chapter  Chapter Six
4 Pages

The collective unconscious: instincts and archetypes

WithPatricia Anne Elwood

Jung informs us that the collective unconscious, corresponding to a deeper layer in the psyche beyond the personal unconscious, is identical in everyone. It is the realm of the universal memory bank of mankind. Within it there are themes, patterns and symbols which are accumulated throughout man’s evolutionary history and which are common to all peoples. These collective themes, which find their expression in myths, unite us all on a universal plane. Myths are archetypal, meaning that they demonstrate themes and characteristics that can be recognised by peoples of any culture. Myths attract, fascinate and mobilise energy at a deep level. They also unconsciously set behaviour patterns into motion. Jung defined the collective unconscious as the realm of instincts and archetypes. What do we understand by instincts and archetypes? Jung defines their relationship to each other, and their function in the psyche.