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C.G. Jung Speaking

A variety of forms is revealed through the realization of the self. The self is dissolved into many egos. When the self has become conscious it leads to “participation mystique.” ~Carl Jung, Conversations with C.G. Jung, Page 36.

The man who has attained consciousness of the present is solitary. The “modern” man has at all times been so, for every step towards fuller consciousness removes him further from his original, purely animal participation mystique with the herd, from submersion in a common unconsciousness. Every step forward means tearing oneself loose from the maternal womb of unconsciousness in which the mass of men dwells. ~Carl Jung; “The Spiritual Problems of Modern Man” (1928). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. P. 150

Most connections in the world are not relationships, they are participation mystique. One is then apparently connected, but of course it is never a real connection, it is never a relationship; but it gives the feeling of being one sheep in the flock at least. ~Carl Jung, Visions, p 625.

People with a narrow conscious life exteriorize their unconscious, they are continually in participation mystique with other people… if more unconscious things have become conscious to you, then you live less in participation mystique. ~Carl Jung, Visions, para 1184.

Tantra Yoga gives the classic localizations of thought: anahata, thinking (or localization of consciousness) in the chest region (phrenes); visuddha (localized in the larynx), verbal thinking; and ajna, vision, symbolized by an eye in the forehead, which is attained only when verbal image and object are no longer identical, i.e., when their participation mystique is abolished. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 257-264.

The participation mystique by which society contains the individual may be understood as a statement of the fact that individuals are still undifferentiated from each other, that is to say, they have not yet been self-consciously broken up into individual personalities. ~Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking; Interviews and Encounters, Pages 205-218

W. [Toni Wolff] was experiencing a similar stream of images. I had evidently infected her or was the declencheur [trigger] that stirred up her imagination. My phantasies and hers were in a participation mystique. It was like a common stream, and a common task.

Gradually I became conscious and gradually I became the center; and in the measure to which I attained these insights, she also found her center.

But then she got stuck somewhere along the way, I remained too much the center that functioned for her.

Therefore I was never permitted to be other than she wanted me to be, or than she needed to have me be.

At that time she was entirely drawn into this terrible process in which I was involved, and she was just as helpless as I was. ~Carl Jung, The Black Books, Vol. I, Page 31-32

I too have this archaic nature, and in me it is linked with the gift not always pleasant of seeing people and things as they are, I can let myself be deceived from here to Tipperary when 1 don’t want to recognize something, and yet at bottom I know quite well how matters really stand.
In this I am like a dog he can be tricked, but he always smells it out in the end.
This “insight” is based on instinct, or on a “participation mystique” with others. It is as if the “eyes of the background” do the seeing in an impersonal act of perception. ~Carl Jung, MDR, Page 50

The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico still think in the “heart” and not in the head.

Tantra Yoga gives the classic localizations of thought: anahata, thinking ( or localization of consciousness) in the chest region (phrenes); visuddha (localized in the larynx), verbal thinking; and ajna, vision, symbolized by an eye in the forehead, which is attained only when verbal image and object are no longer identical, i.e., when their participation mystique is abolished. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 264

A term coined by Levy-Bruhl for the “prelogical” mentality of primitives, but later abandoned by him. Jung made frequent use of it to denote the state of projection in which internal and external events are inextricably mixed up, resulting in an irrational and unconscious identity of inside and outside.  ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 264, fn 11

The “duality” of the ruler is based on the primitive belief that the placenta is the brother of the new-born child, which as such often accompanies him throughout life in ghostly fashion, since it dies early and is ceremonially buried.

You can find detailed descriptions of this in Levy-Bruhl’s Le Surnaturel et la nature dans la mentalite primitive.

The ka is probably a descendant of the placenta. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Page 259-260


It seems as if this process of analogy-making had gradually altered and added to the common stock of ideas and names, with the result that man’s picture of the world was considerably broadened.

Specially colourful or intense contents (the “feeling-toned” complexes) were reflected in countless analogies, and gave rise to synonyms whose objects were thus drawn into the magic circle of the psyche.

In this way there came into being those intimate relationships by analogy which Lévy-Bruhl fittingly describes as “participation mystique.”

It is evident that this tendency to invent analogies deriving from feeling-toned contents has been of enormous significance for the development of the human mind.

We are in thorough agreement with Steinthal when he says that a positively overwhelming importance attaches to the little word “like” in the history of human thought.

One can easily imagine that the canalization of libido into analogy-making was responsible for some of the most important discoveries ever made by primitive man. ~Carl Jung, CW 5, Para 203

The further we go back into history, the more we see personality disappearing beneath the wrappings of collectivity.

And if we go right back to primitive psychology, we find absolutely no trace of the concept of an individual.

Instead of individuality we find only collective relationship or what Lévy-Bruhl calls participation mystique.

The collective attitude hinders the recognition and evaluation of a psychology different from the subject’s, because the mind that is collectively oriented is quite incapable of thinking and feeling in any other way than by projection.

What we understand by the concept “individual” is a relatively recent acquisition in the history of the human mind and human culture.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the earlier all-powerful collective attitude prevented almost completely an objective psychological evaluation of individual differences, or any scientific objectification of individual psychological processes.

It was owing to this very lack of psychological thinking that knowledge became “psychologized,” i.e., filled with projected psychology.

We find striking examples of this in man’s first attempts at a philosophical explanation of the cosmos.

The development of individuality, with the consequent psychological differentiation of man, goes hand in hand with the de-psychologizing work of objective science.  ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 12

Rousseau is deceived; he believes this state of affairs is a recent development.

