[Carl Jung on “Figures of the Unconscious.”]
Lecture XIV 9th February, 1934
We will again resort to a diagram (Diagram V, p. 59) in order to elucidate the figures of the unconscious which we spoke of last time.
It consists of ten spheres of consciousness; the five on the Right side belong to consciousness of outer reality and the five on the Left
side belong to consciousness of inner reality.
Everybody is conscious in some of these spheres.
Left side of Diagram.
In the sphere of consciousness marked as Section I the shadow begins to make itself felt.
But it is only experienced in this section as a slight feeling of something missing, a “leger sentiment d’incompletude” which gives rise to
self-consciousness and a sense of inferiority.
People look for the cause of these disturbing feelings in the outer world, they think their collar is crumpled or their tie crooked; the savant
will doubt his book, the singer his voice and so on.
They unwittingly place their inferiority where they really do not fear criticism; but in analysis I have to show 1hem that the real cause lies
further back on this unconscious shadow side, where it is much more difficult to see.
While the light of consciousness is entirely on the Right side, people are able to have implicit faith in their good intentions.
They come to me with a glowing description of their ideal marriage and happy circumstances, yet I know that a neurosis has brought them,
and why should they be neurotic if the conditions of their life are so perfect?
In analytical treatment the light moves further and fur1her to the left, as one endeavours to make each successive sphere conscious.
Though the shadow makes itself felt in section I, yet the focus of concentration is on the ego.
This section is in close relation to the body and its needs are all important.
When the field of consciousness is narrow, the body plays an important role.
Such people connect their complexes with the body; psychological disturbances appear to them in the form of physical illness.
They are ego-centric and feel inferior, but dwelling so much on themselves may at least give them some idea of their shadow and their field of
consciousness thus tends to become less restricted.
In Section II the body is still important, but there is no longer just one object as in Section I, but several objects, inner objects.
People begin to become conscious of the existence of complexes as factors which work independently of the ego.
Anybody who is conscious of a complex knows what a disobedient animal it is: you wish, for instance, to be particularly pleasant to somebody,
it walks in and prevents you, you want to sleep and it keeps you awake; it is as objective as a disobedient dog or a tormenting fly.
All the inner objects thus tend to pull the ego out of its comfortable snail’s shell.
In this section, people tend to become more interested in the psychological aspect of their conflicts, and in certain neurotic cases the reality of the body suffers.
A patient of mine once sat down on a bench by the lake to think over her psychological difficulties, although the thermometer registered six
degrees below zero, and was surprised that she had to pay for her folly with inflammation of the lungs.
Another patient, who had been in analysis for a long time, arrived one day in a completely bewildered condition and it was some time before
I discovered what the reason for this was: she had forgotten to lunch!
Fatigue or hunger, especially if unrealized, takes its revenge in mental confusion.
In Section III the body may be largely forgotten.
The complexes become personified, their autonomy is more pronounced and we can look upon them as relative objectivation, although they are still subjectively coloured.
Leopold is such a figure, a state of trance was necessary to make him visible.
In Section IV the body has disappeared and absolute objectivation takes place; the Clairvoyante of Prevorst is a classic example of this section.
In her case the figures of the unconscious are not coloured by the subject of the medium as they are in the case of Helene Smith.
In this section the figures of the unconscious are so autonomous and strange that they can enslave us.
Primitives call this phenomenon a state of possession.
The complexes assume the proportion of figures and powers that possess the individual; these autonomous beings come and go at will
and compel people to act in a way for which they are not responsible.
These figures are the so-called archetypes, primordial types or images which exist all over the world, they correspond to the facts of
Leopold is in a sense such a primordial figure, only he is clothed in the form of an historical personality, but the fact that such a figure
should appear is archetypal.
If Leopold were not so subjectively connected with Helene, he would himself be an archetype.
Ideas can possess people in the same way, for archetypes can be the equivalents of ideas.
Primordial types of ideas appear strange to us, for they are very different from our abstract ideas. Ideas appear to primitives as attributes of things, they speak of the actual object when they mean an idea: of a river meaning freedom, of a mountain to express loyalty.
In a book “At the Back of the Black Man’s Mind”, by Osborne Dennet, a king makes a long speech on his accession in which he speaks of
objects and means ideas.
It is as if a Swiss politician were to speak of the chain of the Alps standing immovably on their base, the Jungfrau rearing its majestic white head
to the heavens – meaning that his political programme was magnificent, sound and should be believed in.
This way of regarding things has its origin in the primeval beginnings which are the foundation of the archetypes.
Originally, what are now abstract ideas, were always things or transactions of a practical nature.
This fact appears in our language, although we are apt to forget the primitive meaning of the words we use.
