A Brief Outline of Jungian Psychology
from Clifton Snider's The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On


Jung's Psychology of Consciousness

 I. Psychological Types
    A. Introversion: the libido (psychic energy) is turned inward, away
from the object, into the subject.
    B. Extraversion: the libido is turned outward, toward the object

II. Functions of Consciousness: these are divided into four.
    A. Thinking (this type relates to the world via thought, cognition,
logic: true vs. false)
    B. Feeling (this type makes value judgments: good/bad, pleasant/unpleasant).
    C. Sensation (this type experiences the world through the senses)
    D. Intuition (this type "perceives through his or her unconscious")

An introvert's or an extravert's primary function can be any of these four, and he or she can (and ideally will) develop the others too. Also, introversion and extraversion are merely categories, not destiny, and any given individual can develop opposite traits, and ideally will do so.

Jung's Psychology of the Unconscious

While Freud believed in the personal unconscious, Jung, once an associate of Freud,  accepted the concept of the personal unconscious but also postulated the concept of the collective unconscious.  In it are the archetypes, tendencies to form universal images--archetypal images; these can be images of animals, people, anthropomorphic beings (such as the vampire or gods and goddesses), objects (a tree, a house, a cross or a mandala, for example), abstract ideas (made concrete by the images), and patterns such as the hero's journey, as in Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Probably the central therapeutic concept of Jung's analytical psychology is the concept of the need for balance to gain psychic health. Therefore, when an individual is troubled, he or she will dream archetypal, as opposed to merely personal, dreams whose aim is to right an imbalance in the psyche of that individual. This is the concept of compensation. Just as dreams can be personal or archetypal, so can literature. Jung calls the former psychological (it springs from the personal unconscious) and the latter visionary  (it springs from the collective unconscious). Visionary literature compensates for collective psychic imbalance.

The collective unconscious is common to the human race the world over.  To achieve psychic health, or wholeness, the aim is individuation, becoming a whole, individual person. This process is different for each person (and most never achieve it or even attempt it), but Jung believed it especially involved coming to terms with the following archetypes: the shadow, the anima or animus, and the Self.  Archetypes come from the collective unconscious and by definition can be positive and negative. In theory their numbers are limitless.

As a Jungian literary critic, I have searched for "new" archetypes (ones not thought of before, such as the archetype of Ideal Love I refer to in my book, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On, p. 49) and new ways of looking at well-known archetypes (for example, the concept of the "male" anima; see my essay on Oscar Wilde's fairy tales, link below). Also, I try to look for archetypes in literature that may not have been noticed before, such as shamanism in the poetry of Emily Dickinson (you can link to my essay on this topic below).  For more on using Jung to analyze literature, see my book and the links below.

A Diagram of Jungian Psychology


A. Individual (includes Ego, Persona, Personality Types (Introversion or Extraversion, terms Jung coined), and Functions of Consciousness (Thinking, Feeling, Intuition, Sensation)
B. Family
C. Clan
D. Nation
E. Large group (e. g., The West, Asia, Africa, etc.). The archetypes from this level are much the same in any individual who comes from that group.
F. Primeval ancestors. This level applies to all humanity.
G. Animal ancestors in general. This level applies to all higher forms of life.
H. Central Fire (life itself). ("A spark from this fire ascends through all intervening levels into every living creature" (Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and Work (Boston: Shambhala, 1991), p. 16).

Hannah notes that with the layer or level of the nation considerable differences in archetypal images appear--hence the difficulty of differing nations in understanding each other. Only the individual and the family are fully in the conscious sphere, yet elements from these will become buried in the personal unconscious, much as Freud postulated.

See also Snider, Poetry and Criticism, with information about The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature.

--Copyright © Clifton Snider, 2000.

Return to Top.

For essays using Jungian psychology to analyze literature see:
The Vampire Archetype in Charlotte and Emily Brontë.
Shamanism in Emily Dickinson.
Victorian Trickster: The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear.
Psychic Integration in Christina Rossetti.
Eros and Logos in Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales.

To find the C. G. Jung Page, click here.
To find authors and scholars practicing Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Criticism, click here.
Read about my new book of poetry, The Alchemy of Opposites.
Read about my new novel, Loud Whisper.