What is Jungian Criticism?

Jungian criticism is a type of literary criticism based on the theories of Carl Jung; a psychiatrist who was a disciple of Sigmund Freud. Jung later developed his own theory of analytical psychology, a theory that differs markedly from the psychoanalytic theory of Freud.

Consequently, it has had an effect on literary criticism quite distinct from that of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory. Freud focuses on the individual unconscious and its manifestations where as Jung identifies and concentrates on a collective unconscious that he claims; it universally shared by people across cultures. According to Jung, this collective unconscious contains racial memories and archetypes, primordial images and patterns. That reflects the elemental content of human experience from its earliest beginnings.

Like Freud, Jung applied his psychoanalytic theory to literature, suggesting that the literary works that speaks to generation after generation express the archetypes and racial memories contained in the collective unconscious; thus, great authors are great largely because they can tap into the essential grounds of the human psyche and transcribe its contents for the reader. Texts that have become classics have universal appeal; their universality lies in the fact that they harnesses the collective unconscious much as do those myths that transcend individual culture. Jungian criticism has influenced myth criticism and archetypal criticism in extensive ways.

Published on 22 Sep. 2014 by Kedar Nath Sharma

Related Topics

Creative Writing and Daydreaming: Sigmund Freud

On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry