which we are sure does not contain more than we have put into it, is nevertheless more than we assume. It is a psychic event and as such partly unknowable. The very numbers you use in counting are more than you take them to be. They are at the same time mythological elements (for the Pythagoreans, they were even divine) but you are certainly aware of this when you use numbers for a practical purpose”. As you see, in Jung’s interpretations, there is not conscious without an underlying unconscious to the exaggerated point that every hard fact such as scientific or mathematical ones, for example numbers are more than what we see or use in our daily awake time. In other words as you read Jung and his psychology, to understand anything better and reach the facts as hard as scientific ones, we need to consult with our unconscious, mostly through our dreams.  

Man guided by unconscious and instinct:

In Jungian psychology more than even Freud’s, dream and unconscious and not conscious mind and the real world of daytime, are the sources of everything, and their functions are restoration of our stability. “The general function of dreams is to try to restore our psychological balance by producing dream material that re-establishes, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium. This is what I call the complementary (or compensatory) role of dreams in our psychic make-up”. In case the reader doubts and cannot believe what he reads by Jung and his psychology, he spells it out “Primitive man was much more governed by his instincts than are his “rational” modern

descendants, who have learned to “control” themselves…For the sake of mental stability and even physiological health, the unconscious and the conscious must be integrally connected and thus move on parallel lines…In this respect, dream symbols are the essential message carriers from the instinctive to the rational parts of the human mind, and their interpretation enriches the poverty of consciousness so that it learns to understand again the forgotten language of the instincts”. Yes in Jung’s mind and theory, instincts are more important than our “poor” intellectual and conscious minds and our primitive ancestors were far more advanced and smarter than what we are. So why humans bothered much through his history to leave the caves and woods, civilize and discover and invent things?!

Back to the magic and fortune-telling:

If the reader of Jung be patient, he will see how he and his psychology would take us back to believe in magic and fantasy, not just as a side-belief but the foundation of reality. “But symbols, I must point out, do not occur solely in dreams. They appear in all kinds of psychic manifestations. There are symbolic thoughts and feelings, symbolic acts and situations. It often seems that even inanimate objects cooperate with the unconscious in the arrangement of symbolic patterns. There are numerous well-authenticated stories of clocks stopping at the moment of their owner’s death; one was the pendulum clock in the palace of Frederick the Great at Sans Souci which stopped when the king died. Other common examples are those of a mirror that breaks, or a picture that falls, when a death occurs; or minor but unexplained breakages in a house where someone is passing through an emotional crisis. Even if skeptics refuse to credit such reports, stories of this kind are always cropping up, and this alone should serve as ample proof of their psychological importance”. So the ghosts and your great grandmother’s superstitions about the occurrence of magical events despite your wise mind’s belief, are all true, at least in Jungian psychology. The hard objects, such as stones as we will read later, have not just lives, but unconscious minds that can guide your conscious and wise mind.  

“Many myths and fairy tales symbolically describe this initial stage in the process of individuation by telling of a king who has fallen ill or grown old. Other familiar story patterns are that a royal couple is barren; or that a monster steals all the women, children, horses, and wealth of the kingdom; or that a demon keeps the king’s army or his ship from proceeding on its course; or that darkness hangs over the lands, wells dry up, and flood, drought, and frost afflict the country. Thus it seems as if the initial encounter with the Self casts a dark shadow ahead of time, or as if the “inner friend” comes at first like a trapper to catch the helplessly struggling ego in his snare. In myths one finds that the magic or talisman that can cure the misfortune of the king or his country always proves to be something very special”. It’s not clear that why we need Jung and his psychology to tell us what we all as humans knew and heard through such fairy and magic tales, and if those were true and not tales, why we needed to advance in knowledge and science?!

Psychology of superstitions:

Jung takes his psychology beyond conviction to belief in symbols, mythology, unconscious and religion, to superstitions. He believes in anything but hard science and prefers “superstition” of the “underworld” to man’s “rationalism”. Don’t believe it, read it with your own eyes: “Modern man does not understand how much his “rationalism” (which has destroyed his capacity to respond to numinous symbols and ideas) has put him at the mercy of the psychic “underworld.” He has freed himself from “superstition” (or so he believes), but in the process he has lost his spiritual values to a positively dangerous degree. His moral and spiritual tradition has disintegrated, and he is now paying the price for this break-up in world-wide dis- orientation and dissociation”.