But it is not so; we have merely become conscious of it recently; it was always so, and the more so the further we descend into the beginnings of things.

For what Rousseau describes is nothing but that primitive collective mentality which Lévy-Bruhl has aptly termed participation mystique.

This suppression of individuality is nothing new, it is a relic of that archaic time when there was no individuality whatever.

So it is not by any means a recent suppression we are dealing with, but merely a new sense and awareness of the overwhelming power of the collective.

One naturally projects this power into the institutions of Church and State, as though there were not already ways and means enough of evading even moral commands when occasion offered!

In no sense do these institutions possess the omnipotence ascribed to them, on account of which they are  rom time to time assailed by innovators of every sort; the suppressive power lies unconsciously in ourselves, in our own barbarian collective mentality.

To the collective psyche every individual development is hateful that does not directly serve the ends of collectivity.

Hence although the differentiation of the one function, about which we have spoken above, is a development of an individual value, it is still so largely determined by the views of the collective that, as we have seen, it becomes injurious to the individual himself. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 123

From these definitions the dependence of the naïve poet on the object is especially clear. His relation to the object has a compelling character, because he introjects the object—that is, he unconsciously identifies with it or has, as it were, an a priori identity with it. Lévy-Bruhl describes this relation to the object as participation mystique.

This identity always derives from an analogy between the object and an unconscious content.

One could also say that the identity comes about through the projection of an unconscious association by analogy with the object. An identity of this kind has a compelling character too, because it expresses a certain quantity of libido which, like all libido operating from the unconscious, is not at the disposal of consciousness and thus exercises a compulsion on its contents.

The attitude of the naïve poet is, therefore, in a high degree conditioned by the object; the object operates independently in him, as it were; it fulfils itself in him because he himself is identical with it.

He lends his expressive function to the object and represents it in a certain way, not in the least actively or intentionally, but because it represents itself that way in him.

He is himself Nature: Nature creates in him the product. He “allows Nature unlimited sway in him.” Supremacy is given to the object. To this extent the naïve attitude is extraverted. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 216

It is this fearful and sorrowful vision of the world that forces the Buddhist into his abstracting attitude, just as, according to legend, a similar impression started the Buddha on his life’s quest.

The dynamic animation of the object as the impelling cause of abstraction is strikingly expressed in the Buddha’s symbolic language. This animation does not come from  empathy, but from an unconscious projection that actually exists a priori.

The term “projection” hardly conveys the real meaning of this phenomenon. Projection is really an act that happens, and not a condition existing a priori, which is what we are obviously dealing with here.

It seems to me that Lévy-Bruhl’s participation mystique is more descriptive of this condition, since it aptly formulates the primordial relation of the primitive to the object.

His objects have a dynamic animation, they are charged with soul-stuff or soul-force (and not always possessed of souls, as the animist theory supposes), so that they have a direct psychic effect upon him, producing what is practically a dynamic identification with the object. In certain primitive languages articles of personal use have a gender denoting “alive” (the suffix of animation).

With the abstracting attitude it is much the same, for here too the object is alive and autonomous from the beginning and in no need of empathy; on the contrary, it has such a powerful effect that the subject is forced into introversion.

Its strong libido investment comes from its participation mystique with the subject’s own unconscious. This is clearly expressed in   he words of the Buddha: the universal fire is identical with the fire of libido, with the subject’s burning passion, which appears to him as an object because it is not differentiated into a disposable function.  ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 495

COLLECTIVE. I term collective all psychic contents that belong not to one individual but to many, i.e., to a society, a people, or to mankind in general.

Such contents are what Lévy-Bruhl calls the représentations collectives of primitives, as well as general concepts of justice, the state, religion, science, etc., current among civilized man.

It is not only concepts and ways of looking at things, however, that must be termed collective, but also feelings.

Among primitives, the représentations collectives are at the same time collective feelings, as Lévy-Bruhl has shown.

Because of this collective feeling-value he calls the représentations collectives “mystical,” since they are not merely intellectual but emotional. Among civilized peoples, too, certain collective ideas—God, justice, fatherland, etc.—are bound up with collective feelings. This collective quality adheres not only to particular psychic elements or contents but to whole functions (q.v.).

Thus the thinking function as a whole can have a collective quality, when it possesses general validity and accords with the laws of logic. Similarly, the feeling function as a whole can be collective, when it is identical with the general feeling and accords with general expectations, the general moral consciousness, etc.

In the same way, sensation and intuition are collective when they are at the same time characteristic of a large group of men. The antithesis of collective is individual (q.v.). ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 692

Participation Mystique is a term derived from Lévy-Bruhl.

It denotes a peculiar kind of psychological connection with objects, and consists in the fact that the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object but is bound to it by a direct relationship which amounts to partial identity (q.v.).

This identity results from an a priori oneness of subject and object.

Participation mystique is a vestige of this primitive condition.

It does not apply to the whole subject-object relationship but only to certain cases where this peculiar tie occurs.

It is a phenomenon that is best observed among primitives, though it is found very frequently among civilized peoples, if not with the same incidence and intensity.

Among civilized peoples it usually occurs between persons, seldom between a person and a thing. In the first case it is a transference relationship, in which the object (as a rule) obtains a sort of magical—i.e. absolute—influence over the subject.

In the second case there is a similar influence on the part of the thing, or else an identification (q.v.) with a thing or the idea of a thing. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 781

My reader may think that the last remark is something of an exaggeration, since in general one is aware of individual differences. But it must be remembered that our individual conscious psychology develops out of an original state of unconsciousness and therefore of non-differentiation (termed by Lévy-Bruhl participation mystique).

