The Conception of the Unconscious Essay

The Conception of the Unconscious


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            Previously, it has already been established that an individual’s personality is composed of both the conscious and the unconscious.  This paper discusses about Carl Jung’s theory with regards to the individual’s unconscious as well as the arguments he presented to contest the theories of personality initially presented by Sigmund Freud which had long been known and accepted by those studying psychology and psychoanalysis during this period.

Carl Jung’s Conception of the Unconscious

            The theories of Carl Jung concentrated on the aspects of the unconscious and its influence on an individual’s personality.  He viewed the unconscious as the “mystical and spiritual” (Jung 2007, 36) aspect of the individual’s personality and argued that the personality of the individual is composed of two competing forces and the individual’s mind continuously strives to create a sense of balance in the part of the individual (Jung 2007).

            Jung (2007) stated that the unconscious of the individual as part of the psyche which consists of the subliminal perception of the senses and repressed feelings and memories.  He agreed with other experts that the feelings and sensations that are contained within the unconscious are those that have not yet reached the level of the consciousness of the individual.  However, he went on further to define the unconscious as the area that held the emotions, feelings and sensations which are considered to be the parts of the future conscious of the individual.

            Jung (2007) stated that the human psyche can be divided into three sections.  The first section was called the conscious ego.  This section was considered by Jung as the subjective part of the human psyche because it consists of human qualities where the unconscious and the human impulse.  The second section is the personal unconscious.  These are thoughts, emotions and sensations that the individual repress but are able to be incorporated into the individual’s consciousness.  The third section presented by Jung was the impersonal unconscious.  This section is located in the deepest layers of the human psyche and he considered this as the link of the human’s personality to the state he considered as “God-Almightiness” (Jung 2007, 37).

Contesting Freud’s Theory of Personality

            Perhaps what made Jung (2007) more famous was the fact that he challenged the theories of personality created by Sigmund Freud by introducing new concepts with regards to the motivation of the individual’s ego.  This challenge and introduction of new concepts allowed more approaches on the study on the personality of the human individual possible.

            He challenged Freud’s theory that the unconsciousness of the individual is limited to the sexual wish-fantasies during the infantile stage of development.  Jung (2007) argued that these wish-fantasies are not limited to the infantile stage of development, but continued into when the individual reaches old age.

            Jung (2007) also challenged Freud’s theory that repression was a process that starts during the individual’s childhood years and is caused by the rules and demands of society.  Freud stated that repressed emotions, sensations and memories eventually go into the individual’s consciousness thus emptying the unconscious.  Jung (2007) stated that repression is a continuous cycle and that not all of the materials stored in an individual’s unconsciousness are exhibited by the conscious part of the personality of the individual.  Furthermore, not all of the materials that are stored in the unconscious result from repression.  Instead, he considered that the unconscious as the area where future emotions and sensations are stored as well as an active part of the individual’s personality by forming and reforming of the individual’s unconscious wish-fantasies.


            Carl Jung’s theory focused on the unconscious side of the personality.  His challenges to the theories of personality of Freud indeed have merit.  This is because Freud and his supporters themselves likened the personality of the individual to that of an iceberg, with the conscious personality as the exposed tip and the unconscious as the one submerged.  It has been noted that the submerged portion of the iceberg is extremely larger than the exposed portion.  Because of the analogy used between the iceberg and the human individual’s personality, one can conclude that the unconscious part of an individual’s personality may be more influential than what Freud and his supporters may have considered.  This would not come as a surprise since it is hard to analyze something that is not immediately expressed by the individual’s action and behavior.  By prioritizing the unconscious and presenting it to be an extremely vital aspect of the personality of the individual, Jung had opened the way for further research for the better understanding of the human personality to be achieved.


Jung, C - The Conception of the Unconscious Essay introduction. (2007). The conception of the unconscious. In H. S. Friedman & M. W.

Schustack (Eds.), The personality reader (pp. 36-40).  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.


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