Analytical Psychology: Definition, Theory & Practice

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  • 0:00 Analytical Psychology Overview
  • 0:46 History
  • 1:52 Major Tenets
  • 3:39 Therapeutic Approach
  • 4:16 Psychological Types
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns
Analytical psychology is a unique theory of mind and therapeutic approach. This lesson will introduce you to the ideas behind analytical psychology as well as some of the history of the theory.

Analytical Psychology Overview

Analytical psychology is a theory of mind that emphasizes the importance of wholeness for each individual. As in traditional, Freudian psychoanalysis, analytical psychology suggests that early experiences are very important in personality development. At the same time, though, analytical psychology emphasizes the significance of the present, including the role that cultural shifts and archetypes (or underlying, universal symbols) play in individual psychology. By bringing together an understanding of individual experience with a recognition of the role played by broader truths and experiences, analytical psychology hopes to work toward an integrated human consciousness.


Analytical psychology is derived from the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung, in the early twentieth century. Jung worked closely with, and was heavily influenced by, Sigmund Freud; like Freud, he believed in the therapeutic value of talk and of the unconscious. Jung, however, saw more importance in mythology, folklore, and cultural experience in coming to understand human consciousness. Jung developed the idea of individuation, or the coming into being of an individual self who is able to integrate personal experience with historical and cultural symbolism. Since Jung, analytical psychology has branched off into three major groups. Classical analytical psychologists closely follow Jung's work. Developmental analytical psychology focuses on bridging Jungian psychology with object relations work, focusing more deeply on how personalities develop in the individual. Finally, archetypal analytical psychology takes a more spiritual approach to therapeutic work, looking for the origins of problems and neuroses in mythology and cultural history and experience.

Major Tenets

While analytical psychology is complicated and diverse, it does include some major tenets that can be helpful in understanding its overall approach.

The Unconscious

Analytical psychology believes that the unconscious is the most important aspect of each individual's psyche, and that making as much of the unconscious known as possible can help with healing and the attainment of wholeness. Dreams are thought to be a part of the unconscious. The personal unconscious of each individual is distinct from a collective unconscious that is shared by all human beings.


Jung believed that most human suffering, even on a large scale, is caused by neurosis. Neurosis in this context means the lack of integration of the self and the failure to bring individual and collective unconscious together. Under analytical psychology, people should move on a constant continuum toward better self-knowledge and, as a result, away from neurosis. In contemporary language, neurosis might include depression, anxiety, and more serious mental illnesses.


One of the many important archetypal figures, the shadow in analytical psychology stands for the parts of a person's self that are denied or projected onto others. Jung pointed out that in mythology, as in dreams, the shadow is often translated into dark figures or evil animals.


Like Freudian psychoanalysis, analytical psychology believes in the idea of the complex. A complex, here, is a way of organizing thought, often around an archetype, that can prevent a person from achieving wholeness. For example, a person might have a superiority complex, structured around the archetype of the hero. Having this complex might prevent a person from integrating less heroic and brave parts of the self into the personality.

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