Carl GustavJung (1875-1961) founded analytical psychology, perhaps the most complex major theory of personality. It includes the presentation and analysis of concepts and principles based on numerous disciplines within the arts and sciences. Because this complexity is combined with Jung's often awkward writing, the task of mastering his theory is a challenge even for experts in the field of personality. His key contribution was taking the study of psychology beyond the claims made by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Jung's emphasis on adult development and personality types and his willingness to break with strict Freudian teachings were major contributions within the history of psychology in general and personality in particular.
Jung's theory can best be understood by examining the key structures he proposes and the dynamics of personality. Jung divides the personality, or psyche, into three levels: At the conscious level, there is the conscious ego. The conscious ego lies at the center of consciousness. In essence, it is the conscious mind—one's identity from a conscious perspective. It is particularly important to the person whose unconscious self is not yet fully developed. As the unconscious self begins to develop, the importance of the conscious ego will diminish.
Beneath the conscious ego is the personal unconscious. This level involves material that has been removed from the consciousness of the person. This information may leave consciousness through forgetting or repression. Because the personal unconscious is close to the surface, which is consciousness, items in it may be recalled at a later date. The personal unconscious is similar to Freud's notion of the preconscious. Material within the personal unconscious is grouped into clusters called complexes. Each complex contains a person's thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and memories concerning particular concepts. For example, the mother complex contains all personal and ancestral experiences with the concept of mother. These experiences can be both good and bad.
The deepest level of the psyche is called the collective unconscious. This level contains the memory traces that have been passed down to all humankind as a function of evolutionary development. It includes tendencies to behave in specific ways, such as living in groups or using spoken language. While each individual has his or her own personal unconscious, all people share the same collective unconscious. The key structures within the collective unconscious that determine how people behave and respond to their environment are labeled archetypes. Each archetype enables people to express their unique status as human beings.
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