I wonder if the next great stage in mankind’s evolution will occur when our conscious and unconscious “minds” become so connected and in tune with one another that they become one. What would this mean for future generations? If one believes that the unconscious mind is akin to our soul, our spirit within, which connects us to the greater life force and to every other living being in the universe, then this transformation could indeed be glorious.
Some of my readers may be thinking that I have just taken a great leap with my opening statements, so let me back up, starting with the early pioneers of the unconscious mind – Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Jung was also a key influencer for Joseph Campbell, a mythologist who applied Jungian theory to his vast knowledge of mythology, spirituality, and religion. Campbell’s work, among many others, has continued to advance us on this journey to understand our psyche and our connection to one another throughout time, particularly at this ‘unconscious’ level. And today’s thought leaders are progressing these concepts to new realms as we are now able to connect quantum theories into our understanding of consciousness.
So first a (very) brief history…
One book I recommend in this area is Carl Jung’s last work, before his death in 1961 which was his only project not targeted for psychology and medical professionals but rather it was intended for the general public, so that we could all benefit from an insight into his lifework. This book – “Man and his Symbols”, edited with an introduction by Carl Jung – was a great source of information for me when I was working on “Vision Speak”. Jung’s quotations referenced below are all from his writing in this book.
“Man and his Symbols”, although intended for the ‘layman, is still not exactly a ‘light read’ so for those who may not be familiar with the breakthroughs and disconnect between the two most famous psychologists of all time, here’s a brief (and simplified) view of Freud and Jung’s material on the topic of the conscious versus unconscious mind.
In the nineteenth-century psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists were beginning to inquire into both the existence and importance of the ‘unconscious’ or ‘subconscious’ mind. The most renowned figure of this period, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), developed comprehensive theories on this subject and early psychoanalytical techniques with an emphasis on the importance of dreams.
Freud believed that dreams were the key to exposing repressed desires and memories, using techniques such as free association, to cure people of neuroses.
Freud’s younger colleague – Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) – disputed some of Freud’s theories on the unconscious mind. He said Freud “worked on the assumption that dreams are not a matter of chance but are associated with conscious thoughts and problems.” Jung maintained that a psychoanalyst could work directly with a patient without need to lead them away from the actual dreams which he believed had “some special and more significant function of their own”. In other words, “one should pay more attention to the actual form and content of a dream, rather than allowing free association to lead one off through a train of ideas to complexes that could as easily be reached by other means.”
“..part of the unconscious consists of a multitude of temporarily obscured thoughts, impressions, and images that, in spite of being lost, continue to influence our conscious minds.” These hidden areas of our unconscious can be uncovered – sometimes triggered by our senses (such as the sound of music or smells from the past), possibly revealed by unconscious behaviours. Sometimes lost memories can be exposed in hypnosis and often appear symbolically in our dreams. But the unconscious is much more than just a repository of past information that is no longer ‘stored’ in our conscious.
“..it is a fact that, in addition to memories from a long-distant conscious past, completely new thoughts and creative ideas can also present themselves from the unconscious…” In fact, our most creative and innovative ideas and inspirations come from this part of our psyche and, we can also attribute our instinctive, psychic, and intuitive insights as coming from the unconscious.
However, one of Jung’s most important theories – the collective unconscious – came when he explored the unconscious mind as it related to more spiritual realms such as religion and mythology, which Freud thought ‘unscientific’.
More on this in future posts … but, for now, here are some more words from Carl Jung from “Man and his Symbols” on the subject of the collective unconscious.
“Just as the human body represents a whole museum of organs, each with a long evolutionary history behind it, so we should expect to find that the mind is organized in a similar way. It can no more be a product without history than is the body in which it exists.
The experienced investigator of the mind can similarly see the analogies between the dream pictures of modern man and the products of the primitive mind, its “collective images,” and its mythological motifs.
My views about the “archaic remnants,” which I call “archetypes” or “primordial images,” have been constantly criticized by people who lack sufficient knowledge of the psychology of dreams and mythology.”