Consequently, consciousness of differentiation is a relatively late achievement of mankind, and presumably but a relatively small sector of the indefinitely large field of original identity. Differentiation is the essence, the sine qua non of consciousness.

Everything unconscious is undifferentiated, and everything that happens unconsciously proceeds on the basis of non-differentiation—that is to say, there is no determining whether it belongs or does not belong to oneself.

It cannot be established a priori whether it concerns me, or another, or both. Nor does feeling give us any sure clues in this respect. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 329

Much that was taken by investigators animistically as spirit, demon, or numen really belongs to the primitive concept of energy. As I have already remarked, it is, in the strict sense, incorrect to speak of a “concept.”

“A concept of primitive philosophy,” as Lovejoy calls it, is an idea obviously born of our own mentality; that is to say, for us mana would be a psychological concept of energy, but for the primitive it is a psychic phenomenon that is perceived as something inseparable from the object.

There are no abstract ideas to be found among primitives, not even, as a rule, simple concrete concepts, but only “representations.” All primitive languages offer abundant proof of this. Thus mana is not a concept but a representation based on the perception of a “phenomenal” relationship.

It  is the essence of Lévy-Bruhl’s participation mystique. In primitive speech only the fact of the relationship and the experience it evokes are indicated, as some of the above examples clearly show, not the nature or essence of that relationship, or of the principle determining it.

The discovery of a suitable designation for the nature and essence of the unifying principle was reserved for a later level of culture, which substituted symbolic expressions. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 127

The behaviour of new contents that have been constellated in the unconscious but are not yet assimilated to consciousness is similar to that of complexes. These contents may be based on subliminal perceptions, or they may be creative in character.

Like complexes, they lead a life of their own so long as they are not made conscious and integrated with the life of the personality. In the realm of artistic and religious phenomena, these contents may likewise appear in personified form, especially as archetypal figures.

Mythological research designates them as “motifs,” to Lévy-Bruhl they are représentations collectives, Hubert and Mauss call them “categories of the imagination.” I have employed the concept of the collective unconscious to embrace all these archetypes.

They are psychic forms which, like the instincts, are common to all mankind, and their presence can be proved wherever the relevant literary records have been preserved. As factors influencing human behaviour, archetypes play no small role. The total personality can be affected by them through a process of identification. This effect is best explained by the fact that archetypes probably represent typical situations in life.

Abundant proof of identification with archetypes can be found in the psychological and psychopathological case material.The psychology of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra also furnishes a good example. The difference between archetypes and the dissociated products of schizophrenia is that the former are entities endowed with personality and charged with meaning, whereas the latter are only fragments with vestiges of meaning—in reality, they are products of disintegration.

Both, however, possess to a high degree the  apacity to influence, control, and even to suppress the ego-personality, so that a temporary or lasting transformation of personality ensues. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 254

If you can put yourself in the mind of the primitive, you will at once understand why this is so. He lives in such “participation mystique” with his world, as Lévy-Bruhl calls it, that there is nothing like that absolute distinction between subject and object which exists in our minds.

What happens outside also happens in him, and what happens in him also happens outside.

I witnessed a very fine example of this when I was with the Elgonyi, a primitive tribe living on Mount Elgon, in East Africa.

At sunrise they spit on their hands and then hold the palms towards the sun as it comes over the horizon.

“We are happy that the night is past,” they say.

Since the word for sun, adhista, also means God, I asked: “Is the sun God?”

They said “No” to this and laughed, as if I had said something especially stupid. As the sun was just then high in the heavens, I pointed to it and asked: “When the sun is there you say it is not God, but when it is in the east you say it is God. How is that?”

There was an embarrassed silence till an old chief began to explain. “It is so,” he said. “When the sun is up there it is not God, but when it rises, that is God [or: then it is God].” To the primitive mind it is immaterial which of these two versions is correct.

Sunrise and his own feeling of deliverance are for him the same divine experience, just as night and his fear are the same thing. Naturally his emotions are more important to him than physics; therefore what he registers is his emotional fantasies. For him night means snakes and the cold breath of spirits, whereas morning means the birth of a beautiful god. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 329

Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naïvely suppose that people are as we imagine them to be. In this latter case, unfortunately, there is no scientific test that would prove the discrepancy between perception and reality.

Although the possibility of gross deception is infinitely greater here than in our perception of the physical world, we still go on naïvely projecting our own psychology into our fellow human beings. In this way everyone creates for himself a series of more or less imaginary relationships based essentially on projection.

Among neurotics there are even cases where fantasy projections provide the sole means of human relationship. A person whom I perceive mainly through my projections is an imago or, alternatively, a carrier of imagos or symbols. All the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected into our surroundings, and it is only by recognizing certain properties of the objects as projections or imagos that we are able to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects. But if we are not aware that a property of the object is a projection, we cannot do anything else but be naïvely convinced  that it really does belong to the object.

All human relationships swarm with these projections; anyone who cannot see this in his personal life need only have his attention drawn to the psychology of the press in wartime. Cum grano salis, we always see our own unavowed mistakes in our opponent. Excellent examples of this are to be found in all personal quarrels.

Unless we are possessed of an unusual degree of self-awareness we shall never see through our projections but must always succumb to them, because the

mind in its natural state presupposes the existence of such projections. It is the natural and given thing for unconscious contents to be projected. In a comparatively primitive person this creates that characteristic relationship to the object which Lévy-Bruhl has fittingly called “mystic identity” or “participation mystique.”

Thus every normal person of our time, who is not reflective beyond the average, is bound to his environment by a whole system of projections.

