Psyche and The Self


Happy Friday you wonderful humans.

Earlier this week I stumbled upon this image. Carl Jung’s Model of the Psyche. To be honest, it hurt my brain. I ended up going down a bit of a rabbit hole. Much like Alice when she dove down her rabbit hole to wonderland, I became ‘curiouser and curiouser’ the further I went.

I find this stuff fascinating. If we can better understand who we are and why we desire and (to) do the things we do, it can give (gives) us a (slightly) better understanding of the universe and our place in it. Not to mention how we and others behave and feel day to day.

Maybe we will never know how the universe works, but we owe it to ourselves to delve into how we work.

0 Aggq5hs1b7PAQMDE

Here is my oversimplified summary of the diagram.

The Psyche, as I understand, is the amalgamation of our conscious and unconscious being. The ‘totality of the human mind’. Some would say it’s quite important. That field of study we know as psychology.

Our Persona is the mask we wear when we are around others. The exaggerated version of ourselves that we portray when we are at work or out amongst a group of friends. This has been called the ‘packaging of the ego’ and has a function in our everyday existence. A high functioning persona allows us to fit in regardless of the situation and if adaptable can allow us to thrive socially. Issues can arise when we become too identified with our persona that we lose all sense of self. Think the social media ‘influencer’ epidemic. Seeking external validation to no end, whilst self-sacrificing our own wants and needs solely for the purpose of fitting in and promoting the ‘perfect version’ of ourselves.

The Ego is part of who we are. It is a conscious awareness of our existence, determined by our levels of extroversion or introversion. Our ego can shape how we see the world around us, and how we utilise our thoughts, feelings and intuition. This perception of the world and the level of introversion, extroversion can determine how we link the inner and outer worlds together. Influencing how we react and connect with that which is external to our self.

The shadow is part of ourselves that we ignore. Everything that the ego refuses to associate with the self. These are the things that we dislike about who we are, that we notice in other people. Unconsciously becoming frustrated at these traits of others because we subconsciously know that within ourselves that we do the same. The shadow is the emotional nemesis of ego. Highlighting things like carelessness, laziness, selfishness, ignorance, arrogance or a lack of ambition. If we observe this resentment that we feel, we can understand somewhat consciously these frustrations are merely a part of who we are, giving us the opportunity to acknowledge and improve them.

The Anima/Animus is the personification of the tendencies of the opposing gender. The anima (man) and animus (woman) are built from the masculine and feminine interactions and experiences that we have with ourselves and each other. Much like the shadow, these archetypes are projected unconsciously. They both contribute to how we see ourselves, and others, especially those we become romantically engaged with.

The Self is who we are now. This does not eliminate who we once were but serves to transcend and include each previous version of ourselves. As we mature and learn and evolve, we move towards a point of self-actualisation. I have mentioned Maslow’s hierarchy of needs a few times in these emails. The self is responsible for the innate desire to move towards this self-realisation, to grow and evolve through an endless journey of self-discovery. By expressing the self, we are the truest, strongest version of who we are, both subconsciously and consciously, now and who we can potentially become.

These archetypes if nothing else should open the door as we explore what it means to be human.
I am forever enthralled by the human condition and the lens at which we view the world. This rabbit hole was enjoyable and scary at the same time, now if you don’t mind its time for my fortnightly existential life crisis.

I have a little task for you this week. Think of a topic or area of study that you find interesting, and go down a rabbit hole on youtube or google. Who knows where you’ll end up.

Be amazing


Below: An excerpt from Simon Sinek’s picture book, Better Together. 11/10 would recommend.

image asset

“At present, we educate people only up to the point where they can earn a living and marry; then education ceases altogether, as though a complete mental outfit has been acquired.
The solution of all the remaining complicated problems of life is left to the discretion,
and ignorance, of the individual.
Innumerable ill-advised and unhappy marriages, innumerable professional disappointments, are due solely to this lack of adult education.
Vast numbers of men and women thus spend their entire lives in complete ignorance of the most important things…
The adult is educable, and can respond gratefully to the art of individual education…”

// Carl Jung //