Difference Between Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious

Personal Unconscious vs Collective Unconscious
 

When speaking of personal unconscious and collective unconscious, there exists a clear difference between them. However, before we go on to discuss this difference, we should first know something about the unconscious. When speaking of the unconscious, Carl Jung can be considered as a prominent figure in psychology. Carl Jung was inspired by the ideas of Sigmund Freud and was keenly interested in the study of the unconscious. He believed that the psyche was created of three main components. They are the ego, personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious contains the things suppressed from the conscious. On the other hand, collective unconscious contains things that are shared with other human beings from our pasts. This highlights that the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious are different from one another, though both can be viewed as two different layers of the unconscious. Through this article let us examine the difference between the two concepts.

What is Personal Unconscious?

Personal unconscious consists of things that have been repressed from the consciousness of the individual. These can be a variety of memories and emotions that the individual has repressed or rejected. These usually cannot be recalled consciously. Memories of bitterness, hatred, embarrassing moments, pain, and forbidden urges can all be repressed in the personal unconscious of an individual. Jung believed that these could have a great impact on the individual.

For example, imagine a person who went through a traumatic experience in his or her childhood. After the passing of many years, the person may have completely recovered. His emotional torments of the experience, unpleasant and painful memories may have been shaded. This is because the individual has repressed these emotions and memories. However, this repression does not denote that they are lost. On the contrary, these emotions are stored in the personal unconscious. Even though he is unable to recall them, they can manifest in the form of dreams and unusual reactions to daily events. This emphasizes that the personal unconscious is unique to the individual depending on his experiences of life.

Difference Between Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious

Traumatic experiences belong to personal unconscious

What is Collective Unconscious?

Collective unconscious is quite different to the personal unconscious. This is not an individual aspect but applies to the entity of the human species. It can be understood as an inheritance to all human beings from the past human memories. It is often defined as the ‘whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution born anew in the brain structure of every individual.

The collective unconscious goes beyond cultural barriers of human beings and presents a commonality to all humans. This is passed on through heredity. It includes universal human experiences such as love, hatred, fear, danger, pain, etc. Jung also spoke of a concept called ‘archetypes‘ in reference to the collective unconscious. He believed that the archetypes such as the persona, anima/animus, the shadow were all products of the collective experience of mankind. This highlights that the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious are quite different from one another.

 Personal Unconscious vs Collective Unconscious

Love belongs to the collective conscious

What is the difference between Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious?

• Definitions Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious:

• Personal unconscious consists of things that have been repressed from the consciousness of the individual. These can be a variety of memories and emotions that the individual has repressed or rejected.

• Collective unconscious consists of the ‘whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution born anew in the brain structure of every individual.’

• Nature:

• Personal unconscious is unique to each; it is made up of the experiences from the life of the individual.

• Collective unconscious goes beyond the experiences of a single individual and captures the entity of mankind.

• Age:

• Collective unconscious is believed to be much older than the personal unconscious since it contains the evolutionary changes of each.

• Depth:

• Collective unconscious is usually believed as a much deeper layer than the personal unconscious, which can be accessed through various psychological techniques.

• Method of Acquiring:

• Personal unconscious is developed by the individual.

• The collective unconscious is inherited.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Tears by Anil kumar (CC BY-ND 2.0)
  2. Couple sitting at a kitchen table via Wikicommons (Public Domain)