In case some readers or already followers of Jung do not get it at the firs time, he spells it out: “As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional “unconscious identity” with natural phenomena”. In case you think, Jung means well that through industrialization, we have lost touch with the nature, be more appreciative of the nature and get closer to it, he explains his point of view more clearly. “These have slowly lost their symbolic implications. Thunder is no longer the voice of an angry god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree is the life principle of a man, no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain cave the home of a great demon. No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear”. It seems that not only the primitive man of the past or some present aboriginal men believing in the call of wild, perhaps the modern psychotic man is closer to a true Jungian model of a perfect man! 

Dr.Marie-Louise von Franz who has been called in the introduction to the book as “closest professional confidante and friend” to Jung, in the third chapter of the book writes “Jung once told a group of students about a young woman who was so haunted by anxiety that she committed suicide at the age of 26. As a small child, she had dreamed that “Jack Frost” had entered her room while she was lying in bed and pinched her on the stomach. She woke and discovered that she had pinched herself with her own hand. The dream did not lighten her; she merely remembered that she had such a dream. But the fact that she did not react emotionally to her strange encounter with the demon of the cold of congealed life did not augur well for the future and was itself abnormal. It was with a cold, unfeeling hand that she later put an end to her life. From this single dream it is possible to deduce the tragic fate of the dreamer, which was anticipated by her psyche in childhood”. Just imagine that you have so many of similar frightening dreams throughout your lifetime and according to Jung, you should listen to all of them to prevent fatalities. Assume that you listen to your dream and try to prevent catastrophic events in your future. What are you going to do, stop being anxious and having panic attacks or being depressed? As long as we know nowadays through our daily clinical experiences and patients throughout their own experiences, they are not able to control these negative feelings that are either genetic or reactive to their unfortunate life experiences.

The superstition in Jung psychology goes too far in believing the significance in numbers. Similar to the common superstitious beliefs of some doomed numbers such as 13, Jung psychology believes in the significance of the number 4: “As Jung has demonstrated, the nucleus of the psyche (the Self) normally expresses itself in some kind of fourfold structure. The number four is also connected with the anima because, as Jung noted, there are four stages in its development. The first stage is best symbolized by the figure of Kve, which represents purely instinctual and biological relations. The second can be seen in Faust’s Helen: She personifies a romantic and aesthetic level that is, however, still characterized by sexual elements. The third is represented. for instance, by the Virgin Mary a figure who raises love (eros > to the heights of spiritual devotion. The fourth type is symbolized by Sapientia wisdom transcending even the most holy and the most pure”.

The Jungian psychology seems to have been copied from religious, mythological and mystical texts: “Many examples from literature show the anima as a guide and mediator to the inner world: Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerolomachia, Rider Haggard’s She, or “the eternal feminine” in Goethe’s Faust. In a medieval mystical text, an anima figure explains her own nature as follows: I am the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys. I am the mother of lair love and of fear and of knowledge and of holy hope. … I am the mediator of the elements, making one to agree with another; that which is warm I make cold and the reverse, and that which is dry I make moist and the reverse, and that which is hard I soften. … 1 am the law in the priest and the word in the prophet and the counsel in the wise. I will kill and I will make to live and there is none that can deliver out of my hand”. This religious text from the dark ages of medieval times, seems to be the words of God who claims to be almighty with all his powers.

Again Jung shows the source of his psychology and genius through copying from mythology and religious scripts and ancient superstitious tales. “Just as the Self is not entirely contained in our conscious experience of time (in our space-time dimension), it is also simultaneously omnipresent. Moreover, it appears frequently in a form that hints at a special omnipresence; that is, it manifests itself as a gigantic, symbolic human being who embraces and contains the whole cosmos…It is no wonder that this figure of the Cosmic Man appears in many myths and religious teachings. Generally he is described as something helpful and positive. He appears as Adam, as the Persian Gayomart, or as the Hindu Purusha. This figure may even be described as the basic principle of the whole world. The ancient Chinese, for instance, thought that before anything whatever was created, there was a colossal divine man called P’an Ku who gave heaven and earth their form. When he cried, his tears made the Yellow River and the Yangtze River; when he breathed, the wind rose; when he spoke, thunder was loosed; and when he looked around, lightning flashed. If he was in a good mood, the weather was fine; if he was sad, it clouded over. When he died, he fell apart, and from his body the five holy mountains of China sprang into existence. His head became the T’ai mountain in the East, his trunk became the Sung mountain in the center, his right arm the Heng mountain in the North, his left arm the Heng mountain in the South, and his feet the Hua mountain in the west. His eyes became the sun and moon”. After all there’s Jung to prove all these tales scientifically and apply them in his psychology and brainwash his patients with dark ages superstitious beliefs.

