The Freud Museum


What is the 'collective unconscious'?

The 'collective unconscious' is a term coined by Freud’s one-time student Carl Jung, who was an important member of the psychoanalytic movement before going on to develop the separate field of analytical psychology.

According to Jung's analytical psychology there are two layers to the unconscious: the personal and the collective. Jung saw the collective unconscious as beyond the experience of the individual, and linked it to what he believed to be collective motifs that he called 'archetypes'. He saw archetypes as being particularly evident in myths and religious ideologies, but he also thought that they could manifest themselves in a subjective way in the life of any given individual. Significantly, Jung chose the word 'collective unconscious' rather than 'universal unconscious': for him, it was essentially a racial category. Freud firmly rejected the term.

Still curious? Check out our carefully curated reading list! 

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