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Collective Unconsciousness

Carl Jung, a psychoanalyst, student and friend of Sigmund Freud was born in 1875 in Switzerland. He first agreed with Freud on the personal unconscious. But after many thoughts he concluded that Freud was wrong on many aspects. He believed that Freud’s theory was not complete and disagreed about the fact that all psychological problems are related to the libido and the childhood experiences. Soon, Jung adopted a new theory including the idea of a collective unconsciousness that each individual unconsciousness is a part of.

The collective unconsciousness refers to the part of each personal unconsciousness which is common to all human beings or even all beings on Earth (in this latter case, it could be defined as the Earth’s spirit). It is composed of all symbols and ideas that are expressed all over the world in all the different cultures. Indeed, many symbols have the same meaning all over the world even when no physical links have been established between these cultures. Only universal symbols are part of the global unconsciousness. This idea of a global unconsciousness could be related to the esoteric idea of the akashic records or even with the idea of an omniscient god.

According to Jung, the collective unconsciousness is divided in 4 levels. The first level is the individual unconsciousness equivalent to the domain that Freud studied. Only individual memories are part of it. But Jung came further, he add 3 more levels. The members of the same family have many common symbols in their language and behavior. This common set of symbols is part of the second level: the family unconsciousness. Then come the third level which is the cultural or societal unconsciousness common to people from the same cultural background. Finally, on the fourth and last level, there is the primordial collective unconsciousness. It contains the most general ideas and symbols of the humanity such as the common fear to the obscurity, the instincts…

In this global unconsciousness, there is some structure which evolved since its beginning. This structure is a code and can be interpreted. Dreams, known to be interpretable are the emergence of this collective unconsciousness. Their meanings come from the beginning of mankind. If we extent the global unconsciousness to all beings on Earth, we could add several levels to it. The common symbols could be for example the fear of death (common to all creatures) and the masculine and feminine aspects which is part of all sexed beings.