“According to the testimony of many myths, the Cosmic Man is not only the beginning but also the final goal of all life, of the whole of creation. “All cereal nature means wheat, all treasure nature means gold, all generation means man,” says the medieval sage Meister Eckhart. And if one looks at this from a psychological standpoint, it is certainly so”. As we see the source of Jung psychology is medieval religious superstitions, and if we accept “all treasure nature means gold”, we have to accept as well “all generation means man”. “ In practical terms this means that the existence of human beings will never be satisfactorily explained in terms of isolated instincts or purposive mechanism such as hunger, power, sex, survival, perpetuation of the species, and so on. That is, man’s main purpose is not to eat, drink, etc., but to be human. Above and beyond these drives, our inner psychic reality serves to manifest a living mystery that can be expressed only by a symbol, and for its expression the unconscious often chooses the powerful image of the Cosmic Man.   In our Western civilization the Cosmic Man has been identified to a great extent with Christ, and in the East with Krishna or with Buddha. In the Old Testament this same symbolic figure turns up as the “Son of Man” and in later Jewish mysticism is called Adam Kadmon”. So in Jungian psychology the purpose of the man is to be human, that explains as examples to be like Christ, Krishna, Buddha, and Adam, all religious figures. This religious preaching under the cover of a psychology undermines all the other great men in history of science, art and else.

The Jungian psychology gets so entangled in its own superstitious symbolism that every object, numbers and shapes become meaningful and to prove it searches in the antiquity to prove its point. “The history of symbolism shows that everything can assume symbolic significance: natural objects (like stones, plants, animals, men, mountains and valleys, sun and moon, wind, water, and fire), or man-made things (like houses, boats, or cars), or even abstract forms (like numbers, or the triangle, the square, and the circle)…In fact The circle is a symbol of the psyche (even Plato described the psyche as a sphere). The square and often the rectangle) is a symbol of carthbound matter, of the body and reality”. “The symbol of the circle has played a curious part in a very different phenomenon of the life of our day, and occasionally still does so. In the last years of the Second World War, there arose the “visionary rumor” of round flying bodies that became known as “flying saucers” or UFOs, unidentified flying objects)”. And Jung explains the UFOs as “a projection of a psychic content (of wholeness) that has at all time been symbolized by the circle”.

Archetypal Unconscious:

One of the basic tenet of Jungian psychology that Jung and his followers were proud of its discovery, is the “archetypal unconscious”, meaning that our present individual or even collective unconscious is rooted in an archetypal unconscious. Like a comparative anatomists or archeologist, “The experienced investigator of the mind can similarly see the analogies between the dream pictures of modern man and the products of the primitive mind, its “collective images,’’ and its mythological motifs.   Just as the biologist needs the science of comparative anatomy, however the psychologist cannot do without a “comparative anatomy of the psyche.” In practice, to put it differently, the psychologist must have a sufficient experience not only of dreams and other products of unconscious activity, but also of mythology in its widest sense. Without this equipment, nobody can spot the important analogies. It is not possible, for instance, to see the analogy between a case of compulsion neurosis and that of a classical demonic possession without a working knowledge of both”. Step by step through his own conviction, Jung takes us back to our primitive past and beyond to believe and live in mythology and superstitions, and interpret an OCD patient as being possessed by demons, exactly the way it was thought in the dark ages before our scientific revolution.

After life and Resurrection:

Failing to be a preacher or minister, Jung practices such through his psychology by proximate it to the religious beliefs of “resurrection” or life after death and that being better than the life we live in. Interpreting the dream of a little girl, Jung writes “These dreams open up a new and rather terrifying aspect of life and death. One would expect to find such images in an aging person who looks back upon life, rather than to be given them by a child who would normally be looking forward. Their atmosphere recalls the old Roman saying, ‘”Life is a short dream rather than the joy and exuberance of its springtime”. For this child’s life was like a very sacrum vovendum (vow of a vernal sacrifice, as the Roman poet puts it. Experience shows that the unknown approach of death casts an adumbratio (an anticipatory shadow) over the life and dreams of the victim. Even the altar in Christian churches represents, on the one hand, a tomb and on the other, a place of resurrection, the transformation of death into eternal life”.

