The Creative Psych (Week 4)

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”



The unconscious mind: The Ego, the Superego, the ID.

  • Access the unconscious via Active Imagination – which Jung discovered by embracing the process of symbolic play;
    • A meditative procedure that allows you to engage with long lost fantasies;
    • ‘Transcendent Functions’;
    • Active Imagination linked with dreams and the transference relationship between the realms of the psyche;
    • The dangers of active imagination are warned – a strong mind is at risk of fooling themselves.

Emotional dysfunction is a problem of ‘psychological one-sidedness”, usually when the Ego is over-valued in one’s perspective, causing the unconscious mid to overcompensate automatically. This causes inner tension, conflict and discord.

“Every good idea and all creative work are the offspring of the imagination, and have their source in what one is pleased to call infantile fantasy. Not the artist alone, but every creative individual whatsoever owes all that is greatest in his life to fantasy. The dynamic principle of fantasy is play, a characteristic also of the child, and as such it appears inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.”

– CARL JUNG (1921)

Art, like dreams, is formed and re-formed in the unconscious.

Studies into the existence of a ‘collective conscious’ – Jung conveyed this as an inbuilt wealth of knowledge we’re all born with. It manifests itself and is shared/passed down through generations via shared imagery, metaphors and fables. This potentially explains how folk tales/myths developed concurrently from opposite sides of the worlds (they have similarities).


The term “archetype” means original pattern in ancient Greek. Jung identified 12 universal, mythic characters archetypes reside within our collective unconscious – appearing across all ages and cultures (we all have these representations – see Joseph Campbell’s work on Mono-Myths and other universal structures). Jung’s archetypes represent basic human emotions, and believed each of us tends to have one dominant archetype that dominates our personality.

Note: not to be confused with a stereotype (formulaic, simplistic, inaccurate).

What Jung thought each of the archetypes sought (what drove their motivation). Source:

The existence of archetypes also gives reason to why we can adapt old texts for contemporary audiences.


The ‘heroes journey’ is the most well-known narrative structure used in films/novels (stories). It follows this very familiar pattern:

The Beginning (Act I):

  • Meet the hero – the ‘Ordinary World‘ and the heroes goals are established;
  • An ‘inciting incident’ occurs – the ‘call to adventure‘ to solve a challenge;
  • The hero volunteers to commence an adventure to rectify the challenge;
The Lion King. Hero Journey Act I.

The Challenge (Act II):

  • A ‘refusal‘ occurs when the hero is tested by a set of obstacles he must overcome;
  • The mentor‘ helps and guides the hero through his challenges – friendships and enemies are tested too;
  • The hero ‘crosses the threshold’;
The Lion King. Hero Journey Act I.

The Return (Act III):

  • The ‘approach‘ – the hero must self-reflect and face doubt as they travel ‘the road home‘ where they must meet one final challenge;
  • A final test – ‘the ordeal’ that the hero will either triumph through or fail:
    • The return’ / ‘the reward’ / ‘the atonement’;
The Lion King. Hero Journey Act I.

Note: film and other visual medium rely on visual motifs, symbols, metaphors,etc. to link/portray characters inner states (fear, etc) – can also foreshadow events. e.g. Jaws represents fear.

A quick workshop summary from this week:

  • In groups of three we shared positive experiences – then the 2 group members whose experience it wasn’t explained why they understood the positive experience. A great collaborative and ‘squishy’ exercise that I enjoyed.
  • Class discussion about the archetypes:
    • Is ‘the shadow‘ the reason why sometimes we clash with people who have a trait that we don’t like about ourselves?
    • Are ‘the animae/animus’ ideal partner archetypes the reason why many people end up with similar partners to one of their parents? And what does this mean for when someone still ends up with a clone of their parent, even if their experiences from childhood were negative?

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