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Collective unconscious

collective unconscious

The collective unconscious refers to that part of a person's unconscious which is common to all human beings. It contains archetypes, which are forms or symbols that are manifested by all people in all cultures. They are said to exist prior to experience, and are in this sense instinctual.
Less mystical proponents of the Jungian model hold that the collective unconscious can be adequately explained as arising in each individual from shared instinct, common experience, and shared culture. The natural process of generalization in the human mind combines these common traits and experiences into a mostly identical substratum of the unconscious.

For example, the archetype of "the great mother" would be expected to be very nearly the same in all people, since all infants share inherent expectation of having an attentive caretaker (human instinct); every surviving infant must either have had a mother, or a surrogate (common experience); and nearly every child is indoctrinated with society's idea of what a mother should be (shared culture). The amalgam of all these effects could be the source of the shared figure, or archetype, which reportedly appears very nearly the same in most peoples' dreams.

Regardless of whether the individual's connection to the collective unconscious arises from mundane or mystical means, the term collective unconscious describes an important commonality that is observed to exist between different individuals' dreams. It was simply formulated by Jung as a model.

Timothy Leary's 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness includes the collective unconscious as being the 7th circuit, or the neurogenetic circuit of consciousness.


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