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"All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination?"
Carl Jung

Apparently, Freud Was Right. If so, then Jung subverted that trope before anyone else.

Carl Gustav Jung was, next to Freud, arguably the most influential psychologist of the 20th Century. Having started his career as a student of Freud, the two eventually fell out over their differing views on the unconscious. Freud believed it was nothing more than a waste-bin for the mind to dump horrible thoughts, desires and memories. Jung believed that while that may be true in part, there were also further areas of the unconscious which were more than psychological dump-trucks. Unable to convince Freud, Jung went off and formed his own school of thought: Analytical Psychology.

Jung pioneered a number of groundbreaking ideas in psychology, chief among them the idea of the Collective Unconscious: a deeper level of unconscious wherein are found the archetypes. The archetypes, according to Jung, are common psychological forms that exist in the psyche of everyone. Jung called them "the organs of the psyche." According to Jung, while every single conscious mind is different, the archetypes at the roots of the psyche are identical. Hence the term the Collective Unconscious- the idea of a set of primordial motifs inherited in the mind by every person on the planet. It's similar to the tropes, only deeper and more mindscrewy.

Having rocked the world of psychology with his radically different interpretations of the psyche, Jung then went even further. Freud believed that all psychological neuroses could be dealt with by unearthing the repressed thoughts that were causing the problem. Jung argued that neurotic symptoms arise through a lack of individuation- individuation being the process of assimilating the personal and the collective unconscious into the conscious, in order to create a 'psychological whole'. It is a process of transformation from an unhealthy, neurotic mind into a healthy, enlightened psyche that has gained knowledge of the self.

Quite a bit different from "men wish to kill their fathers and bonk their mothers", eh?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jung's interests went far beyond pure psychology. He spent much of his life exploring mythology and philosophy, especially comparing Eastern and Western ideas. Fittingly, Jung's idea of the archetypes had a huge impact on the study of myths. Joseph Campbell freely admitted that Jung's ideas were instrumental in his idea of the Hero's Journey. Jung also spent much of his life exploring and discussing spirituality, alchemy and astrology. When he was 38, he had a 'confrontation' with the unconscious. Fearing he may be going mad, he decided to 'induce hallucinations' and record the workings of his imagination. The results were released decades later as the Red Book, a lavishly illustrated compendium of psychedelic paintings and calligraphic text.

Due to all this, Jung is perhaps one of the few people who can be classed as Mad Artist, Mad Scientist, and Mad Doctor.

Has had a huge impact on not just psychology, but the arts as well. Chances are, if a work has some psychological imagery, and it's not referencing Freud, then it's referencing Jung. His influence can be seen in TV shows such as Northern Exposure and The Sopranos, artists such as Tool, Peter Gabriel, Billy Corgan, and Cunninlynguists, among others.

In fact, it can be argued that TV Tropes itself owes its existence to Jung's work. Perhaps we should call him "Trope Codifier Prime" for laying the groundwork of all that you read here while Wiki Walking through this site.

Jung's first years as a psychoanalyst, as well as his relationship with Freud, his extramarital affairs, and his emerging theories on the unconscious, are portrayed in the 2011 David Cronenberg film, A Dangerous Method.


Tropes common in his work include:

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Subverted. Jung saw examples of these as symbolic of individuation.
  • All Myths Are True: In psychological terms at least...
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Subverted. Jung started out as a Freudian, but jumped ship and formed his own school when he got tired of blaming sex for everything.
  • Archetypal Character: The Trope Namer.
  • Bad Dreams: In keeping with his idea of the unconscious as a healthy thing, Jung believed dreams were never bad for their own sake. If you have a vivid, or particularly uncomfortable dream, your unconscious is trying to tell you something...
  • Beneath the Mask: Several levels of beneath the mask, in fact.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Both Jung and his patients have recorded instances of prophetic dreams. In his early works Jung more often than not avoids naming himself when he reports his own prophetic dreams, as he was hoping to be seen as a medical doctor and not a 'mystic' or a 'psychotic'.
  • Extraversion Tropes: The extraversion-introversion distinction is a creation of Jung's, and thus this classification of tropes is largely his work.
  • Gut Feeling: Intuition is one of the four functions in Jung's personality schema and he believed it to be a perfectly valid means of obtaining information about the world. Most simply it can be described as the ability to obtain information from the inner world of the unconscious. It is the opposite of sensation, through which one derives information from the external world.
  • Humanity Is Insane: Perhaps not all the way insane, but Jung definitely believed 'modern man' had issues.
  • Introversion Tropes: The extraversion-introversion personality dimension is a discovery of Jung's, and thus this category of tropes is largely his work.
  • Myers-Briggs: Not his own work, but strongly influenced by his ideas.
  • One Myth to Rule Them All: Again, in psychological terms. With Joseph Campbell, the Trope Codifier.
  • Ouroboros: The serpent that devours its own tail was one of many symbols Jung tried to explain as he studied alchemy. He identified the it with the Prima Materia, the unformed world that exists prior to any understanding or differentiation of its contents. Jung also believed that the symbol was an excellent analogy for the circular movement of the alchemical opus (and his own brand of psychotherapy).
  • Our Souls Are Different: In Jungian psychology the Soul (or Anima) is a specific aspect of the unconscious. Jung met many people whose illnesses he traced back to their Egos becoming estranged from their Souls, and his cure attempted to reconnect these people with these repressed or unheeded parts of the unconscious. Interestingly, Jung also believed that whole nations or eras could lose their souls, as in his system of thought the Anima archetype is also a collective function.
  • Psychopomp: One of many psychic phenomena that Jung studied. In his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections, one can read about the vision Jung experienced after having a heart attack at age 69 in which he flies out into space, sheds his mortal being, and sees a 'gigantic dark block. An entrance led into a small antechamber. To the right of the entrance, a black Hindu sat silently in lotus posture upon a stone bench. He wore a white gown, and I knew he expected me.' Jung was prepared to leave the mortal world but to his great annoyance his doctor flew up into space and made him turn back. The doctor did not return.
  • Rule of Symbolism: He wrote whole books on the subject. He hypothesized that the unconscious psyche had a natural tendency to create such symbols, the roots of dreams and mythologies, as a way of communicating things to the Ego that were just outside its areas of understanding.
  • Single-Issue Psychology: Averted. Jung's theories described the psyche as being even more complicated than previously thought.
  • Shadow Archetype: Jung is the Trope Namer. The Shadow is one of elements of Jung's conception of the unconscious. The confrontation with the Shadow (also called the Nigredo) is one of the first steps in Jungian psychotherapy.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Jung and Freud
  • Word Association Test: In his early days as an experimental psychologist Jung invented some 'thematic' association tests as a way of tapping into the unconscious. Soon afterwards he got in touch with Freud and largely abandoned such tests in favour of dream interpretation.
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