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(2018). The Myth of the Collective Unconscious. IJP Open, 5:12.

(2018). IJP Open, 5:12

The Myth of the Collective Unconscious

This paper challenges the most basic tenet of Jung’s analytical psychology, namely, the existence of the collective unconscious. Despite the fact that there are purported to be universal processes and ontological features of mind throughout all psychoanalytical schools of thought, Jung’s is unique in the history of psychoanalytic ideas for positing a supraordinate, autonomous transpersonal psyche that remains the source, ground, and wellspring from which all unconscious and conscious manifestations derive. This bold claim is analyzed through a close inspection of Jung’s texts that questions the philosophical justification for postulating a supernatural macroanthropos or reified collective mind. Pointing out the problems of agency and fallacies of hypostatization, it is not necessary to evoke a transpersonal cosmogony to explain how universality suffuses individual subjectivity within social collectives. Here we may conclude that the collective unconscious construct is a signifier for the common psychological dynamics and characteristics of shared humanity. In this sense, the myth of the collective unconscious is better understood as a metaphor for a higher abstraction or ideal principle ordained with numinous value.

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