Religious Psychology:

Scanning visually through the book of “Man and his Symbols”, one may initially assume that’s a religious and mythology text than of psychology, indeed that’s the case as page after page, the reader is suggested to believe in many superstitious and religious thoughts beyond magic, fantasy, resurrection to magical healing. “I will illustrate this by an experience I once had with the primitives of Mount Elgon in Africa. Every morning at dawn, they leave their huts and breathe or spit into their hands, which they then stretch out to the first rays of the sun, as if they were offering either their breath or their spittle to the rising god, to mungu… these and similar terms designate a “power” of extraordinary efficiency and pervasiveness, which we should call divine. Thus the word mungu is their equivalent for Allah or God. When I asked them what they meant by this act, or why they did it, they were completely baffled. They could only say: “We have always done it. It has always been done when the sun rises.” They were consequently unable to explain themselves. I concluded that they were offering their souls to mungu, because the breath (of life) and the spittle mean “soul-substance.” To breathe or spit upon something conveys a “magical” effect, as for instance, when Christ used spittle to cure the blind or where a son inhales his dying father’s last breath in order to take over the father’s soul”.

Jungian psychology as Jung himself asserts, it is more like confession extrapolation by a priest or theologian guarding of the soul than psychological treatment. “It is significant that the psychological doctor (within my experience) is consulted more by Jews and Protestants than by Catholics. This might be expected, for the Catholic Church still feels responsible for the cur a ammarum (the care and welfare of souls). But in this scientific age, the psychiatrist is apt to be asked the questions that once belonged in the domain of the theologian. People feel that it makes, or would make a great difference if only they had a positive belief in a meaningful way of life or in God and immortality… Because we cannot discover God’s throne in the sky with a radio telescope or establish (for certain) that a beloved father or mother is still about in a more or less corporeal form, people assume that such ideas are “not true.” I would rather say that they are not “true” enough, for these are conceptions of a kind that have accompanied human life from pre-historic times, and that still break through into consciousness at any provocation…But since we are dealing with invisible and unknowable things (for God is beyond human understanding, and there is no means of proving immortality), why should we bother about evidence? Even if we did not know by reason our need for salt in our food, we should nonetheless profit from its use. We might argue that the use of salt is a mere illusion of taste or a superstition; but it would still contribute to our well-being. Why then should we deprive ourselves of views that would prove helpful in crises and would give a meaning to our existence?”

In contrast to Jung, Freud did not believe in the existence of a supernatural force that has pre-programmed us to behave in a certain way. He asserted “Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.” Freud regarded this illusory God is based on the infantile need for a powerful “father figure”. Freud argued that humanity created God in their image. Freud places the “Mind” above conscious and unconscious and in creation of God and any type of religion. The idea that religion causes people to behave in a moral way is incorrect according to Freud because he believed that no other force has the power to control the ways in which people act. . In some of his writing, such as his book “Totem and Taboo” Freud suggested that religion is an attempt to control the Oedipal complex. Unlike Jung who gives into religion, mysticism, superstitions, symbolism and in fact “Totemism” or spirituality, Freud believes that religions rooted in Totem and taboo, repress instincts and drives, such as sexual, aggression and cause people’s unhappiness and lack of progress and freedom. He examples “sacrifice” in the heart core of any religions from Paganism to monotheism even in Christianity, when Jesus himself was sacrificed for the rest of the world as a father figure, and his body and blood as symbols was first offered to his disciples in his last supper as bread and wine that still continues to this day in Communion as a rite.

