All human beings are unique in various ways. From the physical characteristics to their taste of clothes to their outlook in life, even identical twins can become as different from each other as night and day. Psychologists have sought to understand what makes human beings different from each other, even in the case of twins where their entire DNA is similar and physically identical. This paper would discuss the definition of archetypes and the ego of an individual as well as the relationship between these two aspects of the psyche of the individual. The paper would also provide a sample through a transcript commentary on how the archetype and the ego communicate with each other.
The ego has been classified by Jung as the conscious part of the personality of the individual which embraces the unconscious in order to take into account the total personality of the individual. It is the area of the human psyche that holds the values the individual considers as the most intense or most important. It is the role of the ego to refer to the phase of the personality of the individual and to determine the adjustments to the outside world in the interest to satisfy his or her needs especially in situations where choice and decision are both involved. As such, the ego is an active process for the development and execution of a plan of action to attain inner satisfaction on the part of the individual (Symonds 1951).
The theory of the archetype was presented by Carl Jung as part of the human psyche which have been considered as a complicated aspect of the psychology of an individual. As such, the archetype has been defined in so many ways by different psychologists.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were considered as pioneers in the development of models in order to understand the human mind more comprehensively. Although their relationship had ended in bitter terms, they had both agreed that the human mind contained innate structures that play a huge part in determining the way individuals perceive the world around them and which organize as well as able to give meaning to the multitude of information which the senses of the individual receives. This outlook presented by both Freud and Jung were considered a revolutionary step in the field of psychology during this period because up until the nineteenth century, psychologists have considered the human mind as a blank slate which did not possess any content, processes and structures. Instead, the mind was believed to be formed and shaped by society and the environment. On top of this, psychologists before Jung and Freud believed that matters pertaining to the perceptions, memories and emotions are not considered as topics that are appropriate to be discussed in the field of psychology. This all changed with the turn of the century. During this period, evolutionary psychologists began to integrate the ideas of Sigmund Freud in their own accounts of information-processing that happens within the human mind (Knox 2003). Among these accounts was the development by Carl Jung of the concept of the archetypes.
Archetypes are defined as the formal factors that are responsible for the organization of the processes that occur within the subconscious of an individual. An archetype is seen as a pattern of behavior which has a specific charge which in turn develops supernatural effect when expressed. Archetypes raise a particular content of the psychic to a degree that is considered as supernormal by withdrawing energy from other areas of the conscious mind. This results to these parts of the conscious mind to eventually become part of the unconscious (as cited in Blakemore & Sidoli 2000, p. 89).
Archetypes are rooted in the transcendental and realm that is considered as non-psychic and are approached from different angles. These are considered as important aspects to the evolved psychological mechanism of the mind that guides the behavior of the individual in different ways in order to solve certain problems of adaptation (Knox 2003).
An example of an archetype is the caregiver archetype. This archetype is generally seen among individuals who are involved in the health sector, welfare institutions and who immerse themselves in philanthropic activities. The caregiver archetype deals with empathy, communication, consistency and faith. This archetype is described as one who carries the weight of the world on its shoulders and can be very sensitive to the vulnerability of mankind (Trompenaars & Woolliams 2003).
Relationship between the Ego and the Archetype
The ego has two primary functions. The first is that it is to satisfy the wishes and desires of the individual. The second function is to avoid traumatic situations, particularly those that come from the outside environment and within oneself resulting from the frustration from the inability of the ego to fulfill his or her wants and needs. This is done by the ego through four distinct processes. The first of which is reality testing. This is where the ego would attempt to adapt to the society since this is where thinking is based on (Symonds 1951). It is also in this process where the ego and the archetype communicate with each other.
Because the archetype is a product of the experiences of the individual in the world, the repetition of the experience faced by the individual through time allows the ego to test its reality. As a result, the experience becomes a part of the conscious and unconscious of the individual. For example, human beings are exposed to natural forces that occur around them throughout their lifetime in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, waterfalls, floods and the like. From the experiences that the individual face, the ego then is able to test the reality of power. As such, the archetype with regards to energy is developed. This would result in to the fascination of the individual with regards to power as well as would develop in his or her ego a desire to both create and control power. This explains why children and adults are still fascinated with firecrackers, fast cars and weather phenomena (Hall, Lindzey & Campbell 1997).
In order to fully understand the relationship between the ego and the archetype, the interaction between these two systems would need to be discussed. This could be best done so in the form of a sample communication between these two systems that occurs within the mind of a male infant. When a male infant is born, he is equipped with the archetype of a woman. As such, the infant is attracted by instinct to the first woman he comes across and experiences. Usually, in instances like this, the woman referred to is the infant’s mother. This would then lead to the development of a close relationship is nurtured by the mother of the infant. As the male infant matures, the bonds developed between the infant and his mother begins to become restrictive, leading to frustration. Because this developing frustration may be deemed as dangerous on the part of the developing male individual, the mother complex formed in the ego is then repressed into the unconscious part of the male individual’s mind. Along with the repression of the mother complex, traits and attitudes that are considered to be feminine which have been also planted into the ego of the individual are also repressed by the individual because the ego views this as askew to the role society expects from the male individual (Hall, Lindzey & Campbell 1997).
This example shows two acts of repression done by the ego with regards to the archetypes that the individual is born with. The first is the archetype of the mother where the feelings of the male infant towards his mother as well as the traits and attitudes are driven by the ego into the unconscious of the individual resulting to the male individual developing a perception and feelings towards women that is directed by both the personal and collective unconscious (Hall, Lindzey & Campbell 1997).
This example also provides an insight to the integrative task imposed on the ego as a consequence of the attitudes regarding the mother archetype and the female archetype or anima. This explains why when men seek to find a female partner, he bases the characteristics of his potential partner on how that female resembles his mother and his female archetype. In the event that the male selects a partner that deviates from these archetypes, this would eventually cause outside friction and feelings of frustration. This is because the feelings and attitudes he has that is stored in his conscious, or his ego, will collide with the feelings and attitudes of the unconscious with the conscious emanating positive feelings and the unconscious fostering negative feelings. In the end, this relationship between the male and the female will lead to the male becoming dissatisfied with her. As such, the male will blame his partner for a wide variety of faults and shortcomings which may be real or otherwise. Unknown to the male individual, the real reasons for his discontentment with his partner is because he is unable to meet the needs and desires of the archetypes within him (Hall, Lindzey & Campbell 1997).
Based on this example, it is clear that the relationship and communication between the individual’s archetype and ego must be beneficial for both for the individual to attain a sense of happiness. The archetype dictates the needs and wants that the ego should strive to attain in order for the individual to experience feelings of contentment (Hall, Lindzey & Campbell 1997).
When Freud first introduced the concept of the ego as the conscious part of the human psyche, many psychologists have begun to base their studies on this concept in order to understand the workings of the conscious mind of the individual. One discovery was that the ego is involved in a number of processes and functions. One of which is to meet the wants and desires of the individual. Jung presented the concept of the archetype as being one of the factors that determine the wants and needs of the individual. There are a number of archetypes that are discovered. One of this is the caregiver archetype which allows the individual to develop the concepts of the need for communication, empathy and belongingness. As a factor that dictates the wants and needs of an individual, the ego and the archetype would consistently communicate with each other. In order for the individual to achieve feelings of contentment and happiness, the ego must be able to satisfy the needs and wants and desires of the individual. If the ego would fail to achieve this, the individual would feel discontentment and frustration because the ego would be fostering feelings that are in contrast with the feelings felt by the unconscious.
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