So long as all goes well, he is totally unaware of the compulsive, i.e., “magical” or “mystical,” character of these relationships.

But if a paranoid disturbance sets in, then these unconscious relationships turn into so many compulsive ties, decked out, as a rule, with the same unconscious material that formed the content of these projections during the normal state.

So long as the libido can use these projections as agreeable and convenient bridges to the world, they will alleviate life in a positive way. But as soon as the libido wants to strike out on another path, and for this purpose begins running back along the previous bridges of projection, they will work as the greatest hindrances it is possible to imagine, for they effectively prevent any real detachment from the former object.

We then witness the characteristic phenomenon of a person trying to devalue the former object as much as possible in order to detach his libido from it. But as the previous identity is due to the projection of subjective contents, complete and final detachment can only take place when the imago that mirrored itself in the object is restored, together with its meaning, to the subject.

This restoration is achieved through conscious recognition of the projected content, that is, by acknowledging the “symbolic value” of the object.  ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 507

12 How Natives Think, p. 129. It is to be regretted that Lévy-Bruhl expunged this exceedingly apt term from later editions of his books. Probably he succumbed to the attacks of those stupid persons who imagine that “mystic” means their own nonsensical conception of it. [Cf. the original edn., Les Fonctions mentales, p. 140.—EDITORS.]

“Archetype” is an explanatory paraphrase of the Platonic. For our purposes this term is apposite and helpful, because it tells us that so far as the collective unconscious contents are concerned we are dealing with archaic or—I would say—primordial types, that is, with universal images that have existed since the remotest times.

The term “représentations collectives,” used by Lévy-Bruhl to denote the symbolic figures in the primitive view of the world, could easily be applied to unconscious contents as well, since it means practically the same thing. Primitive tribal lore is concerned with archetypes that have been modified in a special way.

They are no longer contents of the unconscious, but have already been changed into conscious formulae taught according to tradition, generally in the form of esoteric teaching. This last is a typical means of expression for the transmission of collective contents originally derived from the unconscious.  ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para

The concept of the archetype, which is an indispensable correlate of the idea of the collective unconscious, indicates the existence of definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere.

Mythological research calls them “motifs”; in the psychology of primitives they correspond to Lévy-Bruhl’s concept of “représentations collectives,” and in the field of comparative religion they have been defined by Hubert and Mauss as “categories of the imagination.” Adolf Bastian long ago called them “elementary” or “primordial thoughts.”

From these references it should be clear enough that my idea of the archetype—literally a pre-existent form—does not stand alone but is something that is recognized and named in other fields of knowledge.  ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 89

I am speaking here of the subjective feeling-value, which is subject to the more or less periodic changes described above.

But there are also objective values which are founded on a consensus omnium—moral, aesthetic, and religious values, for instance, and these are universally recognized ideals or feelingtoned collective ideas (Lévy-Bruhl’s “representations collectives”).

The subjective feeling-tones or “value quanta” are easily recognized by the kind and number of constellations, or symptoms of disturbance, they produce.

Collective ideals often have no subjective feeling-tone, but nevertheless retain their feeling-value. This value, therefore, cannot be demonstrated by subjective symptoms, though it may be by the attributes attaching to these collective ideas and by their characteristic symbolism, quite apart from their suggestive effect.  ~Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 54

Nevertheless something is lost in this development, and that is the irreplaceable feeling of immediate oneness with the parents. This feeling is not just a sentiment, but an important psychological fact which Lévy-Bruhl, in an altogether different context, has called participation mystique.

The fact denoted by this not immediately understandable expression plays a great role in the psychology of primitives as well as in analytical psychology. To put it briefly, it means a state of identity in mutual unconsciousness.

Perhaps I should explain this further. If the same unconscious complex is constellated in two people at the same time, it produces a remarkable emotional effect, a projection, which causes either a mutual attraction or a mutual repulsion.

When I and another person have an unconscious relation to the same important fact, I become in part identical with him, and because of this I orient myself to him as I would to the complex in question were I conscious of it.  ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 69

When we first come into contact with primitive peoples or read about primitive psychology in scientific works, we cannot fail to be deeply impressed with the strangeness of archaic man. Lévy-Bruhl himself, an authority in the field of primitive psychology, never wearies of emphasizing the striking difference between the “prelogical” state of mind and our own conscious outlook.

It seems to him, as a civilized man, inexplicable that the primitive should disregard the obvious lessons of experience, should flatly deny the most evident causal connections, and instead of accounting for things as simply due to chance or on reasonable grounds of causality, should take his “collective representations” as being intrinsically valid.

By “collective representations” Lévy-Bruhl means widely current ideas whose truth is held to be self-evident from the start, such as the primitive ideas concerning spirits, witchcraft, the power of medicines, and so forth.

While it is perfectly understandable to us that people die of advanced age or as the result of diseases that are recognized to be fatal, this is not the case with primitive man.

When old persons die, he does not believe it to be the result of age. He argues that there are persons who have lived to be much older. Likewise, no one dies as the result of disease, for there have been other people who recovered from the same disease, or never contracted it.

To him, the real explanation is always magic. Either a spirit has killed the man, or it was sorcery. Many primitive tribes recognize death in battle as the only natural death.

Still others regard even death in battle as unnatural, holding that the enemy who caused it must either have been a sorcerer or have used a charmed weapon. This grotesque idea can on occasion take an even more impressive form.

For instance, two anklets were found in the stomach of a crocodile shot by a European. The natives recognized the anklets as the property of two women who, some time before, had been devoured by a crocodile.

