Jung (1981) says that both conscious and unconscious experiences are relative and he speaks of a “threshold of consciousness” (p. 174) which separates the two. It is the relativity of the unconscious that temps us to label one area as a subconscious and another as a superconscious. Jung (1981) refers to this relativity as a "scale of intensities of consciousness” (p. 187). But we cannot have total consciousness or total unconsciousness in that each always carries with it the germ of the other. In the same way, nature has no complex systems that are totally orderly or totally chaotic, but all dissipative structures have differing degrees of both. We can see this graphically in Figure 5, a simplified circle model of the psyche (adapted from Jacobi, 1973).
Figure 5. Simplified Circular Model of Jung's Psyche.
In this dynamic model, the ego is shown surrounded by the conscious and unconscious with a shifting line (a fractal) dividing the two areas. The arrows indicate the ability of the dividing line to move as we become aware of some unconscious contents, and forget or repress others. This model shows the psyche as a closed system with the ego looking outward toward consciousness and inward toward the unconscious. The model is especially useful to demonstrate the dynamics of the thin borderline interface that exists between consciousness and the unconscious.
Figure 6 shows another circular model of the psyche (adapted from Jacobi, 1973) in which the ego resides in consciousness and is surrounded on all sides by the unconscious. This simplified model also shows the psyche as a closed system. Here the unconscious is divided into the personal unconscious, adjacent to the ego, and the collective unconscious, which is farther removed from the ego.
Figure 6. Another Circular Model of Jung's Psyche.
According to Jung, (1990) the personal unconscious contains various complexes, while the collective unconscious contains archetypes and instincts. When we equate consciousness with order, and the unconscious with chaos, we can see from the model that our personal unconscious lies immediately between the two extremes. It is sandwiched between order and chaos, and therefore can be viewed as a region of complexity in which the relationships between order/ conscious and chaos/unconscious can best be seen. This is the realm of the imagination.
Figure 7 shows a conical model of the psyche with the major parts of the psyche as portions of a cone (adapted from Jacobi, 1973). Here the ego is illustrated as the tip of a large cone whose base is the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is divided into two main sections: (1) that part which can become conscious, and (2) that part which will never become conscious. Each section of the cone rises up from, and exists upon, the lower section. The ego can consciously perceive part of the collective unconscious. However, the model suggests that we can only view the collective unconscious through the filter of our own personal unconscious, and thus perceptions may vary.
Figure 7. Conical Model of Jung's Psyche.
Figure 8 shows a model of the psyche as a wave rising up from an ocean of what is called central energy. Jacobi (1973) calls the central energy “unfathomable” and says:
The central energy runs through all subsequent differentiations; it lives in them all and cuts across them to the individual psyche; it is the only factor that remains unchanged in every situation. (p. 34)
The central energy in Figure 8 is equivalent to the “deepest part of the collective unconscious that can never be made conscious” in Figure 7. It is the substratum or bedrock of the psyche.
Figure 8. Wave Model of Jung's Psyche.
Figure 9 shows the dynamics of the psyche in terms of the flow of libido. The libido in the psyche manifests itself to the ego as images, and does so through the creative power of the imagination (Jacobi, 1973). The imagination produces images from unconscious contents and provides them to the ego where they become conscious. In this way, the imagination, in the personal unconscious, serves as a transmitter which “transforms the chaos of the unconscious contents into such images as appear in dreams, fantasies, visions, and every variety of creative art” (p. 59). The significance or meaning attributed to any image depends upon its value intensity or level of libido (we will attempt to quantify intensity later).
Libido flows throughout the psyche, seeking balance and harmony. Neurotic symptoms and complexes are caused when this flow becomes dammed or blocked for any reason.
Figure 9. Libido Model of Jung's Psyche.
Open Systems Model
Figure 10 shows a model of the psyche as an open system (adapted from Jacobi 1973). Here the center of the psyche is the Self, balanced by the ego together with the shadow balanced by the persona. This model illustrates the open nature of Jung’s view of the psyche. At the conscious end, the persona acts as a filter for the ego to the external world, while at the unconscious end, the archetype of the anima or animus acts as a filter to the collective unconscious. The persona is created by the ego as a defense mechanism for the shadow and the two energies tend to balance each other.
Figure 10. Model of Jung's Psyche as an Open System.
The archetypal Self and the ego-complex operate in a cooperative symbiotic relationship. The ego is a dissipative system. It is unclear if the archetypes are systems at all in the classical sense since they behave more like chaotic attractors than systems. Figure 11 show three models outlined by Edinger (1974). At the top is the first of three main stages of the symbiotic relationship that exists between the Self and the ego--just after birth. Edinger (1974) points out that “The Self is the ordering and unifying center of the total psyche (conscious and unconscious) just as the ego is the center of the conscious personality” (p. 3). “I have defined the self as the totality of the conscious and the unconscious psyche, and the ego as the central reference-point of consciousness” (Jung, 1989, p. 110). The Self is the integrated or total psyche acting as a unitary system. The ego begins within the psyche as one with, and barely distinguishable from, the Self. Here the ego is present only as a potentiality. Edinger (1974) calls this the “state of primary ego-Self identity” (p. 6).
Figure 11. Symbiosis Model of Jung's Psyche.
In the center of Figure 11 is a model of the second main stage of this relationship. Here the ego is emerging as a separate system. A residual ego-Self identity still remains (in the overlapped area between the two). In this stage, the ego has developed self-consciousness, and has formed a sense of identity. The ego is leaving the Self but is still connected through an ego-Self axis. This stage occurs, for most people, during middle age (Edinger, 1974).
At the bottom of Figure 11, we see a model of the third and final stage. Here the ego has completely formed as a separate system and the ego-Self axis is a maximum. Edinger (1974) acknowledges that this relationship “is an ideal theoretical limit which probably does not exist in actuality” (p. 6). The sense of separation of the ego from the Self is completely conscious here, and the ego usually views the Self as something entirely different or separate from itself. The goal of individuation, during the second half of life, is for the ego to assimilate the Self and come to terms with it in a cooperative way.