Reading the work of Carl Jung is an interesting experience and not one you can have half heartedly: it’s a bit like reading original Piaget...heavy stuff! However, once in the ‘zone’ as it were; if you are even half interested in psychology, I suggest you’ll enjoy what he has to say. Like Sigmund Freud.. (yes I know the mention of his name is enough to make you log off immediately...but stick with me on this..) ...Jung was interested in the unconscious part of our psychic selves. However, where Freud felt the unconscious was a collection of lost memories and experiences, Jung argued they this was a rather restricted explanation. He split the unconscious into two: the personal unconscious (which was along the same lines as Freud’s thoughts) and the collective unconscious. This is the interesting bit: see, according to Jung, us (as in the entire human race) have an innate, instinctual collective unconscious which is there..inside us...all of us...at birth! Kind of how we have evolved with certain physical characteristics (arms/legs/brain/head etc) we have also evolved with a certain inner psyche – which is common to human kind everywhere in the world. Isn’t that amazing? Ok..so you may be confused...so I’ll explain further
Jung coined the phrase ‘Archetype’ which he said was the collective unconscious in us all. Archetypes aren’t physical things..and they remain hidden in the unconscious as shapeless and colourless – they are just there...in a big archetypal ocean. So how do we know they are there? Well...we know they are there when they appear in the conscious - they can be experienced as, for example: an image and an emotion (eg: extreme fear/fearful experience/death). Jung would argue that primary fears are innate in all children and these have remained unchanged regardless of time or space. As the archetype of, for example, death, appears into the conscious: it will take shape and be coloured in depending on the experience and society of where it appears. So the archetype of death appearing in a 7 year old in Britain will be very different than the archetype of death appearing in a 7 year old in parts of Africa....The key point here is that the Archetypes themselves don’t change: it’s how they manifest that does. Hence, when societies undergo changes (such as views of childhood and children.) the manifestation of the archetype will change according to acceptable norms of the society....do you get what I mean?