papalagi (papalagi) wrote,

Encyclopedia of Psychology Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, Editor-in-Chief


Carl Jung introduced the term archetype into the psychological literature in 1919 to explain the corresponding themes he identified among dreams, waking imagery, private ideas, myths, religious symbolism, occult disciplines, and tribal lore. He attributed these apparently universal patterns of human cognition to preexisting psychological motifs-underlying templates that shape subsequent perception, imagination, and understanding. As embryonic forms, archetypes by definition transcend culture, race, and time, causing people to apprehend and respond to the world in a distinctly human way

He understood these preexisting psychological motifs as originating in what he termed the collective unconscious, the accumulated experience of humanity that resides in each individual’s psyche. For Jung, archetypes carry the heritage of our ancestors’ adaptations to the environment, “born anew in the brain structure of every individual” (“The Structure of the Psyche,” Collected Works, Vol. 8, Princeton, NJ 1927/1969, P. 158).

In archetypal psychology, it is through dialogue between the conscious ego and the archetypes that people are able to most meaningfully discover their place and purpose in the universe. Archetypes are oriented, on the one hand, toward natural biological processes, and on the other, toward the world of values and spirit. They govern our quest for food and our quest for meaning.

Evolutionary psychologists have, in fact, come to view the human mind as consisting of evolved information-processing mechanisms within the nervous system, “specialized to produce behavior that solves particular adaptive problems such as mate selection, language acquisition, family relations, and cooperation” (Barkow, Cosmides, & Tooby, The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Evolution of Culture, New York, 1992, p. 24)

Quantum properties such as “nonlocality,” where one photon influences another photon that is not in its proximity, may govern not only microlevel particles, but also consciousness. Jung anticipated this possibility. In a letter written shortly before his death in 1961, he wrote, “We might have to give up thinking in terms of space and time when we deal with the reality of archetypes.” Based on findings from within their respective disciplines, atypical fields of information that influence consciousness and behavior have been postulated by anesthesiologists, biologists, engineers, neurologists, physicists, physiologists, psychologists, and systems theorists (summarized in Feinstein’s ‘At play in the fields of the mind: Personal myths as fields of information,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, in press).

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