The purpose of this article is to clarify the reason why mythology is used by many psychologists, psychotherapists and even Jung himself, emphasizing its importance and coherence for Analytical Psychology .
The analytical psychology Carl Jung proposed structure based on a psychic Archetypes located in the Collective Unconscious . In Jung’s words “the archetypes are sets of“ primordial images ”originated from a progressive repetition of the same experience over many generations, stored in the collective unconscious”. Simplifying this saying, we arrived at a definition of Archetypes, as basal psychic structures responsible for containing information from past experiences, unconsciously helping the psyche’s behavior and forms of expression. The concept of archetypes helps us to understand the origin of some of our main needs, such as the need for fulfillment, independence, stability, among others.
Mythology means the study of myth or set of myths. Myths are generally stories based on traditions and legends made to explain the universe, the creation of the world, natural phenomena and any other aspects whose simple explanations are not attributable. Like archetypes, myths bring information from past experiences that help us understand some of our behaviors and thoughts. A big difference between the two would be that archetypes are phylogenetic while mythology is cultural .
The Hero’s Myth
A great example of the relationship between mythology and archetypes is the myth of the hero . The hero’s myth is a timeless, universal theme that has been repeated in different stories from different cultures since ancient times. It represents the psychic transition between one phase of our lives and the next. The hero’s myth has some constant features in each and every narrative. The hero always begins his journey by leaving a place or comfort zone, in search of something greater. On his way he encounters enemy (s), overcomes challenges and difficulties, and returns from where he came, however, transformed into a hero.
The act of becoming a hero inevitably involves sacrifices, renunciations, detachments and a lot of effort, as well as in the psychic transition from one phase to the next. The same fact usually occurs in the transition from adolescence to early adulthood. We are compelled to leave the parents’ home or to a comfortable situation in order to explore the world, face challenges and difficulties, to establish commitments (college, work, internships, relationships, accounts payable, etc.) and our goal is to earn our own identity and having happiness as a reward, which usually occurs with the construction of a family.
In analytical psychology, archetypes are responsible for impelling us to take such attitudes and for establishing the moment to move from one psychic phase to the next. It is very common today to see people who are 30, 40 or 50 years old and have not yet started adult life.