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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Archetype (Hergenhahn)

Definition:
According to Carl Jung, a predisposition to respond emotionally to certain categories of experience residing in the collective unconscious.
 
Example:
The archetype of the self represents our struggle for unity, to synthesize all aspects of our personality and to become self-actualized. It is symbolized by the circle, the cross, and mandala figures. The self is personified in Christ and Buddha, two figures viewed by many to have achieved perfection.
 
Background:
Carl Jung (1875-1961) postulated a deep level of the unconscious which he called the collective unconscious. It consists of predispositions to respond emotionally to certain categories of experience, unconsciously influencing everything we do. And, it evolves in a Lamarckian-like fashion, it being "the deposit of ancestral experience from untold millions of years, the echo of prehistoric world events to which each century adds an infinitesimally small amount of variation and differentiation" (1928, p. 162). Jung referred to the predispositions in the collective unconscious in various ways, as "dominants," "imagos," "mythological" or "primordial images," and archetypes. Ultimately, the latter term won out. An archetype has no form of its own; it functions as an organizing principle. While Jung recognized no fixed number of archetypes, the ones to which he gave the fullest treatment are the persona, the anima, the animus, the shadow, and the self. Archetypes have no set boundaries and tend to overlap if need be.
 
Further Reading:

Boeree, C. G (1997). Carl Jung [On-line] Available: http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/jung.html

Jung, C. G. (1928). Contributions to analytical psychology. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Schultz, D. (1981). A modern history of psychology. (3rd ed.). New York: Academic Press.

 
Related Terms:
Collective unconscious (Hergenhahn)

Freud, Sigmund (1856 - 1939)

Inheritance of acquired characteristics

Jung, Carl (1875 - 1961)

Personal unconscious

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 1-item self-test over this concept.

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