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262 Erich Neumann: The Origins and History of Consciousness

Neumann’s psychological analysis of the evolution of human consciousness, archetypes, and symbolism in mythological and historical contexts.

Erich Neumann: The Origins and History of Consciousness


The book explores the development of human consciousness and the role of the collective unconscious in shaping culture and history. Neumann traces the archetypal patterns and symbolism across various cultures, religions, and historical epochs, from ancient myths to modern art and psychoanalysis. He argues that human consciousness has undergone a long and complex evolution, and our collective psyche reflects this development. This book is a seminal work in depth psychology, mythology, and cultural studies.


Title: The Origins and History of Consciousness

Author: Erich Neumann

Publishing Year: 2020

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Length in hours: 17 hours and 38 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The collective unconscious is a repository of archetypal patterns that shape human culture and history.
  2. Archetypal symbols and motifs can be traced across various cultures and historical epochs, revealing the continuity of the human psyche.
  3. The evolution of human consciousness is a gradual process, marked by the emergence of new psychic structures and modes of awareness.
  4. The tension between conscious and unconscious elements of the psyche is a source of creativity and transformation.
  5. The study of mythology and symbolism can shed light on the inner workings of the psyche and help individuals navigate their own inner landscape.
Erich Neumann: The Origins and History of Consciousness

5 funny quotes

  1. "The personal unconscious is like a pond, the collective unconscious like the sea."
  2. "If one has the patience to wait until the unconscious has its say, an apparently meaningless mood can become an important revelation."
  3. "The contents of the unconscious are like minerals, which, when they are refined, are changed into beautiful colors and forms."
  4. "The psychologist is in a position similar to that of a bacteriologist who, having come upon some new kind of germ, infects his colleagues and spreads the disease."
  5. "In order to study the psyche it is necessary to have the courage to let oneself go completely and let oneself be caught by the current of the unconscious."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The world of the archetypes is a sphere of being, which we enter through the portals of imagination."
  2. "Consciousness, as the phenomenon of subject and object differentiation, is part of the instinctive apparatus."
  3. "The primary reality of the psyche is its immediate and intuitive experience, which is not bound by time or space."
  4. "The collective psyche is the condition for the existence of the individual psyche."
  5. "The great events of world history are, at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the last analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual."

5 dilemmas

  1. The tension between the individual and the collective psyche.
  2. The relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.
  3. The impact of cultural and historical factors on the development of the psyche.
  4. The role of archetypes in shaping human experience and behavior.
  5. The challenge of integrating the shadow aspects of the psyche.

5 examples

  1. "The archetype of the mother is represented in the figure of the Great Mother of antiquity, in the cult of the Magna Mater, and in the worship of Isis."
  2. "The archetype of the hero is represented in figures such as Gilgamesh, Hercules, and Siegfried."
  3. "The archetype of the wise old man is represented in figures such as Hermes, Odin, and Zoroaster."
  4. "The archetype of the trickster is represented in figures such as Loki, Coyote, and Prometheus."
  5. "The archetype of the shadow is represented in the figure of the devil, the black magician, and the werewolf."

Referenced books

  • "The Interpretation of Dreams" by Sigmund Freud
  • "The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious" by Carl Jung
  • "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell
  • "The Golden Ass" by Apuleius
  • "The Symposium" by Plato

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"The personal unconscious is like a pond, the collective unconscious like the sea."

Erich Neumann: The Origins and History of Consciousness
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