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Jung on Personality and Self

Jung on Personality and Self

Author: Erick Taggart

Examine Jung's theory of the unconscious and archetypes.

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Hello class. So today we're going to be looking at a group called the Neo-Freudians, which are the psychologists that expanded on Freud's original ideas about the importance of the unconscious motivations desires on people's personalities and behaviors.

And so today we're going to focus in particular on one that was very influential in many areas of thought, not just psychology but also art, literature, and philosophy. And his name is Carl Jung. Now, Jung was originally a student of Freud's and actually became a friend and confidante for him.

But he started to develop over time different ideas about unconsciousness. And particularly, he focused a lot more on dreams and symbols and their role within the unconscious, as opposed to Freud's focus on these sort of urges and desires of the id.

And so Jung said that the personality was composed of three parts just like Freud. And the first part is also similar to Freud, and that was the ego. He said just like Freud that the ego is the central part of our personality, and it controls all of our conscious thoughts, the things that we know about or are aware of.

Jung expanded on the idea of ego by saying that a person's ego can either be inwardly focused or introverted, or it can be outwardly focused, which is to say extroverted. So people that are extroverted are generally very outgoing and sociable and emotive. So they're focusing all their energies out towards others.

Whereas introverted people are more inwardly focused. They could be shy, reserved, or distant. And this is a concept that we still use today, and it's very influential in personality psychology.

On the other hand, Jung proposed two different aspects of what our unconscious is made of. And remember, his focus again was on sort of dreams and symbols, so that helps to inform some of his ideas. So the first part of our unconscious, he said, was our personal unconscious.

And this is a collection of a person's individual experiences, memories, and feelings, so the things that they have within themselves. And this is as opposed to the last part, which is the collective unconscious. And collective unconscious is the collection of all the knowledge, experiences, and imagery and symbols that are shared by everybody as a human being.

These universally understood and shared ideas that are stored in the collective unconscious are what Jung referred to as an archetype. So archetypes are symbols of experiences and ideas that all human beings have. And there are four major ones, although Jung said that there was really no limit to how many we could have.

But these are the four that are central to a person. The first is the self, and this is the complete sort of individual, the image that they have of being the ideal or the best they could. And this is when the personality is completely balanced between the conscious and the unconscious, so they're both together.

The second is the shadow, which is to say the dark side of the unconscious. And this is what Freud was a bit more focused on. These are repressed desires, and weaknesses, and ideas that are negative to a person.

The third archetype is the anima or animus, depending on if you're a man or a woman. And this is the idealized image of the opposite sex. This is what allows us to relate to others that are different from us.

So as a man, I would have an anima, which is an idealized form of a woman. And this generally comes from our experiences with a person of the opposite sex as our parents. So my anima comes mainly from my mother, but it's developed by other women in my life as well.

And the last archetype central to Jung's idea is the persona, which is our public self or the mask, the sorts of self that we present to other people. And it can differ from different situations. So the persona that I have when I'm with my parents might be different from the persona I have with my friends or with complete strangers.

Terms to Know

Universal thought forms from our species' collective ancestry.


Social individuals who find energy from being around others, often have a wide array of friends.


Individuals who find energy from being alone, often have a few close friends.