Jung admits to his religious psychology “I stress this point because, in our time, there are millions of people who have lost faith in any kind of religion. Such people do not understand their religion any longer. While life runs smoothly without religion, the loss remains as good as unnoticed. But when suffering comes, it is another matter. That is when people begin to seek a way out and to reflect about the meaning of life and its bewildering and painful experiences”. As it seems from his very own words, Jungian psychology, like any religious institution, preaches us not to lose faith, even if our lives run smoothly without belief in any religion or spirituality or parapsychology. As if all the religious teachings in the world have not been enough that Jung steps in to convince people to have faith and return to the primal times to believe in supernatural powers. Perhaps since no religions could prove the faith to their followers, Jung steps in to declare that there is no need to prove anything, we just need to cultivate and believe in non-provable things: “There is, however a strong empirical reason why we should cultivate thoughts that can never be proved. It is that they are known to be useful. Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give a meaning to his life and enable him to find a place in the universe…It is the role of religious symbols to give a meaning to the life of man. The Pueblo Indians believe that they are the sons of Father Sun, and this belief endows their life with a perspective (and a goal) that goes far beyond their limited existence. It gives them ample space for the unfolding of personality and permits them a full life as complete persons. Their plight is infinitely more satisfactory than that of a man to have faith in our own civilization who knows that he is (and will remain nothing more than an underdog with no inner meaning to his life”.

Here Jung spells out his religious psychology in case the reader thinks his psychology is only about unconscious and symbolism. As we read according to Jung, we humans have no place in universe, no matter how much we achieve until we have faith in the unknown and a power above and beyond us. While all Jung’s convictions, explanations and justifications arise from his conscious mind and he is well aware of all man’s achievements and his higher place in the nature among animals, he strives to undermine them and takes us all back to our primal lives. He ignores that if we all start again, we end up here somewhat similar, and also he forgets that even animals and objects all have places in the universe without having conscious and unconscious minds. Moreover as if he really does not know that all man’s ideas like his in psychology or else are all the byproducts of his conscious mind. Even the subject of “unconscious’ that he and other psychoanalysts of other schools believe in, is the byproduct of their conscious minds.    

Jungian Psychology: Not far off Freudian Psychoanalysis

Conventional Freudian psychoanalysis did not last more than half a century due to its sexual and “arrested development” scientifically unfounded hypothesis projection onto poor patients, to whom none of such analyses or interpretations made sense. Jung due to his grandiosity and religious background, derailed from the conventional Freudian formula, despite Freud’s advise and took psychology or psychoanalysis farther back to mythology, magic and religion. In spite of all his efforts to depart from classis psychoanalysis and create his own school of psychology, his psychology still has remnants of basic psychoanalysis of Freud at least in the belief of “arrested development”, meaning that neurotic people’s mental development have arrested in some points in early life. “Gradually a wider and more mature personality emerges, and by degrees becomes effective and even visible to others. The fact that we often speak of “‘arrested development” shows that we assume that such a process of growth and maturation is possible with every individual. Since this psychic growth cannot be brought about by a conscious effort of will power, but happens involuntarily and naturally, it is in dreams frequently symbolized by the tree, whose slow, powerful, involuntary growth fulfills a definite pattern. The organizing center from which the regulatory effect stems seems to be a sort of “nuclear atom” in our psychic system. One could also call it the inventor, organizer, and source of dream images”.  

The Self:

The above that has been written in the book “Man and his symbols” by Dr.Marie-Louise von Franz , the closest professional confidante and friend of Jung, continues with “Jung called this center the “Self” and described it as the totality of the whole psyche, in order to distinguish it from the “ego,” which constitutes only a small part of the total psyche. Throughout the ages men have been intuitively aware of the existence of such an inner center. The Greeks called it man’s inner daimon; in Egypt it was expressed by the concept of the Ba-soul and the Romans worshiped it as the “genius” native to each individual. In more primitive societies it was often thought of as a protective spirit embodied within an animal or a fetish”. Of course the Jungian’s interpretation of such “Self” is not as in the “Self Psychology” of Heinz Kohut and others that was developed in 1960s, 70s and 80s, and was more practical and made sense for the patients and readers and got closer to the modern psychology and psychotherapy. The Jungian’s perception of “Self” as it is transparent in the above statements and the rest of the book is in fact “Soul” or “Spirit” and back to ancient and superstitions and para-psychology beliefs.