At once the charge of witchcraft was raised; for this quite natural occurrence, which would never have aroused the suspicions of a European, was given an unexpected interpretation in the light of one of those presuppositions which Lévy-Bruhl calls “collective representations.”

The natives said that an unknown sorcerer had summoned the crocodile, and had bidden it catch the two women and bring them to him. The crocodile had carried out this command. But what about the anklets in the beast’s stomach?

Crocodiles, they explained, never ate people unless bidden to do so. The crocodile had merely received the anklets from the sorcerer as a reward. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 106

Lévy-Bruhl has coined the expression participation mystique for these remarkable relationships. It seems to me that the word “mystical” is not happily chosen. Primitive man does not see anything mystical in these matters, but considers them perfectly natural.

It is only we who find them so strange, because we appear to know nothing about the phenomena of psychic dissociation. In reality, however, they occur in us too, not in this naïve but in a rather more civilized form. In daily life it happens all the time that we presume that the psychology of other people is the same as ours.

We suppose that what is pleasing or desirable to us is the same to others, and that what seems bad to us must also seem bad to them. It is only recently that our courts of law have nerved themselves to admit the psychological relativity of guilt in pronouncing sentence.

The tenet quod licet Jovi non licet bovi still rankles in the minds of all unsophisticated people; equality before the law is still a precious achievement. And we still attribute to the other fellow all the evil and inferior qualities that we do not like to recognize in ourselves, and therefore have to criticize and attack him, when all that has happened is that an inferior “soul” has emigrated from one person to another.

The world is still full of bîtes noires and scapegoats, just as it formerly teemed with witches and werewolves. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 130

Projection is one of the commonest psychic phenomena. It is the same as participation mystique, which Lévy-Bruhl, to his great credit, emphasized as being an especially characteristic feature of primitive man.

We merely give it another name, and as a rule deny that we are guilty of it. Everything that is unconscious in ourselves we discover in our neighbour, and we treat him accordingly.

We no longer subject him to the test of drinking poison; we do not burn him or put the screws on him; but we injure him by means of moral verdicts pronounced with the deepest conviction. What we combat in him is usually our own inferior side. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 131

Experiences of this kind are the common lot of the psychotherapist, or of anybody who has frequent occasion to talk professionally, about their intimate affairs, with people with whom he has no personal relationship.

One should not conclude from this that every subjective pang of conscience which seems unfounded is caused by the person one is conversing with. Such a conclusion is justified only when the ever-present guilt component in oneself proves, after mature reflection, to be an inadequate explanation of the reaction.

The distinction is often a very delicate matter because, in therapy, ethical values must not be injured on either side if the treatment is to be successful. Yet what happens in the therapeutic process is only a special instance of human relationships in general.

As soon as the dialogue between two people touches on something fundamental, essential, and numinous, and a certain rapport is felt, it gives rise to a phenomenon which Lévy-Bruhl fittingly called participation mystique.

It is an unconscious identity in which two individual psychic spheres interpenetrate to such a degree that it is impossible to say what belongs to whom.

If the problem is one of conscience, the guilt of the one partner is the guilt of the other, and at first there is no possibility of breaking this emotional identity. For this a special act of reflection is required.

I have dwelt at some length on this problem because I wanted to show that by the concept of the archetype nothing final is meant, and that it would be wrong to suppose that the essence of conscience could be reduced to nothing but the archetype. The psychoid nature of the archetype contains very much more than can be included in a psychological explanation.

It points to the sphere of the unus mundus, the unitary world, towards which the psychologist and the atomic physicist are converging along separate paths, producing independently of one another certain analogous auxiliary concepts.

Although the first step in the cognitive process is to discriminate and divide, at the second step it will  unite what has been divided, and an explanation will be satisfactory only when it achieves a synthesis. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 852

The theory of preconscious primordial ideas is by no means my own invention, as the term “archetype,” which stems from the first centuries of our era, proves. With special reference to psychology we find this theory in the works of Adolf Bastian and then again in Nietzsche. In French literature Hubert and Mauss,18 and also Lévy-Bruhl, mention similar ideas.

I only gave an empirical foundation to the theory of what were formerly called primordial or elementary ideas, “catégories” or “habitudes directrices de la conscience,” “representations collectives,” etc., by setting out to investigate certain details. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 89

The act of making a sacrifice consists in the first place in giving something which belongs to me. Everything which belongs to me bears the stamp of “mineness,” that is, it has a subtle identity with my ego.

This is vividly expressed in certain primitive languages, where the suffix of animation is added to an object—a canoe, for instance—when it belongs to me, but not when it belongs to somebody else.

The affinity which all the things bearing the stamp of “mineness” have with my personality is aptly characterized by Lévy-Bruhl as participation mystique. It is an irrational, unconscious identity, arising from the fact that anything which comes into contact with me is not only itself, but also a symbol.

This symbolization comes about firstly because every human being has unconscious contents, and secondly because every object has an unknown side. Your watch, for instance. Unless you are a watchmaker, you would hardly presume to say that you know how it works.

Even if you do, you wouldn’t know anything about the molecular structure of the steel unless you happened to be a mineralogist or a physicist. And have you ever heard of a scientist who knew how to repair his pocket watch?

But where two unknowns come together, it is impossible to distinguish between them. The unknown in man and the unknown in the thing fall together in one. Thus there arises an unconscious identity which sometimes borders on the grotesque.

No one is permitted to touch what is “mine,” much less use it. One is affronted if “my” things are not treated with sufficient respect. I remember once seeing two Chinese rickshaw boys engaged in furious argument. Just as they were about to come to blows, one of them gave the other’s rickshaw a violent kick, thus putting an end to the quarrel.

