The origins of archetypal hypothesis date back as far as Plato. Plato’s IDEAS were pure mental forms that were imprinted in the soul before it was born into the world. They were collective in the sense that they embodied the fundamental characteristics of a “thing” rather than its specific peculiarities.
The word “ARCHETYPE”, meaning an original pattern from which copies are made, first entered into the English language usage in the 1540s and derives from the Latin noun “archetypum”, latinization of the Greek word “archetupos”, which means “first-molded”.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961), Swiss psychiatrist and founder of “analytical psychology”, who collaborated with Sigmund Freud, developed an understanding of ARCHETYPES as universal, inherited archaic prototypes, patterns and images that derive from the COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS and are the psychic counterpart of instincts (fixed action patterns). Jung discovered that the psyche is not merely personal but also transpersonal, resting upon a larger collective unconscious belonging to all humankind.
“The term “archetype” is often misunderstood as meaning certain definite mythological images or motifs, but these are nothing more than conscious representations. Such variable representations cannot be inherited. The archetype is a tendency to form such representations of a motif – representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern” (Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols).
The main essence of Jungian philosophy of life is the following: One becomes whole, integrated, calm, fertile, and happy when the process of INDIVIDUATION is complete, when the conscious and the unconscious have learned to live in peace and to compliment one another.
Cultural archetypes are unknowable basic forms personified or made concrete by constantly recurring images, symbols, patterns, or motifs in literature, painting, or mythology in different cultures (for example, symbols of God, Devil, Mother, Hero, Mask, Tree, Apple, Snake, Fish, and so on).
Archetypes exist at the root of our psyches in their original raw and primitive states. Archetypal dreams are especially powerful, mysterious and meaningful. “We cannot prevent these contents of the collective unconscious from appearing in our dreams, nor can we domesticate them, but we can diminish their power to interfere with our waking lives by paying attention to what they tell us about ourselves” (S. E. Schlarb, Myths-Dreams-Symbols).