Methodology, Carl Jung and the Collective Unconscious


Throughout my research I have been battling with thoughts surrounding methodology. Is it wise for an artist to live within the wall of structure, or dangerous? In the early phases of my research I would have argued dangerous, in the fact that I felt it could act as a barrier to creativity. But now I’m not so sure, and recently have begun thinking that perhaps truly understanding the details of ones method and its relationship with the contemporary art scene may in fact be a key to differentiating ones work.

So I begun examining different methodologies for research and was frustrated with how many I thought were going somewhere only to realize they were scientific based and for the most part would not be applicable to illustration, or the artistic fields in the fact they had no variables for novelty. I was having quite a bit of trouble tracking down methodologies that were specifically related to art, and had mentioned this to a colleague, who had suggested I look into the work of Carl Jung.

So it was by chance I stumbled upon the works of the psychiatrist Carl Jung, or as he might have put it synchronicity.

“Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.” (Carl Jung)

While Jung is primarily recognized for his work as a psychiatrist, he is also considered the founder of analytical psychology, and is regarded as an influential figure also in the fields of philosophy, anthropology and religious studies.

Not having a background in psychology I found a website called simplypsychology that I felt gave me a solid overview and have been working out from there. I found Jung’s work regarding his 4 archetypes, and 8 personalities to be very interesting in their application to defining one’s individual process and methodology. I’ve fairly clearly identified myself as falling into the category of what Jung refers to as introverted sensing, and after reading up on this (there is an enormous amount of information out there on the subject of his personalities) there would appear to be many implications that would relate personality to methodology. If you’re interested in finding out what personality type you may belong to, you can find a simplified chart  here.

It was however Jung’s theories on psyche and the unconscious that I found particularly interesting. Jung believed the psyche was primarily made up of three interacting systems.

  • The ego which comprises the thoughts and memories we are aware of and is largely responsible for how we see ourselves, or our identity.
  • The personal unconscious which is made up of temporarily forgotten information and repressed memories.
  • The collective unconscious which Jung believed was shared with other members of the human species comprising latent memories from our ancestral and evolutionary past.

It was fascinated by this notion of the collective conscious.  Jung had worked closely with Freud for periods of his career and they had strongly disagreed on the concept of the collective conscious, which has left it viewed by history as being fairly controversial theory.

Jung believed that all human minds have innate characteristics built into their DNA that account for what could be described as primal, such as fear of snakes and spiders, and if the theory is correct who knows what else could be buried in that part of the brain.

This theory of collective unconscious would appear to have implications regarding the appeal of myths and legends, and perhaps even a special connection to the global appeal of children’s stories.

There is also an interesting article regarding Carl Jung’s views on the psychological roots of artistic creation in the following link: Carl Jung and the Artistic Impulse: Madness in the Creative Spirit


reference: [accessed 26-12-15] [accessed 26-12-15] [accessed 26-12-15] [accessed 26-12-15] [accessed 26-12-15]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.