The German word “Behandlung”, for instance, means literally to handle a patient, to lay your hands on him, to work on him with your hands.
The English word “treatment” (from the Latin trahere) and the French word “traitement” mean to draw out (that is, to draw out the illness or an evil spirit which caused the illness).
In this connection it is interesting to find the Neolithic remains of such an ancient treatment in Cornwall, a stone with a hole in it through which sick people were drawn.
They were then considered to be reborn; they were fed on milk like new born babies, washed and dressed in clean clothes, so that the illness, which had been drawn out of them, should not recognise them.
Sick children are still drawn through this hole today.
I have given you one example, but there are thousands and they take us back to the primeval background of the archetypes.
To return to the diagram, the centre acts as a magnet, for the body will claim recognition and if we try to leave it behind it will pull us back.
People who are apparently entirely concentrated on something abstract, find themselves suddenly called back to the body by a slight pain,
and others have to submit to long lingering illnesses in order to become interested in their neglected bodies.
Section V also acts as a magnet, but it draws you in the opposite direction, out of yourself, out of your body; its pull works against the senses and you forget yourself.
If we go back to Section II we see the beginning of this process.
It is there that we first got a dim inkling of something very uncanny in ourselves, something very different from the picture we had made
Naturally we tried to turn away from such an unpleasant idea, but the hunch was at work, and we were driven to see that, unbelievable as it might seem, this less reputable person roas also myself.
In Section V this work is completed and the appearance of an altogether different or superhuman entity, “totaliter aliter”, leads to a depersonalization.
This is the sphere of ecstasy and mystical experience, in which the human being is dissolved in an absolute self.
The experiences which mystics describe are simply this stepping out of reality.
Right side of diagram.
This is the side of consciousness, of the so-called known world.
Section I on this Right side is the sphere of the empirical ego, this is identical with the body.
Section II is the sphere of objects, these correspond to the inner objects.
Outer objects affect us actively, but our perception of them is subjectively coloured, they appear to us as we see them and not as they really are.
It is very difficult to overcome this subjective stage.
This psychical subjectivism is a kind of egocentricity and leads to difficulties, for we take for granted that people and things are as we see them and so we often come to grief.
Section III is the sphere of personalism, where the objective factor becomes apparent, we are becoming aware of our own personalism and
the other person has a value of his own.
The veil of subjectivism is lifted and we discover that people are not what we thought they were or what we should like them to be.
Our “biltes noires” and our treasured heroes then turn into quite ordinary people.
In the sphere of subjectivism we expect the other person to be like ourselves and think him wrong if he is not.
In the sphere of personalism we accept him for what he is.
A hotel keeper, who finds that his chef does not share his own ideas about cooking and yet does not dismiss him, has already
But already in this section, where other people become real to us, a certain doubt is beginning to form as to the absolute reality
of pure concreteness, we are beginning to leave it behind as we move slowly towards another kind of reality.
Section IV is the sphere of objectivism.
In the sphere of personalism we had to reckon with a number of people whom we recognised to be different from ourselves, but
they appeared to us as individuals.
In the sphere of objectivism we find the social idea, the personal world picture disappears and is replaced by impersonal idealism.
We are interested in people as groups: relations, friends, acquaintances, strangers etc.; they form clubs and societies and the ideas
And ideals which lie behind these societies are all important.
The political party appears as a compelling ideal, or patriotism becomes the highest obligation.
The idea of duty takes on the most ridiculous and the most sublime forms.
We must not lose sight of the fact that all these generally human ideas and ideals can be abused (for there is nothing in heaven or earth
which the human animal will not abuse), but nevertheless real ideals do exist in this sphere and these have given rise to state, society,
church, religion, etc.
In Section V, as in Section V on the Left side, the altogether different entity, “totaliter aliter”, becomes an active force, magnetizing people
out of themselves and bringing about a state of depersonalization. I do not feel competent to speak of this stage.
These poles themselves are really beyond human understanding, a mystic or a poet occasionally reaches them and speaks to us out of
such a state of ecstasy, but any partial experience of them in our own lives is so strange to us that we wonder if it is not beyond the bounds of sanity.
These poles however cannot be ignored or treated as a “nothing but”; when people will give their lives for something it cannot be a “nothing but”.
It simply is a fact that some people are drawn out of themselves by a power which we do not understand.
This diagram is the result of years of experience with people of all ages and nationalities.
It is a diagram that one can think about for a long time.
One fact stands out clearly: namely that the human ego stands between two magnetic poles which pull eternally in opposite directions.
The ego is always in danger of having its unity destroyed.
If a complete split occurs, psychic dissociation or hysteria follows, and if it is rent in pieces, the result is schizophrenia. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture XIV, 9Feb1934, Pages 58-62.