"The more one becomes aware of the contents of the personal unconscious, the more is revealed of the rich layer of images and motifs that comprise the collective unconscious. This has the effect of enlarging the personality." (Sharp, 1991)
The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind's evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual. ["The Structure of the Psyche," CW 8, para. 342]
First, fantasies (including dreams) of a personal character, which go back unquestionably to personal experiences, things forgotten or repressed, and can thus be completely explained by individual anamnesis. Second, fantasies (including dreams) of an impersonal character, which cannot be reduced to experiences in the individual's past, and thus cannot be explained as something individually acquired. These fantasy-images undoubtedly have their closest analogues in mythological types. . . . These cases are so numerous that we are obliged to assume the existence of a collective psychic substratum. I have called this the collective unconscious. [The Psychology of the Child Archetype," CW 9i, para. 262.]
Collective Unconscious: "In Jungian psychology, the totality of inherited potentials, or the full complement of archetypal patterns that are universally human. In addition to ego-consciousness, lie all the forgotten material of an individual’s lifetime (called personal unconscious) as well as the vast reservoir of latent possibilities that belong to the human species (collective unconscious). Many popular discussions of the collective unconscious give the mistaken impression that it is a sort of storehouse of images or even a memory bank for everything that has ever happened in the course of the world. Jung insists that it is not images or memories that are inherited but rather the capacity to recognize, imagine and enact typically human patterns of thought and action. The collective unconscious is best understood as the sum of all the behavior patterns we inherit with our DNA: the capacity to learn and speak a language, for instance; the propensity to fall in love, form lasting bonds and propagate; the set of aptitudes for nurture and mothering; and so on. Thus the seemingly effortless facility that very young children show for distinguishing linguistic patterns in the conversations going on about them, as well as for assimilating a huge vocabulary and the grammar to organize it. Such inborn facilities for language illustrate several aspects of the collective unconscious: (1) an inherited capacity to recognize relevant stimuli in the environment, (2) the motor capacity to reproduce sounds and gestures in order to communicate, (3) the possibility of combining those typical acts, ideas and images in countless ways, and (4) the fact that all typically human patterns take on cultural variations, as the language capacity will become specified as the mother tongue of Japanese, Arabic or English. On the basis of the collective unconscious, we recognize typical forms of human behavior when we encounter them, intuitively know how to respond and also know how to enact them ourselves." (p. 159) [Read more]
"Just as conscious contents can vanish into the unconscious, other contents can also arise from it. Besides a majority of mere recollections, really new thoughts and creative ideas can appear which have never been conscious before. They grow up from the dark depths like a lotus." (p. 22). [Read more]
"It is difficult for me to outline the special features of my teachings in a few words. For me the essential thing is the investigation of the unconscious. Whereas Freud holds that in order to cure the neuroses, all of which as you know he derives from sexual roots, it is sufficient to make the unconscious conscious, I maintain that it is necessary to coordinate with consciousness the activities streaming out of the matrix of the unconscious. I try to funnel the fantasies of the unconscious into the conscious mind, not in order to destroy them but to develop them. “Three Versions of a Press Conference in Vienna” (1928), C. G. Jung Speaking, pp. 39– 40." [Read more ]
Jung, C. G. (1966). The relations between the ego and the unconscious (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.). In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung: Vol. 7. Two essays on analytical psychology (2nd ed., pp. 121–241). Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1928) https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400850891.121
Jung, C. G. (1968). The concept of the collective unconscious (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.). In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung: Vol. 9 pt. 1. Archetypes and the collective unconscious (2nd ed., pp. 42-53). Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1936/37) https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400850969.42
Jung, C. G. (1968). Conscious, unconscious, and individuation (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.). In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung: Vol. 9 pt. 1. Archetypes and the collective unconscious (2nd ed., pp. 275-289). Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1939) https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400850969.275
Jung, C. G. (1969). Archetypes of the collective unconscious (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.). In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung: Vol. 9 pt. 1. Archetypes and the collective unconscious (2nd ed., pp. 3-41). Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1954) https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400850969.3
Jung, C. G. (1969). On the nature of the psyche (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.). In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung: Vol. 8. Structure and dynamics of the psyche (2nd ed., pp. 159-234). Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1954) https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400850952.159
Jung, C. G. (1970). The role of the unconscious (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.). In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung: Vol. 10. Civilization in transition (2nd ed., pp. 3-28). Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1918) https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400850976.3
Burniston, F. (2020). The way up and the way down are one and the same. Psychological Perspectives, 63(1), 95–105.