So long as they are unconscious our unconscious contents are always projected, and the projection fixes upon everything “ours,” inanimate objects as well as animals and people. And to the extent that “our” possessions are projection carriers, they are more than what they are in themselves, and function as such.

They have acquired several layers of meaning and are therefore symbolical, though this fact seldom or never reaches consciousness. In reality, our psyche spreads far beyond the confines of the conscious mind, as was apparently known long ago to the old alchemist who said that the soul was for the greater part outside the body. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 389

The statement “Nor is one’s own mind separable from other minds” is another way of expressing the fact of “all-contamination.” Since all distinctions vanish in the unconscious condition, it is only logical that the distinction between separate minds should disappear too.

“Wherever there is a lowering of the conscious level we come across instances of unconscious identity  or what Lévy-Bruhl calls “participation mystique.” The realization of the One Mind is, as our text says, the “at-one-ment of the Trikāya”; in fact it creates the at-one-ment.

But we are unable to imagine how such a realization could ever be complete in any human individual. There must always be somebody or something left over to experience the realization, to say “I know at-one-ment, I know there is no distinction.”

The very fact of the realization proves its inevitable incompleteness. One cannot know something that is not distinct from oneself. Even when I say “I know myself,” an infinitesimal ego—the knowing “I”—is still distinct from “myself.”

In this as it were atomic ego, which is completely ignored by the essentially non-dualist standpoint of the East, there nevertheless lies hidden the whole unabolished pluralistic universe and its unconquered reality. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 817

In so far as the offered gift is the sacrificer himself, in so far as the priest and congregation offer themselves in the sacrificial gift, and in so far as Christ is both sacrificer and sacrificed, there is a mystical unity of all parts of the sacrificial act.

The combination of offering and offerer in the single figure of Christ is implicit in the doctrine that just as bread is composed of many grains of wheat, and wine of many grapes, so the mystical body of the Church is made up of a multitude of believers.

The mystical body, moreover, includes both sexes, represented by the bread and wine. Thus the two substances—the masculine wine and the feminine bread—also signify the androgynous nature of the mystical Christ. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 337

This unity is a good example of participation mystique, which Lévy-Bruhl stressed as being one of the main characteristics of primitive psychology—a view that has recently been contested by ethnologists in a very short-sighted manner.

The idea of unity should not, however, be regarded as “primitive” but rather as showing that participation mystique is a characteristic of symbols in general. The symbol always includes the unconscious, hence man too is contained in it. The numinosity of the symbol is an expression of this fact. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 32 28 Cf. Lévy-Bruhl, How Natives Think.

Recently this concept as well as that of the état prélogique have been severely criticized by ethnologists, and moreover Lévy-Bruhl himself began to doubt their validity in the last years of his life. First he cancelled the adjective “mystique,” growing afraid of the term’s bad reputation in intellectual circles.

It is rather to be regretted that he made such a concession to rationalistic superstition, since “mystique” is just the right word to characterize the peculiar quality of “unconscious identity.” There is always something numinous about it.

Unconscious identity is a well-known psychological and psychopathological phenomenon (identity with persons, things, functions, roles, positions, creeds, etc.), which is only a shade more characteristic of the primitive than of the civilized mind. Lévy-Bruhl, unfortunately having no psychological knowledge, was not aware of this fact, and his opponents ignore it. Fn 28

By a stroke of genius, Lévy-Bruhl singled out what he called participation mystique as being the hallmark of the primitive mentality. What he meant by it is simply the indefinitely large remnant of non-differentiation between subject and object, which is still so great among primitives that it cannot fail to strike our European consciousness very forcibly.

When there is no consciousness of the difference between subject and object, an unconscious identity prevails. The unconscious is then projected into the object, and the object is introjected into the subject, becoming part of his psychology.

Then plants and animals behave like human beings, human beings are at the same time animals, and everything is alive with ghosts and gods. Civilized man naturally thinks he is miles above these things.

Instead of that, he is often identified with his parents throughout his life, or with his affects and prejudices, and shamelessly accuses others of the things he will not see in himself. He too has a remnant of primitive unconsciousness, of nondifferentiation between subject and object.

Because of this, he is magically affected by all manner of people, things, and circumstances, he is beset by disturbing influences nearly as much as the primitive and therefore needs just as many apotropaic charms.

He no longer works magic with medicine bags, amulets, and animal sacrifices, but with tranquillizers, neuroses, rationalism, cult of the will, etc.  ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 66

The representation of the “alchemystical” process by persons needs a little explanation. The personification of lifeless things is a remnant of primitive and archaic psychology. It is caused by unconscious identity, or what Lévy-Bruhl called participation mystique.

The unconscious identity, in turn, is caused by the projection of unconscious contents into an object, so that these contents then become accessible to consciousness as qualities apparently belonging to the object.

Any object that is at all interesting provokes a considerable number of projections. The difference between primitive and modern psychology in this respect is in the first place qualitative, and in the second place one of degree. Consciousness develops in civilized man by the acquisition of knowledge and by the withdrawal of projections.

These are recognized as psychic contents and are reintegrated with the psyche. The alchemists concretized or personified practically all their most important ideas—the four elements, the vessel, the stone, the prima materia, the tincture, etc.

The idea of man as a microcosm, representing in all his parts the earth or the universe, is a remnant of an original psychic identity which reflected a twilight state of consciousness. ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 122

These are not personal acquisitions, but vestiges of an earlier collective psyche. There are, however, not a few patients who, as if to prove the reversibility of psychological rules, not only understand the universal significance of their dream symbols but also find it therapeutically effective.

