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Archetypes & the Collective Unconscious by Carl Jung – Book Review

Carl Jung is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst most famous for being the founder of the analytical psychology and numerous psychological terminologies like Archetypes, the collective unconscious and extraversion and introversion. He popularized the words extrovert and introvert, which are still broadly used today.

            I read the book Archetypes by Carl Jung, which is sort of an introduction to his thought and is a part of his complete works. It contains seven essays or lectures which Jung wrote. In it he explains some key terms in his psychological works. Archetypes as the primordial images of our consciousness. The collective unconscious which resides in all of us and manifests in the archetypes. He tries to explain the allegorical interpretation of stories by using the psychoanalysis. If he succeeds is up for debate. At the moment, I can’t make up my mind about it, so I’ll be reading more Jung in the future, trying to understand his ideas better. Because of this, this review will not explain all the many terms which need clarification. I might write a post about it in the future.

            I read the book in Dutch, but it is available in English. The book is a hard read and one where you should keep a constant attention. This is not for light reading and I would not recommend reading this book, if you are not interested in psychoanalysis. If you are then this book is a blast. The terminology of Jung is explained in clear language with numerous examples with stories, dreams and therapy sessions. Jung writes slowly, trying to bring every term clearly before going to the next one. It can be seen as introductory but there are terms he regards as known, which he visits regularly throughout his essays. I would recommend reading the essays in order and if you don’t understand a term, look it up. This will help you in further reading since you won’t be able to read clearly without knowing what is actually written, since there are quite some nuances to get right.

            I would say this book is more of philosophical influence than of psychological influence, although knowing Jung sprouted a whole new section in the psychoanalysis. Jung also mostly refers to philosophers like Plato, Kant and Schopenhauer. He uses examples of his own therapy sessions with patients, which bring a more practical element to light. Still, the discussion is mostly metaphysical at the moment (at least at the moment that I’m reading, like I said, this is my first introduction to Jung).

            I will reread this book when I am more informed into his literature and in other writers who responded to him, like Lacan for example. I truly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about Jungian psychology and psychoanalysis in general. Jung was truly a genius in his field and I’m looking forward to reading more of him.

By elenchusphilosophy

Philosophy student from Ghent, Belgium. I write about what I find interesting which is about nearly anything. Though my guiding question in life is how to be a good person.

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