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Carl Jung: Instincts, however, are highly conservative and of extreme antiquity

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999 Primordial

Undiscovered Self

Since the normal fantasies of a child are nothing other, at bottom, than the imagination born of the instinctive impulses, and may thus be regarded as preliminary exercises in the use of future conscious activities, it follows that the fantasies of the neurotic, even though pathologically altered and perhaps perverted by the regression of energy, contain a core of normal instinct, the hallmark of which is adaptedness.

A neurotic illness always implies an unadapted alteration and distortion of normal dynamisms and of the “imagination” proper to them.

Instincts, however, are highly conservative and of extreme antiquity as regards both their dynamism and their form.

Their form, when represented to the mind, appears as an image which expresses the nature of the instinctive impulse visually and concretely, like a picture.

If we could look into the psyche of the yucca moth,* for instance, we would find in it a pattern of ideas, of a numinous or fascinating character, which not only compel the moth to carry out its fertilizing activity on the yucca plant, but help it to “recognize” the total situation. Instinct is anything but a blind and indefinite impulse, since it proves to be attuned and adapted to a definite external situation.

This latter circumstance gives it its specific and irreducible form. Just as instinct is original and hereditary, so, too, its form is age-old, that is to say, archetypal.

It is even older and more conservative than the body’s form.

These biological considerations naturally apply also to Homo sapiens, who still remains within the framework of general biology despite the possession of consciousness, will and reason.

The fact that our conscious activity is rooted in instinct and derives from it its dynamism as well as the basic features of its ideational forms has the same significance for human psychology as for all other members of the animal kingdom.

Human knowledge consists essentially in the constant adaptation of the primordial patterns of ideas that were given us a priori.

These need certain modifications, because, in their original form, they are suited to an archaic mode of life but not to the demands of a specifically differentiated environment.

If the flow of instinctive dynamism into our life is to be maintained, as is absolutely necessary for our existence, then it is imperative that we remold these archetypal forms into ideas which are adequate to the challenge of the present. ~Carl Jung, Undiscovered Self, Page 48-49