“The Self can be defined as an inner guiding factor that is different from the conscious personality and that can be grasped only through the investigation of one’s own dreams. These show it to be the regulating center that brings about a constant extension and maturing of the personality. But this larger, more nearly total aspect of the psyche appears first as merely an inborn possibility. It may emerge very slightly, or it may develop relatively completely during one’s lifetime. How far it develops depends on whether or not the ego is willing to listen to the messages of the Self”. While ego and the individual is downgraded and squeezed into “Self” that’s soul or spirit in Jungian’s psychology, still it seems that it is up to ego to realize the self and make it a reality. “It even seems as if the ego has not been produced by nature to follow its own arbitrary impulses to an unlimited extent, but to help to make real the totality, the whole psyche. It is the ego that serves to light up the entire system, allowing it to become conscious and thus to be realized”. So if it is up to ego, then it must be a conscious effort to mature the Self and actualize it in the real world out of its dark unconscious. In other word, Jung and his followers fall into their own made up traps, and while trying hard to prove the power of unconscious in controlling the conscious, here it is all up to ego in the individual conscious to help the Self to mature and step out of the underworld of unconscious!

“The individuation process is more than a coming to terms between the inborn germ of wholeness and the outer acts of fate. Its subjective experience conveys the feeling that some supra-personal force is actively interfering in a creative way. One sometimes feels that the unconscious is leading the way in accordance with a secret design. It is as if something is looking at me, something that I do not see but that sees me, perhaps that Great Man in the heart, who tells me his opinions about me by means of dreams”. As we see Jungian psychology circumstantially beats around the bush throughout the book and its psychology, making up different terminology, all to bring us back to the soul, spirit or Jungian “Self” to prove that man with all his might and intelligence (conscious) is a prisoner to his unconscious or unknown fate, impulse or supernatural forces! Jung indeed proved that no matter how educated a person would be, he or she could still be bound by his past superstitions and mystics and believe in super-personal powers, hidden forces and fate like the primal humans.  

“Many people have criticized the Jungian approach for not presenting psychic material systematically. But these critics forget that the material itself is a living experience charged with emotion, by nature irrational and ever-changing, which does not lend itself to systematization except in the most superficial fashion. Modern depth psychology has here reached the same limits that confront microphysics. That is, when we are dealing with statistical averages, a rational and systematic description of the facts is possible. But when we are attempting to describe a single psychic event, we can do no more than present an honest picture of it from as many angles as possible. In the same way, scientists have to admit that they do not know what light is. They can say only that in certain experimental conditions it seems to consist of particles, while in other experimental conditions it seems to consist of waves”. These convictions throughout the Jungian’s psychology writings are so transparent and self-defeating that one might not need critical interpretations. That’s true the Jungian psychology admits not to be a science, the way psychology is today, but a serious critic of science, its methods and attempts desperately to take us back to the dark ages and the beliefs in the unknown, spirits, intuitions, impulses, and unconscious.

The Shadow

Like Freud’s stratification of psyche to ego, id and super-ego, Jung divides the psyche into ego, self and shadow. In interpretation of a Frenchman’s dream, “This dream shows us that the shadow can consist of many different elements for instance, of unconscious ambition (the successful portly man) and of introversion (the French- man). This particular dreamer’s association to the French, moreover, was that they know how to handle love affairs very well. Therefore the two shadow figures also represent two well-known drives: power and sex. The power drive appears momentarily in a double form, both as an official and as a successful man. The official, or civil servant, personifies collective adaptation, whereas the successful man denotes

ambition; but naturally both serve the power drive. When the dreamer succeeds in stopping this dangerous inner force, the Frenchman is suddenly no longer hostile. In other words, the equally dangerous aspect of the sex drive has also surrendered.   Obviously, the problem of the shadow plays a great role in all political conflicts. If the man who had this dream had not been sensible about his shadow problem, he could easily have identified the desperate Frenchman with the “dangerous Communists” of outer life, or the official plus the prosperous man with the “grasping capitalists’. In this way he would have avoided seeing that he had within him such warring elements”. To separate himself from Freud, Jung comes up with different compartmentalization of unconscious and other than “Ego” that he borrows, he avoids the other sects of unconscious, id and super-ego and creates “Shadow”.  

Moreover while Freud started with interpretation of dreams to analyze his patients, soon he progressed in his own term and school of psychology to “Free association”. Freud who was not as rigid as Jung in his own theoretical conviction, soon realized that his earlier techniques of interpretation of dreams and hypnosis is one way street of analysis by the psychoanalyst that may not agree with the patient’s opinion. In fact one of the prompt in invention of free association by Freud came from one of his early client, “Miss Elisabeth” who protested against interruptions of her flow of thought, that was described by his official biographer, Ernest Jones as “one of the countless examples of a patient’s furthering the physician’s work”. Soon in explanation of the significance of his new technique, Freud reveals “The importance of free association is that the patients spoke for themselves, rather than repeating the ideas of the analyst; they work through their own material, rather than parroting another’s suggestions”. Indeed Jung early on as it is shown in his semi-biography, the 2011 film “Dangerous method” by David Cronenberg, in collaboration with his patient and lover then colleague, Sabina Speilrein, tested such free association with their “word association test” and published it in 1906. But his religious background and upbringing on one side and his grandiosity to depart from Freud and create his own school of psychology, led him to leave that kind of scientific method and succumb to his mystic mind.

