C. G. Jung’s understanding of the soul

Fundamentals of the Analytical Psychology Model

Author: Dieter Schnocks

Analytical psychology according to C. G. Jung describes the soul or the psyche as a complex structure of different parts of consciousness. The structure of consciousness includes several levels, four basic functions of the ego and two types of attitude, and in this way explains the self-realisation of human existence.

I am pleased that the editorial team of Tattva Viveka has decided to first deal with the theoretical foundations of analytical psychology in a short form and in a way that is as comprehensible as possible. In this way, the journal helps interested readers to create the basis for an intellectual engagement with the thought of C. G. Jung.

C. G. Jung’s theory and work

C. G. Jung did not leave a systematic outline for a theory in his huge complete works. He professed a great caution towards fixed theoretical systems. He felt that he did not yet have enough knowledge about the psyche to be able to offer a sophisticated theory. Many modern readers cannot cope with Jung’s style of writing or his characteristic way of presenting evidence.

His rather dialectical method is symbolic and not logically straightforward.

The content is circled and seen from ever slightly different angles. In this way, a far greater truth emerges (often unnoticed), which has taken in many things, including contradictory things, by circling around it. This spiralling approach is confusing for some readers at first. Nevertheless, more and more obviously succeed in making friends with this kind of searching thinking. Many soon find that they are drawn along by this way in a convincing way. Basically, one could say that analytical psychology is an adult psychology, especially one for the second half of life. Jung’s teaching is a specific path to becoming whole and to the self-realisation of human existence.
The focus of his psychological observations is primarily on normal psychology and only secondarily on a teaching of neuroses and their treatment. What attracts many is the weighty inclusion of the “question of meaning”.
To give a simple overview of the model conceptions concerning the structure of the psychic organism and its contents, I would like to present my teaching diagram.

The ego-consciousness represents only a small part of the total psyche. It performs the awake orientation, the perception and the acts of will, i.e. those functions that Freud also attributes to the ego as reality control. Consciousness is therefore by no means identical with “psyche”.

The unconscious encompasses consciousness, as it were. It encompasses everything that is not consciously experienced by the ego. A distinction is made between the personal and the collective unconscious.

The personal unconscious would be everything that Freud calls the preconscious, the forgotten, the repressed, the subliminally perceived and the submerged.

In it is to be seen the precipitation of the typical modes of reaction of all human beings since their beginnings. Jung sees the archetypal fields of activity in the collective unconscious (archetypal theory).

The ego complex and its structure

After a personal crisis, C. G. Jung wrote his book “Psychological Types”. In it, he deals first with the attitudinal functions of extraversion and introversion. He then develops the concept of the four basic functions of the ego (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition), with which the ego consciousness of the individual is oriented. In the attitude types, Jung recognises an oppositional structure based on the reference point of energy or libido allocation. The extraverts are more object-oriented (trust in the situation), the introverts are more self-referential and object-distant (fear of the external situation). Jung speaks of the extraverted and introverted type, whereby today we assume that every person on a continuum tends more towards the extraversion pole or towards the other pole, introversion, in terms of disposition.

Brief description of the four basic functions of the ego:

  • Thinking enables us to recognise what what is there means. (Is it logical?)
  • Feeling enables us to recognise what what is there is worth. (What do I feel?)
  • Sensation establishes what is actually present. (What do I perceive?)
  • Intuition points to the possibilities of whence and whither that lie in what is presently there. (What comes to mind?)

The combination of the two attitudinal directions and the four basic functions now results in many possibilities for consciously perceiving, evaluating and processing the world inside and outside accordingly.

The persona

also belongs to the structure of consciousness. The word actually means “mask of the actor” who appears in a role. Persona is a compromise between individual and society about how someone appears to the outside world.

The desired or ideal image, the guiding image and the social boundaries have an effect on the persona of the individual.

Thus, the persona is also a protective wall, a suitable hiding place from the environment, but often also a ritualised means of communication.

The personal unconscious with structure and content

The personal unconscious consists of a multitude of complex fields that have strong effects on the emotional state and behaviour of the ego. In addition to the strongly effective energies from the so-called inferiority complex, one can think of the following main complex fields.

The shadow complex

This is where all the repressed contents go that the person cannot accept in his or her ego consciousness. Many contents that have been repressed gather here, whereby the complex core is an archetypal shadow field in the collective unconscious.

The complexes

They contain the accumulation of all the emotional experiences of the human being that are important for the individual. For example, the father, mother, parent and sibling complexes store the person’s emotional experiences with their family caregivers, from childhood onwards. But these collected contents are also grouped around archetypal core areas that have their roots in the collective unconscious or in the corresponding archetypal fields of action.

The collective unconscious

The archetypes

The collective unconscious or the archetypal field of action contains the many archetypal fields of action and especially the large archetypal fields of action such as the matriarchal archetype, the patriarchal archetype and the archetype of the child. Anima and animus are also rooted in the archetypal realm. In Jung’s concept, the pair of terms means the endopsychic compensation of one’s own gender-specific ego consciousness. These are the aspects that confront us in the unconscious as inner opposing soul images.

The Self

The self-concept is the culmination of Jung’s model conceptions. He developed this concept in accordance with the Indian Atman concept. Ultimately, all the deeper impulses for the individuation of the human being come from the Self realm.

The images for the divine powers, the images of God, also arise from this layer of the psyche. For the believing human being, the effects from this psychic realm are the working of God.

About the author:

Dieter Schnocks, born in 1950, is a qualified psychologist and psychological psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, lecturer, supervisor as well as teaching analyst.

This article was originally published on the German website: C. G. Jungs Verständnis der Seele

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