Abstract: "The author begins in the pitch darkness of the somatic unconscious, works his way up through the instinctual level of the collective unconscious to the imaginal level, and then to the spiritual unconscious. Jung’s concept of synchronicity unifies all four levels. The postscript is an experimental dialogue with Ibn Arabi scholar Samir Mahmoud."
Cashford, J. (2018). “Who is my Jung?” The progressive, though sometimes ambivalent, expansion of Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious: from an “unconscious humanity” to - in all but name - the soul of the world. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 63(3), 322—335. https://doi-org.pgi.idm.oclc.org/10.1111/1468-5922.12413
Abstract: "This paper discusses Jung's idea of myth as a projection of the collective unconscious, suggesting that the term 'projection' separates human beings from nature, withdrawing nature's life into humanity. Jung's discovery of a realm independent of consciousness - in conversations with his soul in The Red Book, and in synchronicity, began a dialogue which finally brought him, through the Alchemical Mercurius, closer to the idea of a world-soul."
von Franz, M.-L. (2016). Confrontation with the collective unconscious. Psychological Perspectives, 59 (3), 295–318. (2016-44047-003).
Abstract: "In this previously unpublished presentation given by Jung's esteemed student and colleague, Marie-Louise von Franz, at the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles in 1976, she discusses the shifting attitudes toward the concept of the collective unconscious and toward the experience of it as a 'tremendous psychic reality' in both positive and negative forms. With her customary wit, von Franz then explores in depth what she identifies as the four stages of active imagination—the method Jung developed for coping with the impact of unconscious contents—and distinguishes it from other methodologies, such as meditation. Using the books by Carlos Castaneda as examples of shifting attitudes, she (sometimes humorously) compares Don Juan's description of dreaming with active imagination, noting 'This Don Juan is a natural genius,' but 'I can't stand Castaneda.' A fascinating question-and-answer section follows the presentation. Throughout, von Franz remains eminently down-to-earth and genuine in her style of communication even as she covers what some regard as highly abstract topics."
Hunt, H. T. (2012). “A collective unconscious reconsidered: Jung’s archetypal imagination in the light of contemporary psychology and social science. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 57(1), 76—98. https://doi-org.pgi.idm.oclc.org/10.1111/j.1468-5922.2011.01952.x
Abstract: "A needed rapprochement between Jung and the contemporary human sciences may rest less on the much debated relevance of a biologistic collective unconscious than on a re-inscribing of an archetypal imagination, as the phenomenological and empirical core of Jungian psychology. The most promising approaches in this regard in terms of theory and research in psychology come from combining the cognitive psychology of metaphor and synaesthesia, individual differences in imaginative absorption and openness to numinous experience and spirituality as a form of symbolic intelligence. On the socio-cultural side, this cognitive psychology of archetypal imagination is also congruent with Lèvi-Strauss on the metaphoric roots of mythological thinking, and Durkheim on a sociology of collective consciousness. This conjoined perspective, while validating the cross cultural commonality of physical metaphor intuited by Jung and Hillman on alchemy, also shows Jung’s Red Book, considered as the expressive source for his more formal psychology, to be far closer in spirit to a socio-cultural collective consciousness, based on metaphoric imagination, than to a phylogenetic or evolutionary unconscious. A mutual re-inscribing of Jung into congruent areas of contemporary psychology, anthropology, sociology, and vice versa, can help to further validate Jung’s key observations and is fully consistent with Jung’s own early efforts at synthesis within the human sciences."