The great psychic systems of healing, the religions, likewise consist of universal myth motifs whose origin and content are collective and not personal; hence Lévy-Bruhl rightly called such motifs représentations collectives. The conscious psyche is certainly of a personal nature, but it is by no means the whole of the psyche.

The foundation of consciousness, the psyche per se, is unconscious, and its structure, like that of the body, is common to all, its individual features being only insignificant variants. For the same reason it is difficult or almost impossible for the inexperienced eye to recognize individual faces in a crowd of coloured people. ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 478

This singular identity, simply postulated and never taken as a problem, is an example of that “participation mystique” which Lévy-Bruhl very rightly stressed as being characteristic of the primitive mentality.

The same is true of the unquestionably psychic unio mentalis, which is at the same time a substance-like “truth” hidden in the body, which in turn coincides with the quintessence sublimed from the “phlegm.”

It never occurred to the mind of the alchemists to cast any doubt whatsoever on this intellectual monstrosity. We naturally think that such a thing could happen only in the “dark” Middle Ages.

As against this I must emphasize that we too have not quite got out of the woods in this respect, for a philosopher once assured me in all seriousness that “thought could not err,” and a very famous professor, whose assertions I had ventured to criticize, came out with the magisterial dictum: “It must be right because I have thought it.” ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 695

I take the concept of participation mystique, in the sense defined above, from the works of Lévy-BruhlRecently this idea has been repudiated by ethnologists, partly for the reason that primitives know very well how to differentiate between things.

There is no doubt about that; but it cannot be denied, either, that incommensurable things can have, for them, an equally incommensurable tertium comparationis. One has only to think of the ubiquitous application of “mana,” the werewolf motif, etc.

Furthermore, “unconscious identity” is a psychic phenomenon which the psychotherapist has to deal with every day. Certain ethnologists have also rejected Levy-Bruhl’s concept of the Hat prelogique, which is closely connected with that of participation.

The term is not a very happy one, for in his own way the primitive thinks just as logically as we do. Levy-Bruhl was aware of this, as I know from personal conversation with him. By “prelogical” he meant the primitive presuppositions that contradict only our rationalistic logic.

These presuppositions are often exceedingly strange, and though they may not deserve to be called “prelogical” they certainly merit the term “irrational.” Astonishingly enough Lévy-Bruhl, in his posthumously published diary, recanted both these concepts. This is the more remarkable in that they had a thoroughly sound psychological basis. Fn 662

The ideas underlying all the motifs are visual representations of an archetypal character, symbolic primordial images which have served to build up and differentiate the human mind.

These primordial images are difficult to define; one might even call them hazy. Cramping intellectual formulae rob them of their natural amplitude. They are not scientific concepts which must necessarily be clear and unequivocal; they are universal perceptions of the primitive mind, and they never denote any particular content but are significant for their wealth of associations.

Lévy-Bruhl calls them “collective representations,” and Hubert and Mauss call them a priori categories of the imagination. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 15

Now it is a well-known fact that the factors composing the “superego” correspond to the “collective representations” which Lévy-Bruhl posited as basic to the psychology of primitive man.

The latter are general ideas and value-categories which have their origin in the primordial motifs of mythology, and they govern the psychic and social life of the primitive in much the same way as our lives are governed and moulded by the general beliefs, views, and ethical values in accordance with which we are brought up and by which we make our way in the world.

They intervene almost automatically in all our acts of choice and decision, as well as being operative in the formation of concepts.

With a little reflection, therefore, we can practically always tell why we do something and on what general assumptions our judgments and decisions are based.  The false conclusions and wrong decisions of the neurotic have pathogenic effects because they are as a rule in conflict with these premises.

Whoever can live with these premises without friction fits into our society as perfectly as the primitive, who takes his tribal teachings as an absolute rule of conduct. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 247

One is dimly aware here of a region full of incalculable possibilities, a hydra-headed monster of a problem that is as much the concern of the biologist and psychologist as of the philosopher. For anyone acquainted with the psychology of primitives there is an obvious connection between this “identity” and Lévy-Bruhl’s idea of “participation mystique.”

Strange to say, there are not a few ethnologists who still kick against this brilliant idea, for which the unfortunate expression “mystique” may have to shoulder no small part of the blame.

The word “mystical” has indeed become the abode of all unclean spirits, although it was not meant like that originally, but has been debased by sordid usage. There is nothing “mystical” about identity,  any more than there is anything mystical about the metabolism common to mother and embryo.

Identity derives essentially from the notorious unconsciousness of the small child. Therein lies the connection with the primitive, for the primitive is as unconscious as a child. Unconsciousness means non-differentiation.

There is as yet no clearly differentiated ego, only events which may belong to me or to another. It is sufficient that somebody should be affected by them. The extraordinary infectiousness of emotional reactions then makes it certain that everybody in the vicinity will involuntarily be affected.

The weaker ego-consciousness is, the less it matters who is affected, and the less the individual is able to guard against it.

He could only do that if he could say: you are excited or angry, but I am not, for I am not you. The child is in exactly the same position in the family: he is affected to the same degree and in the same way as the whole group. ~Carl Jung, CW 17, Para 83

This kind of education can proceed wholly unconsciously and is therefore the oldest and perhaps the most effective form of all. It is aided by the fact that the child is psychologically more or less identical with its environment, and especially with its parents.

This peculiarity is one of the most conspicuous features of the primitive psyche, for which the French anthropologist, Lévy-Bruhl, coined the term “participation mystique.” Because unconscious education through example rests on one of the oldest psychic characteristics, it is effective where all other direct methods fail, as for instance in insanity.

