One of Carl Jung’s biggest contributions to the field of psychology and mental health was his theory on the Collective Unconscious, a topic we look into in this article..

Put simply, the collective unconscious refers to the various structures that combine to make up the Unconscious Mind according to Jung. Jung believed that these structures are shared throughout all humans.


Jung’s work on the collective unconscious built on the work by Sigmund Freud – the famous Neurologist. Jung and Freud had been close friends originally, before gradually drifting apart.

Freud put forward his theory of the Unconscious Mind, which Jung built upon. Freud suggested the unconscious mind was one of three parts of the mind, with the others being the conscious mind and the preconscious mind.

Freud believed that past traumas or memories are stuck in the unconscious mind, which results in mental disturbance in the modern day. However, Jung’s approach diverged from Freud at this point.

Jung’s Overall Ideas

The collective unconscious refers to the various structures that combine to make up the unconscious mind. Jung suggested that the collective unconscious is inherited, and is expressed through instincts and archetypes.

Jung argued that the aim of life itself is to reach a state of actualisation of the “self”. He suggested that this could be achieved through individuation.

Individuation refers to the process that every person goes through to help them achieve “individuality” from others. They become an individual person that doesn’t depend on others. Jung believed that those who didn’t achieve this state were likelier to have mental health problems.

Jung described the “self” as “not only the centre but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the centre of this totality, just as the ego is the centre of the conscious mind” [1].

Jung believed that the images in someone’s unconscious mind would often be expressed in dreams. This is why Jung, like Freud, put significant focus on dream analysis.

The Collective Unconscious

Jung labelled a person’s unconscious as their “psychic inheritance”. He believed there was a knowledge base that we were all born with, but that we are never fully aware of it.

Jung suggested that our collective unconscious guided and impacted our behaviour, emotional decisions and experiences in general. But again, we were unaware of its importance in doing so.

Jung believed that the collective unconscious was responsible for many of our strongest beliefs and instincts, like spirituality, religion and sexuality among other areas. This links with a person’s morals and ethic

We mentioned earlier about how Jung suggested that the collective unconscious was expressed through archetypes. These are symbols and signs of thought and behaviours that we have inherited.


Jung has had a large impact on the field of mental health, with his theory of the Collective Unconscious especially well-known. While some have doubted Jung’s theory, many find it to be more plausible than Freud’s arguments.

Jung’s beliefs on the mind have helped to create the modern-day Jungian Therapy – which has helped many people see an improvement in their mental wellbeing.

See Also


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[1]     Adler, G., Fordham, M., Read, H., & McGuire, W. (2014). The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.