To comment and explain further the “shadow” in Jungian psychology, it is not a clear concept as ego, id and superego as they are in the Freudian psychology. Dr.Marie-Louise von Franz continues in the book in explanation of Jung’s new terminology of Shadow: “When Jung called one aspect of the unconscious personality the shadow, he was referring to a relatively well-defined factor. But sometimes everything that is unknown to the ego is mixed up with the shadow, including even the most valuable and highest forces…. In the unconscious, one is unfortunately in the same situation as in a moonlit landscape: All the contents are blurred and merge into one another, and one never knows exactly what or where anything is, or where one thing begins and ends. (This is known as the “contamination” of unconscious contents.)”. So shadow not only structurally blurred and not well-defined as Jung assumed, it is also functionally bewildered. “The fact that the shadow contains the overwhelming power of irresistible impulse does not mean, however, that the drive should always be heroically repressed. Sometimes the shadow is powerful because the urge of the Self is pointing in the same direction, and so one does not know whether it is the Self or the shadow that is behind the inner pressure”.

The shadow could be close to self, to ego or wild at large having his own kingdom of function. “The shadow becomes hostile only when he is ignored or misunderstood. Sometimes, though not often, an individual feels impelled to live out the worse side of his nature and to repress his better side. In such cases the shadow appears as a positive figure in his dreams. But to a person who lives out his natural emotions and feelings, the shadow may appear as a cold and negative intellectual; it then personifies poisonous judgments and negative thoughts that have been held back. So, whatever form it takes, the function of the shadow is to represent the opposite side of the ego and to embody just those qualities that one dislikes most in other people. It would be relatively easy if one could integrate the shadow into the conscious personality just by attempting to be honest and to use one’s insight. But, unfortunately, such an attempt does not always work. There is such a passionate drive within the shadowy part of oneself that reason may not prevail against it”. As we read, the shadow is like a tyrant and does opposite to what ego wants, if ego is positive, he would be negative and if ego is negative, he would be positive. So while before we read that shadow at times cannot be discriminated against Self, here we read it is opposite to ego, but it seems overall that the shadow runs wild in his own no man’s land, it could be friendly, but mostly an enemy.  

“And there is an additional disadvantage in projecting our shadow. If we identify our own shadow with, say, the Communists or the capitalists, a part of our own personality remains on the opposing side. The result is that we shall constantly (though involuntarily) do things behind our own backs that support this other side, and thus we shall unwittingly help our enemy. If, on the contrary, we realize the projection and can discuss matters without fear or hostility, dealing with the other person sensibly, then there is a chance of mutual understanding or at least of a truce. Whether the shadow becomes our friend or enemy depends largely upon ourselves”. Therefore as we see, shadow in Jungian psychology is not as clearly defined in structure and function to be analyzed and interpreted and of use for either the analyst or the patients. Despite shadow being a wild beast in the dark underworld of unconscious, there’s as above an admission by Jungians again that “Whether the shadow becomes our friend or enemy depends largely upon ourselves”. So again it is up to the individual’s conscious or ego to control it and make it an ally or enemy.  

Anima and Animus 

Like Oedipal and Electra complexes in Freud’s psychology, Jung attempts to make his own parallel concepts in these matters by inventing “Animus” and “Anima”. Although these terminologies were passed on to him by his second lover, another Swiss analyst, Toni Wolff, who also gave him the ideas of other Jungian concepts, such as “Persona” and “Psychological types”. On Animus and Anima, Marie-Louise von Franz in the book explains: “Difficult and subtle ethical problems are not invariably brought up by the appearance of the shadow itself. Often another “inner figure” emerges. If the dreamer is a man, he will discover a female personification of his unconscious; and it will be a male figure in the case of a woman. Often this second symbolic figure turns up behind the shadow, bringing up new and different problems. Jung called its male and female forms “animus” and “anima.” The anima is a personification of all feminine psychological tendencies in a man’s psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature, and last but not least, his relation to the unconscious”. The Oedipal and Electra complexes in Freud’s psychoanalysis would throw off and be felt as insults to the patients upon interpretation of an analyst that they have unconscious sexual desires towards their fathers or mothers. Similarly, the above statements of Jungian’s psychology of animus and anima, would throw off the patients or readers as anima or the female aspect has been interpreted as having “vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational”. Moreover “The anima (the female element in a male psyche) is often personified as a witch or a priestess who have links with “forces of darkness” and “the spirit world”.  

