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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Archetypes

Definition:
According to Carl Jung, archetypes are universal and symbolic images that reside in the collective unconscious and appear in myths, art and dreams.
 
Example:
In his anthropological study of primitive societies Dr. Cook was impressed by the occurrence in all these societies of what he described as the boogieman, a mythical horror figure that permeated the art and religious beliefs of all these groups. Since the societies were all unrelated and had no connection with each other he explained this phenomenon in terms of what Carl Jung had described as archetypes.
 
Background:
Although a contemporary of Freud, Carl Jung emphasized not only the individual's personal unconscious but what he described as the collective unconscious. This according to Jung contained the universal memories and history of mankind. From his study of myths, folklore and art in cultures all over the world, Jung was impressed by common and repeated images which he called archetypes. Typical archetypes include the all powerful god, the young hero, fairy godmothers and the themes of rebirth and resurrection. Although these archetypes remain unconscious, Jung believed that they influence are thoughts and emotions and render us responsive to cultural themes.
 
Further Reading:

Wolpe, J. (1990). The practice of behavior therapy. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.

Jung, C. (1967). Collected works. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Mischel, W. (1986). Introduction to personality (4th ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

 
Related Terms:
Collective unconscious

Psychodynamic theories

Unconscious

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 2-item self-test over this concept.

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