Jung’s esoteric archetypes have caused much confusion. This is, in part, because he describes them in very diverse ways. From one perspective, they are portrayed as an invisible matrix which
Jung’s esoteric archetypes have caused much confusion. This is, in part, because he describes them in very diverse ways. From one perspective, they are portrayed as an invisible matrix which generates universal patterns. From another, they are psychic forces, the core of complexes, which can possess a personality. He also depicts them as ‘units of meaning’ which can be apprehended intuitively. In this paper, I try to unpick some of this confusion and demonstrate how archetypal thinking remains useful in understanding the clinical encounter. I explore the role of archetypes in transference, how psychoanalysis is built upon universal archetypal themes and how personal narratives can become ossified into archetypal myths.
Martin Schmidt, MBPsS, is a Jungian Training Analyst at the Society of Analytical Psychology. He works in private practice in London and lectures widely both in the UK and internationally. He is currently the Honorary Secretary of the International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP) and its Regional Organiser for Central Europe.
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