Archetypes and Their Influence on the Personality: Carl Gustav Jung

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Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was born on July 26, in the small village of Kesswil on Lake Constance. He was named after his grandfather, a professor of medicine at the University of Basel. He was the oldest child and only surviving son of a Swiss Reform pastor. Carl attended the University of Basel and decided to go into the field of psychiatry after reading a book that caught his interest. Jung became an assistant at the Burgholzli Mental hospital, a famous medical hospital in Zurich. He studied under, and was influenced by Eugen Bleuler, a famous psychiatrist who defined schizophrenia. Jung was also influenced by Freud, with whom he later became good friends. Their relationship ended when Jung wrote a book called “Symbols of Transformation.” Jung disagreed with Freud’s fundamental idea that a symbol is a disguised representation of a repressed wish (Heaney, 1994).

After splitting up with Freud, Jung had a 2 year period of non-productivity, but then he came out with his “Psychological Types,” a famous work. He went on several trips to learn about primitive societies and archetypes. His explorations included trips to Africa, New Mexico to study Pueblo Indians, and to India and Ceylon to study eastern philosophy. He studied religious and occult beliefs like I Ching, a Chinese method of fortune telling. Alchemy became one of his interests during his journeys. His book, “Psychology and Alchemy,” published in 1944, is among his most important writings. In this study, he told about the human mind. One of his methods was word association. This is when a person is given a series of words and asked to respond to them. Abnormal response or hesitation can mean that the person has a complex about that word. His basic belief was in complex or analytical psychology. The goal is psychosynthesis, or the unification and differentiation of the psyche (mind). He believed that the mind started out as a whole and should stay that way. That answered structural, dynamic, developmental questions. Jung is best known for his theory of “The three levels of the mind” (Aurelio, 1995).

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The three levels of the mind theory includes the ego (conscious), personal unconscious, and collective unconscious. The conscious level serves four functions. It is the part of the personality that carries out normal daily activities: thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting. The personal unconscious contains an individual’s memories, and the collective unconscious is an inaccessible layer that contains universal experiences. Usually, one of the two classes usually dominates, and rarely does one see an individual with perfectly balanced classes of behavior (Nehr, 1996). Jung said that an ego is a filter from the senses to the conscious mind. All ego rejections go to the personal unconscious. The ego is highly selective. Every day we are subjected to a vast number of experiences, most of which do not become conscious because the ego eliminates them before they reach consciousness. “The personal unconscious acts like a filing cabinet for those ego rejections” (Jurkevich, 1991,p. 58). Clusters of related thoughts in the personal subconscious form complexes. Complexes are really suppressed feelings.

Complexes are often highly visible to people, but unfelt by the individual who has the complex. Complexes can be revealed by word association, which will cause hang-ups if a certain word is mentioned. A strong or total complex will dominate the life of a person, and a weak or partial complex will drive a person in a direction of it, but not too strongly. A complex, as Jung discovered, need not be a hindrance to a person’s adjustment. “They can be and often are sources of inspiration and drive that are essential for outstanding achievement” (Aurelio, 1995, p.351). “The collective unconscious is hereditary. It sets up the pattern of one’s psyche”(Kremer, 1990, p.2). An inherited collection of primordial images are stored here. They are universal inclinations that all people have in common somewhere by means of heredity.

The four important archetypes that play very significant roles in everyone’s personality are Persona, Anima(us), Shadow, and the Self. Persona is derived from the Latin word meaning “mask”. In Jungian psychology, the persona archetype serves a similar purpose; it enables one to portray a character that is not necessarily his or her own. The persona is the mask or facade one exhibits publicly, with the intention of presenting a favorable impression so that society will accept him (Nehr, 1996). Anima and Animus is what Jung referred to as the “inward face” of the psyche. The “inward face” he called the anima in males and the animus in females. The anima archetype is the female side of the masculine psyche; the animus archetype is the masculine side of the female psyche. Man has developed his anima archetype by continuous exposure to women over many generations, and woman has developed her animus archetype by her exposure to men (Heaney, 1994). According to Mannis (1997), the “Shadow” is what Jung referred to as “the negative side of the personality, the unpleasant qualities we like to hide”. When one is not conscious of their “shadow”, they give it more power. “Usually, the qualities we dislike the most in others, are the unknown qualities in our shadow” (Kremer, 1999, p.4). “The self represents all archetypes working together” (Heaney, 1994, p.29).

Jung used the words extraversion and introversion to show how one’s personality is. Those who lean towards extraversion are usually socially accepted. They are outgoing and very sociable. Those who lean towards introversion tend to keep to themselves and are not very sociable. One’s psyche works together three ways. One structure may compensate for the weakness of another structure (Jurkevich, 1991). One component may oppose another component, and two or more structures may unite to form a synthesis. Compensation may be illustrated by the contrasting attitudes of extraversion and introversion. If extraversion is the dominant or superior attitude of the conscious ego, then the unconscious will compensate by developing the repressed attitude of introversion.

Compensation also occurs between function. A person thinking or feeling in his conscious mind will be an intuitive, sensation type unconsciously. This balance is healthy and it prevents our psyches from becoming neurotically unbalanced. Opposition exists everywhere in the personality: between the persona and the shadow, between the persona and the anima, and between the shadow and the anima. The contest between the rational and irrational forces of the psyche never ceases. One’s integrity of “self” can actually determine whether or not this opposition will cause a shattering of a personality (Heaney, 1994). I decided to do my research on Carl Jung because he is not discussed much in the textbook. I find his theory of conscious and unconscious very interesting. I believe the thoughts of persona and ego without a doubt.

When one’s ego is shot down, a person can tend to develop a complex about it. I also agree that people tend to have a different persona based on where they are at and how they are expected to act around certain people.


  1. Aurelio, Jeanne M. (1995).
  2. Using Jungian archetypes to explore deeper levels of organizational culture. Journal of Management Inquiry, 4, 347-369. Heaney, Liam F. (1994).
  3. Freud, Jung and Joyce: Conscious connections. Contemporary Review, 265, 28-32. Jurkevich, Gayana. (1991).
  4. Unamuno’s intrahistoria and Jung’s collective unconscious: parallels, convergences, and common. Comparative Literature, 43, 43-60. Kremer, Jurgen W. (1999).
  5. Facing the collective shadow. Revision, 22, 2-5. Mannis, Robert F. (1997).
  6. Jung and his shadow. Utne Reader, 84, 91-94. Neher, Andrew. (1996).
  7. Jung’s theory of archetypes: a critiques. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 36, 61-92.

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