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I am reading "Psychology by Sandra E. Hockenbury, 7th ed.". The question asked What form might Jungian archetypes take in the brain? takes a deeper look at jungian archetypes but I am not able to understand the definition of the archetypes. The book defines the term as follow:

Contained in the collective unconscious are the archetypes, the mental images of universal human instincts, themes, and preoccupations.

I understood the term collective unconscious as the deepest part of psyche shared by all humans which contain our collective evolutionary history. The book goes on and give examples as:

Common archetypal themes that are expressed in virtually every culture are the hero, the powerful father, the nurturing mother, the witch, the wise old man, the innocent child, and death and rebirth. Two important archetypes that Jung (1951) described are the anima and the animus—the representations of feminine and masculine qualities.

Let's take one example "powerful father" it says that it is the mental image of human instinct. But at the same time he mentions "collective unconscious" but not everyone share the same image of father. I know that he proposed this example around 80 years before but still not all the humans have the same instinct or do we? What I am missing?

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    $\begingroup$ This is a well-asked question. However, my preference is to close this question as off-topic as it is about pseudoscience. In the early history of modern psychology, there was a lot of reference to pseudoscientific constructs such as archetypes, but these are generally outdated. I have further argued that the content of therapeutic schools not based on science (eg, art therapy, religious therapy, and psychoanalysis) is off topic here. I will let the community decide. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Jan 7 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ I am also aware of the criticism of pseudoscientific theories. But I don't understand them. In order to criticize them one has to understand what each term mean. $\endgroup$ – Delsilon Jan 7 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ I am not assuming any valid construct. The people who had criticized it may have done due to the logical flaw of the theory but I am having difficulty in semantic part of the theory. When I first looked at the statement, I didn't get anything. $\endgroup$ – Delsilon Jan 7 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ In contrast to Arnon, I agree with Delsilon here. This question is basically asking to help understand how archetypes were supposed to be interpreted. This also opens up the possibility of answers that highlight it as an invalid construct, potentially reflecting some of the concerns in regards to unclarity raised in this very question. But, this is a much debated topic on this site, thus do not be discouraged. We'll let the community decide, and we welcome you to participate in the discussion on Meta. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Jan 7 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds good all. I have in fact voted up this question, as it is well asked, regardless of being on-topic. However, just to add that this site is not a good forum for debate, scientific or otherwise. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Jan 8 at 19:01
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All this verbage, without a single answer. The archetypes are the forms with which we populate our psyches. They are only outlines. The context is filled in individually, and therefore differs individually. To use your example of "father." We can all agree upon the existence of "fatherness," the condition of being a father. Thus, the archetype "Father" arises. Yet, since we've all had different experiences of who and what that father is, and what he (to speak genetically) looks like, and how he acts, including those who have had an absent father, we fill in the archetype with that personal data. In brief, archetype equals form and is universal, context is personal and is unique.

That's as concise as I can make it. I hope this solves your dilemma. For depth, go to Jung's Collected Works, etc.

PS, to Community: I am not interested in debating this definition, and even less interested in debating whether it should exist. Oh, come now!

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • $\begingroup$ Alas, User 21254 is me, and thus, I must lay claim to the above answer. I thought I had logged in, but hadn't. Mea culpa. $\endgroup$ – Dr. Ken Saichek Jan 9 at 5:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think we have a way to reassign posts. I recommend logging in as user21254, deleting your own answer, and then recreating it as the correct user. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Jan 9 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome, and thank you for your answer! Funny you complain about verbiage, yet add even more verbiage. :) Comments are temporary, and this discussion will be removed or be moved to the Meta site if it carries on and needs further discussion. However, posts are permanent, thus referring to such discussions/comments in this answer is in essence more problematic than in comments. I therefore suggest you edit out the "All this verbage ..." and "PS" part, and just focus on the question (post). $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Jan 9 at 13:25

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