Many insane patients have to be made to work in order to keep them from degenerating: to give them advice, or to try to order them about, is in most cases quite useless. But if you just send them along with a group of workers, eventually they get infected by the example of the others and begin to work themselves. ~Carl Jung, CW 17, Para 253

On this collective level we are no longer separate individuals, we are all one. You can understand this when you study the psychology of primitives. The outstanding fact about the primitive mentality is this lack of distinctiveness between individuals, this oneness of the subject with the object, this participation mystique, as Lévy-Bruhl terms it.

Primitive mentality expresses the basic structure of the mind, that psychological layer which with us is the collective unconscious, that underlying level which is the same in all. Because the basic structure of the mind is the same in everybody, we cannot make distinctions when we experience on that level.

There we do not know if something has happened to you or to me. In the underlying collective level there is a wholeness which cannot be dissected. If you begin to think about participation as a fact which means that fundamentally we are identical with everybody and everything, you are led to very peculiar theoretical conclusions.

You should not go further than those conclusions because these things get dangerous. But some of the conclusions you should explore, because they can explain a lot of peculiar things that happen to man. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 87

On the primitive level the psyche or soul is by no means a unit, as is widely supposed. Many primitives assume that, as well as his own, a man has a “bush-soul,” incarnate in a wild animal or a tree, with which he is connected by a kind of psychic identity.

This is what Lévy-Bruhl called participation mystique. In the case of an animal it is a sort of brother, so much so that a man whose brother is a crocodile is supposed to be safe while swimming across a crocodile-infested river.

In the case of a tree, the tree is supposed to have authority over the individual like a parent. Injury to the bush-soul means an equal injury to the man. Others assume that a man has a number of souls, which shows clearly that the primitive often feels that he consists of several units.

This indicates that his psyche is far from being safely synthesized; on the contrary, it threatens to fall asunder only too easily under the onslaught of unchecked emotions. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 440

Benoît, who produced a surprising parallel to Rider Haggard’s She in his novel L’Atlantide, when accused of plagiarism had to answer that he had never come across Rider Haggard’s book and was entirely unaware of its existence.

This case could also have been one of cryptomnesia, if it had not been an elaboration of a sort of representation collective, as Lévy-Bruhl has named certain general ideas characteristic of primitive societies. I shall be dealing with these later on. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 457

Seen from Tylor’s point of view, animism is quite obviously his individual bias. Lévy-Bruhl measures primitive facts by means of his extremely rational mind. From his standpoint it appears quite logical that the primitive mind should be an “état prélogique.”

Yet the primitive is far from being illogical and is just as far from being “animistic.” He is by no means that strange being from whom the civilized man is separated by a gulf that cannot be bridged.

The fundamental difference between them is not a difference in mental functioning, but rather in the premises upon which the functioning is based. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 1297

Recently this concept as well as that of the état prélogique have been severely criticized by ethnologists, and moreover Lévy-Bruhl himself began to doubt their validity in the last years of his life. First he cancelled the adjective “mystique,” growing afraid of the term’s bad reputation in intellectual circles.

It is rather to be regretted that he made such a concession to rationalistic superstition, since “mystique” is just the right word to characterize the peculiar quality of “unconscious identity.” There is always something numinous about it.

Unconscious identity is a well-known psychological and psychopathological phenomenon (identity with persons, things, functions, roles, positions, creeds, etc.), which is only a shade more characteristic of the primitive than of the civilized mind. Lévy-Bruhl, unfortunately having no psychological knowledge, was not aware of this fact, and his opponents ignore it. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Page 504, Fn 28

Lévy-Bruhl’s view has recently been disputed by ethnologists, not because this phenomenon does not occur among primitives, but because they have not understood it.  Like so many other specialists, these critics prefer to know nothing of the psychology of the unconscious. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Page 488, Fn 106

Lévy-Bruhl later retracted this term [Participation Mystique” under the pressure of adverse criticism, to which he unfortunately succumbed. His critics were wrong inasmuch as unconscious identity is a well-known psychological fact. ~CW 18, Page 194, Fn 2

It is to be regretted that Lévy-Bruhl expunged this exceedingly apt term from later editions of his books. Probably he succumbed to the attacks of those stupid persons who imagine that “mystic” means their own nonsensical conception of it. [Cf. the original edn., Les Fonctions mentales, p. 140. ~Editors, CW 8, Page 268. Fn 12

I take the concept of participation mystique, in the sense defined above, from the works of Lévy-Bruhl. Recently this idea has been repudiated by ethnologists, partly for the reason that primitives know very well how to differentiate between things.

There is no doubt about that; but it cannot be denied, either, that incommensurable things can have, for them, an equally incommensurable tertium comparationis. One has only to think of the ubiquitous application of “mana,” the werewolf motif, etc.

Furthermore, “unconscious identity” is a psychic phenomenon which the psychotherapist has to deal with every day. Certain ethnologists have also rejected Levy-Bruhl’s concept of the Hat prelogique, which is closely connected with that of participation.

The term is not a very happy one, for in his own way the primitive thinks just as logically as we do. Levy-Bruhl was aware of this, as I know from personal conversation with him. By “prelogical” he meant the primitive presuppositions that contradict only our rationalistic logic.

These presuppositions are often exceedingly strange, and though they may not deserve to be called “prelogical” they certainly merit the term “irrational.” Astonishingly enough Lévy-Bruhl, in his posthumously published diary, recanted both these concepts. This is the more remarkable in that they had a thoroughly sound psychological basis. Carl Jung, CW 14, Page 250, Fn 662