Archetypes, according to Carl Gustav Jung, carry tremendous amounts of psychic energy. We need to treat archetypes and also the dynamic archetypal images (symbols) with great respect and care!

When an archetype surfaces, for instance, when a man feels submissive and gets in touch with the archetypal power of the 'Goddess', the 'slave', the 'Great Mother', the 'Hero', he can understand much more about himself and his psyche by allowing himself to open up to the meaning of these archetypal images.

Another very important archetype is the 'anima' in a man and the 'animus' in a woman. This complementary contrasexual part, which is further discussed below, often is projected out onto a person of the (usually) opposite sex. For example, a man may project his powerful and perhaps scary inner feminine (anima) onto a dominatrix, over and over again.

Danger exists when someone enters into archetypal symbolism too quickly and gets 'stuck' in its power, i.e., becomes inflexible and rigid in the experience, unable to move with it, in and out of it.

Introduction to Jungian Analysis

The goal of Jungian psychotherapy or analysis is to make the unconscious conscious, which furthers the individuation process, the path towards psycho-spiritual wholeness and health. Jung termed this archetype of wholeness the Self, and it is this search for wholeness and healing that drives the psyche. The ego, according to Jung, is the organ of awareness, and it functions as the center of consciousness. The unconscious lies mostly outside of the ego field. The conscious and the unconscious are two aspects of the psyche, and in a psychologically healthy person they do interact with each other, with a healthy ego at the basis of the psyche. To become aware, to make the unconscious conscious, is thus a most important way towards the Self and towards wholeness. Jung was fond of quoting Hermes Trismegistus, the mythical founder of Western esoteric thought: "Who knows himself, knows the All." The emotionally charged relationship between the therapist or analyst and the client is considered to be the medium through which the client can change her character structure, through, for example, emotionally reentering experiences from younger life and then working through unresolved feelings with the therapist.

This individuation process towards wholeness also means recognizing and fulfilling one's own potential, to liberate oneself from society and family restraints, to develop one's own identity. It means becoming conscious of what the persona consists of, the persona being the role played out in society, the 'mask' shown to others. In order to become more conscious, we need to identify and understand when and where and why we do play certain roles in certain situations. Further, we need to understand our 'dark side' or shadow. The shadow is a part of ourselves which we are not aware of, but which is nevertheless most present in our psyche. Again, we must embrace this disowned part of ourselves as much as we can for us to approach wholeness. The shadow is usually a part of our psyche which we consider to be "bad", mostly due to messages given to us throughout life by parents and society. Although the shadow is initially unconscious, it can be accessed relatively easily, for example in therapy, because the shadow usually lies rather close to the surface of consciousness.

Anima and Animus

Another important concept of Jungian psychology is the one of the animus and the anima. According to Jung, a woman usually identifies with her biological sex, from the standpoint of ego consciousness, and a man identifies with his. The unconscious, however, carries the complementary contrasexual part, which is the feminine anima for a man and the masculine animus for a woman. The anima and animus are archetypal in nature.

The Collective Unconscious

According to Jung, there is much more to a person than the individual and personal experience. We are connected to the human experience in deep and profound ways, as we share the collective unconscious with each other. Jung describes the personal unconscious as containing "lost memories, painful ideas that are repressed (i.e., forgotten on purpose), subliminal perceptions, by which are meant sense-perceptions that were not strong enough to reach consciousness, and finally, contents that are not yet ripe for consciousness" ("The Personal and Collective Unconscious," in Two Essays in Analytical Psychology, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, 7, p.65, 1966).

But Jung takes the idea of the unconscious further, when he describes the collective unconscious as impersonal or transpersonal: "It is detached from anything personal and is entirely universal, because its contents can be found everywhere, which is naturally not the case with personal contents"(Ibid). A person is thus connected to the personal unconscious, but then further to the unconscious of the family, of the tribe (or urban community), to the culture, and finally to the unconscious of all of humanity, past and present.