Hinted at by a growing understanding of hypnosis, Sigmund Freud realized that the mind works due to interplay between conscious and unconscious processes. Realizing that dreams were the
‘royal road’ to the unconscious, he formulated the concept of free association, whereby a cure for mental disorder can be achieved by an analysis of a sufferer’s dreams.
Devising the concept of psychoanalysis, much of Freud’s theory and methodology is shunned by modern psychiatry. However, whilst Freud clearly laid too much emphasis on sexual stimuli, he identified psychological processes in terms of a conscious ‘self’ being constantly conditioned and shaped by unconscious and instinctual influences born from the Ego, Superego, Id and its constituent Libido. Whilst such classifications of parts of the unconscious have come in for much criticism, the basic idea of unconscious invasion of the conscious has survived the test of time.
Freud’s basic ideas concerning the unconscious mind were shaped in a particular direction by his associates, Carl Jung. Jung is particularly remembered for two central concepts. He was the first to understand that unconscious processes were not only instinctual, but historical. In his concept of the ‘collective racial unconscious’ he identified specific ‘archetypes’ that exist in the unconscious and help to shape the individual by virtue of past racial experiences. Such inherited archetypes, he argued, can be identified within dreams, myths and folklore.
As to the ‘self’ proper, he identified the concept of introversion and extraversion. The former involves a predilection towards looking into oneself, whilst the latter is more involved with our society and full participation in it. To Jung, the ideal personality formed a balance between the two, failure to balance being the cause of much mental disorder.
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