Jung with his animus and anima gets close to Freud’s Oedipal and Electra complexes and perhaps more so to the devilish character of Eve in the religious texts. “In its individual manifestation the character of a man’s anima is as a rule shaped by his mother. If he feels that his mother had a negative influence on him, his anima will often express itself in irritable, depressed moods, uncertainty, insecurity, and touchiness…Within the soul of such a man the negative mother-anima figure will endlessly repeat this theme: “I am nothing. Nothing makes any sense. With others it’s different, but for me … I enjoy nothing.” These “anima moods” cause a sort of dullness, a fear of disease, of impotence, or of accidents. The whole of life takes on a sad and oppressive aspect. Such dark moods can even lure a man to suicide, in which case the anima becomes a death demon”. Sadly psychoanalysis that ruled the world of psychology at least in the first half of the 20th century, enforced on to the people’s minds that they are ruled by either their sexual desires even towards their parents or by their demonic under-thoughts, principally springing out of their parents. As we read in the above statements, the “mother-anima” keeps repeating in your ears “you are nothing, you enjoy nothing, you are impotent and better to kill yourself and get rid of your miserable self.

“Just as the character of a man’s anima is shaped by his mother, so the animus is basically influenced by a woman’s father. The father endows his daughter’s animus with the special coloring of unarguable, incontestably “true” convictions – convictions that never include the personal reality of the woman herself as she actually is. This is why the animus is sometimes, like the anima, a demon of death. For example, in a gypsy fairy tale a handsome stranger is received by a lonely woman in spite of the fact that she has had a dream warning her that he is the king of the dead. After he has been with her for a time, she presses him to tell her who he really is”. In fact Jung was not the first in psychology to stress on “Symbols”. Freud in his “Interpretation of dreams” at the turn of 20th century, symbolized the dream contents of his patients in sexual terms, poles as male and holes as the females genitals. Jung following Freud’s footstep, but not admitting to, believes “Men project the anima on to things as well as women. For instance, ships are always known as “she”…the captain of a ship is symbolically “her” husband, which may be why he must (according to tradition) go down with the ship if “she” sinks. A car is another kind of possession that is usually feminized, i.e., that can become the focus of many men’s anima projections. Like ships, cars are called “she.” And their owners caress and pamper them like favorite mistresses”.

“The animus, just like the anima, exhibits four stages of development. He first appears as a personification of mere physical power for instance, as an athletic champion or “muscle man.” In the next stage he possesses initiative and the capacity for planned action. In the third phase, the animus becomes the “word,” often appearing as a professor or clergyman. Finally, in his fourth manifestation, the animus is the incarnation of meaning. On this highest level he becomes (like the anima) a mediator of the religious experience whereby life acquires new meaning. He gives the woman spiritual firmness, an invisible inner support that compensates for her outer softness”. One may wonder how Jung came up with the idea of four stages of development of anima and animus. But no matter how, he shows why by revealing the truth behind the philosophy of his psychology, being a pure spiritual and religious one, as the last stage of development of animus, is a “religious experience” that “gives the woman spiritual firmness”.

Dr. Mostafa Showraki, MD, FRCPC                                                                       Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Toronto                                        Author: ADHD:Revisited Book Adhdrevisited.com/medicinerevisited.com       


  1. Nietzsche F. “Thus Spake Zarathustra”. Translated by Thomas common. 1997. Wordsworth Editions Limited.
  2. Jung CG., von Franz ML., Henderson JL., Jacobi J., Jaffe A. “Man and his Symbols”. 1964. J.G. Ferguson Publishing.
  3. Freud, S. “Totem and Taboo”. London WW Norton 1989
  4. Freud, S. 1930. Civilization and its discontents.

Welcome to a new Medicine site